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Why Love Turns To Hate: Four Blunders That Can Kill Any Relationship

Ms. Carroll is a retired paralegal who now works as a certified professional aromatherapist. She enjoys freelance writing in her spare time.

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” – David Viscott


Love makes the world go round. Without it, life just seems to lack any meaningful purpose and evil prevails in its absence. The First Book of Corinthians says,

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

If St. Paul the Apostle’s words make love seem like a tall order, that’s because it is! There are many types of love beyond his Biblical interpretation, but overall, love is commitment. It does not discriminate based on wants or needs. It is shared in spite of our weakest points, not because of our strong ones. Love has a familiar ring as parents and children, among siblings, between spouses and friends — even among strangers. Love can be platonic or romantic; it can be playful or serious. Though relationships may become hindered by circumstance, real love will outlast the circumstance. The natural chemistry formed between two people is an attraction that eventually fades, and when it does, our commitment to love must step forward.

Love is captivating and magnetic! It is restorative and safe. Sadly, we usually take it for granted. It is regrettably far too simple for the adult mind to forget that love requires keeping our ego in check. We tend to let our emotions and opinions lead, and when we do, truth and clarity fade dimmer than the initial chemistry. Our commitment to love should bar ego at the door because once we allow ego to outshine veridity, we put our hearts up for sale. The degeneration from something once as warm as the sun to something now cold and bitter as ice is so slow and un-avowed that sometimes we don’t even see it happening!

Here is how we degrade love and the sublimity it brings into toxicity, cruelty, and even hatred.

Blunder #1 - We Choose Opinion Over Nurturing

Sadhguru suggests that “Love means you’re willing to nurture another life without forming opinions.” He goes on to say that “an opinion is a way of fixing a person into a straight-jacket.” Sadhguru is exactly right! Love should set into motion the act of nurturing, not judging. Loving someone should mean wanting to raise someone to their full potential, not tear them down a notch or control them. In the right context, good judgement has a place and can serve a useful role in forming decisions (following objective and deliberate thought); however, we err towards poor judgment when we are feeling vulnerable. We allow misguided thoughts or impressions to clog our minds, particularly with regard to those we are closest to and love the most. We get too comfortable in our love-skin. When we do, we ignore objectivity; we bypass careful thought; and we run the risk of basing decisions on fears and insecurities rather than grounded, rational feelings.

Nurturing someone means helping encourage them in new possibilities for their life rather than offering critical opinions that serve to discourage. We may convince ourselves that we are helping those we love when we offer criticism disguised as truth, but we may actually cause great harm. It is devastating to try and fit our loved ones’ feelings into a heart-shaped box called opinion because they won’t fit. We will be disappointed when they don’t and our loved ones will feel alienated. If we want to ensure love lasts, we need to embrace nurturing, not opinion. Nurturing requires effort such as giving someone the benefit of the doubt. For instance, if we think someone is trying to buy our love, we should consider they are actually trying to show their love. Our love obligation isn’t to second guess, but to show appreciation. If we think someone is too controlling, we should fairly consider their actions and motivation. Our love obligation isn’t defensiveness, but the courtesy and respect of a genuine conversation about it. Nurturing does not shut someone down or out; opinion does that. Opinions are nothing more than a point of view that could be right, could be wrong, or could be half-right and half-wrong. Nurturing is ALWAYS right. It provides sustenance; it is the bread and butter of love. It means that we care enough to protect the relationship. It means that we care enough about someone to encourage growth and development rather than sideswipe their potential.

Blunder #2 – We Allow Emotions to Overpower Thought And Speech

Emotions are natural and instinctive. They regularly arise from circumstances and are inherent to relationships. The closer we are to a person, the more heightened our emotions will be. Since emotions are intuitive feelings, they quickly get separated from rational thought. Emotions can even disconnect us from reality. We may create fictional narratives to support our opinion or become maniacal. If we do not endeavor to think things through with reason, the result will be an emotion-based reaction. Emotionally-fueled responses erode trust as well as the power of consistency in a relationship.

Emotions are pleasant when we are happy and content, but our emotions are destined to turn ugly when we are not. We may even resort to name calling which essentially ensures a toxic environment. We cannot recover a stone once it is thrown so we should work diligently to make sure what rolls off of our tongue matches our goals. Far too many arguments have been started by the aggressor only to be finished by the assaulted, leaving BOTH then to be blamed for letting poor word choices get the upper hand. Taste your words first, lest you have to eat them. The tongue has the power to speak death to love.

Blunder #3 - We Let Anger Dictate Words And Actions

Anger is misplaced. It is actually a punishment we inflict on ourselves for someone else’s mistake. It is a merely a cover emotion for pain, frustration, resentment, or perhaps even fear. In other words, it is a secondary emotion. Unfortunately, it is easy to become angry with those closest to us because we are vulnerable to being hurt by them in the first place. We tend to repress our true feelings in an attempt to hide our frustration or dismay while anger continues to mount. We may actively placate our loved one. While it is perfectly normal to feel irritated, frustrated, or disappointed, it is not healthy to let our true feelings build up or cascade into a fit of fury or rage.

An important thing to note is that anger does not always display itself outwardly. It can boil beneath the surface like a hidden volcano waiting to erupt. The goal is to control anger before it controls us. This doesn’t mean we should avoid conflict because that simply creates a war within ourselves.

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Some of the most difficult situations to navigate in relationships will erupt between so-called loved ones versus mortal enemies. We actually sometimes give greater care and concern to an enemy because we presuppose our loved ones will forgive us when we falter. The American Psychological Association suggests there are three main approaches to resolving anger: expressing it, suppressing it, or calming it. The healthiest approach is to express anger, but to do it in a way where your needs are explained without hurting others. This does not give free license to let rage and insults fly. Instead, anger requires self-control, considerable introspection, deliberate thought, and careful action. We must first determine what we are really angry about in the first place. There is always a primary emotion driving the secondary emotion of anger.

Blunder #4 - We Refuse to Acknowledge A Contrasting Point of View

All any of us really want is to be heard and understood, right? However, we will not and cannot always agree on matters. Socrates said that the secret to change (or compromise) is to focus your energies on building something NEW, rather than fighting for something OLD. Yet as humans, we tend to resist change and equally resist, changing our opinion. Every time we do this, we are maintaining a status quo that is being challenged to begin with. Therefore, we are stifling personal growth AND sabotaging the growth of a relationship. When we create gridlock in a relationship, it degenerates into disrespect and division, and without question, there are certain types of disrespect that even the best apology cannot mend.

Considering another person’s point of view requires authenticity. Psychology Today states that authentic persons are “those who strive to align their actions with their core values and beliefs with the hope of discovering, and then acting in sync with their true selves.” When we fail at being authentic, we violate ourselves by creating negativity, guilt or shame that clouds our self-image. On the other hand, we make ourselves credible when we at least try to put ourselves in another’s shoes.

St. Paul doesn’t mention humility per se’ in love’s lexicon, but he does say love does not boast. Eckhart Tolle said, “Get the inside right and the outside will fall into place.” Without a humble spirit to guide our hearts and minds, the ego is certain to pummel our love relationships with selfishness, fear and doubt.

Was It Real Love, Or Toxic Love?

Someone once described a toxic person as one you can never depend on. Toxic people are definitely inconsistent. Things go from good to bad and back to good again — that’s how we are enticed to stay in a bad relationship to begin with. We can’t readily identify toxic people because they like to play the victim. However, they make themselves obvious when they try to manipulate us and then turn around and blame us because they don’t like our reaction to their disrespectfulness. Life and love will soon begin to feel like we are walking on eggshells around them.

The best advice for avoiding toxicity in a spousal relationship is to remember that jealously can camouflage itself in the best compliment just as hate can disguise itself in the deepest love. Do your homework while dating someone. Ask the hard questions and don’t ignore the red flags. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote an excellent book entitled Safe People which magnifies how to find relationships that are good for us and how to avoid those that aren’t. Without realizing it, many of us actually attract unsafe people.

What happens when toxic people are family members? After all, being blood-relatives shouldn’t mean we have to hide our true feelings in order to keep familial peace.

Pretending a relationship is healthy will not salvage it. If unhealthy issues are not dealt with, they can become an imminent threat to our mental, physical and emotional well-being. Sometimes a family dynamic can become so toxic that one person in the family is scapegoated by the entire family and subject to blame and ridicule by the rest. Imo Lo, a mental health consultant and psychotherapist, reminds us that being made the black sheep of the family is “an unconscious strategy used by some family members to evade their own emotional pain and sufferings.” Scapegoating has a staggering array of complex psychological impacts.

When emotional abuse from family members becomes overt and deeply painful, we have no choice but to disassociate from them. Mark Twain said, “Stay away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really GREAT make you feel that you too, can become GREAT!”

GREAT people are who we want to align ourselves with.

Love And Hope Spring Eternal

If you are in a love turned toxic scenario, don’t lose hope. As C. S. Lewis said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” Begin within! We live in a world where there are many trained professionals at our disposal for restoration, but the first step will always be within ourselves or the fountain of love and hope but trickles.

By the same token, don’t be the sheep that spends its entire life fearing the wolf, only to be eaten by the shepherd (African Proverb). Learning to recognize toxic behaviors in others helps us protect our own emotional well-being. It is not just necessary, it’s smart! Recognize a relationship as toxic when the person we love is using their personal pain as an excuse to hurt us.


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