Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love - the dysfunctional norm

"True Love is not a painful obsession. It is not taking a hostage or being a hostage. It is not all-consuming, isolating, or constricting. Unfortunately the type of love most of us learned about as children is in fact an addiction, a form of toxic love."

"Making Love is a celebration and a way of honoring the Masculine and Feminine Energy of the Universe (and the masculine and feminine energy within no matter what genders are involved), a way of honoring its perfect interaction and harmony. It is a blessed way of honoring the Creative Source."

"Traditionally in this society women were taught to be codependent on - that is take their self-definition and self-worth from - their relationships with men, while men have been taught to be codependent on their success/career/work."

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"A relationship that ends is not a failure or a punishment - it is a lesson. As long as our definition of a successful relationship is one that lasts forever - we are set up to fail. There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship that will last forever, expecting it to last forever is what is dysfunctional.

We are in a time of massive, accelerated Karmic settlement, it is necessary for many of us to do many relationships. It is not bad or wrong - it is part of the Divine plan."


Welcome to a page of Joy to You and Me

the Web Site of Robert Burney and Joy to You and Me Enterprises.

Robert Burney is a codependency therapist, Spiritual teacher, and the author of the Joyously inspirational book

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls.

This page is about Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love
Quotations in maroon are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney (Copyright 1995). Quotations from columns & articles (Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) written by Mr. Burney are noted and in blue text. Blue text material that is not in quotes is from Robert's upcoming book Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light (Copyright 1998) unless otherwise noted. There are several authors quoted in excerpts from The Dance of Wounded Souls, those are noted with copyright acknowledgment at the end of the applicable page.

Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love - the dysfunctional norm

"The gift of touch is an incredibly wonderful gift. One of the reasons we are here is to touch each other physically as well as Spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Touch is not bad or shameful. Our creator did not give us sensual and sexual sensations that feel so wonderful just to set us up to fail some perverted, sadistic life test. Any concept of god that includes the belief that the flesh and the Spirit cannot be integrated, that we will be punished for honoring our powerful human desires and needs, is - in my belief - a sadly twisted, distorted, and false concept that is reversed to the Truth of a Loving God-Force.

We need to strive for balance and integration in our relationships. We need to touch in healthy, appropriate, emotionally honest ways - so that we can honor our human bodies and the gift that is physical touch. 

Making Love is a celebration and a way of honoring the Masculine and Feminine Energy of the Universe (and the masculine and feminine energy within no matter what genders are involved), a way of honoring its perfect interaction and harmony. It is a blessed way of honoring the Creative Source.

One of the most blessed and beautiful gifts of being in body is the ability to feel on a sensual level. . . By striving for integration and balance we can start to enjoy our human experience - on a sensual level as well as on the emotional, mental, and Spiritual levels."

(Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney)

"Everything on the physical plane is a reflection of other levels.  Ultimately, the strong sexual and sensual desires of human beings really have very little to do with the actual physical act of sex - the True compulsion to unite is about our wounded souls, about our endless, aching need to go home to the God/Goddess Energy.  We want to reunite in ONENESS - in LOVE - because that is our True home."
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"It is not shameful to be human.  It is not shameful to have a sex drive.  It is not shameful to have emotional needs.  Human beings need to be touched.  Way too many of us are starving for touch and affection - and we have acted out sexually in dysfunctional ways to try to get those needs met which often causes us to be bitter and resentful (at the bottom of any resentment is the need to forgive ourselves.)  In our codependent extremes we swing between picking the wrong people and isolating ourselves.  We believe - because of our experience in reacting out of our disease - that the only choices are between an unhealthy relationship and being alone. It is tragic and sad. 

It is tragic and sad that we live in a society where it is so hard for people to connect in a healthy way.  It tragic and sad that we live in a society where so many people are touch deprived.  But it is not shameful.  We are human. We are wounded.  We are products of the cultural environments we were raised in.  We need to take the shame out of our relationship with our selves, and all the parts of our self, so that we can be healing our wounds enough to be able to make responsible choices. (re - sponse - able, as in ability to respond instead of just react our of old tapes and old wounds.)"
 


(Web Page: "About Jesus & Mary Magdalene - Jesus, sexuality, & the bible")


Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love

One of the saddest aspects of Codependency is how hard it makes it for us to connect on an intimate level. 

The type of love we learned about growing up is toxic love.

Toxic Love

by Robert Burney M.A.

"As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims" 

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney
True Love is not a painful obsession. It is not taking a hostage or being a hostage. It is not all-consuming, isolating, or constricting. Unfortunately the type of love most of us learned about as children is in fact an addiction, a form of toxic love. "I can't smile without you," "I can't live without you," "Someday my prince/princess will come" are not healthy messages. There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship - it is natural and healthy. Believing we can't be whole or happy without a relationship is unhealthy and leads us to accept deprivation and abuse, and to engage in manipulation, dishonesty, and power struggles.
Here is a short list of the characteristics of Love vs. toxic love (compiled with the help of the work of Melody Beattie & Terence Gorski.) 
Healthy                                        Unhealthy
Love: Development of self first priority. Toxic love: Obsession with relationship.
Love: Room to grow, expand; desire for other to grow. Toxic love: Security, comfort in sameness; intensity of need seen as proof of love - may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness.
Love: Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships. Toxic love: Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.
Love: Encouragement of each other's expanding; secure in own worth. Toxic love: Preoccupation with other's behavior; fear of other changing.
Love: Appropriate Trust (trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature.) Toxic love: Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition; protects "supply."
Love: Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together. Toxic love: Power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation.
Love: Embracing of each other's individuality. Toxic love: Trying to change other to own image.
Love: Relationship deals with all aspects of reality. Toxic love: Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant.
Love: Self-care by both partners; emotional state not dependent on other's mood. Toxic love: Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other.
Love: Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go.) Toxic love: Fusion (being obsessed with each other's problems and feelings.)
Love: Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship. Toxic love: Pressure around sex due to fear, insecurity & need for immediate gratification.
Love: Ability to enjoy being alone. Toxic love: Unable to endure separation; clinging.
Love: Cycle of comfort and contentment. Toxic love: Cycle of pain and despair.

Love is not supposed to be painful. There is pain involved in any relationship but if it is painful most of the time then something is not working.

(This is a column by Robert Burney)

Relationships and Valentine's Day 

by Robert Burney M.A.

"We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us - or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not."  

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney


In the past few issues of this paper I have used excerpts from my newly published book in this column space. I was hoping to get away with using excerpts for a few more issues because I hate the process of getting started on a new piece of writing - I love it once I'm into it and things are rolling - but getting started is a pain. But my publisher put her foot down and demanded some original work, so here I am writing a column for this issue whose theme is relationships and Valentines Day. In other words Codependence City! 

Now, don't misunderstand me there is nothing wrong or bad about relationships or romantic love or Valentines Day. What is dysfunctional - what does not work - is our definitions and expectations of these things, and ourselves in relationship to these things. If you will read the quotation above and substitute 'love' everywhere it says 'life' you will have a perfect quotation for this Valentines season. 

The reason that so many of us have a very hard time with relationships is because we are judging ourselves against the fairy tale of what relationships 'should be.' We have unreasonable expectations of ourself. 

We are all romantics. (I would guess that most anyone reading this would fall into the category of cynical romantic by this time.) We are all, on a very deep level, yearning to be reunited with our twin soul. We were taught that when we find our prince or princess we would live 'happily ever after.' So, it follows that since we haven't gotten to 'happily ever after' there must be something wrong with us. (This applies not only to those who are alone at this time, but also to people who are in a relationship and are feeling down because it is not magical all of the time anymore.) 

There is nothing wrong with us! What is dysfunctional is what we were taught. We were taught a concept of love that is an addiction - with the other person as our drug of choice. We were taught (listen to almost any song, 'I can't live without you,' 'You are my everything' etc.) to make the other person our Higher Power. We were taught that we needed the prince or princess to make us happy and whole. 

(Traditionally in this society women were taught to be codependent on - that is take their self-definition and self-worth from - their relationships with men, while men have been taught to be codependent on their success/career/work. That has changed somewhat in the past twenty or thirty years - but is still part of the reason that women have more of a tendency to sell their souls for relationships than men do. Codependence is all about giving outside or external influences power over our self-esteem. Everything outside of our 'self' - rather that is people, places and things or our own external appearance - has to do with ego-strength not self-worth. We all have equal Divine worth because we are transcendent Spiritual beings who are part of the ONENESS that is the Great Spirit/God-Force - not because of anything outside of us.) 

Love is magical! It is wonderful. It is not a state of being which we can get into and stay in. It is a dynamic, changing process. 

One of the biggest problems with relationships in this society is that the context we approach them from is too small. If getting the relationship is the goal, we will end up being the victim. If we can start seeing relationships not as the goal but as opportunities for growth then we can start having more functional relationships. A relationship that ends is not a failure or a punishment - it is a lesson. As long as our definition of a successful relationship is one that lasts forever - we are set up to fail. There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship that will last forever, expecting it to last forever is what is dysfunctional. 

We are in a time of massive, accelerated Karmic settlement, it is necessary for many of us to do many relationships. It is not bad or wrong - it is part of the Divine plan. 

On this Valentines day if you are in a relationship, if you are in love, enjoy it. It is a wonderful feeling - just don't expect it to stay the same. Everything changes. Enjoy the moment and don't mess it up with dysfunctional definitions of what it 'should' become. 

If you are alone, don't judge yourself and beat yourself up. Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Own the sadness that may come with being alone, do the grieving, but understand that you are on a journey - you are not trying to reach a destination. When we stop judging ourselves then we can begin observing and learning why we have a fear of intimacy, why we have dysfunctional relationship patterns, why it is so hard to connect with others. The more we can be conscious of our own personal 'whys' the more we can heal those wounds so that we can open up to receiving the Love we crave and deserve. But it has to start at home - it has to start with being Loving to ourselves, not judging and shaming. 

What has helped me, more than anything else, to start learning to be Loving to myself is to stop and remember that there is a Loving Higher Power, a God/Goddess Energy that Loves you and me Unconditionally right in this very moment, no matter where we are, no matter if we are alone or in a relationship. 
 


(This is a column by Robert Burney)


"The way to healthy interdependence is to be able to see things clearly - to see people, situations, life dynamics and most of all ourselves clearly. If we are not working on healing our childhood wounds and changing our childhood programming then we cannot begin to see ourselves clearly let alone anything else in life. 
The disease of Codependence causes us to keep repeating patterns that are familiar. So we pick untrustworthy people to trust, undependable people to depend on, unavailable people to love. By healing our emotional wounds and changing our intellectual programming we can start to practice discernment in our choices so that we can change our patterns and learn to trust ourselves."

(Column "Codependence vs Interdependence" By Robert Burney)


"Codependence Recovery is ninth step work, making amends to ourselves and others by changing the attitudes and behaviors that have caused us to hurt ourselves and others. And we cannot make those amends without owning the feelings. We are powerless to substantially change the behavior patterns in our most intimate relationships without doing the grief work."
(Article "Grave Emotional and Mental Disorders" By Robert Burney)


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The column "Codependence vs Interdependence" can be found on the web page of the same name.
The Web Page: "About Jesus & Mary Magdalene-Jesus, sexuality, & the bible" is one of the Question & answer pages of Robert's original web site - it can be reached by going to indexQA
To read full text of the article "Grave Emotional and Mental Disorders" Go to Alcoholism

(The columns "Relationships & Valentines Day", "Codependence vs Interdependence",  & "Toxic Love" by Robert Burney originally appeared in the Information Press of San Luis Obispo California.)
(The article "Grave Emotional and Mental Disorders" By Robert Burney originally appeared in Recovery Today a monthly newsletter of the LCDC training School which are distributed throughout the state of Texas.)