Relationship Dynamics and Finding Your Voice

September 24, 2020

What exactly happens when a relationship turns sour?

by Jayita Bhattacharjee

Relationships hold a subtle play of various dynamics, including one of power balance. What starts out as a silent battle can eventually become overwhelming, and power play can damage even the most beautiful of relationships. To know and understand these dynamics might just cease that silent battle for you in every relationship you have in your life. Why thrust forward your emotions menacingly when every relationship can create something beautiful? It is power play that can turn a relationship unhealthy, and the time comes when the pieces fall on the floor and you stand there, silently wondering what went wrong and why.

We don’t fall in love. Rather, we learn how to love. Learning to love in a way so as to create healthy boundaries that you can manage helps your relationship to rise above the game of power dynamics. You can come to a broader, bigger picture of what matters and what doesn’t. While you crave for power in a relationship, you look past the strings of authentic power. To release yourself in a spirit of humbleness, to forgive the wrong doings of another human, to see things in the light of clarity makes love a learning, and as we learn to love, our anger melts and a new perspective develops. We soften in our hearts, and with that comes a softening of the ego, of the desire for power. From bestial beings we become humane, and power play dissipates as we realise that love is the intrinsic power that can and will shape a relationship for the better.


What are unhealthy power dynamics?

Unhealthy power dynamics mean that one person is in control of what goes on and the way things are supposed to be. In any relationship, both people should be empowered to contribute their thoughts, feelings, opinions and voices equally. No one should be stamped over by a decision-making authority. When you feel heard, trusted, respected and valued by the other person in a relationship, you are empowered. But a question often arises in the field of relationship dynamics: how well does the other person meet your emotional needs? Does it ensure the survival of your relationship and in doing so, do you survive as an authentic individual? Are you seen enough, heard enough, felt enough and most importantly understood enough? There comes a time when we cease to ask ourselves these questions and seal our lips and tongues for the sake of holding onto someone. And from that desperate need comes sacrifice on one individual’s part, and ultimately the relationship loses its health. Beat it before it beats you. Feel it, know it, and speak up against it before it takes control of you. Fear makes silence your language, and you must be heard.

With time, abuse of power becomes a game and, though abused, you may find yourself engaging in a futile desperation to live in a companionship with the abuser. The relationship means the world to you, the companionship brings daylight to you. You live from your heart, but when power dynamics are imbalanced, you have been hit where you live. From the perpetrator of abuse stems a torrent of slander, and you become desecrated. But desecration is not an act of God, it is a failure of love. You are carefully placed in a guilt trap, and the perpetrator folds you in guilt to conceal the defilement of your spirit.

With time, this defilement emerges in other ways as the abuser exercises power in flesh and physicality. The love that once consumed you both reduces to broken promises, and ultimately becomes emptiness. You lose touch with your authenticity as you forget who you once were and who you have been reduced to. Ultimately, it becomes a power play between the abuser and the abused. Where does it all lead to? A gradual erosion of the spirit, a gradual detachment from the sense of self. In the beginning of many relationships, we are placed atop a pedestal, showered with adoration, but with time, as familiarity grows and if a sense of authority comes into play, one person can make the other feel unworthy of compassion and affection. In emotionally bonded relationships, we become inclined towards the acceptance of abusive behaviors with the longing of being loved once again, just like the old days, the times that brought us close to one another. From such a need, we step into fear and step out of the sense of self.


Why do relationships become imbalanced?

Insecurity and the desire for domination/submission plays a large role in imbalanced relationship dynamics. An abuser desperately attempts to gain and regain control within relationship dynamics. When the abused gives in to the demand for submission, the abuser feels loved, wanted and venerated. The sense of domination and control is maintained, and the abuser is happy. This need to control is pathological – the abuser lives with a neurotic personality and attempts to fit in with the contrasting personality of the abused.

Together, they try to create a psychosocial balance, but when power play goes to its extremes, the relationship takes a turn for the worse. An imbalanced relationship such as this contains inconsistencies: there is giving, but then there also comes withholding. The abuser often has limitations when it comes to a social perspective, viewing things from an egocentric rather than ethnocentric mode. The victim finds the same old acquaintanceship and comfort of staying in a relationship when the abuser gives, while the abuser finds familiarity in the gaining of control.


What can you do about an imbalanced relationship?

Unmet needs go down a long way in pulling a relationship to pieces. So, while there is still time, ensure there is an open communication without holding yourself back. Venerate the input of others as others venerate your input. This is defined as mutual respect. When this mutuality comes into play, no boundaries are crossed, and the relationship smooths over any bumps which may come along our paths. What seemed to be a hopeless impossibility turns into a promising possibility.

Active listening plays an enormous role in effective communication. A communication where your eyes speak to one another even as your tongues speak aloud can offer two hearts the rarest closeness, that which unleashes contentment from moment to moment. As you actively listen, trying to hear and understand your relationship partnet as they do the same for you, effective communication enters the arena. Eventually, this play turns into a beautiful turn-taking, becoming a promising mode in which two different personalities sit with one another, breaking the dam and letting beautiful feelings flood in. From this flooding of emotion, the relationship is restored and abuse knows no room. It is a beautiful play of hearing and listening, understanding and feeling when it comes to two couples. Power play disappears as the communication brings your heart and mind closer to your loved one.

Sometimes an external source can be called upon to navigate and address the issues invading the health of the relationship. In many situations, this proves to be beneficial. Unhealthy dynamics change for the better, allowing us to bring the best of our selves to a relationship in a calm and clear manner. It’s a long process, but if it turns out to reverse the unhealthy dynamics of the relationship towards an enriching solution, it is undoubtedly worth the effort.

It is worth noting that some relationships are beyond any promising solution, as personality disorder and abuse becomes the ethos of the relationships. There comes the crucial point where you become compelled to accept a relationship, but this is your opportunity to move in either direction. Acceptance of a fact becomes the offer of a turning point from that position of unbelievable pain. You must either try to do something about it, change it or get out of it as your needs deem fit.


About the author:


Jayita Bhattacharjee was born in Calcutta, India, later studied Economics at the University of Houston in Economics and had chosen her career as a trustee and teacher. Her Indian residence is in the vicinity of the famous Belur Math. Currently, she is settled in Tampa, Florida. The books The Ecstatic Dance of Life, Sacred Sanctuary, Light of Consciousness and Dewdrops of Compassion are among several authored by Jayita.

Posted by: Leah Russell