What can they possibly be thinking? Third-parties who — consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or unknowingly — interfere with a love relationship are usually motivated to maintain their own self-esteem or manage emotions of fear, frustration, anger or guilt. In “Third-Party Motives That Can Threaten a Couple” I described some ways these motives manifest. When the motives are conscious, they become “intentions”.
These motives can lead to many behaviors, including some that undermine a couple’s integrity, others that create conflict, and still others that derail one member of the couple resulting in disruption to the couple itself. In “Third-Party Behaviors That Threaten a Couple”, I explored these behaviors.
Today I list some signs that can tip off a couple that they are reacting to a toxic third-party influence, along with some possible responses. As always, the human dilemma applies: We must struggle with when to adapt, when to change the situation, and when to wait and see if circumstances change.
How can you identify a threat to your relationship?
Actions to take when you think a third-party is threatening your relationship.
If their motive was to protect fragile self-esteem, you may not get very far. A certain level of psychological development is necessary before a person can take responsibility for his or her behavior, acknowledging that it has consequences, intended or not. A person who feels blamed and shamed is likely to become more defensive and to ratchet up denial — of intentions, anger (acknowledged or not), and aggression (or passive-aggressive behaviors). If that happens, probably the best you can do is own what you need to do to stay safe and either tighten your boundaries to protect them or, if you are truly evolved, surrender to a higher level of understanding and just let go, rolling with the storm until it passes. Understand the damage it may leave in its wake but know that the initial impact will pass.
How can you show love to the third-party and to your partner?
What are some concrete steps you can take to limit future damage?
To recap, people who are outside of a relationship can — consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally — present threats to a couple. These last three articles are intended to help a couple understand what might motivate a third-party, identify the third-party’s behaviors that may be problematic, become aware of the ways in which the couple is affected, and find ways to address the assault. Showing love to a partner can mean protecting the bonds of the couple from challenges posed by a third-party.
How have you or your partner recognized that your relationship was under threat from a third-party? What steps did you take to communicate to each other your reactions to the threats from the third-party? Were you able to agree on an approach to that person? A plan for neutralizing damaging behaviors when they occurred? Ways to deal with the situation if the impact could not be stopped, minimized, or effectively dealt with? What happened then?
Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower
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