Finding the Key


In my book How in the Hell Did This Happen to Me? I have cited many examples taken from clinical interviews that I conducted with people with their names changed, of course. I spend a good deal of time talking about victims and victimizers and the almost magical powers that tend to drive those types of relationship patterns. Indeed, the book is about patterns that we bring from our childhoods that may have worked ‘back then’ but not in our adult lives. It isn’t unusual for children coming into their adult years to replicate the patterns of their parents which accounts for a good deal of the problems that they might experience. This is not to say that parents are ‘at fault’ for their children’s problems since the emulation that the children experience is based on their unconsciously learning those patterns of behavior and attitude.

A driving force in explaining these types of relationships is a sense of desperation that both parties experience that is based in their severely emotionally deprived backgrounds. That deprivation is commonly based around the desperate need for love which may have been lacking or unhealthy while growing up. I would go so far as to say that the absence or limitations that people experience with respect to not feeling loved is in large part a major factor in explaining many of the mental and emotional problems that we see today in our therapists’ offices. Then, there is another complication that people who feel unloved may experience which is even more devastating which is their belief that they aren’t worth of loving and being loved.

That sense of unworthiness tends to drive the desperation which, in turn, influences the feeling that they have very few or no choices in terms of seeking out a relationship. If you could picture two people feeling similarly, it easily explains how they might come together and form a very unhealthy, and in some cases, very dangerous-type relationship that I characterize as the victim/victimizer relationship. There is a mysterious connecting of people who are into these patterns. Because neither partner has been schooled in what a healthy relationship is all about, the intensity that they experience initially oftentimes results in a bonding which leads to a more permanent union. That intensity is usually driven by sexual and other emotional needs that blind both parties into believing that they are in love. Oftentimes, they really don’t know one another as people because of the rush that they experience in the initial phases of the relationship.

Unfortunately, these relationships may move into abusive behaviors on the part of either one or the other to the point of great danger looming. To complicate matters, if they happen to have children, they are exposing them to a very dangerous situation … often a replica of the kinds of situations that they may have experienced growing up themselves. And so, the process starts all over again moving into the next generation. Indeed, it can become a ‘never-ending process’ which can continue for generation upon generation. Again, the key is LOVE and the need for people in these types of relationship patterns to learn about HEALTHY LOVE and RELATIONSHIPS. Too often, though, they are so embedded into their problems that they cannot see that there is a mutual problem because they are too busy blaming each other for the problems that they are experiencing.

There is help that is available but the hardest part is to make couples aware of the fact that what they are going through is as a result of learned behaviors that they’ve brought from their families of origin and that the patterns that have evolved CAN BE CHANGED by their doing some work in understanding how this all fits into their adult lives and changing small pieces of the larger puzzle. Love is the key to the problem but unless it finds the proper lock, the results can be less than desirable.

Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at

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