HUFFINGTON POST: Here’s How to Stop Dating Bad Boys
If you find yourself locked into a lust ridden on-again-off-again affair and riding the emotional roller coaster - get clear about what the problems are before you get off.
While most of us debate the pros and cons of staying versus leaving, you may find yourself focusing solely on the reasons to stay. After all, the choice is clear in your mind: Staying is easier than facing abandonment.
My client, Stephanie, aged 35, is a junior agent for a high profile agency. She is eager to please, strikingly attractive and wants to win favor with her peers. Through years of hard-wiring Stephanie has little defense against her impulses towards lustful, self-defeating relationships. But she has always hoped for something vastly different.
There was a colleague of hers, Luke, who liked her. She felt lustful and desired his attention. He was a marketing agent she’d worked with regularly on a campaign. He started to phone her, and the attraction felt relaxed. There was a highly complementary sexual magnetism.
They start to have this casual relationship - three or four days together that were pure bliss: passionate lovemaking, nights of incredible warmth where they were able to sleep and be together, and just hang out.
Unfortunately, just as she was beginning to relax inside the affair, he began to drink more and more. He started to act out, hurling abusive remarks at her. His behavior then followed a predictable outline. Filled with remorse, he apologized profusely, took her to dinner to make his amends face to face. But then halfway through this apology, he glared at her coldly and burst out-of-the-blue: “You fucking bitch.”
I cautioned Stephanie that ‘enough is enough’ and advised her to walk away.
To most of us, leaving may seem like a no-brainer; yet her actions were pulling her full speed ahead into a lust ridden ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenario. It didn’t matter how well or how little she knew him beforehand. It became a whole different ball game when they got intimate.
Stephanie was in deep trouble. She was hurting herself by her decision to condone his emotionally abusive behavior. She was afraid to acknowledge the dance, the neediness, and the manipulation.
For her, losing him created the sense of falling into a black hole, unable to pull back. She began to lose her grip and mourn for the good relationship they had briefly shared, tormenting herself with questions and nostalgic answers: “Why am I alone? I was happy. I want it back.”
It was like watching someone pulled into a void.
I told her, “You’re addicted to the idea of a soul-mate. You’re addicted to the romance rather than to the person. You need to treat this as an addiction.”
She agreed: “I feel like it’s an addiction.”
Change has to start with you. It births from the courage to face your truth. Viktor E. Frankl eloquently cited, “When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Here’s how to go cold sober from lust addiction:
The first few days were crucial; we worked on atonement, which involved her accepting and attending to her own sensations, emotions, and thoughts, and then feeling into the experience. Meditation would introduce a sense of calm as Stephanie sat quietly, listening to soft music, and remained still. I suggested 36 slow breaths to help fill her cravings to call Luke. I created an activity with her dog, Millie, to help her nurture and care for something outside of herself - an important part of rewiring our circuits when dealing with addiction.
Stephanie was free to rewrite her past and take a baby step forward with a newfound sense of an undisturbed self. She could now rest assured that what she was projecting to the rest of the world, or to a future partner, reflected her deep inner center. And she was free to leave Luke and start a new relationship.
“If you suffer the twin agonies of craving for and withdrawing from a series of unrequited crushes or toxic relationships . . . If you always feel like you’re clutching at someone’s ankle and dragged across the floor as they try to leave the room . . . Welcome to the club.” -Ethlie Ann Vare