In an age of quasi-robotic living, quick answers and quick solutions, we tend to see human interaction as less complex than it actually is; we sometimes want to divide people into strict categories to love, hate, respect, trust, disdain or fear.
We no longer look inside ourselves or to those around us for ways to address our conflicts, but turn outwards instead, in search of the ”mathemathics” of human relationships, thinking somehow others have decoded them and we can take a quick course which will give us the ability to always control who we relate to and how. That is an illusion; life is unpredictable and so are human beings.
Obviously, there are situations when people can pose a real danger to others and the latter need to cut ties with them immediately; I am not referring to them here. Also, I choose not to refer to work-related conflicts as I have found people who needlessly pick on strangers (such as employees, co-workers, employers) are usually nasty and should be avoided.
Personal relationships are always tricky; there are issues such as a common history, a separate and joint evolution, high expectations, errors not yet forgiven, unvoiced frustrations, misinterpreted or undiscussed emotional signals and communicational problems.
There could be multiple explanations and solutions for personal conflicts, yet the tendency today is to seek the fastest one – my partner/ my ex/ my parent/ my sibling is a disordered individual and immediate separation is my only chance to live a normal life. Of course, sometimes that is the actual case. However, after watching the dynamics on recovery forums and my own tendency to ply myself to this stereotypical thinking, my observation is that some people do rush to this conclusion.
I am not arguing those who erroneously reach this conclusion are not actually hurting – when one is overwhelmed by depression, anger, confusion or helplessness, they are an easily gained audience by know-it-all types with a quick answer and an agenda of personal validation. From first hand experience, people in such states are so mentally tired they embrace any plausible answer which gives them certainty and a direction in life.
Once they are in a group of this type they reinforce their approach and echo it to each other; it becomes their reality; then, as opposed to considering psychopathy an extreme societal aspect, they end up applying this label way too easily.
I remember when I became aware of the modern shift towards cultural Marxism; I was seeing marxists everywhere. In the same manner, people who are on the look out for psychopaths live by the ”warning signs” and when one or two seem to be present their guard goes up immediately. This leads to many ”false flags”, so to speak, and constricts the lives of those who live in a permanent fear of encountering disordered types.
In my opinion, extreme disorders such as psychopathy should be the last option to examine – certainly not the first.
Even if a relationship is toxic, it doesn’t automatically mean one person is at fault, and even when one person really is at fault it doesn’t automatically make them evil. And even if they are evil to some degree, it does not make them heartless, which is what psychopaths are.
When partners end up arguing all the time for no specific reason and become estranged from each other, the root could reside in issues such as:
- Unvoiced frustrations;
- Fears, phobias, complexes, obsessions and other aspects left undiscussed;
- Other emotional baggage popping up unexpectedly;
- Past events, unrelated to the current relationship;
- Depression, hormonal imbalance, midlife crisis etc;
- Substance abuse;
- Stress, sleep deprivation etc, which affect one partner in particular;
- A spiritual crisis;
- Major cultural and educational differences which start showing overtime;
- Negative parental influences which start showing at some point etc.
These are common sense suggestions, to which I can add the overall difficulty of being a man or a woman in this day and age, when morals and gender roles are so blurred. People grow and change; it’s truly wonderful when they can put up with each other for many years.
Our culture is replete with the dysfunctional relationship and family motif, which is omnipresent on television, in films, in music etc. It is also replete with false ideals and expectations for partners to internalise, seeking to turn women into little more than blow-up dolls and men into emasculated metrosexuals who never grow up. Marketers seeking to sell the illusion of eternal youth know exactly what buttons to push and have a devastating impact on our psyche; we are brought up with messages which go against our instincts and often cause us to be confused.
When intense conflicts with family members are involved, aside from different values, repressed childhood memories and generational differences, there is a theory that spiritual issues may be involved as well, as described by Dr Kenneth McAll in his works, such as Healing The Family Tree. Whilst this approach surely isn’t for everyone, it is generally accepted that family secrets have a strong impact when they finally emerge.
Past generations certainly had their flaws, yet also their strong points. One is a double-edged sword – the principle of protecting one’s intimacy and the public image of those we love. In past centuries and decades, the family was thought to be a fortress and people stuck together. Of course, that can be very damaging when real abuse is involved and no one should be shamed or emotionally blackmailed into covering it up – which is what happens in cults for instance.
But today we tend to use the internet as a venting platform for our grievances, regardless of their nature and seriousness (or lack thereof). As a person who has been guilty of this on occasion, I know that type of exposure, albeit anonymous, does draw a wedge between people, as well as guilt and embarrassment when realising the exaggerated reaction. Just as some people can be cruel jerks at times, others can be oversensitive and react too strongly to behaviour which would otherwise be annoying, yet not a matter of life and death.
A person can mislead themselves and those around them into demonising another without having to lie, by listing the shortcomings and mistakes of the latter. Logically, if we all made an honest list of our own defects, mistakes, wrong turns in life etc, hardly anyone would preserve a good image. Hence they can collectively draw a false conclusion based on true facts, if that makes any sense.
My stance is not of accusing those who lash out when they get too emotional, or who temporarily see a person in the wrong light; that would be hypocritical. We live in a messed up world where we no longer know what healthy living is, where we keep more contacts than we can sustain and have little time left for reflection. In my opinion, by constantly exposing our intimacy we harm ourselves and those around us. Again, I am not referring to actual abuse, which should be exposed and addressed.