Key Feature #3: Do you both adhere absolutely to the belief and practice that in a loving relationship that feels good there is never any violence? If there is violence of any kind, then by definition it is not a relationship that feels good. For those of you who believe you would never be violent toward your partner, and would never accept violence from a partner, I say, “good for you.” Really good for you. Perhaps you believe that violence is a deal-breaker. Any lover that gets violent with you, then they are out! You’re 100% sure of that, too. At least about physical violence. Emotional violence–that’s a little more slippery, isn’t it? More about that in the next post.
How easy is it for the two of you to fall into getting physically violent with each other and start acting as if it’s normal, just an expected part of your relationship? How many times does someone have to hurt you before the love is gone, the trust is gone, and you’re just surviving instead of living?
It’s a cycle, you know. It’s called “the cycle of violence.” First the blow-up, the violence happens. Then the shame, the apologies and the promises that it will never happen again. Sometimes the regret is so real, the making up so tender and heartfelt, that the victim of the violence actually feels closer to the perpetrator. Life is good again. All is forgiven, if not exactly forgotten and normal life resumes. But the same issues and stressors that created the first blowup begin to build up again. Tension increases and tempers flare–and the violence happens again. And the vow to never do it again is like so much dust in your bagless vacuum. Just open that little door and pour it into the trash because that’s about what it’s worth. An added benefit is often that the perpetrator will blame the victim that it happened again–“if you hadn’t made me so mad, I wouldn’t have lost it…” and blah, blah, blah. But if you stay together, there will be apologies and make up sex, and it will all begin again.
If you aren’t sure whether you’ve actually been in a violent relationship, let me make it crystal clear. It’s pretty straightforward. Do both of you refrain from physically and emotionally hurting each other? This includes any efforts to cause physical or emotional pain or to assert the will of one person over the other for any reason. Any violence done to pets and property, or doing anything to purposefully frighten or terrorize the other person is included in the “hurting emotionally and physically” category. Unless you both can answer with an emphatic “no,” then you have violence in your relationship. Reality check time.
Oh, and by the way, practical jokes are neither practical nor funny. In fact, they usually hurt, frighten or humiliate the recipient. Therefore, practical jokes have no place in a relationship that “feels good.” If you have a partner that does mean things and says, “I was just joking–where’s your sense of humor?” please refer the person to this item after you find a way to be safe. Safety is an act of self-love and takes priority over anything demanded by the other.
If violence, property destruction or terrorizing has happened in your relationships, this cannot feel good, even if the non-violent times feel pretty good after going through the violence. “But I love her” is not even remotely supportable. Love has nothing to do with the violence that’s going on. Sorry. Still reality-check time. You may be with each other for reasons other than love, certainly. Need, maybe. Habit, definitely. Familiarity, fear, low self worth, abusive childhood—yes, yes and yes.
Get. Some. Help. There is nothing good that will come of this kind of interaction, because like other bad habits, it gets progressively worse as time goes on. And please try to hear me on this: it never, ever gets better without help.
You can get help and information from the national 24/7 hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE) or if you prefer, www.thehotline.org. If you want to figure out why you end up in hurtful relationships, get yourself a coach or a therapist who can help you uncover what’s influencing your choices. Nobody—I don’t care who you are—but nobody deserves to be treated with cruelty, for any reason. All you do when you allow such behavior in your life is teach your children, if you have any, to follow in your footsteps.
Listen. Whether you are the victim or the perpetrator, there is help for you. You don’t have to keep living in a relationship that doesn’t feel good, and in fact probably feels pretty bad most of the time. You deserve to feel good. You deserve to be loved without pain. And if you don’t believe that, you are hurting yourself with your beliefs. Get some help. You will be amazed at how quickly you can leave the pain behind.
A final caveat for those who are currently in a physically violent relationship. If you are in a relationship with a physically violent, controlling partner and you are considering leaving, it is vital that you make an exit plan. Get some help making the plan from a friend who knows how to do this, a therapist with the appropriate background or an organization such as the one listed above. Why is a plan so necessary? Unfortunately, research has shown that a woman’s risk of injury or death at the hands of her partner actually increases for a while just after she leaves the relationship. It’s called the separation assault risk. Having a plan in place allows you to exercise a greater degree of choice and safety during the transition because you’ll have your resources lined up and won’t have to .