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The Cuckoo Syndrome, Part II: The Relationship Cuckoo

Updated: 5 days ago

Exposing Unhealthy Relationships


In the previous post, we discussed The Cuckoo Syndrome and how it can show up in your “nest,” your life in two ways: The Relationship Cuckoo and The Self-Inflicted Cuckoo. Either way, the goal is to expose the deceptive, yet destructive way your cuckoos can subtly destroy your purpose leaving you with a lifetime of haunting confusion, lingering emptiness, and unnecessary suffering.



Here we will explore The Relationship Cuckoo which is a chronic neglect of self due to consistently taking care of someone else receiving little or no reciprocation. To find out if you are hosting The Relationship Cuckoo, take the quiz © which will provide detailed questions designed to help you understand your specific cuckoo relational dynamics.


Hosting The Relationship Cuckoo can feel like you are carrying the emotional weight of the relationship, giving more than you are capable of, and saying yes when you really mean no. Your relationship with this person is not mutually giving and loving – it is lopsided because you are the one doing all the work.


You continually feel hurt by this person and you dismiss your own needs, wants, and desires in order to take care of them. They are never fully satisfied and do not give back to you in the same way. You’ve adopted the role as pleaser, rescuer, fixer, caretaker, or always the on-call person. The Relationship Cuckoo can sound like this: “I’m always the one who”…For example, maybe you are the one who always does the carpo


ol or schedules the Zoom calls or does the household chores or pays the bill or runs all the errands.


Another sign that you are in a cuckoo relationship is whenever you engage with this person by stating your boundaries, sharing your thoughts, or expressing your needs, you leave conversations feeling confused, manipulated, and pained – even a bit crazy. False accusations are thrown your way. My clients say to me, “Did I do something wrong? This must be my fault.” Self-doubt is a constant companion.



Who is your cuckoo?

The Cuckoo Syndrome can show up in unhealthy relationships with a friend, spouse, mentor, pastor, counselor, sibling, parent, colleague, boss, or significant other. Take a moment and be honest with yourself about who your cuckoo is. Naming this person and facing the reality that you are hosting a cuckoo relationship is the first step in your healing process.


Our choices and associated behaviors offer some form of benefit, or we would not be operating in a relationship where we are abs


orbing the responsibility for another person or a group of people. If you are the pleaser, caretaker, peacemaker, rescuer, or fixer, ask yourself, “What am I getting from this role?” Perhaps you feel worthy, important, or needed.


Ask yourself, “What does this role allow me to avoid?” Perhaps you avoid painful emotions such as the guilt from saying no and not being there for someone. Or, you avoid the fear of disappointing people you care about, or you are avoiding your own difficult issues. Or, you are afraid of losing this person and being rejected or abandoned because you love them.




Here is the most important thing to remember about The Relationship Cuckoo: They are imposters packaged in a seemingly good, normal, or healthy relationship, disguising themselves as the real thing, and mimicking who they think you want them to be. Initially, they look like they belong in your life.


The cuckoo process is sneaky, subtle, and manipulative. The problem with a cuckoo relationship is that you have deceived yourself into thinking you must do all the work to keep the relationship going and that becomes your primary responsibility. Your time, emotional energy, and thought life are given away to nurturing a cuckoo that is now bringing you hurt and harm.


The Cuckoo Syndrome represents a counterfeit purpose because it thwarts your God-given purpose (your dreams, passions, and heart’s desires) because the cuckoo becomes your purpose.



The Relationship Cuckoo can feel like emotional insecurity. This can reveal itself in questions we regularly ponder such as: Am I too much? Am I not enough? Am I replaceable? Am I worthy of love?


There exists a pattern in your relationships where you put other people’s needs above your own and have trouble setting boundaries. You eventually find yourself depleted, joyless, and your sense of self slowly eroded. My clients say, “I don’t know who I am anymore. I feel as if I have lost myself.”


The Relationship Cuckoo is an unwelcome partner in life who continually takes pieces of your soul day after day. We all experience The Cuckoo Syndrome at some point in our life. It is important to understand the truth that you are not broken. You are suffering. With time, self-compassion, embracing the healing process, and a willingness to do the work, freedom awaits.


Over the coming months, we will continue to explore The Cuckoo Syndrome in detail by providing you with the necessary information to discover what makes you susceptible and vulnerable to being the target of cuckoos. You will learn how to navigate complicated relationships by learning practical tools integrating science, psychology, and scripture. You will begin the journey of reclaiming y


our God-given purpose and take back your eggs that have never been allowed to “hatch.”


In the next post, we will dive deeper into the self-inflicted cuckoo which represents our toxic thinking patterns and self-sabotaging behavior which contributes to our unhealthy relationships.


Most of us experience a combination of both types of cuckoos in our – The Self-inflicted Cuckoo and The Relationship Cuckoo.


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In May, The Cuckoo Syndrome: The Secret to Breaking Free from Unhealthy Relationships, Toxic Thinking, and Self-Sabotaging Behavior releases.

 

 I will be offering tools and helpful information to guide you on the path of living cuckoo-free.

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Are you or someone you know experiencing The Cuckoo Syndrome? Curious to find out which type of cuckoo you have in your life: The Relationship Cuckoo, The Self-Inflicted Cuckoo, or The Combination Cuckoo? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Anderson Polk is a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified counselor, registered supervisor, and relationship coach.  She has a private practice located in Northern Virginia and has over a decade of clinical experience helping hundreds of clients on their healing journey. 

 

Andrea is the author of The Cuckoo Syndrome: The Secret to Breaking Free from Unhealthy Relationships, Toxic Thinking, and Self-Sabotaging Behavior which weaves together her story with scripture, science, and psychology. 

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Andrea is devoted to bringing together truth-seekers around the globe united in their search for authenticity, transformative healing, and meaningful life.

 

She is driven by a deep commitment to helping people uncover hidden psychological, relational, and spiritual truths that are keeping them stuck so they can be free.

Andrea teaches courageous men and women how to take their life back and live each day with peace and purpose. 

 

Interested in working with Andrea? Find out more about her services and contact her here. 

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