The TLC channel is currently running a series titled “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days” https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/90-day-fiance-before-the-90-days/ . Alternately engaging, appalling, and cautionary, this reality show depicts couples whose relationships began online.
Though most have never met, all program participants feel certain they have found true love. The question presented is, have they? A more telling question might be, do they understand the nature of love at all?
The latter is a question abuse victims must confront, themselves, if they are to heal.
Unfortunately, online relationships are prone to the distortion of projection. We see what we want to see; hear what we want to hear. We fill in the blanks with the image of our ideal, hope fueling our fantasies.
Abuse victims are especially vulnerable to this distortion.
Abuse and Our View of Love
Child abuse – whatever form it takes (emotional, physical, sexual, or neglect) – skews our view of love. Abuse teaches us that love must be earned, and requires sacrifice on our part to the point of self-destruction.
Deprived of real love, we become desperate for it. This continues to play out in adulthood. We settle for crumbs, for partners who beat us, rob us, and cheat on us – all the while sure that we cannot live without them.
No mere post (or reality show, for that matter) can capture all the complexities of love. We can though clear up a few misconceptions.
A great deal done in the name of love is destructive. Women are frequently stalked in the name of love. Murders are regularly committed in the name of love. Teens, in particular, commit suicide in the name of love.
Obsession is not, however, genuine love.
Social media and romantic comedies portray stalking as a compliment to the object of the stalker’s “affection” – something funny, even sweet .
In reality, over 7 million people are stalked each year, most by a former intimate partner . Many are physically attacked, raped, and/or killed by their stalker. Others live in fear – their privacy violated, their sense of safety gone, their loved ones placed in jeopardy. Continue reading