When You Can’t Help or Fix A Relationship

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Sometimes we end up in relationships in which we’re not sure if it’s possible to help or fix what’s going on or if we should stay or leave. Women in particular often hire quickly in relationships and fire slowly, even when there are copious red flags. A good rule of thumb is we should instead hire slowly and fire quickly.

Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.

~ Unknown

Sometimes we keep going to the circus because we don’t realize that’s where we are. Someone recently asked, “what would you tell a person going through a divorce?” My answer: Knowledge is power. Seek to learn about empaths, narcissists, parental alienation syndrome, and intermittent reinforcement. The need for this information does not just apply in a marriage either. It can be helpful with a parent, boss, priest, sibling or others who cause you damage but do so in ways most of us do not recognize, understand or know how to protect against. It was only in the past two years that I have learned of such things and that my own personal healing has been extraordinarily accelerated as a result.


Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you are someone who tries to help others. Empaths do this. In fact, we have a hard time accepting that there are people who aren’t filled with love and light. The hard truth is that there are predators out there who lack character, empathy, compassion and conscience. We know this but we don’t expect them to be our spouse, parent or neighbor. Empaths are so committed to helping, we often become ill when faced with a narcissist which is what we are most likely to attract into our life. Empaths are conscientious, loyal and patient. We invest in the lives of others and seek deep emotional bonds. We assume everyone has the same good intentions we have and that we will not get hurt. The biggest mistake we make is assuming that everyone is working toward the good of others, often giving manipulators the benefit of the doubt, becoming targets and then blaming ourselves.


I always thought narcissists were people who were arrogant, braggadocios, and manipulative. While this is one type of narcissist, there are other types that need to be introduced in case you are like me and never heard of them; covert and vindictive narcissists.

Covert narcissists present as an empath or appear charming but set up intermittent reinforcement (see below) where they love bomb you one moment, then withdraw support the next, all while separating you from the people you love and by eventually dominating you.

Vindictive narcissists are people who get off on disturbing the peace and causing pain, subtly or overtly. They are masters at gaslighting (making you believe you are crazy), breaking boundaries, doing things that hurt and annoy; they lie or distort the truth as if it is the truth, and are quick to exact revenge if they don’t get their way.

Learn about these types of energy vampires. Christiane Northrup, author of Dodging Energy Vampires helps empaths learn that no matter how much we try, how well we do, how much we care and love, narcissists will not change. They are born this way, like someone with a disease. They get power by having the upper hand, triggering us, and through use of control. They have no plan to change because their way of operating works for them. I will never say never and I know that they have been hurt, but until we evolve as a species this is a reasonable assumption. These people are playing by a totally different rule book. If you are in a relationship with someone who feels like this, please contact me and I’ll hook you up with articles and videos to reflect upon.

Intermittent Reinforcement

Intermittent reinforcement is when a person provides inconsistent emotional support that sometimes feels like the best love and support we have ever received, followed by withdrawal of the same. This creates a compulsion in most people so they become addicted in a relationship; like gamblers addicted to a slot machine or cult members to a cult. This explains why so many people stay when they should leave and why children may be drawn to an inconsistent parent. Teal Swan has a video on this that I highly recommend.

Parental Alienation Syndrome

I recently learned of parental alienation syndrome. This is when one parent turns a child against the other parent. Separating a child from a parent is one of the worst types of abuse. Many parents and children silently suffer from parental alienation and the resulting child-rejection and carry shame for this. They are bewildered and hurt. I have information if you recognize a family in which one parent is being demonized to a child by the other parent (or another person, such as a girlfriend, boyfriend, or sibling) or one in which a parent is rejected by his or her child. The experts say these occurrences are only recently recognized as a psychological syndrome and that it is so damaging there should be awareness-raising done with schoolchildren.

I am an idealist and optimist and I devote my life to helping people who want to improve their relationships and their lives. I study psychology as a passion and I did not know this information until recently! I also don’t like to think that some people are unreachable. And yet, I see many like me, who would rather find fault in ourselves and explanations we can live with, than face the alternative that some people ARE unreachable (at least for now). And these people are not like a schizophrenic where their mental illness is obvious; it often goes unrecognized and unchecked. I had to grieve the prevalence of this once I realized there is a higher number of these people than we might imagine.

You are a light-worker, a bringer of love and hope. Learn about these things so you can protect the gift you are in the world and to the world. We need your courage, understanding and wisdom. We need your help. You need to be supported and loved to flourish. If I can help you in anyway, let me know. It would be my privilege.

As published nationally in the column Emotional Intelligence in the Women’s Journals, May 2019

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