Relationships and Their Dark Side

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Dysfunctional relations and relating.
Below I share how a recent TV programme got me thinking, that shone a light on dysfunctional relating and relationships.
It’s an extreme example but these kind of things do happen to some woman therefore I feel it’s important to highlight this .
On television, the entire idea of relationships has been glamorized. The idea that someone can be so cruel and hurtful is too much for many to comprehend. We have been sold an amazingly unreal dream about relationships. A vast majority of people can never live up to these idolised versions . The fantasy is great, but we need to live in the reality of what can happen when two people meet.
The script of many relationships is so far off from reality that people don’t realise what they are stepping into. When people realise this, they may have no method to deal with it. Some trot along in monotonous, unsatisfying and sometimes soul-destroying situations.
If you read my article on childhood, then this may become much clearer.
This blog was created as a result of watching a recent show of Dexter .It reminded of the potential for abusive, destructive and damaging components of relationships.
This programmes story line and central theme, is an area that people rarely discuss. It shows how quickly an unhealthy toxic relationships begin. Although this behaviour may sit on the extreme end of the spectrum, but many people have had this experience.
Quite quickly ,relationships can move from  something that feels wonderful to dissatisfying and scary overnight.
How people perceive and manage these experiences will depend on their level of self awareness , capacity to mange boundaries and belief system. Once someone is involved in a relationship of this kind it can be hard to get away. They may feel that they are so far down the road that turning back isn’t a choice.
Starting again also evokes a huge amount of fear. Its a often a scenario in domestic violence cases.
Often the partners behaviour changing at the point of pregnancy.
The episode of Dexter I watched reminded me of this extreme end of the spectrum.
Dexter took on a case investigating the suicides of several strong, independent women. He found that they all had a common factor. They had all gone to see a therapist! But before you freak out and classify anyone in the helping profession as a psychopath, remember that this was a television show. Although do use your good judgement. Even this is outside of the normal reality, what was highlighted was very illuminating. This led me to explore further.
Having made the connection between the murders and the therapist, Dexter decided to pay him a visit. While the office was empty,he took to searching it. He found tapes of the therapy sessions with the women in question. The tapes showed and how the therapist had opened up the conversation. Over time he had built up their trust, listened and payed attention. They shared their anguish and pain. They shared their loneliness and past issues with men. He then manipulated the information. The therapist encouraged the women to talk. But over time the women encountered their deeper feelings of depression and hopelessness. And instead of helping them look at anything else, he exploited these emotions. He manipulated them to take steps to go further into even darker spaces. The light of hope got dimmer and dimmer. He focused more on their low self esteem, hopelessness and victimisation. All enabling him to be seen as both the great listener and rescuer. The only person that truly understood them. Yet, no attempts were made to rescue or help them develop resilience. Instead he played on those feelings ,sending them deeper into despair.
(It is extremely important to note that talking about your low moods and suicidal feelings isn’t wrong. Yet , you don’t want to do it for too long. A good therapist can help you acknowledge these feelings and help you move past them.
Over the weeks of therapy, the therapist, through his knowledge and the tools he used created dependency. He created a dependency on him. After time, even if the woman had felt uneasy, they might have struggled to leave. When the women explored being down and not coping well, he encouraged more of this line of thinking. Some of the women explored suicide, and he led them to explore it with more fervour and seriousness.
Unlike ” good” therapist’s, who would help their clients deal with these low feelings: he exploited the information for his own psychopathic desires and dark tendencies.
Dexter decided to pretend to be a client. He also started going through the process therapy. He was learning about himself in the sessions. Although Dexter was playing at being the patient, over time, the lines for him became confused. This made him feel very uneasy. His reasons for being there became blurred.
Being as acute as Dexter, the therapist was able to get under Dexter’s skin and make him question himself. The therapist got right into his psyche with a laser-like precision. This experience left Dexter feeling unhinged. This hadn’t happened to Dexter before, since the character had always been able to keep people at arm’s length. After all he was also a psychopath.


Unlike the portrayal in this episode, therapy is a to help people grow and change.


What this episode dramatized and highlighted, was how the therapist was able draw some very vulnerable women toward much darker consequences. These women were learning and discovering themselves. But in the end only learning things that elicited low feelings and anxiety. He omitted a focus on the resources that would help them get through it. Over time this would help build resilience. Its through that process people can start to feel hope for the future.
Strangely, this led me to explore psychopathology and the world of dating. I discovered several stories about how women who had been drawn into similar relationships. Later the men went on to take everything the woman had. They would lead them to turmoil and destruction. The same process had was used in a very subtle way, to tap into their deeper needs. Of course, this happens to men too.
Before you start exploring the Internet and the traits that define a psychopath, remember that it’s more about knowing who you are. All relationships take time and its important to acknowledging your needs and vulnerabilities. If your not sure then its worth seeking out some help. Taking each step at a pace that feels right for you. It’s also about knowing the subtle signs. We need to become aware of someone else’s behaviour and potential agenda. We need to develop the capacity to hear our inner voice. To grow our intuition and discern what can work or not. We need to know what we are looking for. We need to first feel confident , have good self esteem and know whats important to us.
A person can draw you in for their own needs and have no real interest in you as a person. You are purely there for their benefit. What’s important is being aware that humans look to get their needs met. Some do it for themselves and some do it through others.
However, when we know that we can meet our own needs, we know that the purpose of a relationship is to compliments us. It’s mutually beneficial. Both people can gain things from being together. Don’t focus on the need to find your other half or have someone else fill you up. You can instead seek someone that compliments you and is able to respect who you are . Otherwise you might be in a vulnerable position. If you depend on another for anything, or struggle to be alone, then you could ignore the signs.
Some people can make us feel incredibly important and valued. We can enjoy this process of being the someone else’s focus. After all, it relates to the human need for attention. The risk, however, is that if we had toxic childhoods, it can make us susceptible and vulnerable to unscrupulous characters.
Dexter’s story highlights this even for him. He realizes he could meet someone like him, another psychopath. Even someone like the therapist he’s investigating. He realised someone else was also able to get into the cracks and expose him to his weaknesses. He was uncomfortable with being exposed. He didn’t like being intimate either. And in this case—it would have been the best decision of his life not to do so, since his life depended upon it.
I’ve met several women through my work who spent years in relationships that existed in different parts of the spectrum. From low-level dissatisfaction to outright abuse and neglect. Their poor self-awareness, low self-esteem and their boundaries put them at risk. They had in their adult years, met more friends and associates that were just as toxic, malfunctioning.
The journey from dysfunction to function can be a tough one. For those who are motivated by a deeper belief that there is something better can reap the rewards should they choose to do so.
If this is you, find help from a relationship or family therapist, coach or mentor. Finding a safe space to talk about what is happening and what you really feel is a good start.
Hollywood still sells to women the dream of being a princess. The one who finds a prince who swoops us up and rescues us. It tells us that our wedding day has to be perfect and full of things for people to admire. But all this does is set many men and women up for disappointment.
It’s important to be aware that the desire to fall into social pressures to meet someone and raise a family can mean you accept what t isn’t right. Sometimes your vision can be skewed. If you haven’t had great role models it’s hard to know what you like. You need to learn what you want and need, and where your boundaries end and begin. You need to know about yourself well before embarking on a relationship.
There is a lot of information on the Internet that highlights what a healthy relationship looks like. None of us are perfect. People who have been married and divorced, may now have some battle scars, but this is normal.
Look up models of enlightened relationships. These show more healthy ways of being together. Each partner can explore their own interests and joys, while being in a healthy union. That opens up the potential for growth, openness, vitality, love and caring. Learn to become emotionally literate. Get comfortable with intimacy, and that includes the tough stuff. The more you know you the more you know when something works and doesn’t.
There are questions that you need to ask in the early stages of your relationship. Even during the phase when the feel-good chemical is coursing through your veins.
We need to develop a way to listen to our gut, Learn what its telling you. Never ignore those uncomfortable uneasy feelings. They are telling you something. Notice when it feels good and doesn’t. Sometimes we need space and quiet in which consider the messages, but never ignore this part of you.
Our emotions are there to help us spot the things in our energy field that either feel good or not. Our emotions help us be discerning about what and who we give our attention too.
If you have experienced any difficulties as a child with relationships and parental issues, or any types of adversity (domestic violence, trauma, family splits, loss and death) then you might need the help and support from a professional. Someone whose role it is to be neutral and keep their boundaries, listen to you and help you speak about the things that might blight the potential of a new relationship.
Some people meet others who are great and loving and kind, but if our past experiences are fraught and we grew up in unhealthy places, then we might not see the signs of someone who is also genuinely ok.
All relationships bring challenges from time to time. It’s how we can communicate and grow with that person that is important. It’s about how they look out for us when we are at our most vulnerable points.
The last point – avoid sharing your issues with some of your friends. We often leave out positive information. When we are miffed by our partners we can omit whats also ok. Doing so sets us up for feedback that might not be either useful or helpful. If you cannot talk to your partner, then you need to be able to share it with a trusted, nonbiased independent mind.
If you are experiencing aggression, abuse or violence then seek out help – no one should have to live that way.
For a nice course that explores enlightened relationships, check out