Relationships That Go Bad, Slowly

By Dr. Linda Edelstein, who has a wonderful blog, Life Ain’t For Sissies.

Remember the story about the frog in the pot of water? No? Here it is…Put a frog in a pot of water on the stove – if the water is hot, the frog will jump out. Put a frog in a cool pot of water, heat it by degrees, and you get boiled frog. I use the story to talk about relationships –  ah, there was a connection.

If you enter a new relationship with a boss, lover, friend and that person treats you badly, you will get out, quit, get some distance, fight back, or whatever else you need to do to protect yourself.  This is the same as throwing you or the frog into boiling water – you will both hop out.  However, if your boss, lover, friend starts off being friendly and kind (read cool water for the frog), you may stay for a long time. Certainly you will not imagine that you are going to be boiled.  You will not need to hop away. If behaviors change slowly, you will not immediately react; you will probably adjust. The water of the relationship gets hotter and hotter but you are getting used to it – it happens gradually – so it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

If your partner suddenly turned to you one day and said, “As of today, you are not allowed to have any more emotions. You are not allowed to think certain ways, and you are not allowed to hold certain beliefs.  Get rid of them. Bury them someplace,” you would react strongly, you would fight.  But, when it happens a tiny bit at a time, you don’t always see it.  You know when someone beats you up and tries to steal your soul but, what if someone asks for a little bit more of you each day?  You might say yes.  You might consider it a compromise; that’s mature.  You don’t see where are headed. Little by little, you are boiled.

Frogs legs, anyone?

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