Not everyone gets caught up in the seductive pull of a roller-coaster relationship. For some men and women, however, it wields an eerie appeal. The opportunity to involve one’s self with someone unstable – someone who vacillates between emotional extremes and/or erratic behaviors – can be a strong enticement. Like a ride on a real roller-coaster, the feeling can be exhilarating. Life never gets stale if you don’t know – from day to day, or even hour to hour – whether your significant other is going to be maniacally happy or on the edge of a breakdown.
The same unpredictability that makes the partnership taxing lends it an air of excitement. It is the thrill of the chase, prolonged indefinitely.
Partners who drive us crazy in one way or another can also provide us with endless distractions. They give us an excuse to avoid facing ourselves. We’re so busy trying to save them that we don’t have the energy left over to tackle our own problems. When very little time is spent on an even emotional keel, we may end up exhausted; but our days are also filled with excitement and escapism. This sort of diversion can be very seductive if we’re facing a lot of frustrations in our personal lives. We can – at least to a certain extent – ignore our financial woes, job dissatisfactions and strained relationships with friends and family and pour all our energy into playing hero for the men or women in our lives who are perpetually in crisis.
There are women who get addicted to trying to save lost men, and there are men who get addicted to trying to save damsels in distress. Both of the sexes can be guilty of sucking their partner’s energies dry with drama. Men who had weak, difficult or even non-existent relationships with their fathers when they were boys often end up seeking emotional nurturance first from their mothers and then, later, with the women they find themselves attracted to in adulthood. They look to the women in their lives to be their salvation, and the balm for all of their wounds.
A roller-coaster relationship with such a man could be characterized by obsession, jealousy, possessiveness and an overarching need to monopolize a woman’s attention. Women can emotionally dominate their partnerships in similar ways – and for similar reasons.
Why would we ever get involved in such situations in the first place?
Though the effects can be devastating, many of us jump right in – despite our better judgment. A partner who is unstable is not only self-destructive, in one way or another, but also unable to be attentive and responsive to our real needs. He or she can’t really love us for who we are – and therein lies a clue for us. It’s likely that many of us enter into roller-coaster relationships when we’re feeling afraid of intimacy in one way or another – or when we don’t feel deserving of real love.