Having been single, more or less, for the last couple of years I began to ponder an interesting question. Do I engage in relationships or do I take emotional hostages?
You can only ask this question of yourself after you have applied rigorous and unmerciful honesty to your life and actions. If you are unable to examine your actions, then you cannot possibly know the answer. It's a garbage in, garbage out, data retrieval system.
So what is the difference between having a relationship and taking a hostage?
I had to define that answer for myself. Since all relationships tend to have sex, power, and control as key elements it would make sense that a 50-50 balance of those three items would be evident in a healthy, committed, relationship. As I mulled over my relationships, they failed that test. I was unable in most cases to truthfully say that I had even defined those items let alone made a conscious effort to blend them fairly.
Another test I gave myself when evaluating relationships was to ask myself, "Was I fear driven, egoically challenged, and simply unconscious?" Clearly, the more fear driven an individual is, the more this will manifest itself in control. Controlling people tend to make emotional withdrawals from their partners. Deposits are slim. I faired a lot better when I asked myself this question, but I still couldn't give myself a passing grade.
The last question I asked was whether or not I had been fair. Whether I had been judgmental, indifferent, insensitive, to my partner's feelings. I still couldn't give myself a passing grade. As I mulled over my relationship history it was clear to me. In some instances, my partners were even more effective hostage takers than I was. In fact within my immediate family I could apply many of these principles.
Ugh. In the end, I had to admit that I have been a hostage taker.
There are two things you can do when examining yourself. You can ignore the results of this very personal test and continue to behave selfishly. Or you can say, "Ya know what, I have been a miserable partner. I am going to make a commitment to balance this, to communicate effectively, and find someone wiling to do the same thing." Agreeing to do this, communicating your expectations in some verbal contract, seems very rational. Yet, how many people do this?
Finding someone willing to do this has been a very difficult task. In fact, most potential partners can't even get to the first step. They are still mired in that victim philosophy that all of their failed relationships are their partner's fault. Applying rigorous honesty and self examination is just not something they do. Their fear driven egos simply won't allow it. They are just unconscious and really...you can't hold them accountable for something they simply don't know or understand.
Healthy relationships or hostage taking incidents come in various shapes and sizes with an unlimited number of variables and manipulations. Hostage takers are completely self absorbed, selfish, and they simply don't understand why their hostages can't accede to their demands. Apply the rigorous honesty test to yourself and your relationships and I think you will find the results somewhat surprising.