At one point in your dating life, you’ve probably experienced a toxic relationship. For most people who encounter such relationships, they have been able to get out before the situation became worse. For the not so lucky ones, they have learnt that toxic relationships are very addictive.
Here’s a scenario of a toxic relationship: The person you are dating treats you really well and lovingly, and then…boom! They do something extremely toxic. In such a situation, emotionally healthy people do not tolerate that and they usually move on after it occurs a few times. Unhealthy people, on the other hand, usually rationalize this behaviour. Yes, he hit me, but he takes me on a great weekend getaway sometimes.
If someone does something nice for you, is he or she entitled to abuse you? The answer is no. Yet, more often than not, that is exactly what happens in many toxic platonic, professional, familial, and romantic relationships.
Here are some reasons why you feel as though toxic relationships are addictive:
You grew up in a toxic home
A good number of people who find it hard to leave a toxic relationship probably grew up with parents who were sometimes very exceptionally loving sometimes and extremely abusive other times. Therefore, when they grow up and get into relationships, they believe that that is how the world is supposed to be. Thus, the mindset is: if you are nice to me, you are allowed to hurt me.
You enjoy the chase
Humans, both men, and women tend to find interest in people who are more of a challenge, mysterious, or aloof. It’s human nature to be interested in someone who is a little harder to get.
So if a romantic partner acts loving at times and at other times is withdrawn and distant, the other romantic partner will begin to lust after him or her.
In the brain, dopamine (the brain’s happy-dance drug) responds to lust. Dopamine encodes on the anticipation of reward. Like the compulsive gambler anticipating the big pay-off, the toxic relationship addict is waiting for the jackpot of love and affection from the other person.
The anticipation of reward often leads to not knowing whether the person you are lusting over will finally be emotionally available. This then causes the body to release the adrenaline hormone. Adrenaline is a stimulant. Stimulants are addictive. Do you get where I’m going with this?
Like any addiction there is one ultimate solution—find a way to let it go. Toxic relationship addiction is like any other master/slave relationship. It is not the master, who sets the slave free; it is the slave, who leaves the master. You have to stop chasing the big emotional pay off in relationships.