Getting hurt is an inevitable part of the dating process, but Vanessa Tai refuses to waste any more time on relationships that are fueled by unnecessary pain. Read on to find out what she means.
After several friends recommended it to me, I finally got round to reading the suspense novel Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn. Without giving too much away, the book traces the marriage of Nick and Amy, especially the events that take place before and after Amy’s sudden disappearance on their 5th wedding anniversary. Beyond just being a crime thriller though, I believe the book serves as a commentary on romantic relationships, in particular, toxic ones. There was a particularly poignant part of the book that leapt out at me.
“… The woman knew me cold. Better than anyone in the world, she knew me. All this time I’d thought we were strangers, and it turned out we knew each other intuitively, in our bones, in our blood.
It was kind of romantic.
While the toxicity of Nick and Amy’s relationship is taken to the extremes, I’m sure we all know of couples who seem to be perpetually at each other’s throats, whose relationships seem to thrive on mind games and spiteful fights. The book made me think – are there those among us who crave drama in our relationships?
Relationship Status: It’s Complicated
Admittedly, I was definitely guilty of perpetuating malice in previous relationships. Simply put, I was quite the shit stirrer. I knew the precise words and actions that would hurt the other person, and would exploit his weak points whenever I felt attacked or vulnerable myself. Needless to say, it was a destructive cycle of us always trying to “out-hurt” the other. At this point, you’ll probably ask, “Why stay on in such a relationship?” On hindsight, I think it was a combination of many things. With each barbed attack, it chipped away at my self-esteem and I started to believe the worst in myself, and that nobody else will be able to accept someone like me. From there, a sort of Stockholm Syndrome emerged. I started to believe my partner was the only one who “gets” me, especially since he has seen me at my most cruel. Like Nick in Gone Girl, he believes that Amy is the only one who has the ability to bring out his absolute best and worst. If he were to be with any other “normal” woman, it would be a mediocre relationship as he wouldn’t be forced to outmaneuver her at every step of the way.
Yes, it sounds extreme, and most people will probably dismiss people who crave drama in relationships as crazy. However, you probably have to admit that, at some level, most of us believe that true love hurts. If it doesn’t grieve you in some way or at some point, or if it’s constantly smooth-sailing, you may start to wonder, “What’s the catch?”
I Don’t Want No Drama
While I agree love IS bittersweet (when you open yourself up to be vulnerable to another person, it’s inevitable you’ll get hurt), I don’t think pain should be the fuel that keeps a romance going. As I get older and slightly more experienced, I’m learning to distinguish between destructive, soul-destroying anguish from the “normal” pains of dating. Let me cite an example: say the guy I’m dating hasn’t contacted me in days. In my previous toxic relationships – the ones that thrived on drama and mind games – this period of zero contact could be his way of “punishing” me for some “transgression” I did, and I would spend the time agonising just what I did and how I can get back at him for making me feel this way. These days, however, I prefer simply picking up the phone to find out if everything’s okay.
In the book The Fault In Our Stars, one of the characters says, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world … but you do have some say in who hurts you.” I’ll like to add another line to this quote, “You also get to choose what kind of hurt you go through.” My point is: love is always going to hurt. However, if the pain stems from you being unable to trust the other person fully or because you’re locked in some warped battle of wits, then you probably want to ask yourself honestly if this is what you want in the long term. Some people probably believe such mind games make the relationship seem more exciting or “alive”, but to me, it is way too exhausting to be sustainable.
Right now, I can say I’m done with mind games; in fact, I’m done with any sort of games when it comes to dating. Please give me 100 percent honesty, any day.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.