A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—including particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it.
A relationship black hole is similar.
I call the topics and memories of your relationship that have become avoided topics black holes.
You, know, the sore spots that you avoid, rather than start an argument. The unresolved issues that both of you dance around, speak over, and generally try to pretend don’t exist.
Let’s look at an example.
You’ve had it. Neither of you is 22 anymore (or 19, or whatever), and you have responsibilities. You don’t need 22 shots of tequila, Jaeger, and God-only-knows-what-else every stinking Friday night.
So, you have the fight.
Talk. I mean talk.
And for a while things are good. Really good. Then, they slip. Not as bad as it used to be, but enough that you notice. And steam a bit.
So, you mention it.
But you don’t want to have that fight—talk— now. Because it will become a fight, and this weekend, you’re camping with friends and you don’t want to ruin it.
So, you agree to talk about it later.
And when you get home late Sunday, you need to get ready to sleep and get up tomorrow for work, and so you don’t bring it up.
And the week is hectic, and everything else is going great, and you don’t want to ruin the mood…
You’ve just created a relationship black hole.
BOTH of you know it’s there. BOTH of you avoid it, ironically, showing your ability to work together.
So, now you have it, because the longer you don’t discuss it, the easier it is to avoid it.
It becomes a habit.
After a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings.
Once a relationship black hole exists, it not only remains unless dealt with, it grows. It grows by sucking in other nearby topics and memories.
You have your black hole. The two of you are amazing partners, though, so you’ve learned to work around it. It may never happen again, right?
Except it does.
Only, this time, it’s the Friday before your sister’s wedding, and, even better, your partner is with the same friend that they were with the last time that they slipped up.
You mention it. this time, though, because you know you’ve been avoiding the black hole, you mention the friend, suggesting they are a bad influence, and…
You start a fight. Talk. A very heated talk…
But it’s too exhausting, and there is a lot to do for the wedding, so it’s shelved.
And your black hole has now grown. It has absorbed previously innocent topics into it’s do-not-discuss gravity.
Let’s look at what is now potentially off-limits:
- all alcohol discussions
- THAT friend
- Friday nights that include any sort of bar
- weekends with plans
Because patterns… and you can be sure it will continue to grow and add experiences and people to blame and topics to avoid, until, eventually, it eats a huge hole in your partnership, made even worse, because your friends will accidentally stumble onto the edges.
- Friend A is already a part of the hole, without even knowing.
- Friend B slips in by inviting your partner out for “getting drunk and blowing off steam Friday,” without knowing that’s a sore spot.
- Friend C falls victim talking about how they and your partner used to get “sooooooo drunk” back in college that they didn’t wake up until 4pm on Saturday—enough time to grab a few chili dogs, take a shower, and start all over again…
So, have you experienced relationship black holes? Did they grow, sucking up more and more space in your lives?
I’d love to hear your experiences.