A few years ago I had a very interesting experience. I was able to get to know a woman I was interested in intimately. Needless to say, she was not well. I don’t know if you’ve heard the term “energy vampires,” or “gaslighting,” or “ghosting,” or “simmering.” There are more, plenty more such tactics in the jungle of modern day relationships.
Before I go on further I should point out that I live my life by a very simple principle. I don’t tell myself a sob story. I don’t narrate my life from the perspective of Victim. This is actually very empowering; whenever I find myself starting to think down the path of “oh, she did this, and she did that…” I stop and remind myself that I, of my own volition, “allowed this, and I allowed that.” The difference is that in the first version you relinquish all your power and you maintain resentment. In the alternative version, I own my results, I retain the power, I learn from my errors and I adjust my behavior accordingly. Most importantly of all, I forgive myself for what I allowed, I harbor no resentment, and I move on.
But, in saying this, I did learn a few things from her, a few things that apply to dark psychology, the subtle art of manipulation, and how psychopathy disguises itself as perpetual victimhood. But there was this one incredible maneuver that kept coming to mind and I almost admire the genius part in the evil genius of it. She often and frequently stressed the importance of unconditional love, of yearning to be loved without expectations of anything in return. While at first, one might think this is quite a sincere longing, there was a sinister functionality to it in the context of our “relationship.” Since that time, I’ve come to observe it in the dark psychological strategies of bosses, lovers, friends and parents, who for one reason or another, take pleasure in the subtle infliction of psychological pain on those who care most about them.
I hope if you read this you’ll come to the realization that you have a lot of relinquished power lurking underneath a relationship dynamic like this. But first you have to become aware that this is what’s going on, that’s half the work.
If you’re like me, you’re not even sure how and why you came to accept such substandard treatment. You have no substantial history of parental neglect, your self-esteem is in more or less a good condition, you have a lot to offer, you’re desirable and you have options, plus you are not particularly needy or desperate for companionship. So how the hell did this happen to you? Since when was it okay for someone to treat you with such callousness and so frequently, and yet for you to continue to desire them? Well, it’s simple: they resort to speaking to the best and most idealistic parts in you; they invoke the concept of unconditional love. By doing this they set it up in your mind that to hold them accountable for their actions, for their very abusiveness, is NOT unconditional love, is NOT the understanding that they have longed for and most certainly need to heal. How dare you? How could you? You too?
You can remain captive to this very simple yet subtle technique for a far longer period of time than you would otherwise imagine. So let me give you another piece of heartfelt advice: to escape the emotional connectedness you feel for your abuser, focus not on the enormous love you have for them, not on the heavenly potential of your union, but instead on what it should take for you to love in the first place. Yes, that’s right. MAKE IT SUCH THAT your love IS CONDITIONAL. Don’t love before there has been a demonstration that your love is deserved, that it has been earned. Only through this avenue will you find the one who will deserve your unconditional love.
I recently met a woman who explained to me some concept called “Twin Flame.” I asked her for more information and she said “a twin flame is a single soul in two bodies.” I did a little bit of digging and found we can trace it back to tantric sex practices. After she left, I felt such a terrible sadness for her because why would anyone choose to have a relationship within such a framework, when in fact the world is impermanent, people are subject to change and anything can happen at any time for no good reason? In her mind, struggling to remain with this man was part of their “twin flame journey.” How many more years will she live within the framework of this mythology? And how much more suffering will she needlessly endure in the belief that her soul is in someone else’s body!
I write this so that you may learn from my own errors in judgment. I do believe in unconditional love, but I do not believe psychopaths when they peddle that notion.
Dr. Samar Habib is a writer, researcher and scholar. She lives in California.
Originally published at medium.com