When you're in love, you give up a part of your freedom. You consciously choose to give up certain things in your life in order to commit to that especial someone who has earned your heart. If you're in a healthy relationship, your partner will do the same for you. But if they haven't, perhaps it's time to stop and question your conception of love. You could have Stockholm Syndrome and not even notice it. After all love and Stockholm syndrome share plenty of traits.
Stockholm Syndrome is when abduction victims sympathize with their captors due to the time they've spent with them. You might think, "I'm not a captive. I chose to be in this relationship." But what happens when you're constantly subjected to abuse by the person who's meant to care for you? It could be when your partner gives you the cold shoulder or makes hurtful remarks in order to control your behavior. You even start making excuses for them.
People who are in a relationship with an abusive partner think that the other's behavior makes total sense, even when it doesn't. Emotional abuse intermixed with small acts of kindness can also create bonds. Which is how Stockholm Syndrome works. You might think you're the only person who sees their kindness. You could even believe you are changing them. This conviction and hope that there is more to them than their destructive behavior is ultimately what keeps you in this vicious cycle.
Could it be that Stockholm Syndrome has become popular because of popular depictions of it? We are often exposed to plots and stories in which someone endures abuse only to then discover a kind human underneath it all. TV shows with violent characters, like Game Of Thrones, Spartacus, or Hannibal, have taught audiences to empathize with villainous and psychopathic characters. They tend to present situations in which the victim learns something they didn't know about their abuser and starts seeing that person in a different light.
If your partner makes you feel like you're the most precious pearl, only to tear you down afterwards, you've entered captor/captive territory. You become a prisoner when you no longer recognize how much power you have granted to someone else. A victim of Stockholm Syndrome believes that if they try hard enough, they will change their partner for the better. Meanwhile, this kind of partner encourages false hopes only to manipulate their victim.
Nobody deserves to be manipulated this way. The fact that you feel empathy for someone who mistreats doesn't make his behavior less accountable. True love entails certain acts of sacrifice, but it will never put your individuality or emotional wellbeing into danger. Partners in a healthy relationship take care of each other, instead of trying to control one another. A need for domination can only arise from narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors.
This topic is and will continue to be very complex. The human mind and sensibility is intricate and reacts in ways that are not always easy to understand. You could remain someone else's prisoner for the rest of your life without realizing it. It's difficult to escape an invisible prison cell, however it's not impossible. In order to be free you'll need to be brave and face the truth. Love should never hurt, if it does there's something that's definitely not working.
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Translated by Andrea Valle