Relationships Part 1: How are you benefiting?

In graduate school I learned that no one stays in a relationship that they aren’t benefiting from in one way or another. Even people in seriously dysfunctional relationships are there because they are benefiting from it.

What got me on this subject is that I was listening to a radio show where this woman was saying she kept going back and forth in an unhealthy relationship where she said she wasn’t benefiting from it at all. After listening for awhile it quickly became apparent that she was most definitely benefiting from it… sexually. The clue was when she said, “The only good part about the relationship is that the sex is good”, so indeed she does benefit from this relationship. That same day, I saw a client who is in her second abusive relationship (at least) and I couldn’t understand why she was choosing to stay with these abusive men. After a brief assessment I found out that she had an alcoholic and abusive father, so being in these relationships benefited her, even if unconsciously because they served to help recreate the destructive pattern of abuse and fear she had growing up and unfortunately had become accustomed to and perhaps even identified with as love. Often children who grow up witnessing domestic violence grow up accepting it as an adequate form of love and companionship.

Look at the relationships around you, especially those you are most uncomfortable with for whatever reason and dig deeper to see where and how you are benefiting from it. That insight will serve as the catalyst needed to either break free from a destructive relationship or mend one that needs healing.