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From “really good" to "really bad” relationships

From “really good" to "really bad” relationships

Have you ever been in a relationship that went from really good to really bad within a few seconds? What happens when the relationship bond drastically changes before your eyes? It’s mind boggling.

“We were just having a great time and then it quickly went bad.”

This quick change from up-to-down occurs within many relationships. The bond begins with feeling good and the relationship seems to be on-track. The love, happiness and comfort are exactly what you and your partner need to feel safe and connected. The bond is relaxing, enjoyable and often euphoric. You two seem to enjoy each other’s company, laugh frequently, cuddle often and have passion. But instantly you two get hit with another bloody war with no warning signs; arguments arise, defensive reactions appear and the comfort zone disappears.

The relationship goes from really good to REALLY BAD…in just seconds. Does this sound familiar?

Couples, in both gay and straight relationships, often face this up-and-down emotional rollercoaster of really good to really bad in just seconds. When things are good, it is really good, but when things go bad, it quickly turns to a fighting match.

Both people stop connecting, jump into the boxing ring, put on the gloves and attack at full-speed. There is yelling and screaming accompanied by degrading words. Not only does it feel like every word and response is a blow to the stomach, it can also feel as if all the weapons (bombs, grenades, and abandonment) are brought into the boxing ring. No rules, no limits. The rage comes out, threats of breaking-up and sometimes, even worse…harming each other or yourself.

The loss of the “really good” in the relationship can be extremely painful and scary, and couples try to do whatever it takes to get the relationship back on track. As couples fight to be heard and to reconnect, it doesn’t feel like that to the other partner. The message of love and desire to stay connected comes out ambiguously through anger and shut-down. The message gets skewed as couples fight to be heard by throwing bombs and beating each other up. Sadly, the unclear messages create the opposite effect of being in a safe relationship, inflicting wounds that destroy the attachment bond and both are left to heal on their own. Couples remember the painful fights, the bleeding hearts and the scars.

So, what do you do to prevent this from happening in the future?

Relationships that go from “good” to “bad” create instability in the bond, feelings of having to “walk on eggshells” and fear of discussing your needs. Begin discussing alternatives, set up rules & guidelines and take turns talking. Slow down your reactions and avoid jumping into the boxing ring for a bloody fight. Your partner can’t be in a war if they are the only one ready to fight.

Share with your partner that you want to stay connected, that you love them, and give them reassurance. When you two feel safe and comforted, there is no need to hurt one another. In the book Hold Me Tight: 7 Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Sue Johnson states that, “when we feel safely linked to our partners, we more easily roll with the hurts they inevitably inflict and we are less likely to be aggressively hostile when we get mad at them.”

Focus on creating safety for your partner and take away the emotional battle attack.

To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes, San Diego’s Marriage and Family Therapist, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her San Diego Couples Therapy website.