Why would a talented young woman with so much promise choose a relationship with a man who abused her? There have been recent rumors floating around that Rihanna is secretly dating Chris Brown, who was convicted of domestic violence during their relationship. Now, Rihanna has been announced as one of the Time Magazines 100 Most Influential People in the World. What message are we as a culture sending young girls about sexuality when one of our most influential young women of our time has dated a “Bad Boy.” Honestly, I don’t know Rihanna or Chris, and I can’t speak to whether or not they are dating. What I would like to speak about is the allure women feel being attracted to a bad boy.
Many times women and men misunderstand what love means. We are all bombarded with images of romantic love which is in the early stages of a relationship. For many of us, it is the only type of love we understand. Romantic love is intertwined with intensity and we equate this intensity as love. The “allure” for a “bad boy” can become quite intoxicating and obsessive. His avoidant, lone ranger, mysterious, confident style is code for “love avoidant.” His avoidance gives room for “interpretation and fantasy by his partner.” Here is an example of a common dance: His avoidance leads to your abandonment feelings being triggered, which leads you to pursue him, which leads to him feeling suffocated, which leads to him to pull away, which leads to your feeling abandoned, and round and round we go. This love obsessed, and love avoidant dance in the relationship plays out as intensity. Intensity and love are two different things.
How do you know if you are feeling “true love” or “intensity” or both? This is a difficult question to ask and begins by learning more about yourself. Ask these questions and be Honest. Did I grow up experiencing physical or sexual abuse? Did I grow up emotionally or physically neglected? What was my relationship like with my father? What was my relationship like with my mother? How did I relate to other children, my peers? Do I look for a partner who “excites” me or a partner who is “safe and predictable?” Do I find people who are “safe and predictable” boring? Am I attracted only to people who are “mysterious” and “unpredictable?” Any yes answers, speak to a perfect storm for obsession and addiction in relationships. Webster’s definition of Addiction is: A compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, alcohol or a feeling state) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance (or feeling) known by the user to be harmful.
In the book, Facing Love Addiction, Author Pia Mellody states the definition of Love Addiction or Obsession specifically is 1. Development of a increasing tolerance of bad behavior from a partner. 2. Increasing dependence on a partner. 3. Self-care becomes more neglected over time. 4. Increasingly not aware of your own feelings. 5. Feeling trapped and unable to escape. 6. Obsessive thoughts of retaliation towards partner. If this is you, there is help available to grow into true love and intimacy for your relationship.
True love and intimacy is a gradual “knowing” of each other over time. It takes listening to each other and find out Who that person really is and loving them unconditionally. It means giving up your fantasy of who you think the person should be and loving them for who they are. You decide to grow personally to enhance the quality of the relationship to become more satisfying for you and your partner. You allow for your partner to Not meet All your needs. You develop an Abundant Lifestyle meaning there is enough love for everyone (love is not a scarce commodity). You develop the ability to solve problems with negotiation and compromise. You enjoy each other’s differences and you communicate simply and directly.
Whether Rhianna and Chris Brown get back together or not, I believe any couple can learn how to increase their intimacy and develop a deeper more satisfying relationship. It takes introspection and making changes that benefit both partners in the relationship. If you have grown weary of the intensity of “Bad Boy” relationships, choose to change. Do something about it, you are not stuck. Take a step towards positive change, ask for help, and Journey to Abundant Life as a couple.