First, let’s talk about what the “sticky” in a relationship is. Simply put, if I had to cut straight to the chase, it’s the dysfunction. But it doesn’t feel like dysfunction. It feels like a New York slice straight from the oven. At three AM while you’re drunk and starving. It’s hot, drippy, delicious, and you can’t get enough of it. Until of course, the stomach ache hits.
The sticky in a relationship is the codependency and enmeshment that runs underneath like a river, turning love into possession and two complete people into one incomplete. The feeling produced by this process is a cocaine high and what many people mistake as “true love”.
Where does it come from?
Everything we didn’t receive as a child. From the lack we feel in ourselves. From society’s shoulds and the giant ticking clock we claim to ignore. From old wounds we are not healing. From our own fears and insecurities. From what smells familiar from old relationship patterns. Our inability to draw boundaries. From learned dysfunctional relationship dynamics (usually parents). From the absent father. From our addictions or the gene in our family tree. From lack of trusting oneself. From sexual abuse. From not doing work on ourselves. I can go on but I’ll stop here or this article will turn into an ebook.
Chances are one of these hits home for you. This means you’ve most likely experienced the stick. Or maybe you’re experiencing it now in your new relationship but still not quite sure. Because let’s face it, when you’re in something that feels so good, you can’t see the bad. The control. Jealous behavior. Losing oneself. Dependency. High drama. Lack of communication. Poor boundaries. Difficulty making decisions and identifying feelings. Daily eggshells. Valuing the approval of the other more than oneself. Low emotional expressivity. Always feeling compelled to take care of the other. Your logic gets hijacked by your emotions. Lenses get foggy due to the feel goods.
NOTE: The reason why sticky relationships feel amazing is because a sticky relationship means an intense relationship. And we mistake intensity for love. This intensity may feel familiar from the lack of boundaries in your family while growing up. And you mistake this feeling for love. Without it, love can feel boring. Flat. Strange. Unfamiliar. The absence of the sticky which made us feel desired and valued, can create an eerie silence and not feeling loved or worthy.
So we grow up and don’t know what it feels like to be held (a healthy relationship with boundaries). We only know grabbed (without boundaries). And we’re like, What is this? Are we just friends? Because the intensity is not there so it doesn’t feel like love. Well, it’s there. It’s just a different intensity so you don’t recognize it. It’s a healthy intensity, non stick. Not an unhealthy one. So you peace out. Stamp the relationship as “not the one” or something is missing without realizing that true intensity, like trust, is built and earned over time. This means you have swim pass the discomfort and what may feel “boring”. Healthy doesn’t come in a bottle. It is built.
Once you realize this, the road forks. And where ever there is a fork in your path, there is an opportunity for growth.
As long as you see it.
You can get out of this relationship quick and find something with more stick. This will give you the feeling you’re used to, again. And you will fall right back into a Korean drama, jealousy, control, possession, and everything being life or death. What you’re used to will kick right back in. The fights will start. The tears will come. And you will question your self worth and wonder if you will ever find “true” love. And by “true” you mean healthy but you don’t know it because you always choose this path.
Choose this path and nothing changes save faces.
Path two. — the new.
You make the brave decision to go down a new road. Sit with the discomfort and unfamiliar. Look inward when you feel resistance. Because it will come and you will feel it. But this time, you decide not to react — push away, leave, sabotage. Instead, explore. This means you start asking yourself different questions like, Why do I feel this way? Where is it coming from? Is it truth or just new because it’s something I’m not used to? Do I not like this because for the first time in my life I don’t have to take care of someone else and that makes me feel unworthy? Have I been mistaking possession for love? Do I feel unloved because he has his own life and isn’t dependent on me? Am I putting expectations on this and comparing it with other relationships instead of taking it in as a brand new experience that will open me up and redefine what love can look like?
Let’s be real. The second path is the harder one to take. It’s much more difficult to create new tracks instead of following ones that have been already laid. What we’re used to requires a lot less effort than riding waves of something new. But the only way to grow, learn, and evolve is to take the road less traveled. Always. This is a general life rule. Because the road less traveled takes courage and leads to an inner journey. And this is also true for love but with love it’s so much harder. Because with love comes intense feelings and feelings are always more powerful than logic. That’s why giving yourself a new experience is so important. You have to feel healthy in your bones. Not just read about it or see it. You have to actually experience it. But the experience lives pass the shore break like I mentioned above. You have to swim there by pushing pass the familiar, what may feel good, and stay in the uneasiness of non-stick. Because shit’s going to come up. Your discomfort will make you want to run or hide.
Fighting this is what healthy looks like. By fighting, I mean not fighting it. I mean processing what continuously comes up for you as you start to build healthy. Knowing that what comes up, the internal stirring is growth soil. It’s the building blocks of healthy, but only if you really look at it. Sit with it. Breathe through it. Process it. Look inward and explore where it’s coming from and why. It’s the only way your relationship will be non-stick. But more importantly, actually have a chance.
This post was originally published here and is republished with permission from the author.
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