Stockholm Syndrome has been described as “a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.” (Wiki it.)
Seems like so many people in tumultuous, unhealthy, never-endingly torturous relationships probably have that. We all suffer it from time to time—when our friends look at us and are like, “Uh, what could you possibly still be hanging around for?” Here are some tips to assist with diagnosing this psychological danger.
When you sincerely feel like you love a person and yet cannot pinpoint reasons why you actually like them. Sure, they’ve probably got some great general qualities that you or anyone could appreciate (good looks, above average intelligence, sweet dick) but as the relationship progresses you discover that they are also dismissive, cold, selfish, uncompromising, and probably not that into you. The former facts hooked you, the latter make you mad they did, but once you’re used to being treated like shit you seem to forget that it bothers you.
When recounting facts of your relationship to uninvolved people/anyone you feel embarrassed by how it sounds, and compensate by either lying or rationalizing. After all, they don’t know what it’s really like when the two of you are alone, right? They just don’t get the ins and outs of it like you do—if they did it would make sense!
You know the drill:
“He’s just having a rough week (…month) at work, he isn’t usually this rude.”
“She’s been really busy with school, and her best friend just had a breakup, and she’s an interovert. She’ll have more time for me when she graduates. In 2013.”
Basically, the relationship is absolute bullshit but you don’t want to admit it because it’s more important to you to defend the person than it is to protect yourself.
You feel legitimately insane when you consider the ridiculous emotional rollercoaster you have subjected yourself to for so long. Yet you’ve convinced yourself the best/only solution is to straighten out the rollercoaster and fix the relationship, because you couldn’t possibly leave.
If you wrote it down on paper it would look something like this: you met, had a great time for a month, realized you weren’t on the same page in terms of what you were looking for (hint: you’re on the over-invested end), you decide to stay and try to make it work on their terms, this works for awhile, it blows up in your face, you try to move on, you fall for it again, ad infinitum.
Sounds pretty stupid spelled out that way, right? Yeah, it is. It’s stupid. Gather your senses.
Still, you can’t help but feeling like you would rather lose a limb than not have them in your life. Hey being emotionally abused feels cool as shit! No but for real people suffering from emotional Stockholm Syndrome have already bargained away so much power while the other has made so few (no) compromises, they could literally write the dictionary entry for “taking what one can get.” This is where people end up giving up other stuff instead of just their emotional well-being, like their health, their job success, etc.
Anybody out there wanna offer some third party hostage negotiation tactics?