When Love Becomes Toxic

Sometimes you must let go.

I personally don’t believe loving relationships have to end, I think they can evolve over time, but in order to do so, both people need to be self-aware and very honest with themselves and each other. I’ll cover this more in next week’s post entitled “Evolve, Damn It!

But for now, let’s admit that most intimate relationships don’t evolve. They end. Often bitterly. Often angrily. Often without respect. But, they sometimes end cordially with love and understanding that it just can’t work on that level.

When that happens, if reconciliation is truly not possible, they need to let that love end and not try to force it into staying alive. Otherwise, it becomes zombified. Horrific. Toxic. Malignant. Destructive to both people and anyone else who tries to come into their lives.

Sometimes relationships need to end for the health and well-being of one or both people involved, especially in cases of abuse. That betrayal bond must be broken, as painful as that is. Sometimes it needs to end for other reasons. One of the hardest ones to accept is when two people love each other so much, but that love isn’t enough to make the romantic relationship work between them.

This quote from Anais Nin is all too often quite relevant.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”

Any relationship that comes to an end, whether naturally after years of tumultuous trying, coming to a place of acceptance that the two of you just can’t be together on that level, or a short-lived relationship that never truly got it’s fair chance, needs space afterwards. Space is safe, as Amelie Chance says in her Heal My Broken Heart (Step to Heal) program.

For those short-lived relationships that might still have a fighting chance, that space is needed to gain perspective. Then the couple can come back together and reassess from a place of strength and clarity. If their love is strong enough and if they can forgive/let go of the past and move forward together, it’s done from a place love and peace, not desperation. If reconciliation is not possible, that space is needed to begin moving on.

Then there are those relationships that have tried every which way to work over years and years but just can’t without causing one or both parties a lot of psychological, and sometimes physical, pain. They love each other deeply, desperately, but they come to the very harsh realization that love isn’t enough to make a loving, romantic relationship work between them. Period. Still, they mean so much to each other that they want to find a way to remain in each other’s life. They want to continue to love each other on a different level, freeing themselves and their beloved to find a love that will work and be healthy, but remaining close as well. And that is admirable.

In this case, SPACE IS MORE THAN SAFE, it’s ESSENTIAL in order to move forward together, yet separate. At least three weeks and up to three months of no contact is necessary to separate your lives. This is not a power play. This is not manipulation. This is not a way to show your ex just how much they will miss you. This is to learn who you are without the other again, to let go of that part of the relationship so you both can move forward and love again. Healthily.

It. Is. Essential.

I know it’s hard. I know it’s painful. I know it feels like you’re losing them for good.

You’re not.

A few months, and especially a few weeks, does not send the message that it’s over for good. Any real love doesn’t die in that time. And real connection is not severed in that time.

You need that space to heal, and as importantly, so does your beloved.

Talk with them about it. Tell them you’re not disappearing from their lives, but you both need space to move on. To let go of the romantic side of the love, the sexual side. You have been so important to one another, of course you still want to be close friends, perhaps even confidants, but that space is needed to gain perspective. To redefine your individuality outside the couplehood. It is possible to end your romantic relationship with love and respect, so that you might pick up a good friendship a few weeks or months down the line.

You are worth the space. Your beloved ex is worth the space.

If you refuse to take that time for yourself or to allow your beloved to have that time for themselves, the romantic side of your love that needs to die, won’t. It will mutate. It will fester like a cancerous cell. It will begin to slowly destroy you, your beloved ex, and any new relationship that tries to develop.

It becomes zombie love.

I’ve seen this happen, and it’s not healthy for anyone who even comes close to the toxic couple.

By so desperately to clinging to a love that cannot work, the former couple makes it impossible to find a new, healthy relationship as well. Just because they won’t let go for just a few weeks’ time.

It’s tragic, really.

There is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Lovers Walk” where Spike captures this perfectly. Buffy and Angel are trying to be friends, trying to remain in the other’s life, trying to work together, but Spike sees through it all:

You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love till it kills you both. You’ll fight, and you’ll shag, and you’ll hate each other till it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be friends. Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood…blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.

Fortunately for both Buffy and Angel, they eventually realize this and go their separate ways. Live their separate lives, and they both find love again. This could never have happened if they had remained in each other’s lives to the extent they were, even as “friends.”

Unfortunately for others, they have yet to realize this. They cling to a love that has long since become toxic to them and to all around them. Lying to themselves, to others. Jeopardizing new relationships before they even get a chance to truly start.

It’s a hornet’s nest of heartache. And, as a friend said, even if you’re just breathing, you’re still in a hornet’s nest.

~ by omgrey on March 21, 2012.

5 Responses to “When Love Becomes Toxic”

  1. I just love your writings. You definitely know the right words to say at the right times in my life. You have helped me tremendously through my relationships and I thank you. Keep up the great work.

    • Thank you, Missy! Your kind, validating words came at the perfect time this morning. I’m so pleased you’ve found my blog helpful.

  2. […] then, an excerpt from “When Love Becomes Toxic“: “let’s admit that most intimate relationships don’t evolve. They end. Often […]

  3. […] When Love Becomes Toxic […]

  4. […] that way. Or if you’re really, really unfortunate, three. And by that time, you’ll be so completely trauma-bonded and brainwashed into his reality, you’ll let him keep you on the side tossing scraps your way now and again. And although […]

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