When we have done all that we can do, it is time to detach. Detachment doesn’t mean that one breaks up with one’s partner. Sometimes, though, there may not be any other choice. Let us focus on building a sense of detachment while one is still in the relationship. If one clings too hard for too long, both will tip over.
When we continue to ignore ourselves, we may provide what our partner is looking for but, ultimately, neither of us will be happy. It does more damage than good to the relationship. If we are the one who always have to act strong and be the provider, one day, it’ll break us completely. There is something called as compulsive care.
Excessive clinging (lack of personal space in a relationship) and/or undue fear (not being able to voice one’s feelings because the other person either reacts violently or ignores what one has to say) are the classic signs of a toxic relationship. When we feel forced to care, not because we are in responsible relationship, but out of fear or attachment, we are a victim of compulsive care. And in such circumstances, we go through three emotions. It’s a cycle.
The three emotions, or more appropriately, the three roles, form what’s called the Karpman Drama Triangle.
1) The Rescuer
In an unbalanced relationship, one person is always playing the role of a rescuer. As a rescuer, you act strong, together, in charge. As soon as your partner plays victim and cries for help, you make yourself available for them. “Let me help you,” the rescuer says. “Don’t worry, I’m here.” You put aside your own preferences, needs, issues and anxieties. You rise to the occasion and help your partner who is emotionally dependent on you. Sometimes, unfortunately, all a rescuer is doing is disguising his or her own issues in the name of care or compassion. They feel compulsive to be nice, to be there for the other person, at the expense of their own well being. It comes at a great personal cost though because once the issue is resolved, the rescuer moves to the second point in the triangle.
2) The Persecutor
Since the inner happiness of the rescuer disappears as soon as the matter is resolved, their own issues rise to the surface. They no longer feel that the weaker partner actually needed help. Instead, a rescuer becomes a tormentor, a sort of a persecutor. “It’s all your fault,” that’s the first feeling he or she experiences towards the other person. Resentment builds up in the one who’s been acting strong. The rescuer feels angry, hurt, used, even abused. This creates the desire to control the behaviour of the other person, to snub them, curb them, so that such a situation does not arise again. The rescuer feels, “I must tell him / her that it can’t go on like this.” But, since the rescuer has not learned to take care of himself or herself, and because there exists a communication gap between the two partners, he / she is unable to express freely. Consequently, a rescuer starts to behave like a persecutor holding the other person responsible for everything he or she’s feeling. This does not end here though. Once, one has acted strong and then blamed the partner, he / she moves to the third point on the triangle.
3) The Victim
The rescuer now sees himself or herself as a victim. A sense of self-pity emerges in their consciousness. The person who was once a rescuer now feels helpless, powerless, indecisive and depressed. The desire to enjoy life takes a back seat and negative emotions engulf the victim. “Poor me” is the core feeling. The victim feels sorry for himself or herself and believes that they need someone to help them. And here’s the tragic thing: a victim seeks a rescuer (or even a persecutor because they come across strong). It’s the reason why most people move from one abusive relationship to another. They keep attracting the same type of partners. Every time, they think that this relationship is going to be different, it ends up the same – more or less.
It needn’t be this way. It all starts with leading a responsible life – a life, where you understand that in order to love someone, you must fill yourself with love first. To care for someone requires that you care about yourself first. An understanding that there’s only so much you can do for the other person. That, one day they ought to take responsibility for their behaviour.
If we keep on acting strong when we are actually tired within, one day we will fall apart – beyond repair. Happiness may be an individual journey but it’s a mutual feeling. If we are consistently going to be the rescuer, our partner will mostly play a victim. And, if we see ourselves as a victim, we will attract a persecutor. Either way, it’s detrimental to our self-esteem and well-being.
A relationship will be a constant burden and never a reward, unless it offers mutual fulfilment, personal space and room for exploration and expression. Yes, you should care and you should love, but it must start with yourself. Most of the life’s problems disappear if you take care of yourself and treat yourself with love. If you extend yourself the same courtesy as you do to your loved ones (or even strangers), your life will take on a whole new dimension.