push-pull relationship

When You're Hooked on the Wrong Kind of Partner

stuck in a bad relationship

I was chatting with a client last week and she said something far too familiar. I'm going to share a quick synopsis because I know it's going to resonate with some of you: 

"I love him so much and I know he's all wrong for me.

 I usually lead a drama-free life... this just isn't me!  

I am totally in control in the rest of my life, but somehow whenever he's in my life I'm a mess.  

I can't seem to stop myself from going back to him.

But also when we're together it's just SO GOOD sometimes too- you, know?  It's like... intoxicating and sweet and overwhelming.  

It's like an addiction in the way I can't keep any real boundaries with him.

Why do I keep getting hooked by this guy!?  I don't know what's wrong with me!!"

Lots of people get hooked into these kinds of relationships.  They're indescribably hot and fascinating.  They feel overwhelmingly life-giving and affirming.  You might feel like you've found a soul mate- or at least someone who you connect with deeper than anyone in a long long time.  You might feel happier than ever with them.  

I've seen hundreds of clients go through this kind of intoxicating infatuation because it feels SO GOOD.

It really does.

And (until) it doesn't.  

When you start noticing yourself behaving in ways you normally wouldn't, or your distracted from all your other relationships (or work) with tension and drama, when you feel overwhelmed by a push-pull tension, or sacked with confusion and overwhelm you might be headed in a messy direction.

The most concerning thing I hear from folks hooked in this kind of dynamic is how not-themselves they feel.  They often find themselves doing things or putting up with things they never would consider in any other friendship or relationship.  

They tell me they would advice friends in similar situations to walk away.

They feel like they've lost sight of themselves.

They acknowledge it's unhealthy and yet these healthy people just can't seem to let go.

"Why am I doing this to myself?"

When you start to notice this kind of imbalance in your relationship it's time to step back for some reflection.  Usually these folks come into our lives to help us learn some important lesson and can foster our growth in some important way- if we pay close attention.

The first thing you want to consider is if there's some kind of theme you can learn from here.  In psychology this is called "transference."  It's what happens when there's some old issue at hand arising in a new person. 

Try the questions below to check if there are energetic boundaries you need to shift:

  • Why/how is this dynamic familiar?

  • Where in my life have I felt this way before?

  • Who in my past is this person reminding me of?

Often when we're stuck in some kind of transference we'll keep repeating the same cycle in relationships until we start changing part of our pattern.  You can get free with greater awareness if it also leads to greater intentionality.  

  • How do you wish you might have handled those past dynamics differently?  

  • What can you learn from them and apply here?

Odds are very good you can learn something here to shift the dynamic you're stuck in.  It's not so simple as they're a bad person and you're a good one- but something between you is clearly off if your actions lack integrity, you feel shame, or you're behaving fully in a space of reactivity (instead of intention).  

Let me know if you'd like to dive deeper in this learning.  I love talking relationships and have plenty more to share on this topic.  

dating the wrong kind of person

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.