unhappy relationship

Is My Boyfriend Hitting on a Stranger Right in Front of Me?

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Don’t Romanticize an Unhappy Relationship!

Remember that night when you were out to dinner with your boyfriend and another couple and as you were leaving, your boyfriend stopped to speak to a GORGEOUS WOMAN at the bar and you thought:

“He must know her from somewhere because why else would he stop to talk to her??”

Then …”Who the fuck is that bitch and how does he know her???”  Your Un-Fucked-Up Self asks that. (Yes, I’m changing tenses. Just go with it. Also, there will be “language.”)

You ignore your Un-Fucked Up Self as, at this juncture, she only makes up about 10% of your brain. And it’s the unconscious part.

So, you leave your man yakking it up at the bar and follow the other couple out of the restaurant to the valet to get your cars.

Time passes. A seemingly inordinate amount of time. And your boyfriend doesn’t emerge from the eatery.

Did you know the word “friend” is in boyfriend? Guess, what? Neither did he!

More minutes tick by. Global warming melts the ice caps. You and the other couple drown outside Musso and Franks. Or you wish you did.

You’re fairly certain the attractive woman at the bar is pregnant with your boyfriend’s first child by the time the other couple’s car arrives.

They ask if they should wait to say goodbye to your boyfriend.

You’re embarrassed and say no, you’re certain the woman at the bar must’ve been an acquaintance he’s catching up with so you bid them adieu and pretend nothing’s amiss.

They embrace you as if you were one of King Henry the Eighth’s wives being marched to the guillotine, then take their leave.

Once they’re gone you storm the restaurant and feel your stomach drop when your eyeballs are flayed by the inescapable vision of your boyfriend still talking to the gorgeous woman at the bar.

Perhaps they were chalkboard chums in first grade? Maybe she’s his first cousin?? Better yet, a sister you haven’t met?

You approach and wait to be introduced. Your boyfriend looks at you as if he wasn’t inside you just this morning.

Quickly you realize your boyfriend doesn’t know this woman at all. He just thought he’d say hello.

What the fuck! you think/scream and manage to herd him out of the restaurant.

An argument ensues on the drive home (before you’ve been able to rummage through his pockets to see if the gorgeous stranger’s number is written on a cocktail napkin inside.)

This is it! you think. This is definitely the last straw!! He’s moving out! I don’t need this shit anymore.

This is a critical moment.

Because it’s a moment of sobriety from that devilish disease you picked up in childhood thanks to neglectful or abusive or absent parents (physically or emotionally) — Love Addiction.

Love addiction is as tenacious as any addiction.

But every now and then our Love Object does something so out-the-gate Shitastic that we sober up like a hysterical person getting a stinging slap across the face!

Finally our Love Object’s hot-and-cold behavior, disrespect, criticism and/or out-and-out infidelity has pushed us to a place where we can gather our strength and walk away for good!

And it feels great! Our blood flows with righteous indignation. We feel powerful in our knowledge that this is finally the last straw and there’s nothing this guy can do to fix it!

But this is where it gets dangerous! Because hubris has kicked in. Our ego gets all puffed up and we’re ready to read this bastard the riot act. And quit him for good.

He begs. He pleads. Or worse. He says, “Fine” and walks out.

We’re left with ourselves and our righteous indignation and it feels powerful … for about 5 days … well, okay, for about 5 hours … oh, who are we kidding? For about 5 minutes.

Then we start to panic. An addiction (even if it’s to a person – or a toxic relationship cycle) always tests our resolve.

It’s a trick our addicted brain plays on us … and in the case of loving an Asshat/toxic-human/narcissist) we may fall prey to …


This is when our guy is gone, our powerful righteous indignation wanes and our addiction — the need for another hit — kicks in.

To justify taking our drug of choice (the guy) we begin to pull out and wallow in all the “good” memories we have about our toxic, talking-to-strange-hot-women-in-a-bar Lothario.

“Oh, remember when we first met and he couldn’t keep his hands off of me and we had sex inside his El Camino outside El Coyote on Melrose Boulevard at 2 a.m. after drinking too many Margaritas Calientes? That was true love!” (This is all hypothetical.)

Don't romanticize an unhappy relationship

“Or what about that day he came to my restaurant while I was working with balloons to apologize after our fifth break up and I told him I couldn’t talk because I was working but he wouldn’t leave until I took him back. How romantic — even though I almost got fired!”

Our disease doesn’t want to let us go. But we don’t know it’s a disease. We think it’s romantic love. And that — my friends — is a dangerous bunch of bullshit.

Trust me. I know.

So what do we do when it’s the last straw in our toxic, heartbreaking, shame-making, soul-crushing relationship?

Beware the high of self-righteous anger and the inevitable bargaining that starts to happen in our brains when we begin  to crash.

Avoid any kind of romanticization (that is often supported by what we see in movies or on tv.)

When you really smell the end — gather your supporters around you; a wise therapist, a loving recovery group for Love Addiction, a 12-step sponsor who has the love life you desire. And do all and any work they suggest.

Get humble fast. ‘Cuz you really don’t know what the hell you’re doing. So ask for help and take it.

Remove yourself from triggers.
  • Don’t go to the restaurant where you had your first date.
  • Don’t hang out with his best friend or drive by his house or work.
  • Don’t listen to messages he left on voicemail or read his old texts. Delete that stuff pronto!
  • Get professional help for going through withdrawal from Love Addiction.

Have your own back!

And if you fall prey to romanticization?

Write down – in black and white — all of the things he’s done to make your feel worthless. Who cares why he did it? Who cares if he had a troubled childhood too. That’s his problem.

Take all of that empathy and turn it back toward you. Because you are 100% worth it. Much, much love, Shannon

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