Trapped women, when love becomes prisonIllustration: Brooke Shaden | Please note: this article describes a very common male-female dynamic. However, there are cases where “victim and perpetrator” are reversed in gender roles.
There are many traps of dysfunctional love, toxic love, sick love and they cannot always be recognized . There are many forms in which violence occurs even where harmony seems to reign, where there is no social unease or, on the other hand, pantomimic, superficial representations of progressive bourgeois civilization.
This article talks about women trapped in fatal love relationships and how very often they are unaware victims, not so much and not only of a sick and unhealthy love, but rather of a dysfunctional relational scheme that makes them continually victims, entangled in relationships affective and sentimental with almost equal men: manipulative, devaluing, narcissistic and destructive.
The dysfunctional relational scheme
But how does this relational scheme develop and where does it originate? Why do these women always seem to make the same mistakes, choosing, trusting, putting their lives in the hands of men who criticize them, devalue them, continuously undermine their self-esteem, or are they even physically or psychologically violent?
Before answering this question, I think it is useful to better describe the type of relationship I refer to: that is, when from my clinical and experiential point of view, love becomes prison . When it does not represent a source of mutual growth and support, but an emotional and relational place of abuse, entanglement, emotional dependence associated with progressive isolation and reduction of self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy.
Usually, the women who engage in this type of relationship are externally and socially strong, creative, intelligent women with moderate success in the profession and on a social level. However, they are generally emotionally fragile, often dependent on the judgment and confirmation of others; such women generally lived in families of origin who never supported, strengthened and recognized them in what they knew or wished to do and above all in their attempts at autonomy and identification.
The paternal figure is often emotionally absent, distant, dismissive and with high expectations, the result of his unfulfilled desires and dreams, while the maternal figure is often unprotective towards his paternal, devaluing, unsatisfied with his life and in conflict with one’s feminine and with the maternal role.
They are rather lonely women and therefore more or less consciously seek a man who is a sort of savior, a supportive and present companion, strong and, apparently powerful, not so much (or not only) from an economic and social point of view, as from an emotional point of view, in order to compensate for their fragility , their shortcomings.
At the beginning these men normally present themselves as kind and caring, loving, confident of their feelings and intentions, they are present and capable of helping even concretely, showing that they can be counted on, they are reliable and stable.
However, some element of their character also transpires at the beginning: some nervous smearing in their words, the romantic ideal of the inseparable couple who does not accept the unexpected and sees the space of others not at all. They are small details but which will later emerge in an explosive and unexpected way.
Like a new Bluebeard, once the bride is brought in, she forbids her to enter her private room, metaphorically forbids her to meet her black shadow, her daemon, but this inevitably is discovered and lays bare the folly of man, his anger, his aggression, his malignant narcissism. Then the woman can only die or be saved by her inner masculine, by logos , by rationality, by the ability to understand and make a lucid analysis of events , by the ability to ask for help and escape from an unhealthy situation for her.
Leaving the fairytale metaphor, usually the emotional relationships that take on these characteristics develop in a downward spiral of mortifications, passive and active aggression, unmotivated outbursts of anger and anger, manipulations and progressive isolation that induce the woman to feel not a victim and therefore with a possibility of escape, but guilty of not being able to better manage the relationship, guilty of being responsible for aggressive behavior, discomfort and malaise as a couple.
The perpetrator inevitably becomes a victim, in a game of reversed and destructive roles for both sides, which will have the usual result of the woman’s apology proposal, the assumption of guilt, of silence, of the sacrifice of a change that is not never enough , which is never accepted because it is required in a perspective of perennial devaluation, non-recognition of others’ value and individuality.
All this can last for years or until a real awareness and awareness of these mechanisms is reached; very often unfortunately women trapped in dysfunctional relationships of this type can also experience them with different men, with different degrees of violence and submission.
The men involved, on the other hand, tend to never notice what they relate on a relational level due to a lack of insight, fear or excessive tendency towards victimization.
Women who experience such dysfunctional relationships must initially realize that their partner’s bad mood or character does not depend on them, that their value is intrinsic and inviolable and should not be doubted in any way. Separating one’s self, one’s individuality from that of another, from external confirmation is the first step to start a true path of knowledge of one’s dynamics in order to be able to modify them and live healthier and more functional relationships.