Have You Struggled with a Complicated Relationship?

23 Feb 2019

Have you ever been in a complicated relationship?  If so, did you tell yourself that the fact that it was a complicated relationship made the whole thing somehow more special? Something worth fighting for? In this article, we need to look at what makes a relationship complicated, together with the effects that those complications have on you.

The “complicated” man

It didn’t take me long to realise that I was in a complicated relationship. Right from the start, the future wasband positioned himself as a Man Apart – a “complicated” man. The fact that the relationship came with complications set it apart from most other relationships – the simple, “ordinary” relationships that I naively dismissed out of hand. .  .

Who wants simple and ordinary, after all?  (Until you have been with someone “complicated” and “different”, you probably can’t know that simple and ordinary have very real merits.  They are, at the  very least, a Narcissist-free zone.)

The Man Apart – a Narcissist to the core – persuaded me that a complicated relationship was more consequential.  It required more commitment – and would, one day provide richer rewards. Allegedly.

But is a complicated relationship really worth the effort?

How I married a complicated man

 To a naive young woman who had led a very sheltered life (a life some might – rightly – argue overshadowed by controlling parents) complications sounded romantic.  To my young ears, “complicated” had  an adult ring. Like I was finally breaking out of the emotional kindergarten to which my parents had quite deliberately confined me.

“My” future husband (I take issue with the possessive, not least because a Narcissist can never be truly “yours”) was nothing if not complicated.  He had lived on two very different continents, contended with 4 languages, grown up knowing two very different cultures and pursued his career across half the world. Plus, he struggled with toxic parents who had been traumatised and displaced in a genocide.

Big stuff!

His life had not been simple.  His all time favorite expression was “It’s complicated.”  Everything, for him, was complicated.

As an empath – with a fair bit of life experience, these days – I can see why, for him, so many things could be complicated.  But, equally, there were many others that were not.

“It’s complicated.”

The wasband was a genius at finding complications where, in reality, there were none.  If I ever expressed an opinion (never a good idea around a Narcissistic abuser) he would reply, with more or less veiled contempt, “It’s complicated.” I only had to question why he didn’t do something apparently simple and obvious like, say, parking the car where there was a space, for him to look    at me like I was an idiot and reply, “It’s complicated.”

For him, everything was “complicated” and “multi-factorial”,

Over time, those little words came close to driving me mad.   They served to prove that I was too dim ever to have a toe-hold on the right to express an opinion.  I was still stuck at the diaper-level of understanding life’s complexities while he had a Ph.D. His privileged insight into the hidden complications of everything totally invalidated anything that I had to say, the moment I opened my mouth to say it.

The dictionary suggest that “complicated” means both “tangled and tricky” and involving “complications”.  That sounds remarkably like the relationship that I had with the wasband Nothing was ever easy. Nor was it ever meant to be.

Why there is nothing glamorous about a complicated relationship

 I had been led to believe that there was something glamorous about a complicated relationship. I couldn’t know that, all too often, complicated is a synonym for “abusive” and “exploitative”.  It took me a long time to realise that there is nothing glamorous about an abusive, exploitative relationship.  Nothing whatsoever.

In reality, one of the many mind-games that abusive, Narcissistic partners play is the game of keeping you in the dark.  They withhold information from you – but not to protect you.  They do so purely to harm you.

The art of the abusive relationship

 Withholding information is a tactic that shows up in different various different contexts including,

  • The Silent Treatment (“I’m not telling you what you have done to displease me so much. But it was very, VERY bad. So, you need to sit on the emotional naughty step until I feel satisfied that you are hurting enough.”)
  • Trying to worry you. Withholding important information regarding such things as finances – on the principle that what you don’t know will worry you.
  • Infidelities – for as long as it is convenient to keep you in the dark.
  • Diminishing you – by employing the obnoxious, “There’s no point in telling you. You would never understand anyway.” routine.

The whole art of an abusive relationship is to sideline you, while ensuring that you obsess over the  abusive tactics, thereby turning your emotional world into a living hell.

The best way to deal with the complicated relationship

 Now, the best -and healthiest – response to being sidelined and disregarded would be to get simple and clear.  Simplicity and clarity are the best responses to complicated relationships.

In an ideal world, the person who finds themselves in the labyrinth of a complicated relationship, would say, “This makes little to no sense.  Plus, it feels weird.  Thank you but I’m outta here.” Sadly, a chasm separates the complicated relationship from an ideal world.

There is no space in a complicated relationship for two people.  A complicated relationship is designed only to offer space to the person making the complications.

A useful distinction

 So, let’s get clear about one very important distinction.  Life can often look complicated but relationships should not.  A complicated relationship is a toxic relationship.

Through the years, working with clients, I have observed that they often face complicated situations.  The key to resolving those situations always lies in helping them to find clarity in their own minds.  It is a bit like unraveling a ball of wool.  There is always a thread that you can use to disentangle the whole damned thing.

Your feelings are the thread.  But by your feelings, I don’t mean the fear and conflicting emotions that are, likely, top of mind.  I mean the deep feelings and values that you can trust, once you stop being overwhelmed by the “complications”.

Life can often present you with a ton of complications.  Your gut feelings will not.  However, when you have to make difficult decisions and you silence your gut, you will likely struggle.

Your experience of being in a complicated relationship with a toxic person has taught you that you are incapable of understanding things and arriving at sensible conclusions.  That is because you  have been deliberately undermined by someone whose intention was always to disempower you for their own convenience.

Arriving at your right answer

 However, when you can tune in to your gut aka your intuition, you cannot help but arrive at the right answer for you.  It may well not be the right answer for your abuser – the Complicating One –  or the helpful people who offer advice that is not worth the breath it travels on.  That does not matter.  This is about your life and your happiness.  Your feelings, your gut and your intuition are key in putting your life back together.  if you struggle to do this alone, get in touch.  This is something we can work on together.

A complicated relationship is a relationship that has become toxic.  It is a relationship in which two people cannot work together for the good of both.  It is a relationship in which one person is being sidelined, diminished and disempowered by the other. It is down to you to simplify that relationship.  Most likely, the only way to simply it is to walk away.  In which case, please remember, there is nothing glamorous about a complicated relationship and nothing good. You will have a much better – and simpler – relationship with yourself and your world when you walk away from that complicated relationship. Simple is good.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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