Relationships: How We BREAK Those We Love

September 24, 2016

One of my boyfriends once said his ex was broken. He vowed to never date a broken woman again because well, who wants to deal with constantly managing the pieces of someone else’s existence? I never thought much of his comment at the time. It appeared an acceptable declaration and a plausible response to what had been described as a roller coaster of emotions and activities that ended with destruction and ruin. As time passed, and I began to experience my own feelings of uncertainty while dating him, his words rang in my ears. She was broken. Seeing his pattern of behavior first-hand quickly connected the pieces crumbling within his false declaration. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, his ex wasn’t always broken. Maybe her past didn’t define her as emotionally stunted, physically insecure, or psychologically damaged before the likes of him. Maybe, in his urgent need to highlight her faults and ineptness, he’d somehow forgotten to identify his own culpability.

While I’d like to believe it was an oversight, let’s be honest. We often blame people for the outcomes in our lives that aren’t ideal. We rush to point out their failures while giving refuge to our own flaws. We label them with things like broken, insecure, and dramatic while never taking time to consider how much unrequested effort we contributed to making them that way. “We are active participants in the partnerships we produce.” If your partner and/or partnership is broken, insecure, or dramatic, maybe it’s time to assess what you’ve done to create the characteristics you (supposedly) vehemently oppose.

The above isn’t meant to imply that some people aren’t those things long before they meet, date, and derail you. It is meant to expose that not everyone was that way before you. Somewhere along the way, believe it or not, you may have  “created” the type of partner you despise and claim to avoid.

Obviously, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to dismantle hearts meant only to love and be loved by us. Taking someone with clarity of purpose, vision, and confidence and evolving them into a fragment of the person we once knew requires much confusion, complexity, and carelessness. I’m certain I’ve broken hearts and caused many frustrated nights while on my dating journey. I’m also certain to have been left feeling ripped apart a time or two. Regardless, the ruins left by relationship destruction is never by happenstance. Although it may be difficult to detect at the time, here are 4 signs you were a primary factor in the breaking of another being–or at least you caused a few too many cracks.


1. You limited intimacy/affection. When someone is craving for attention or to feel deeply connected to their mate, pushing them away and blocking their affection is emotionally damaging. Wanting to have a lover look at you, hold your hand, compliment you, caress you, and say I Love You, aren’t bad things. But when one desires those things and has a partner that lacks the ability to give them, at all or easily and effortlessly, s/he will end up feeling as though they’re  requiring too much. They feel needy and insecurities they never expected, quickly surface. If you were in a relationship where you punished your partner by taking away the emotional connection (didn’t spend quality time with them, rarely gave compliments or said I Love You, withheld intimacy because it made you feel in control, etc.), you compromised the lifeline of your partnership. Some people don’t require a lot of hand holding and pet names. They don’t want to express their feelings publicly through social media images and status updates. That’s more than okay. This isn’t about the outward showing. It’s about how you behaved when one-on-one. By refusing to be open, vulnerable, and affectionate when it may have been needed most–you caused more than a few cracks.

2. You created insecurity. This one is timely given this year’s chatter regarding Beyonce’s latest album release, #Lemonade. The album takes us on a journey from Intuition to Redemption with infidelity being one of the central themes. While it’s definitely a primary culprit, insecurity isn’t only the consequence of cheating. It resides in questionable situations, conversations, comments, and behaviors. Guys, it’s created when you keep your phone on silent or turned face down while at home with your girl. Ladies, it’s formed when you look at other men with more lust and desire than you do your guy. It’s created when you maintain connections with someone that makes your partner uncomfortable. It’s formed when you consistently have one foot out of the relationship while asking the other person to “be all in.” Insecurity lives within the walls of many subtle gestures and seemingly innocuous acts. However, those actions are filling your mate with doubt and causing breaks in the foundation of your relationship. Layer any degree of infidelity on top of an already unstable foundation and your relationship is destined to struggle and likely, fail. Basic principle, if you don’t want a broken mate, don’t be unfaithful and uncertain. If you are in a committed relationship, don’t act single.  Plain and simple.

You can do in one minute, that which cannot be undone in a lifetime

3. You engaged in negative communication. Words matter. As much as we’d like to believe the old adage, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’ life has revealed the shortcomings of such thinking. Words matter because they have the power to catapult you into a different mood and mindset. They can take one from feeling mediocre to exemplary. From frumpy to attractive. Likewise, they can be damaging. When a lover says something negative about your personality, your looks, your–anything–it’s affecting. I have a friend that got into a huge argument with her now ex and he said something about her weight. It wasn’t a little something either. It was something that made me cringe as soon as she shared it. I felt bad for her. This guy was at one time the man she pictured herself marrying. He was not only a friend and partner but they’d shared a home and had been raising a child together for the past three years. In an instant, he spoke that which couldn’t be quickly forgiven or ever forgotten. Even when they attempted to reconcile, she was uncomfortable getting undressed around him and therefore, intimacy was non-existent. Their relationship suffered because his words had revealed his heart. In relationships, it’s common to share hopes and fears and be unabashedly vulnerable. My friend had mentioned wanting to lose weight so having her guy throw her weight in her face was a slap in the face. Remember, you’re leaving long-term scars by breaking someone with words. Comments replay in their minds, your voice can be heard whispering or yelling negative sentiments long after your physical presence has gone. Being condescending and making a person feel inadequate or needy, isn’t your role as a partner. A partner’s role is to create a safe space for growth. It’s to allow your significant other to be authentic while also helping him grow into the best version of himself. It’s not to break them in dramatic or even subtle, suggestive ways. So be cognizant of the potential damage caused by your words and your silence.

4. You failed to recognize your own brokenness. Here’s a big one. We love and hate mirrors, don’t we? They are awesome when we feel like we are #slaying but don’t let someone hold up a mirror when we’re not exposing our best. We avoid our own gaze in fear of being disappointed by what’s staring back at us. Often, we fail to see the baggage we readily carry into relationships. We’ve become so comfortable with it on our backs, it doesn’t even appear an unwelcomed guest. Instead, we invite this baggage into our words, rooms, actions, and mindset. It takes over many relationships and they start and end before we ever realize what happened. Self-awareness is imperative in a healthy, loving relationship. Without it, it’s easy to simply blame others or believe you played no part in your own misfortune. Again, you are an active participant in the partnerships you produce.  If your relationships have a similar pattern–you find yourself being given the same feedback, the same issues arise, the same frustration is present, maybe it’s time to take a long, hard look in that mirror. As uncomfortable as it may be, you are causing your own barriers to success and the only way to fix it is to see it and address it–head on. It’s time to stop passing your brokenness on to others and calling it a different name.

-Originally posted May 3, 2016

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