Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
A healthy relationship allows a person to grow in spirit as an individual. From the most obvious beating and punching to the very subtle cynical remarks and insults, any kind of abuse is destructive. It may seem easy to turn a blind eye to the destructive qualities of a relationship but it is better to recognize one and end it early to avoid pain in the future.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Romans 12:10
Why do people stay in destructive relationships? Why do people experience pain and yet remain unwilling to change their circumstances when it is in their power to do so?
Pain is and always has been a sign from our body telling us that something is wrong. We can choose to respond to the pain by investigating the source and changing our insides or our outsides or we can choose to ignore that vital sign, and continue to endure the pain. I believe there is a certain amount of pain that a person can endure without changing. This emotional threshold is the point where a person says, “Enough is enough. I’ve had it. No more.” If you have ever been in destructive relationship and finally made a decision to use your power and take action, it is because you hit a level of pain that you were not willing to settle for anymore. That is the magical moment when pain becomes our friend— a warning sign of something that is wrong driving us to different action to produce new results. Until that point, a person can put up with a significant amount of emotional pain.
I don’t know. I think it is different is every case. Perhaps it is the fault of their parent’s relationship, maybe a misunderstanding of how relationships are actually supposed to be. Perhaps it is little self-worth. Perhaps it is selfishness or pride…..perhaps it is simply not trusting God to provide something better for you. Most likely, it is a combination of some or all of these things.
Understand that a relationship is destructive when: One or both parties commit physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse upon the other; One person is regularly overprotective, overbearing, or both toward the other; One person is overly dependent upon the other to affirm his or her personal value, to meet all of his or her needs, and to make most of his or her decisions; One person demonstrates a pattern of deceiving the other through lying, hiding, pretending, misleading, or twisting information to make something appear other than what it is; or One person exhibits chronic indifference, neglect, or both toward the thoughts, feelings, or well-being of the other. Know that, while we all can sin against others in these ways occasionally, what makes a relationship destructive is a repetitive pattern of sin, and a lack of awareness, remorse, or significant change. –from The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, copyright 2007 by Leslie Vernick
I think a big reason for not giving up a destructive relationship is pride. You don’t want to admit you have made a mistake that you can not fix.. and trust me, YOU can not fix it. You want so badly to have for yourself this made-up fairytale that you have created in your head even if it is killing you. You are so scared to be alone that you hold on to what you have gotten for yourself with all that you are.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galations 6:7,9
I have been there, and so have others….
“I have been the saddest girl in the world with a mangled heart and the certainty that getting over him was impossible. I’ve been the girl so in love with a person incapable of giving me what I needed out of a relationship that I not only stayed with him but gladly gave away every last shred of my self-esteem to keep him. I’ve been the girl who not only suffers through an unhealthy, demoralizing relationship but goes back to in hopes that time spent apart has inspired him to love me enough to change… or even try. And guess what? It didn’t.
I’ve stood where you’re standing now, broken to the point that I couldn’t get past the idea that my life wasn’t turning out the way I’d planned. But guess what? Once I got through it, and started demanding more from myself and for myself, I got a windfall that I never imagined. Today, my life is even better than I ever dreamed or planned. I have a husband whom I adore and whose love and devotion for me blows my mind every day…two beautiful daughters… and the very best friends and family in the world, whom I am grateful for every day. I would have missed it all if i’d wasted my life trailing after my ex and staying stuck in my grief.” Amiira Ruotolo Behrendt
Demanding more for yourself is not selfishness. In reality, if you truly found your worth in Jesus Christ, you would know what you deserve. Jesus came to earth, lived 33 years here, went to the cross for you, laid down his life, and rose from the grave after 3 days. You are worth far more than gold to Him, and any man who refuses to treat you like the very child of God that you are is NOT worth your time or emotions. A Godly man who will build a strong house on the foundation of Jesus Christ for your family is what God wants you to desire. He wants the very best for His children, and settling for less is simply not God’s will.
Know that, in a healthy relationship, the people involved should care about each other enough to be committed to each other’s well-being. They should care about each other’s thoughts and feelings, and pay attention to issues that the other person in the relationship considers important or urgent. They should be completely honest with themselves and with each other, and not hesitate to be themselves when they’re together. They should respect each other, and have the freedom to lovingly challenge, confront, and strengthen each other.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Colossians 3:12-14
It is not an easy thing to do–To change the things necessary in your own heart and mind and determine what you will not longer accept or tolerate in your life–To break ties of destructiveness or patterns of weakness created by unhealthy relationships–To demand more out of the men around you so that you can have a healthy, loving, God-centered relationship. I suggest you start with God. Investigate who you are in Him, and ultimately determine your very worth. Your worth has been radically defined in scripture. [REdefine yourself by His standards] Search it out for yourself. Once you have determined who you are in Christ and have defined yourself with His words, you can begin to make a list of what you will no longer accept in your life. Here is an example:
I will no longer accept in my life:
1. feeling second to anyone or anything but God in my significant other’s life.
2. feeling insecure on a consistent basis because of someone else’s behavior towards me.
3. being unhappy on consistent basis.
4. being in a relationship for the sake of having a relationship or having a status symbol that makes me feel better about my worth.
5. the WORDS “I’m sorry.” Right behavior in the future is the best apology for wrong behavior in the past.
6. lies. period.
7. disrespectful behavior.
8. mean words said just because someone was tired, hungry, frustrated, or mad.
9. physical or verbal abuse. none.
10. someone who is not clearly a good, loving, and kind person
and things I aspire to become:
1. a good daughter my parents can be proud of.
2. a good sister my siblings can look up to and respect.
3. a good friend my friends can respect, love, and count on.
4. a good mother to my future children.
5. a woman who does not take crap from any man. A woman so confident in who she is in Christ and what she can offer, she would kick the hottest man on earth to the curb if he was not a man that God would approve of.
6. AND most importantly, the woman I am created to be in Christ, my first and forever love.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Lastly, in addition to asking God for wisdom to help you overcome a destructive relationship, Seek council from godly mentors and build a strong support system. Ask many people you trust to help support you, encourage you, be honest with you, help you, hold you accountable to your goals, pray with you, teach you, comfort you, celebrate with you, and help you see more clearly. No one should to stay in a relationship that is hurting them. It is FAR better to remain SINGLE than to stay in a relationship that is destructive. It is not God’s plan for you to settle for less than His best. Seek God’s face, and know that if you will wait on HIM, surrender your all to Him, He has someone that will love you how you were meant to be loved.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. Psalm 18:30-32
Amazing post, Lauren. I have always said that I want a guy who loves God more than he would love me. Thank you for writing this and for the reminder. I don’t know how I found you on Twitter, but I’m sure glad I did. 🙂
Thank you for writing about identifying destructive relationships. It helped me in a way that only God will ever know.
Thank you SO much for this post. I found it randomly through Twitter and it speaks so much to me – having been in a destructive relationship myself. Not only that, but I was married to this person before the pain and abuse was intolerable which made it even harder to deal with since I didn’t want to break my commitment to marriage. With my pastor’s advice and help, I was able to finally give an ultimatum and my abuser left the marriage…(although he still tries to contact me, with no success of course.)
Dealing with a destructive relationship is hard enough, but dealing with divorce before the age of 25 as a Christian woman was even harder. It’s been a couple years now and I’m still struggling with finding a respectful partner and opening myself up again, but I KNOW it will happen. Just not on my schedule, but on God’s. Thank you for reminding me that settling for less is not God’s will.
I had just gotten out of a destructive relationship. I thank the Lord you found and followed me on twitter. You are helping me find my hope an strength, Him.
This post blew me away. As I read it, I felt every single word because I am living it at the moment.
It made me cry because it is so on point. I feel like you were telling my story. It is very inspiring. I am not sure how I got here but I see I am not alone and others have been here too. I dont know how to break free and it’s not because I feel I don’t deserve better because I know I do, but I just dont know why. I am looking for answers so that I can take action but I realize now sometimes you take action first and answers will follow.
I am so glad I came across this. Thank you 🙂
[…] Helpful Resources The insanity of destructive relationships. | – The Full Time Girl […]
i am a guy, and yes, this post is amazing.
This post are words from God for me to read. I keep staying in an abusive relationship and nothing changes. When I’m hurt I run to God, to the church. He runs anywhere but to God. I don’t think that will ever change. Thank you, for being you. For being inspiring and for being giving an amazing gift and outreach.