Who Is Driving Your Car?

Is this person actually boring, or is their lack of chaos, drama, and mind games simply failing to feed your own toxic desire for dysfunction?

Is this person actually boring, or is their lack of chaos, drama, and mind games simply failing to feed your own toxic desire for dysfunction?

I touch on the subject of personal standards quite a bit on this website. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what we want before entering any relationship. But I think it’s about time to discuss how important it is to dissect what we want and why we might want it. The popular theories around both The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Attachments by Dr. Tim Clinton all converge upon one central idea: We crave and subconsciously seek out the love or displays of love which were denied to us in childhood. Many people are aware of the ways that their parents or guardians fell short in showing them love and protection, and whether this was from active malice, neglect, or inability. Some are even aware that they are chasing that love as adults. But what very few people ever realize is that, while we weren’t getting the love we wanted, we were internalizing potentially very toxic misconceptions of what relationships should look like.

Oftentimes, when a person is raised around domestic violence, a partner who calmly stands up for themselves and refuses to argue appears to be cold and unfeeling. If someone was raised with financial scarcity, they might be willing to endure all manner of abuse from a financially stable partner. Partners with abandonment issues might want to call and text their partners continuously throughout the day in order to get a constant stream of reassurance and validation. There are even many people who will sabotage anything that looks stable and/or long-term because on/off relationships were the only adult relationships they were ever exposed to as children, and instability is their normal. For a lot of these people, an emotionally mature, honest, and respectful partner (no matter their background, occupation, interests, hobbies, etc.) might appear to be an incredibly boring person. They believe that love is painful, mercurial, and conditional.

In assessing our standards and criteria for potential partners, it’s important to make a list and check it twice. It is even more important to go through each item on that list and ask yourself why it’s there and if it even should be. What part of your psyche authorized that transaction? Was it your intrinsic needs, self-worth, and core values? Or was it your anxiety, unhealed trauma, and low self-esteem? Part of having and raising your standards is confronting your trauma and how it affects your thinking, and taking back your power. Taking back your power means cutting off the people and circumstances that cause you stress and grief. Healing means actually wanting and seeking out what’s good for you.

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