Do I Like It Sick?

Many spouses will stay in a relationship that is sick and twisted, but why?

It is a truly terrifying story – a young girl grows up in a sick home and is repeatedly sexually abused by a relative or family friend. This person then becomes sexually active at twelve of thirteen with a boyfriend who in his mid-twenties or beyond. Often this is followed by a period of extreme promiscuity. They are sexually intimate with every boyfriend and come to believe that this is expected of them if they want to stay in that relationship. She starts to associate sex with being loved or loving someone else appropriately. They often engage in sexual acts which they do not enjoy, most of which are degrading in some way. They have an overwhelming compulsion to “perform” in order to be loved. For some strange reason, however, after they have settled in with someone they discover they are not truly happy and still have trauma and self-esteem problems. They struggle to find the intimacy and completeness in romance that they so desperately yearn for.

In counseling it often becomes apparent that this person is actually attracted to the sickness they have come to associate with love. They go after the “bad boy” or they seem to hook up with men who are always emotionally unavailable, their romantic interests usually are selfish, misogynistic or emotionally unhealthy.

If you can relate to what I am writing about then it’s time to ask yourself a question, “Am I attracted to this person because of their sickness or their health? Is this person irritating me right now because they are desiring something healthy (emotional connection, vulnerability, working on the relationship, planning for the future, stability, etc)?

Is it sick or is it healthy? I often send my patients home with this homework. For the next two weeks ask yourself, whenever you feel emotional in your romantic relationship, is this sick or is this healthy?

When he ignores me I pursue him. Is this sick or is this healthy?
I feel repelled by his attentions. Is this sick or is this healthy?
I am overly critical or easily angered by this person. Why? Is it sick or is it healthy?
He/she never seems to live up to expectations. Is this sick or is this healthy?

You get the idea, a good exercise for whenever we are struggling with our loved ones. Ask yourself, “Is what I am experiencing a result of a healthy and legitimate concern, or is this an unhealthy response to a sick situation?”

That may not be a bad idea for any of us.

12 thoughts on “Do I Like It Sick?

  1. I’ve been involved with a sick and dangerous person.I left which was hard, but the agony that followed was baffling to me.All of my issues surfaced up. I am currently in therapy and beginning to connect the dots. A concept that I didn’t have to do anything to be loved is a revelation to me after a lifetime of playing the part of a fixer and a savior.Wonderful blog Scott, it will help me on my journey.

  2. Excellent post! I have learned (in most cases I can do this but sometimes the Aries in me takes over) to not react immediately and ask myself where my reaction is coming from. Most times if I give it some time my feelings on the matter change drastically. Alot of what we feel today is grounded in experiences from our past. We have to unlearn some unhealthy perceptions.

  3. I can say from many experiences that I was definitely attracted to sick and sick was attracted to me. It was borne of the familiar. I am a survivor of multiple sexual abuse trauma and a psychopathic upbringing. Surrounded by ‘sick’, I understood not what healthy was. It looked like a nice place to visit as a kid, as a teen, but I never got to LIVE there.

    I had to re-parent myself and unlearn ‘sick’ behavior, my own and from other sick people who were attracted to me. Sick, sick SICK!
    I love having moved into healthy. It brings me endless peace and tiny remnants of joy. I suppose there is room for relapse, but I have undertaken a lot of preventative measures in avoiding becoming ‘sick’ again.

    I wish child abuse were addressed much more vigorously then it is. I wish that many of the survivors I support, were not born into a deficit, born into the sickness that pathology creates. Part of living in ‘healthy’ is to show compassion for those who are still sick, or those who don’t want to be anymore. That’s what I do now and I love every minute of it because there is catharsis for me in watching someone go from sick,…to beautiful and healthy.

    Thanks for your post. There needs to be more awareness and straight talk on this issue. I appreciate the effort. The more the merrier.

  4. I really can’t relate to it, although I’ve been in similar situations. I have found sick people were attracted to me for a variety of reasons, including my substantial skills for accommodating sick personalities. And I did not realize there were other choices. I did not know I could choose for myself who I became close to. I settled for whoever seemed to want to be close to me. Often, people with attachment problems are indiscriminate in their attachment behaviors. The people who respond best to this are people who also do not attach appropriately to others. I didn’t need to be loved so much as that I didn’t know there was any other type of person out there to love me. Then there was also the fact that I was accommodating because I was afraid that otherwise I would get the crap beaten out of me. Sometimes people really do look for the bad boy in the room, but other times the bad boy is the only one who isn’t put off by you. What you are really responding to is the fact that he seems to be interested.

  5. Been there… did that for far too many years… officially done with that. There’s a saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. I disagree. Better no devil at all.

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