There are times we get so focused on being in a relationship, we neglect to see the warning signs before us. Learn how to avoid the “Relationship Trap.”
Have you ever been in a relationship trap? Perhaps you’re in one now. You know the situation: you’re in a relationship someone that you know deep down is not right for you. For some reason, though, you stay with it, despite the warning signs.
Some of the red flags you might see include his working excessive overtime or spending too much time at the office, her being vague about where she’s been or will be, his or her dependence on alcohol or drugs, his asking you for money, her lack of boundaries with her family, his siding the with guys over you, her blaming everyone but herself for her problems, or his being threatened by your other relationships.
People who fall into relationship traps frequently acknowledge afterward that there were warning signs, but they overlooked them.
We do this for many reasons. It might be because staying with the person is easier than starting over. We may want to be in a relationship so badly, we refuse to see the signs that this one is not working. The individual may have something we feel we need, such as a large bank account or stable family. Engaging in any behavior out of neediness, regardless of its form, is unlikely to be successful. A mindful approach suggests we look internally for what we need rather than seeking it from outside sources.
Another way people end up trapped in relationship is that they’ve fallen prey to their own blind spots, areas where they’re not seeing clearly. Because they’re blind to us, we’re unaware of them, at least initially. After we get burned a few times, however, we can start to recognize a pattern and begin to see what we’ve been overlooking.
When we have a blind spot toward someone, we tend to give the person too much credit. We may trust them too soon, before they’ve really earned our trust, and simply fail to see them in totality. Common things that may blind us include wealth, job title, education and other credentials, memberships, accomplishments and awards, and relationships–-who they know.
For instance, we might be blinded by his advanced degree, her knowing a celebrity, or his expensive car. Someone’s ability to do something we find difficult can certainly create a blind spot for us. Introspective, intentional people may be more prone to having a blind spot for religious or spiritual individuals. They can be so taken by their spirituality that they fail to see them as people, too, who have their shortcomings just like the rest of us.
Have you ever met someone you just couldn’t resist? If so, you may have experienced another common relationship trap cause: weaknesses. With a weakness, people find a quality or characteristic so attractive, they lose their resolve, discretion and typical good judgment. For instance, some are drawn to people in the entertainment world or public eye. Individuals in powerful positions or uniform may attract us. Perhaps you’ve met someone who reminded you of someone you admire, once knew, or miss. Or perhaps you’ve been enamored with some aspect of the other person, such as how they feel in his presence or the way she praises you.
Whatever the circumstance, a weakness makes it difficult for us to resist the individual. When faced with such a temptation, we may find it difficult to extricate ourselves from an unhealthy relationship. We might be inclined to say that when confronted with a weakness, we lose control. In actuality, we are responsible adults, so it’s more accurate to say that we allow ourselves to give up our resolve and act against our better judgment. But, because we are adults, it’s a choice we get to make.
Being aware of our weaknesses is critical, so when the moment of choice comes, we can go in with our eyes open.
See through the Blind Spots
So if by definition we can’t see blind spots, how do go about recognizing them? How do we find the resolve to act on our best behalf when confronted with a weakness?
One of the most effective ways is to take regular time—daily if you can—to be still and reflect. Spend time thinking about the people who surprised you, who turned out to be different than you expected. Reflect on how the relationship is progressing-–or isn’t.
Journaling about these experiences and reviewing your entries over time will help you catch patterns. The idea here is not to be critical with yourself, but rather to observe your tendencies, assumptions and thoughts. Over time if you’re honest with yourself and observant, any blind spots and weaknesses you have should become apparent.
Congratulate yourself when recognize one because that’s the most important step to overcoming it.
You deserve to be a relationship that brings out your very best and where you are treated as the treasure you are. If you’re experiencing anything less than this, claim the courage and strength to free yourself.
[image: via CIA DE FOTO on flickr]