True Love or Fatal Attraction?
3 Signs You’re in an Unhealthy Infatuation vs a Healthy Connection
Attraction — physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual – is important, really important. None of us wants to hang out with a person who makes our stars fizzle or our minds yawn, but attraction must be healthy to create a great, or even a good, relationship. And the only way to determine if your attraction is of the healthy variety is to get downright honest about what inspired the connection. Of course no person wants to jump up and down exclaiming, “Look at me over here! I am dying to expose my messed up relationship!” but if we don’t get real about the health of our attractions, we risk losing what’s more important than anything else — our selves.
One reason we often mistake unhealthy attraction for the healthy connections found in authentic partnerships is that most of us have never thought about it. When was the last time you sat down for a cup of tea and said, “I think I’ll define what ‘authentic connection’ means to me today”? Even among those who have considered the source of their connection, most haven’t been truthful about how healthy their attraction is or isn’t. So, ignorant, blind, or in denial, we end up living in the grips of unhealthy attraction, feeling like something is missing or wrong, lacking the words to articulate what that something is. If we’re lucky, after lots of pain and suffering caused by the times we engaged in unhealthy attraction, we finally free ourselves and learn about our desire for a true, healthy connection.
I have met more smart and successful women than I care to admit who’ve lost their minds, and themselves, in the throes of unhealthy attraction, dare I say insane infatuation? Same goes for nice, solid men who have a penchant for dating crazy women. I’ve watched many a wise woman or man lodge a person so deep in their wounds that they mistake the resulting feelings for the authentic, deep, loving connection they were waiting for.
Maybe for some the unhealthy attraction feels so fabulous because their catch comes with a first-class ticket to social status and financial security, filling their holes that come from the absence of self-worth or the fear of lack. Or maybe the person they meet seemingly gives them permission to be the wild child they always wanted to be but their parents never allowed, filling in their holes caused by never feeling like they fit with their family. Or maybe it is as simple as they crave love and attention so bad, that they are willing to take what they can get… or maybe even too afraid to end it for fear of how the other person will respond.
Regardless of our individual stories and corresponding wounds, when in the clutches of an unhealthy attraction, we are too entangled in our feelings to see the truth. You need to know the warning signs beforehand. Commit the following signals to memory and keep them for future reference.
WARNING SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY ATTRACTION
Without a doubt, it’s our emotions, hormones, and emotional wounds that control the show here. The feelings swirling inside our bodies and psyches are so intense that it seems impossible to control our actions or stop making self-destructive decisions. Convinced that this person is the love of our life, we experience the relationship as if it were a drug, and we become like a junkie. The person becomes the fix for our external needs and gaping holes, and the bigger our emotional holes, the more intensely we feel drawn to and attached to this one human being.
The physical connection is usually undeniable, like a gravitational pull we can’t control. And our emotional and intellectual fantasies run rampant, which is why most people mistake these unhealthy relationships for authentic partnerships. But unlike healthy connections, which support us and encourage us to be our full and authentic selves, the unhealthy bonds lead to devastating and life-draining lows.
While the ride may feel good at times, in the end we are too often left unsatisfied, sad, and empty, with our desires and needs unmet. The cycle is always the same: we give in to the intense attraction, fall totally into it and enjoy the highs, plummet to the depths of despair, and then start the cycle all over again. While it may feel fantastic at times to be intertwined with the other, using another person to avoid healing our wounds is unhealthy.
COTTON BALLS IN YOUR EARS
This person is “the one,” and we will vehemently profess to those closest to us that “HE/SHE is the love of my life, I don’t care what you say! . . . If you really loved me, you would be happy for me. . . . You just don’t understand.” Convinced that we know the real deal even if our friends and family think otherwise, we won’t listen to what anyone has to say.
Sure, the relationship isn’t perfect — they’ve got a girlfriend, they lie, they have an addiction problem, or they are not committing anytime soon — but because we have great chemistry or some other “special” connection, we’re convinced that the rest of the world just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. What most of us need when we’re in this state is a bucket of cold water in the face to wake us the hell up! If our friends and family scream, “Stop!” and we don’t listen, it’s almost a sure bet that our relationship is not a healthy influence.
THE DERANGED LOVE TRAIN.
Our heads fill with thoughts like “Who cares that we just met three weeks ago? He/she told me that they love me, and I love them.” We believe without a glimmer of doubt that we are in LOVE. Sure, the feelings are undeniably powerful, and the sex fantastic, so how could it be anything but love?
When we start asking ourselves questions like “How would his last name sound with mine?” “What will our babies be named?” and “Where will we live?” weeks into our relationship, we have just entered fantasyland. Even if this person is playing along, and even if you really are meant to be life partners, questions like this do not belong anywhere near the beginning of a relationship. There is no getting around the fact that we cannot be in love with someone we don’t really know. Intensely attracted, you bet, but in love, no. Love and authentic partnership take time.
ANTIDOTES FOR UNHEALTHY ATTRACTION
While unhealthy attraction may feel great, liberating, and even life-giving at times, in the end the great feelings are not sustainable. They may, however, keep us in a relationship for years, preventing us from finding the kind of relationship we really desire. Luckily for us, there are extremely powerful antidotes to the unhealthy attraction syndrome, which all entail being truthful to ourselves — and admittedly, this is usually easier said than done.
One of the most effective ways to snap ourselves out of the unhealthy delusions of our attraction is to stop and question ourselves. Automatically, whether we’re in a relationship or single, it forces us to turn our focus away from HE, SHE and WE, and place it directly on ME. The only way we can create what we want is to be real with ourselves, even when it isn’t easy. So if you find yourself in a WE, even if things are going great, stop and answer the following questions from time to time.
Challenge yourself to be 100 percent honest, even if — especially if – you don’t like the answers.
Why do you want a HE/SHE and a WE in your life?
What kind of HE/SHE and WE do you currently have? Does what you have fit what you want?
If it fits, great. If what you have doesn’t fit, what line of bull are you feed
ing yourself to make it okay to stay?
In what ways are you settling?
Write the ways you are settling out on a piece of paper and stare at them for a while. Play your life forward based on what you are currently settling for. Ask yourself, is this what you want for YOUR life? If not, it’s time to take a stand for loving the most important partner in your life – yourself!
Every person deserves a dynamic, life-affirming partnership, but many of us settle for less, and as a result, we get a relationship, not a partnership. We stay with people we connect with or are attracted to, but who are not walking with us down life ‘s path as authentic partners — we aren’t supporting each other, enriching each other’s experiences, and nourishing each other’s spirit and heart.
When the relationship moves past the dating stage and in to the more serious living-life-together phase, unless it’s a partnership, you will find yourself dealing with life’s demands alone. Because we can, we forge ahead, attempting to carry the burden of the entire load, putting our own needs last and ending up tired as hell. My experience of doing it alone while in a relationship was that it had far too great a cost to my soul. No matter how attracted we are to a person, if they are dead weight, an emotionally empty vessel, or toxic sewage in our energy streams, then they have no place in our lives.
About Christine Arylo
Christine Arylo, an m.b.a. turned writer, speaker and teacher, is an inspirational catalyst who teaches women how find the love and happiness they want, by loving their most important partner first, themselves! Arylo is the popular author of Choosing ME before WE, Every Woman’s Guide to Life and Love www.mebeforewe.com and is a frequent media guest on the topics of love and life. Known as the “Queen of Self-Love,” Arylo created Madly in Love with ME, the international day of self-love (Feb 13), dedicated to making self-love a tangible reality for women and girls around the world. www.madlyinlovewithme.com
Thanks Christine for being so direct with your thoughts on love and fatal attraction.
I know that it is all too easy to find oneself in an unhealthy relationship rather than a healthy partnership, however, getting out of it is not always the answer. It isn’t always a case of being the wrong person, but being the wrong relationship.
Having a healthy partnership requires you also to have a healthy love for yourself. Doing the hard work within the relationship sometimes opens up doors to love that would otherwise be hidden.
Taking space and time within a relationship can sometimes enrich what is already there, but temporarily lost within the fatal attraction.
The question is, how do we know what is right for me?
Thank you for your words…this post was exactly what I needed to read this evening.
I’ve been doing lots of figuring out, and looking at the dynamics in my past relationships. I don’t regret any of them, but I do see a pattern of the relationships starting out as “attraction based” and then ending in total heart-aching train wrecks!
I can’t take it anymore, so I’m really looking in to what I really want. I really liked the distinction between just a relationship vs. partnership. This makes it very clear.
At this moment, I don’t think I want a partnership just yet because I’m not ready, but I’d like a really loving, fun, and growth promoting one in the future…I think I’m scared…
Thanks so much for your work.
I don’t know you personally, but I send you a hug anyway.
Eugenia (knickname: Ao, pronounced Ayo)
I guess I have been using the man I care for to stuff holes. I want more but haven’t given him much chance to be more than a fantasy. I’ve just been so afraid to be alone. When I couldn’t see him, I got sick. He is a dear friend. I would love it if he could be more. I can’t imagine him not being a part of my life somehow, but I begin to wonder if we are really meant “to be.”