Check out the article written by Nancy Alvarez, “If I Still Love You How Can I leave?”

Here is my response.

Not every couple is meant to be together. And sometimes couples that are together are truly destructive couples. In The Intelligent Divorce, we write about dysfunctional relationships that involve divorce.

There are different personality types in divorce. One we coin as “the pleaser.” These are people who think that if only they are nice enough, or say they are sorry first, that everything will be okay: “If only I let this abusive behavior occur today, tomorrow he’ll understand, and it won’t happen again.”

You are right. Being a pleaser is unhealthy; it invites your husband or wife to take advantage. These are the kind of unhappy, malignant relationships in which damage does get done. He knows that he can be aggressive or sleep around because you’ll accept it, and you hope, beyond hope, that if you are just good enough, he’ll get it and reform. It looks easy on the surface to solve: just split. But that could not be further form the truth.

These bonds of dependent and self-indulgence run deep. They run beneath language, to a place of dependency and need that bonds people together despite the fact that they are feeling pain. In cases like these I often recommend that you look way back into your childhood. This is not to blame your parents on the things that happened to you. It functions as an effective realization, so that you don’t have to drag negative past experiences into your future. If you are a pleaser, there is a good chance that your mother or father was too. Or, there was someone aggressive in you household that you had to appease just to survive. If you take this behavior into your future, you will simply repeat the terrible dramas of the past.

Sigmund Freud, the father of Psychology, called this psychological process, the Repetition Compulsion. Humans need to experience traumas again and again with the magical thought that this time it will work out. It never does and this project must be discarded. Often it takes years in psychotherapy to work this through.

If you’d like to know more about “the pleaser” or about other character traps that we teach about in The Intelligent Divorce, take a look at my new book: Taking Care of Yourself (So Your Kids Don’t Have To).


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