Why do I get such a kick out of ending relationships, wonders a letter writer.
Our elder has some advice for conquering the addiction to starting over.
I’m not sure when it started, but every time I end a relationship, I get a happy burst. Whether it’s calling it off with a friend or just cutting someone out, it gives me joy. Granted, it’s always someone who needs to be cut out, but I feel like I do it pretty often. After the event, I get this happy, start-over mentality that lasts for a few days, and I really like it, but I feel like it’s extremely unhealthy. This also goes for movies, when the character gets out of a toxic relationship, I want to be in that position so I can feel that rush of happiness and feeling of moving on. This is worrisome to me because I was watching a movie, and the character was in an abusive, scary relationship and her husband was putting her kids in possible danger, so she leaves, but it’s a very scary, intense scene. And the whole time I was just thinking about how much I wanted to be in her position. I wanted to feel that pain and be able to recover from it. I think that pain is so good and helpful to go through, but I think it’s springing into an obsession with disastrous situations, which I think is really unhealthy, but I can’t get over how much I love those rushes of renewal. Please give me your opinion.
I can see why you might be concerned that your feelings are leading you to a larger problem. I commend you for being so perceptive about your motivations and willingness to share your concerns. To better evaluate how “healthy” or “unhealthy” your feelings of elation are when you end a relationship, I think you should consider how often this happens and how fast this is escalating into something that may be creating roadblocks with all of your future relationships.
I don’t think there is anything wrong for feeling happy with yourself if you are proactive and strong enough to end a truly bad relationship. However, your narrative makes me wonder just how many “bad relationships” you’ve had. You say that these people need to be cut out and that this happens fairly often. Maybe you should think about what kind of people you choose initially to hang with. Are these people truly having a bad influence or effect on you and your other relationships? Or, are you just having the usual ups and downs of friendships but are using the downside as an excuse to cut them off? Are there other ways to deal with them rather than dismissing them? Most of us are definitely not so happy to be starting over in relationships, even if we are exiting one with justification. If your behavior toward them is less than justified, I would believe that your need to feel the “new start” emotions is taking over and directing your behavior. If you strongly feel that your actions are justified based on their behavior, then you need to find a better group of people to be your social group so you don’t need to “cut them out”. You need friends whom you can trust and who can trust you, and that requires some give-and-take and commitment on both sides.
Perhaps some of what is underneath the surface has to do with avoidance and commitment. Some people hate confrontation enough to avoid it by cutting off relationships (even the good ones), and some are afraid to commit because that means staying and not starting over. Starting over can have the same uplift as always thinking the next best thing lies just out of reach. Although that seems like a positive, it can sadly leave you in a constant state of discontent because you can’t be satisfied with what you have and you feel compelled to keep looking. Have you thought about either of these as possible triggers for your emotional responses to ending relationships?
I think it’s very human to wonder how each of us would react if we were in a difficult situation like the woman in the movie you mention. Would we overcome a terrible situation with courage and fortitude and pride in ourselves? We certainly like to think that we would, but most of us thankfully never find out. Having control over keeping or ending a friendship and having control over a disaster or serious threat situation are two completely different things. I know you can understand this intellectually, but if you can’t understand this emotionally, then you may want to consider seeking some professional help. Increasing risk or creating pain so that you can overcome it to feel victorious and elated to be starting over is dangerous because it focuses your ability to be happy with people on something negative (rejection and rationalization), rather than on something more positive (loyalty and appreciation). A therapist could also help you find ways to overcome avoidance and commitment fears if those are impacting your ability to form healthy relationships.
Certainly, you can work on reining in your emotions yourself, with or without help. Try to focus on reasons why you want to retain the good relationships that you have. Remind yourself that the next unknown relationship is not always going to be better than what you have in reach right now. You can still have the joy of adding new relationships without cutting out the existing ones. Focus on being a better friend to your friends by honoring your commitments to them and extending a willingness to work out problems with them.
I hope my comments have given you some food for thought. I wish you the very best going forward.
Letter #: 432081