Entries in unhealthy relationships (11)


Can a Toxic Relationship Make Me Toxic Too?

My brother is married to a passive aggressive woman and he is very unhappy in his relationship. I have a friend who just got engaged to a passive-aggressive woman. Both my friend and my brother have developed quite a few negative personality traits that make me not want to be around or even talk to them. Do you think it's their true natures coming out (ages 35-40) or the result of relationships with passive aggressive women?

Great question! I am sorry that you are having a difficult time being around your friend and brother right now. Passive-aggressive behaviors, which are hostile and resistant actions that a person expresses in very subtle or indirect ways, are not fun to experience. For example, your sister-in-law might give your brother the “cold shoulder” to show she is angry and defiant rather than telling him about the real reason she is she upset about something. 

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Help! My Wife is Taking Away Everything I Love

Q: My wife and I met three years ago. We have one child together, but we both have children from a previous marriage. Since getting married 2 years ago, my wife has been trying to get me to quit all the activities I have enjoyed my whole life. It started with asking me to cut down baseball in the summer from the weekends to one day a week. I was OK with that. Then it was hunting...she wanted me to give up the only weekend that I hunt all year long for deer opening. Last month she asked me to pick between baseball or bowling. I like bowling because I am in a league with my father, brother and friends. I told her to pick which she wants me to do. She said no. She wanted me to pick. I decided to stay doing baseball once a week, and have gave up all other activities. 

And now she wants me to quit all of them. I feel she is working me little by little to get me to do what she wants. The interests my wife and I have are very different from one another. She doesn’t like the things I do (baseball, hunting, bowling), but I don’t mind her doing the things she enjoys. I just feel when she is asking me to give up all the things I enjoy, she is taking away the time I need to unwind.

Am I being selfish by wanting to play baseball one day out of each weekend during the summer, and bowl (during the work week not weekends) in one league during the winter, and either bow or rifle hunt for deer (her choice)?

A: My answer is no, you are not being selfish. Taking part in activities that you have enjoyed your whole life with people you care about (e.g., friends, family) is important for your psychological and physical health.1 Self-expansion theory proposes that people have a basic need to expand their sense of self, and this can be done one of two ways: through novel or exciting activities like sports or intellectual pursuits, or by including another person into your own self-concept, such as seeing your wife as part of you.

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You are the Perfect Drug 

I recently read your article Oxytocin: The Hormone that Binds. This bonding molecule and its withdrawal effects can be so severe. Have there been any studies on how Oxytocin or withdrawal from it affects the levels of other similar hormones such as serotonin, epinephrine, etc? It seems like the detoxing process is just as bad if not worse than hardcore drugs such as Vicodin, cocaine, heroin, or morphine, at least from an emotional/ psychological perspective.

It's been almost 2 years since I came out of this very bad, painful "relationship" with a girl. I say "relationship" because it was strictly a sexual and logically I knew it was never going to lead to anything serious but my emotions said otherwise. After such a long time I feel like I am still in detox mode.

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Fact Checking Cohabitation and Marriage

Recently, people in the mainstream media have been talking about how cohabitation (living with a partner out of wedlock) impacts marriage, beginning with a New York Times article, continuing on Slate.com (here and here) and The Daily Beast. The question at hand concerns the so-called “cohabitation effect,” or the idea that the mere act of living together causes less marriage satisfaction later on and increases the likelihood that those marriages will end in divorce.

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Relationship Aggression is Not Forgivable

Forgiving partners when they make benign mistakes like forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is good. Forgiving serious negative behaviors, such as relationship aggression, can have unfortunate consequences. In a recent study, newlyweds were tracked for four years. Men and women who were more forgiving, in general, experienced continued physical and psychological aggression across the course of their marriage whereas less forgiving partners experienced reduced aggression. Forgiveness may reinforce negative relationship behaviors like violence. 

McKnulty, J. K. (2011). The dark side of forgiveness: The tendency to forgive predicts continued psychological and physical aggression in marriage. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 770-783.


Why Do Victims Return to Abusive Relationships?

We like to write about “fun” studies here at S of R, but it’s important to tackle more serious issues from time to time. One of the more “darker” aspects of relationships is when they turn violent. Clearly, we’d like to enable the victims of abuse to break free from their relationships. Surprisingly, however, the abused often return to their violent partners. When they are on the verge of getting out, why do victims of violence return to abusive relationships?

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Narcissism: Three (More) Reasons Why Charlie Sheen Isn’t “Winning” At Relationships

In a previous post, we discussed three possible reasons why Charlie Sheen, one of the most notorious narcissists in the celebrity world, has been so wildly unsuccessful when it comes to his romantic life. Here we provide three additional explanations for why narcissists, like Mr. "Winning" himself, tend to experience difficulties in their relationships.

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Narcissism: Why Charlie Sheen Isn’t “Winning” At Relationships, Part 1

Few celebrity figures fit the definition of a narcissist better than Charlie Sheen. He is famous for his grandiose self-concept, his delusional faith in his own choices, and his defensive self-righteousness in the face of setbacks, not to mention his tiger blood and Adonis DNA.

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A Link Between Controlling Partners and Relationship Violence

Data from 600 young women reveals that most (68%) experienced a relationship partner's controlling behavior; approximately 10% experienced sexual or physical victimization while 25% were were prevented from seeing friends or were ignored by the partner. Women experiencing controlling behaviors were 2.5 times less likely to honestly report relationship violence.

Catallozzi, M., Simon, P. J., Davidson, L. L., Breitbart, V., & Rickert, V. I. (2011). Understanding control in adolescent and young adult relationships. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 165, 313-319.


Ronnie & Sam on the Jersey Shore: Will They Ever Stop Fighting?  

Sammie came back to the house, swore that she and Ron were over, they got drunk and ended up back together…for about a day before they started fighting again. This may be the least surprising series of developments on Jersey Shore, well aside from Snooki getting arrested for public drunkenness. The roommates knew this was coming and that there was going to be a big fight. Paulie even remarked how he was going to get some popcorn, sit on the couch and watch the upcoming “movie” of the inevitable Ron and Sammie fight. Everyone thought the chain of events was obvious, yet Ron and Sammie tried to work it out.  

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The Jersey Shore: Ronnie & Sam’s Break-Up (Gottman Saw It Coming)

It took a lot longer than it probably should have, but the turbulent relationship between Ronnie and Sammie on The Jersey Shore has come to its inevitable end. Finally. The Situation best summarized their relationship when he basically said “I like both of them, but I just don’t them together.”  But really…who didn’t see this coming?

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