Love, Heartbreak

How Negativity Affects Your Relationship

How Negativity Affects Your Relationship

I loved her, but it was a heavy love. It started once we were just past that beginning stage. You know what I mean, when we were both too afraid of sending the other running to the hills screaming to even risk nagging. It was all over-politeness. "This time," we thought, "I will be perfect. I will not nag, and under no circumstances will I show jealousy. I will be cool." This was after that. The stage where we began to wonder if this could be the person we would spend the rest of our lives with.

It started with simple complaints, the kind we have all heard and occasionally use. Things like, "I'm feeling fat today" or "I just can't get my hair right." Now, I am a firm believer in the freedom to complain. A relationship that doesn't allow at least that level of comfort is doomed. So, I did the right thing, telling her that of course she was beautiful, as always. She smiled, seeming content, and we went out to dinner. As we got more settled, the negativity grew. It became complicated, involving me and her belief that I could not possibly love her. But I did, I knew I did, and I told her so, but it never seemed to make any long-term difference. The instances began piling on top of each other until they became a frustrating routine. I'm not sure if she did it because she really believed I would leave her, or because she needed the constant reassurance I always gave. Either way, it wore on us.

Looking back, it is almost as if she fulfilled her own prophecy. But in the end me leaving had nothing to do with her body or her hair. It had everything to do with the weight of her self-negativity. Believe me, I still loved her, but our relationship had become more like one between a psychiatrist and their patient. I felt cornered into being the rock. Telling her she was wonderful was not the problem, I would have told her just how wonderful she was every day for the rest of our lives, but having it forced out of me took away the joy. Our routine limited our growth, and my role as supporter limited my own ability to grieve.

I remember one day in particular. Call it the turning point. My father had called, informing me that my childhood dog had passed away, run over by a car. She noticed I was upset, she might have even asked what was wrong, but whether or not I told her, I doubt she remembers. Instead, she delved into her problems, and I fell into my now defined role of listening, comforting. When she leaned on my shoulder that day I felt it all pour onto me. I loved her, I wanted her to be happy, but there are only so many times you can tell someone the same thing before you realize that they're not listening. You realize the difference between need and love. Of course, I always wonder if it could have been different.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.