Obesely Speaking

The brain and obesity

Hooked on Messy Loving

Why your brain betrays your heart and you become addicted to toxic relationships. Read More

I find you very rude. While

I find you very rude. While your technical expertise is appreciated, once you began trying to "dumb things down" and offering your own opinion, you became incredibly offensive.

"Like any addiction there is one solution—find a way to let it go. Toxic relationship addiction is like any other master/slave relationship. It is not the master, who sets the slave free; it is the slave, who lets the master go. You have to chasing the big emotional pay off in relationships that can only provide it mercurially. It is a gambler’s game. As a crap shooting man’s son, I can tell you, the trick in winning at craps is never making a bet that you cannot afford to lose. No one can ever afford to lose his or her heart, spirit, or dignity. Remain fabulous and phenomenal."

Upon re-reading the above, do you not see how rude and offensive you are being toward anyone who might have experienced such a relationship?

I think you are an insensitive jerk.

The author of the article is spot on

Improving your overall quality of life involves risk and a lot of uncomfortable feelings. It might even include someone telling you that in order to facilitate change, you must free yourself.

The author is right.

Change is messy and not for the faint of heart. It takes grit and determination and there is not a lot of room for pussy footing around the grim issues.

What is far more rude and offensive is someone remaining in a toxic relationship that is, over the long term, detrimental to their health and quality of life.

Your Comment

As my grandmother would say, "sang it child, while I pats my foot!" Thank you for taking the time to comment. Have a splendid day.

Your Comment

I am happy that you could appreciate my "technical expertise." Thank you for that acknowledgement. Although, my true expertise in this lies in the many toxic relationships I had, prior to my marriage of 26 years, which has endured because I found a way to "let my master go", and even in my marriage, doing so, requires moment-by-moment maintenance.

I do not believe I am being rude to anyone who has been in a toxic relationship. This is the first time I've ever been accused of trying to "dumb something down" (it is usually the opposite), that makes me chuckle. However, seriously, it was not my intention to "dumb things down", my intention was to speak from my heart because I believe what comes from the heart goes to the heart. Being a person who has multiple addiction issues, my experience has been ultimately you have to find a way to let it go. It was not my intention to imply that was a simple, easy or finite process. It is a moment to moment struggle, based on my life.

As for you saying I'm an insensitive jerk, we both know your anger is not about me, even though it is directed at me. I am sorry you are hurting and like you know there's a sun, even when it's raining; you have to believe in love when you don't feel it; and you have to trust in God, even when you cannot understand what She is doing. Onward, better days and higher ground will come. Peace.


I don't see anything rude, just straight talk. I'll find it offensive if I were... the master.


I appreciate your comment, and I am glad that you understood what I was trying to say. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

re anonymous

Having also been in an abusive relationship and having had a mother who uses emotional manipulation and abuse to get her way,, I don't feel his article is offensive or dumbed down. You can never change the person doing the abuse. They have gotten what they ned for too long doing what they do.

Your best bet is to depend on yourself and change you. This is not blaming the victim, this is saying there is a way out, you can empower yourself, and you can find the strength, perhaps with help, to go. Because they won't change. You must.

Thank You

I think you are spot on. Thank you for taking time to comment.

Truth Hurts

I see absolutely nothing insensitive about the truths that have been written. One may feel insecure about facing these truths when they are forced to see them. Especially when they deeply identify with them and are to ashamed to admit it.

This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time.

Thumbs Up!

Your Comment

Wow! What a nice thing to say. You're making me blush (and that's not easy). Thank you so much for the really kind comments. Have a splendid day. You certainly helped send my day in that direction.


This is the best description and analogy of this type of situation that I have found to date. It is not a delivery out of the forest to the other side so to speak, but at least one see the mechanism for what it is, become aware of the triggers and patterns and feel less vulnerable as time moves on.

Interesting to say the least!

Your comment

I am so pleased that you found this post interesting and appreciated my description and analogy. Thanks for taking the time to say so. Do take good care.

Excellent Article

Thank you for an excellent, thought-provoking article! I am an adult survivor of child abuse. My abusive mother dangled me around, buttering me up long enough to soften me for the painful, horribly abusive "kill" in a physical, emotional or verbal manner ("You're worthless, no man will ever want you..."). Your article is an excellent reminder that, as an adult single female, I must not fall prey to a similar type of man who plays the same sick games that my mother played so skillfully with her captive audience.

Your comment

Thank you so much, and congratulations on staying strong and moving beyond the challenges you were born into. Have a splendid day!

My first thought after

My first thought after reading this was "Excellent article," so I was surprised by the first comment. I went back to re-read the article and still couldn't find anything rude or insensitive. This article is just the right thing for me right now. I'm "letting go" of a crush I had, on a man who is very sweet but also has social anxiety. Since I've dealt with social anxiety, I understand it. The problem is that he tries to hide it by playing it cool and aloof. So, I've gotten positive feedback from him at some times, and I've gotten the cool, aloof standoffishness at others. This has been going on for a few months... we've never been able to get past the "crush" phase. I feel he is probably a good person at heart, but he has a lot of issues to deal with, and until that happens, it will not be good for me to continue pursuing him. It leaves me in too much agony when he's playing it cool. I've been going back and forth in my mind over this, but I know I have to let him go. And understanding this, as you talked about in your article, helps a lot and gives me more peace about it. Thank you

Your comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment and sharing what you're experiencing. It is very hard, and I find understanding why our brains process and respond to environmental cues is invaluable in making counterintuitive decisions. Take care!

Thanks, Dr. Billi

I enjoyed your insight. As much as one can enjoy more news they know is true, and don't want to hear. I have been reading about this a lot lately, with my most recent breakup in November, and your article was very plainspoken and accessible.

I seem to only know how to do messy love. When I'm not overwhelmed by my feelings, I don't feel like my passion for the person is adequate to really be called being in love. I can love someone, as a friend, but unless I have truly given my whole heart, I'm not really all in, and it is the all in experience that I seek, to give and to get. And two months out, I'm still all in. It can take me years to recover (it has in the past, even through other relationships.) I don't know how to reign in my feelings and move on. I enjoy the intensity of passionate romantic love, and I am equally distraught when it ends. Some of my friends are telling me to "work on me" for a while. I don't even know what that means. Others are encouraging me to date around immediately. I have no heart to give to someone else. It's all tied up in Mr. Unavailable.

I'm and older woman, and I feel like my worth in the dating pool decreases on a daily basis. Depreciation on women in men's eyes seems so ubiquitous. Thoughts?

Your comment; my thoughts

Thanks for sharing your experience. 1) I am sorry you are hurting. I have several thoughts.

1) "When you're love some body you're taking a gamble on a little sorrow"-Janis Joplin. And sadly she was spot on with that, even when they try and love you as intensely and you love them, there's still sorrow. I have been married 26 years to a person who loves me to death, and he still breaks my heart 4 or 5 times a month... LOL. As my grandmother used to say, "It just be's thata way sometimes." So you're not alone in what you're experiencing, it's a global human thing.

2) And more important that number 1, it doesn't matter what men think about older women, what matters is what older women think about themselves. Read my post on the Gorgeous Brain, it might be useful for your waning spirits.

3) You do know that there are a lot of men who prefer older women, and the older the grape the sweeter the wine... remember that, and BRING IT doll. Men will treat you how you treat yourself. If a man doesn't want you because of your age, TRUST ME, you do NOT want him.

4) i do think we have to work on ourselves, but I also don't believe that working on ourselves is a substitution for loneliness. I guess it comes down to controlling and changing what you can, and accepting the rest. Cause saying that something should or should not be is kind of like saying I know better than the Universe.

5) Life is driven by a differential engine. Embrace the pain you feel right now, because without it, the joy you will feel when you do find that right man would be meaningless.

6) "It takes a rose, just a little bit longer dear" -Janis Joplin And let's face it, having love is the ultimate rose. Stay strong, keep your head to the sky sister, and press on towards higher ground and better days, which will surely come.

You are worth it

You sound like my last girlfriend as she went back to her last boyfriend and that toxic relationship.
You should listen to your friends and work on yourself for awhile. You are worth it!

Could not agree more

Good advice.

So true

I just wanted to chime in and say that I found this post to be so true of what I experienced in my former marriage. Yet I would not call it "messy" loving; when I read the title I thought it would refer to how loving is not perfect, since we humans are not perfect. Perhaps a better title would be "uncertain love"? That would better refer to the love-giving, love-withholding that some abusers use to keep their prey hooked.

Regardless, a fine article that really resonated with me.

Your comment

Thanks for chiming in. And thanks for kind remarks. You are correct "Uncertain Love" would be a much better title. Now I have a question. Where the h-e-double hockey sticks were you last night when I was thinking of a title? LOL. Take care.

I couldn't have agreed more ,

I couldn't have agreed more , this is a very nice article and while reading ,I was thinking this how every word is true .
You highlighted a great point for a lot of people .
Thumbs up !

Your comment

Glad you liked the post and thanks for taking the time to comment.

Toxic vs. Non-toxic

I think that this article brings up some fascinating points, especially where the biology of addiction is concerned.

But...Do you really think it is an either/or thing in relationships: toxic VS. non-toxic? It is too easy for people to point to others and say: now there's a toxic relationship, and I am in the healthy camp. That marriage is "abusive," and mine is perfectly loving and healthy.

I know people who are married where the husband has more "power" in the relationship (incl. less available and predictable), and where the wife has more 'power'. I have also seen relationships cycle back and forth between more or less predictability. Does this mean that they are toxic relationships, because the balance of power (and the glow of "relationship health") may be imperfect? And therefore abusive?

Toxic vs. Non-Toxic

I don't believe any two humans can engage for sustained periods without experiencing some toxicity. I think some relationships are more toxic than others, but I do NOT think that you can evaluate relationships like that, i.e., this one's healthy, and that one's toxic. The past and the future are only valid when they are the present, so what has happened, and what may occur is irrelevant. What matters is what is occurring. My intention was to address patterns of behavioral engagement and why they occur. Thanks for your taking the time to comment.


Am I reading this wrong, or did you just equate forgetting someone's birthday with being extremely abusive...?


No, I did not equate forgetting a lover or spouse's birthday with being extremely abusive. Forgetting a spouse's or boy/girlfriend's birthday is abusive. It is not extremely abusive, but it is neglectful, and my point was that because some one is nice to you they don't get to do things like forget your birthday... a friend forgets your birthday it's fine, but when a spouse or a romantic partner forgets your birthday, it is a totally different issue, and in my opinion is indicative of lack of care and attentiveness. In my 26 years of marriage my husband has NEVER forgotten my birthday, and if he ever did, he'd better have Alzheimer's. LOL. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

help me understand

Excellent, informative article; thank you so much! I want to learn more. 1) Can you tell me more about the psyche of the "master" in a toxic relationship? What drives them and do they realize they're vacillating between nice and abusive? 2) If I care about a man who was SO nice in the beginning and realize it's an unhealthy "relationship" (I wouldn't even call it that - now he just wants sex) what's the most I can hope for? Or do you suggest totally cutting off ties with him altogether for my own peace of mind? 3) Other resources you can recommend to me?

sorry for late response

Didn't mean to be remiss, but it's been hectic the last 48 hours. I am not certain about the psyche of the master, other than these types of relationships seem to be symbiotic, so it's reasonable to suspect that they learned "it's okay to abuse someone if you're nice to them." I doubt they realize what they are doing. The most you can hope for is realizing that what is MOST IMPORTANT is how you feel about yourself. If the relationship is making you feel less than, then those issues need to be addressed. I can't tell you to stay or go, not that you'd do anything other than what you're ready to do. I cannot think of other resources, and not sure what you mean by that. But there are a ton of resources on Psychology Today! Namaste

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Billi Gordon, Ph.D., is  Co-Investigator in the  Ingestive Behaviors & Obesity Program, Center for the Neurobiology of Stress, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.


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