Abuse is Never Love! (With Zoë Verteramo, Indiana University Bloomington)

Uploaded 2/24/2023, approx. 21 minute read

Hello, Shoshanim.

Today we are going to discuss a four-letter word. Get your minds out of the gutter. There are many four-letter words. And we're going to discuss why abuse is never love. And love precludes abuse.

But before we go there and apropos abuse, I need your help. Following weeks of relentless attacks, my YouTube channel is open and you again can access it. I'm uploading content daily. Please let everyone know about this. Let everyone know that the channel has been reopened via your social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and other platforms. Use carrier pigeons if you have to. Just make sure everyone knows that I'm back on my channel. As I said in previous videos, I'll be relocating to Budapest and restarting my erstwhile career as a financial and political advisor and analyst. But I will continue to furnish the channel with new content and to provide mental health counseling.

Thank you for your staunch support, hitherto. Hidetou? Look it up.

Welcome to my TikTok garden, Shoshanim.

Many of you ask me, what is Shoshanim? For Christ's sake. Shoshanim is a Hebrew word and that's the only information I'm going to give you.

And who is better qualified to discuss love than Sam Vaknin, your favorite blue professor of psychology and the author, the only author, the forever author of Malignant Self-Love: NarcissismRevisited, the only book I've written and have yet to read.

And today we're going to discuss love in short, pithy sentences.

You see, the heart has a mind of its own. Love defies logic. Reason, analysis. Love throws these by the wayside. It has no use for them. Love denies age, distance, circumstances. Love transcends boundaries, suppresses interests, eliminates fear itself. It takes courage to love. Hatred is easy. Love thrives on adversity, on complexity, on dreams. Love just is. It's a presence. It's the essence, the distillation, the quintessence of existence. Love is known instantly by its proponents, worshipped by its adherents, defeating all its enemies. This is love. Every setback in love is temporary. Every obstacle is overcomeand every limit is crossed. Love triumphs when nothing else does. It grows in every wasteland. It flourishes without soil and water. It prevails even at the end of the day. It says it becomes. This is love and nothing else.

Yeah. Yeah, it seems that we're both recording. I think we're both recording.

Okay. All right. Well, do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?

Well, I'm Sam Vaknin. I'm a professor of psychology and a former professor of psychology in other universities. And I'm the author of several books on personality disorders, among others, and maybe the most wellknown of which is Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. Awesome.

Yeah. Thank you so much. And I appreciate you helping me out with my school project.

And just to clarify, are you okay with this being in my portfolio as well? You absolutely no problem. And are you okay with me uploading it to my YouTube channel?


So we dispense with the permissions and we go to the topic.

Okay. So the first thing that I was curious about is when conflict is no longer healthy, because I'm kind of exploring this topic of a lot of people think that conflict is a bad sign in a relationship, but I think it can be healthy.

So just with, you know, what you know about personality disorders and conflict and maybe even abuse in relationships, what your thoughts are on that.

Conflict is a form of emotional investment. Conflict is a mode of communication. When a couple no longer fight, no longer argue and debate and disagree and throw shoes at each other. Something is wrong with the couple.

That is a dead couple. It's a couple who have retreated into apathy or indifference. They no longer care about each other enough to fight. They don't believe in the efficacy of fighting. They don't think they can change anything anymore. It's a cemetery.

So one of the first telltale signs of a dying couple is that they are quiescent. They no longer pursue a reconciliation via conflict.

Now, a healthy conflict is about boundaries and about modifying the behavior of your partner. If you're unhappy with your partner's choices, decisions, actions, inaction, etc., this could make you frustrated. Frustration leads to aggression and aggression can manifest as anger. Anger is a healthy emotion. That's the way we communicate to other people. You're doing something that bothers me. Please change your behavior.

So behavior modification is a legitimate goal of healthy conflict.

And the second legitimate goal is boundaries, informing the other party that there's been an infringement or a breach or a violation and they need to back off. An unhealthy conflict is never about the other person. It's about you. It's about your vanity. It's about your grandiosity. It's about protecting some kind of fantasy that you're having. An unhealthy conflict is self-centered. It has nothing to do with reality, nothing to do with an intimate partner, nothing to do with a partnership as well. It's about defending something that matters to you so much because it allows you to regulate your emotions, stabilize your moods and somehow survive and function.

So it's a panic reaction. An unhealthy conflict is a form of anxiety reaction.

And thisI thinkis a distinction. If it's about the other person, it's usually a healthy conflict. If it's about you, it's usually unhealthy.

Yeah. I'm done. Yeah, that was beautifully said and it definitely brings a lot of enlightenment to me.

I don't think anybody else I've talked to has made that distinction and that makes a lot of sense because sometimes there are arguments and the other person's like, "What is this even about?" I'm very confused."

So yeah, absolutely. That's great. And then that kind of leads me to my next question, which isI think a lot of people say that you should have a spark when you meet somebody, like a romantic partner.

But I've had a spark with people and then they didn't turn out to be very nice people. So I feel like it's hard to know, do you need the spark or can that spark be something else besides maybe attraction, maybe it's intimidation, maybe it's anxiety, and are there ways to know the difference between a good spark and a bad spark?

The very notion of a spark hails from the romantic movement in the 18th and 19th centuries in Germany and later in England. And the romantic movement unfortunately bestowed upon us very dysfunctional concepts and percepts of what it means to love.

The romantic movement idealized love and idealized lovers. When love is actually never ideal, it's always a compromise, always has to do with reality, always grinds against the possible, never against the impossible.

An ideal love is setting yourself up for failure, pursuing an ideal love, is setting yourself up for failure. If you give a hundred percent of yourself to someone, you're setting your partner up for failure because no one can give a hundred percent of himself or herself to you. It's a form of emotional blackmail actually. That's what codependency do in many borderlines.

So twin flames, soulmates, love at first sight, sparks, they sparks lead to conflagrations normally. So these are exceedingly unhealthy, unhealthy visions of love.

I want to read to you something that I have written. I'd like to quote myself, it's very narcissistic of me.

So I want to read something to you that I've written about what love is not.

So loving someone is not the same as loving the way they love you. Loving someone is not the same as loving to be in love, loving the feeling of being in love. Loving someone is not the same as merging or fusing with your partner. That's not love, that's mutual annihilation.

Loving someone is not the same as hating loneliness or being desperate. Loving someone never involves fantasy or idealization because when you fantasize or when you idealize, you no longer see your partner.

And finally, loving someone is not about assuming a parental role. You should never be your partner's mother and he should never be your daddy. These are all forms of highly dysfunctional love.

And the whole notion that love is fire or fireworks is absolutely counterfactual. That's the exact opposite of love. Love builds up, love is incremental, love is tested time and again, hundreds of times a day. Love is about perseverance and patience and hope and fear. Love is about lifeand life is never idealand there are no sparks in life. And when there are sparks, the fire department has to put them off, put them out.

So seriously bad idea, seriously bad way of seeing love.

Nowmany people react to manipulation or intimidation or anxiety or even fear. They react with infatuation or limerence. They fall in love with these things.

But they don't fall in love with a partner. They fall in love with these sensationsand that's because usually they have an early background, early childhood background with veryvery bad experiences connected to being loved. Very bad experiences connected to love.

They have learned to connect love to pain. They've learned to associate love with hurt. They've learned that to be in love is to be anxious because love can be withheld. Love can be denied.

They have learned even to connect love with hate because there was a caregiver or a primary object of a parent who gave them love and then hated them intermittent reinforcement.

So we all learn, we all learn how to love.

And we first self-love, that's the narcissistic phase, the healthy narcissism, we love ourselvesand then we love other people and that's called object relations. We develop relationships with objects, other people.

But you can't leapfrogif you don't learn to be loved. You can't develop self-loveand if you don't have self-loveyou can never love anyone.

And unfortunatelymanymany people are in this exactly in this position. They're incapable of loving. They've insecure attachment styles. They're terrified of love and intimacy because they anticipate the worst and they bring about the worst with their own behaviors. They self-defeat. They self-destruct. They self-sabotage. Wherever they see love, they see pain and to avoid painthey would rather avoid love itself or destroy it.

Yeah, I really like everything you saidand something that really stuck out to me is the fact that people kind of fall in love with those feelings or maybe ideas. And I think that's what often happensand it's funny because whenever I watch shows and movies people are likeI just want a love that's like burning passion. And a lot of the time that burning passion is a lot of upset.

So yeah, I love that you put that in perspective. When I brought this topic up to my professorshe was like yeah I had a friend and they were star dating a guybut they were friends first and I was so confused. How did they start dating if they didn't have a spark? And it makes a lot of sense.

The healthiest relationships are probably when you learn to love them without that pressure and without romanticizing the idea.

So yeah, I really like everything you said and it's definitely a great addition to my research.

So thank you for that.

Yeah, and thenwellyeahand then my next question that I was going to ask you is very similar.

Welcome back. Ohno, I hope the recording was. The recording on my side was not interruptedbut your recording may be. Have a look. Okay well we will we will find out. I'm sure it'll be fine. My recording is on interrupt. Okay, wellsorry about that. My next question was going to be about love as the ingredient of a relationship.

I think a lot of people maybe stay in relationships for love if maybe there's not much else. So I was curious what your thoughts are on how important love is in a relationship and you know maybe what else is more important that makes that love healthy.

Because I hear a lot where people are in a bad relationship and then they're like but I love them and so I was curious what your thoughts were on the topic.

Abuse precludes love. Abuse and love are mutually exclusive.

If you're being abusedyou're not being loved. End of storyand don't convince yourself. Don't go convincing yourself that the abuse is intermittent, is unintentional, is something the other person can't help but doand so on and so forth.

If someone abuses you, if there's an abuser, someone abuses you, he doesn't love you. End of story.

So whenever, wherever and whenever there's abuseyou need to exit the relationship. No contact. That's all.

In healthybecause a relationship, relationship which involves mistreatment is an unhealthy relationship. People stay onshoulder onin abusive relationships because they don't love themselves. Where there is no self-love, where there is no self-love, you're willing to accept abuse, being taken for granted, indifference, absence, hatred, fear, anxiety, gaslighting. You're willing to accept anything when you don't love yourself. Because if you don't love yourself, why would anyone else love you? You are grateful for any crumbs of love that you get. When you don't love yourself, any minute of love that you think you are receiving is a gift. A gift that you don't deserve. So when you're not loving yourself, you don't deserve anythingand anything given to you, you should be grateful. You should just be grateful. That's wrong thinking. In healthy relationships, love is everythingand this sounds like I'm contradicting myself, which is something I like to do.

But what I mean to say is actually, if you define love properly, then it is everything in a relationship.

Because love is an umbrella term. Love is the name we give to dozens of behaviors, is the name we give to at least 12 or 15 separate emotions. Love is a label, but it doesn't describe a single entity.

It describes an amalgam, a collection or a cluster of emotions, cognitions, and behaviors, actions.

If you take all these into account, then love is sufficient in a relationship, sufficient reason to stay.

For example, if you love someone, you want them to be separate from you. Love is about pushing the other person away.

I know this sounds crazy, but think of a mother, for example. If a mother truly loves her child, she will push him away. She will push the child away to allow the child to become an individual, to separate from her.

Love is about pushing your partner to become not you. Love is never about merging and fusing. Love is about being sensitive to your partner, knowing your partner thoroughly, totally, and intimately, but not infringing on your partner's privacy and right to have secrets, for example.

So giving space. Love is about mutual exploration, but it's also about boundaries, respecting the other person's boundaries, knowing where you stop and the other person begins.

And this is an extremely partial list. It's like 2% of love. I couldof love.

I could go on for the next 450 minutes. By the time I will have specified everything that's included in the word love, you will have seen that love is more than enough in a relationship, but the healthy kind, the true kind.

People think that intimacy and love imply becoming one organism, one organism with two heads. People think that loving each other means doing everything together. People have seriously screwed up conceptions of love.

And this is not love. This is insecurity. These kind of behaviors, they're about insecurity. They're about anxiety. These are unhealthy, pathological sentiments.

But if love is defined properly and it exists in a relationship, you don't need anything else. Love is the whole world, but not the romantic kind, not the idealized kind, not the Hollywood kind, not the mass media, not even the social media kind.

The kind of love that our four, four, four fathers had for each other. Working the land together, building cabins with their own hands, raising nine children, six of whom died, enduring this experience together, forgiving each other for transgressions, respecting each other, starting off not loving each other, but learning to love each other and growing together, thereby loving each other.

So love is an experience of personal growth. Love is a plant, needs to be watered and tended and cared for. And then it grows into a tree.

You don't, if you plant a tree, it has limited longevity, limited life expectancy. But if you plant a sprout or a tender thing, you know, it has decades to grow.

And this is the beauty of true love.

Yeah. Yeah, I love that. And I think, I think you're right. I think maybe it's not that far off to say love is everything, but it's got to be the right kind. And I think you're right.

A lot of people have very skewed perceptions of what that is. And I think a lot of it has to do with not having boundaries.

Like I think even parents are like, I'm your mother, so you tell me everything or like that kind of thing where it's, you know, romantic, non-romantic, all relationships need to have healthy boundaries set.

I attribute most of the ills of the modern world to the way we have corrupted love and the understanding of love.

There is no real love almost anywhere left, not on dating apps, not between parents and children, not between men and women, not between women and women, and not between men and men. There's no love left anywhere.

We mistake sexual orientation for love. We mistake sex for love. We mistake, we mistake merger and fusion for love. We mistake codependency for love. We mistake so many things for love. We have so thoroughly corrupted it that it's almost a hopeless situation to kind of introduce true love into the equation.

These people have these misconceptions and resistances and they are so self-centered because the environment is very difficult. We are in a crisis on multiple levelsand so we all have to kind of, we're all in survival mode and when you're in survival modeyou can't take in another person, not really. You can take in another person in sex, that's limited, that's easy, that's fun, but you can't take in another person truly because you're too busy surviving. You're too busy surviving.

We're all in the post-traumatic state.

Yeah, that's a good point. And then really quickly, so do you think that dating apps and social media has maybe hurt this phenomenon further?

They rendered all of us commodities. We've all become commodities. We've all become statistics or numbers or almost anonymous faces. We are consumed, we've become consumer goods.

On dating apps, your potential partners are consumer goods, you consume them.

And the fact that there is an abundance of options makes people cheap, cheapens people. It's like money. If you print too much money, there's devaluation, the money becomes worthless. If you print, if you have access to too many potential internet partners, intimacy and partnership are devalued because people become fungible and replaceable and interchangeable with a swipe.

It's a really, really pernicious sick idea dating apps, really sick idea. It does not provide an alternative to old style matchmaking. It doesn't.

It does not, dating apps did not introduce into the applications procedures and methods to ascertain that a real connection will occur because they make money out of a quick turnover.

So it's about alacrity. It's about fungibility, not about a real connection.

The way dating apps are constructed right now, they are harmful to intimacy or to capacity to have intimacy or to intimacy skills.

I will finish by this, this answer at least. I finished by, I wanted to think of something.

If you have a boyfriend, then you don't spend as much time on a dating app as when you don't have a boyfriend. If you have a lover, if you have a lover, you don't have a lifetime left to visit Facebook.

So Facebook wants you to be alone. Facebook do not want you to have a lover. Dating apps do not want you to find the one because if you find the one you drop off the dating app, it's bad for business.

These apps are not designed coincidentally. There are huge teams of psychologists and mind engineers at work in these giant corporations.

They want you to remain glued to the screen. It's called "sickiness".

And the only way you will remain glued to the screen is if you're always alone.

This is the attention economy. They want your attention and you can't give them your attention if you have someone meaningful in your life. So they don't want you to have it.

Wow. That's, no, that's very, and it's very eye- opening. And it's also a little ironic because I am in the United States in a college town and dating apps are very prevalent. So it's definitely an interesting point of view and I appreciate that. Definitely something I'll think about and now it makes a lot of sense when a lot of my friends are like, "I'm so sick of the dating apps."

So yeah, thank you for that. And it's funny, that's actually another topic that I'm going to put in my project, but I wasn't sure. I was trying to ask you questions based off your research. So I'm really excited that we got to touch on that too.

But yeah, I think that covers my main questions, but I want to ask if you have anything to add to the conversation that you didn't get to say yet.

No, I think we covered all the bases and it's been a pleasure to talk to you. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. I wish you success with your work.

Oh, thank you so much. And I wrote down your book title and I'm definitely going to check it out. I'm excited.

Okay, you take care. Okay, thank you so much. Thank you. Bye-bye. Okay, bye. ###

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