Ladies, this is a particularly delicate subject, but one that I feel is truly important to address, and that’s been ruminating in my mind for weeks.
We’re all familiar with the cliché of the woman sitting by her phone waiting for the guy to finally text. After days of silence, suddenly, the screen lights up with his name. He barely wrote a sentence, but the words are just flirtatious enough to make her feel like she’s walking on clouds, living “Once Upon A Dream.”
And then… radio silence for another 4 days. She anxiously awaits his news. Starts imagining every possible scenario. Her last message never went through. He lost his phone. He’s no longer interested in her. He found someone else. He’s secretly married. He literally fell off the face of the earth. After sleepless nights and verging on depression, out of nowhere, he proposes to meet. Hope is restored. Her heart soars. They spend a magical evening together and she secretly starts envisioning her wedding dress, the venue, the floral arrangements… Until the rollercoaster starts all over again.
There’s a reason this cliché exists: because it happens all too often in real life. Most of us have found ourselves in some version of this scenario, knowing deep down that this extreme oscillation from excessive highs to devastating lows isn’t sustainable. That it tears us apart, but that we tell ourselves that the pleasure – when it comes – is so irresistible, that it’s worth the pain. And what’s more, sometimes we feel as if the whole situation is out of our control. We’re at the whim of the man’s every move, believing we have to simply adapt to his desires in order for him to stay. And yet, as I’ve watched a couple of my friends enduring this very form of emotional yo-yoing as of late, I couldn’t help but wonder: how do we regain the upper hand in the dangerous game of volatile relationships?
Before I dive in, I’d like to clarify that in no way am I advocating for this type of situation. On the contrary, I’d like to point out that this is what many therapists refer to as a ‘toxic relationship,’ and that it can be incredibly detrimental to your emotional and mental health. That being said, 1) I am not one to judge, and 2) given that it’s highly probable many of us will find ourselves in this sort of scenario, I’d like to discuss it so we can all be better emotionally equipped. Now, let’s get to the good stuff.
A friend of mine – let’s call her Isabelle – began pursuing a relationship with a man who very clearly took pride in his capacity to never fall in love. He kept his heart safely encased, ensuring a constant emotional distance from any woman he encountered. For him, relationships were meant to be light, frivolous, and above all, anything but serious.
She knew from the onset he was not the type of man she ought to pursue, and yet, she fell under his spell. What ensued were moments of ecstatic pleasure, followed by complete emotional retractions, wherein he would go silent for days. The push and pull drove Isabelle mad. And rightfully so! He may not have intended to, but he was tossing her around, causing her to question her every move and never feel fully safe in the relationship. She felt as if he had all the control over her, and all she could do was sit quiet and hide her pain, in fear of otherwise making him flee.
Yet what began as an exhilarating, enchanting escapade, gradually led to a strong emotional connection… even for him. And finally, the day came that Mr. X – deeply hesitant – confessed he loved her. But this couldn’t be! It defied all the rules he’d established – completely threw him for a loop. And so, she, over the moon with joy that her feelings were reciprocated, could not understand why the very next day, he went MIA. No more sweet messages to awaken her in the morning. No more affectionate gestures. Just cold, brutal distance. She was distraught. She called me in tears, uncertain of what to do, wanting to just forget it all, yet still craving his love. She felt helpless, knowing that if she confronted him, it’d only push him further away, and knowing that if she wanted him to return, she simply had to sit out the silence and let him come to her.
As her friend, I wanted nothing more than to feed this guy to the wolves. But since, unfortunately, I am not at liberty to do so, I needed to find a way to get through to her, instead. It wasn’t my place to tell her whom to love. But I couldn’t stand to see my strong, fabulous Isabelle feeling so shattered. I paused. Took a deep breath. “Love, I know you’re in pain. And I know his behavior feels irrational, even if you knew in your heart to expect it, as that’s the way he is. He told you from the start he never wanted to fall for someone. And you came into his life and managed to make him forego the very promise he’d made to himself. To protect himself from whatever pain led him to that mentality in the first place. And so, now, here he is, having just let you in. And that terrifies him. So subconsciously, he needs to recreate that distance by pushing you away.
Now, I am not going to tell you whether or not you should be with someone. That is your decision and one that no one else can make for you. However, I want you to remember something: right now, it feels like he’s the one with all the control. But in truth, the one who holds all the cards is you. You know that if you wait it out, he’ll come back. And he’s going to continue with this push and pull. But he’s happy keeping it that way and certainly keeping you in his life, so long as you don’t get too close. He’s not going to ever fully walk away.
You, however, at ANY given moment, have the power to do so. Yes, if you want to continue seeing him, you’ll have to abide by his conditions. This emotional rollercoaster where he’ll let you in, then just as swiftly push you away. But the moment that you decide that the pain outweighs the pleasure and you want to leave… that is YOUR call.”
Suddenly, she was no longer the one being tossed and turned by the waves of this complicated scenario. Instead, she realized that she was the one fully driving the ship and steering the course of her life. She wouldn’t be able to change his behavior, but she could determine the final outcome.
This very notion of shifting our mindset from that of the helpless participant to that of the driving force is essential to giving us back our power. To realize that we are in control of our own lives.
And so, dear reader, I’d like to remind you of something you may sometimes forget: you are strong, resilient, courageous and, yes, worthy of a healthy relationship in which you feel valued and secure. But if you do find yourself in one of these types of challenging, over-the-moon/bottom-of-the-barrel relationships, know that at the end of the day, YOU have the strength and choice to walk away… whenever you feel ready to do so.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and personal stories. If you enjoyed this post, share it with friends! You can also sign up for our newsletter to know when our next article comes out. Bisous, Sabrina