Our insecurities can passively destroy our relationships or actively destroy them. Today, we’re going to explore how both work to destroy a relationship.
The number one killer of relationships I’ve seen that isn’t spoken about is when our insecurities are so strong that we isolate our lovers from their friends. This is different from the vicious act of isolating someone that we can see in physically abusive relationships, but it does the same thing. What am I talking about right?
I knew a good woman who held on too tightly to her good man who was too obedient.
Sabrina & Carl were High School sweethearts and went through the most difficult years together. They fought a lot in their teens and early twenties, but found a way for some type of peace in their late-twenties and married. The relationship went on where both of them achieved the highest education and excelled in their careers. They’re both good, decent people. One day, Carl snapped.
Carl had always felt isolated when he and Sabrina had moved in together. He wasn’t allowed to talk to his old friends anymore. He hadn’t ever done anything wrong or inappropriate with anyone and didn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to speak to any of them. His friends were important to him and had helped him throughout his awkward youth years. As they moved around and met new people in school and work Carl would make new friends and the same fight would happen between Carl and Sabina. Sabina would make him feel like he was cheating on her when that never had happened and it guilted him into isolation. This happened over and over again throughout their relationship. Carl just closed up.
Carl, now in his early-40’s, realized why he had just accepted the isolation. He was scared to lose Sabrina’s love. This tormented him because he knew what had been happening to him, being isolated from people, was wrong & abusive, but how could he change that? When he had spoken up about it and tried to defend himself the fights would start and the situation was always turned on him and he felt guilty and just closed up and would accept the isolation. Sabrina knew how to shut him down, they had been together for a long time after all.
Sabrina realized this wasn’t what she was wanting to do intentionally. She had come from a messed-up home and had no real examples of a good and trusting relationship. Sabrina was scared of losing Carl’s love, and knew that if she kept him away from everyone else and only with her at all times it would guarantee that she wouldn’t be left. That worked for a long time, but not eternally.
Carl & Sabrina never had kids because they both worked hard on their careers and education. One day, Carl snapped. Carl told Sabrina that he wasn’t going to be abused anymore and that she had to let him speak freely with whomever he wanted since he wasn’t the one to ever step out of their relationship.
“You can’t control me anymore to guarantee that I’ll be here. The tighter you hold onto me the easier I will slip right out of your hand. I’m a real fucking person Sabrina! I know that a lot of this is my fault. I was always compliant with whatever you wanted because of my insecurities and fears. But I’m not a teenager anymore. I grew up. I’m a real, full person that isn’t going to be obedient to you. I’m not a dog for your pleasure. You have to trust me like I trust you. To make you happy, and to subdue my pathological fears, I never went out. I didn’t make friends and I stayed home and worked hard. But I trusted you and you would go out and party and drink and come home at who knows what hours of the morning. It was never an equal relationship. I sucked it up, just dealt with it, but that’s over now. You have to See & Love All Of ME, not just the part you want me to be. I’m not talked to and when I try to talk I’m just shut down. I’m not known and if I’m not known then how can I be loved?”
Sabrina wasn’t totally shocked by what she heard. This had been slowly coming in the distance. She told me that her worst mistake was letting him do the work that he did. It opened his mind up too much. In her preparation for this moment she knew she had a few options.
She could repeat what she always did. Fight the fight to shut Carl down through guilt and distorted obligations.
“I’m not commanding you to not talk to them, you shouldn’t want to talk to them because you love me & I feel disrespected!”
This could work again, but this was failing quickly and wasn’t going to work forever. And if it didn’t work it would guarantee her worst fear, the loss of Carl’s love.
Sabrina could hear him out, actually hear what he’s saying. There’s different ways we hear our lovers during conflict.
Listening to Win the Fight: You listen to what they’re saying with an argument already loaded and ready for when they stop making sounds.
Just Listening: You hear what your lover is saying and put effort towards understanding them instead of defending your destructive insecurity that got you into this mess.
Carl spoke about what it would be like to be heard by Sabrina. He told me that he didn’t believe that she would. Why should he? It never happened before. Carl was severely hopeless and depressed about his marriage. He feared that he made a mistake by speaking up and trying to be a full person with wants and desires. It would have been better if he had stayed closed up and just obedient. Maybe he would have just died of a heart attack in his 70’s and no one would have been the wiser about all the feelings he pushed down which caused the heart attack.
“If she hears me, learns about me, she’ll probably not love me because I’ll actually be a person, not what I made myself to be in her image.”
The two of them had to work to save their marriage. Carl needed to learn to speak up and communicate what was going on with him, who he was, his desires and learn how to stick to his guns. Sabrina needed to learn how to listen to him, see him when he tried to show her and trust that her husband was going to be there no matter who he was around, as he always had been.
“I never messed around, I was always faithful, but I’m made to feel like a whore. This is what breaks me the most. I’m not trusted even though I never did anything wrong. I just can’t take this feeling anymore.”
Sabrina realized she treated Carl the way she did because of her past. She had been abandoned many times. Carl realized that he treated Sabrina the way he did because of his past. He had felt abandoned also. Two souls desperate for love, and found the sure way to destroy it.
Sabrina expressed her insecurities in the active manner of having a tight rope around Carl’s neck as to not have a chance of losing his love. Carl expressed his insecurities in the passive manner of doing everything he was told as to not lose Sabrina’s love. Both were manipulative ways of trying to manufacture love & stability. They weren’t in a healthy love, and that’s why Carl snapped.
In some relationships this works until one of them dies. The relationship is full of bitterness & regret though, not love. In other relationships, this is where one or both spouses go out and cheat to go find the love that they don’t feel in their marriage. That passion and excitement of having someone else know you and care about you.
Sabrina & Carl had to find a way to connect. There’s the risk that Sabrina might not actually like who Carl really is. This is a big reason for expressing your insecurities passively as Carl did. You’re scared that no one will love you for who you really are. It’s a real risk and the two of them had to face.
Open communication, with a therapist since they’re so intrenched in their ways, gives this kind of relationship the best chance to make it. Both of them have to be willing to learn about the other person. Both were being passive and active in their insecurities. It’s not hopeless, it’s just hard. Both will have to learn and accept who the other person is and re-navigate boundaries from their unrealistic restrictions to something that allows both of them to be autonomous people in a relationship.
Genuine and lasting love is created out of the freedom of two autonomous souls. Progress & life-giving curiosity is guaranteed then. If even one is not autonomous, the love is manufactured out of fear. Destruction is guaranteed then. The two had to let each other be autonomous and dissolve destructive attachments to each other that they formed over the decades. This is scary because it feels as if letting go of your tight grip means they may leave. They might, genuine love is risk. That will be painful and then would have to be worked through to heal from. But, if two people are set free and are autonomous and the relationship stays intact, it’s the most intoxicating love that can exist.
Neither of them are bad people, they were both dealt garbage cards when growing up when it came to relationships and how to connect romantically. There are no guarantees in love, and we lower our chances by trying to guarantee it. You can guarantee a fake love in a relationship. It’s more like settling at best. Or, you can risk your heart and let yourself and your lover be autonomous and free, so you two can give yourselves the chance to find each other again as you once did at the start, and re-realize why you two fell in love with each other in the first place. Reignite that hunger for curiosity and lust.