Using the Creator and Destroyer archetypes in us is relatively easy when dealing with stuff. When it comes to relationships it is a little more tricky.

So let me say that I do not think cruelty and callousness have any place in our relationships.

The creator feels a bit easier, so let’s start with it. Habits are useful, they save us time and energy and make our lives easier. Me and my partner have the habit of having a coffee each morning, it helps us have a gentle start to the day, and we both enjoy it. But habits can also lead to us becoming stale.

When our important relationships become too habit bound this can be a problem.

How could I know? One sign would be if it is hard to introduce something new to talk about or to talk about doing something new. Another would be how often you know what the other person is going to say (and you don’t find it interesting or engaging).

When our relationships are like this our Creator needs to be unleashed. Here are some ideas:

  • Try swapping roles. (This can be especially helpful if you have the same argument repeatedly.)
  • Talk about doing something you have wanted to do but haven’t done.
  • Talk about something you have wanted to talk about but haven’t.
  • Take a step back from your relationship and see what it is like. You can do this by: thinking of (or writing) a song that describes it, doing a drawing, imagining it as a movie . . . The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Then you can think about how you would like to see it different: write a new song, change the drawing, imagine a different ending or plot for the movie . . .

So, on to the more difficult one: the Destroyer.

Firstly my value position: if you are in an abusive relationship (sexually or physically or emotionally) you should leave.

The relationship is unlikely to change until there is pressure for change. In this situation it is my position that it can be a very good idea to destroy the relationship.

The Destroyer is also useful to refresh our relationships.

Often there are habits that need to be trashed. It may be that one person’s needs are neglected by well-established routines. (For instance the need to have a little time by oneself when getting home from work.) It may be that habitual ways of speaking were once charming but are now resented. It may be that the way conflicts are resolved needs changing. In all these situations there may be something that needs to be destroyed.

Here are some ideas for unleashing the power of the Destroyer in our relationships. Ask yourself:

  • What frustrates me? What will destroying this make room for (what is it that I want).
  • Where do I feel stale? What is the new thing I want?
  • Where or with whom do I feel suffocated? How can I create room for myself in this relationship?

I hope these suggestions are enough to get you started. Let me know any other suggestions that you have and how you go with these ones.

7 Comments to “Keeping our Relationships Fresh and Nourishing:The Creator and Destroyer in Our Relationships.”

  1. DrSteve says:

    Evan – I like the way you’re integrating the creator and the destroyer (and making it clear that this doesn’t recommend or excuse abuse).
    I’m intereted in your ban on cruelty. One one level I completly agree – full stop.
    But – perhaps ‘cruelty’ isn’t the right word here – doesn’t it happen in good relationships which remain hot that the partners will ‘bite’ each other now and then? This causes a relatively uncommon modicum of sharp pain which leads to reparation and deepening of the rel. (My own proviso – I am not advocating relationships which are characterised by game-playing and mind games; although some people seem to like these.)

  2. DrSteve says:

    (Are the photos working out OK?)

  3. Evan Hadkins says:


    I think I’m getting the photos figured out, thanks.

    Yes, I’d avoid the word cruelty but I’m not sure what the right word is.

    I avoid telling adults what is right and wrong in the bedroom (so long as consent is mutual)but do have concerns. I prefer to set out what I regard as desirable and ask people if they want to move toward this.

    One difference between ‘rougher play’ and cruelty is that the intention is for the partners pleasure. So, if the intention is for the lover’s pleasure a refusal won’t offend. If the refusal does offend there is room for exploring why I want to hurt the one I love – what are the buried resentments and so on.

    With role playing and such things. What we long for is genuine encounter in a safe environment (as a therapist called Alexander Lowen said: contact while remaining intact). The role playing and such are I think usually safe ways to try out different ways of bringing different parts of ourselves and new behaviour into our relationship. The goal as I see it is to bring these into our relationship and lives more generally. If people get stuck in roles and games the question is: what are they afraid of? We may decide not to confront our fears of course (after all why should we if we don’t want to?). We may find that as we bring in more parts of ourselves to our relationships that they deepen and are more mutually satisfying.

    Thanks for your comments. They are certainly getting me thinking. I hope my response makes sense.

  4. DrSteve says:

    Evan – your approach to the sexual in relationships makes good sense to me.
    Just to clarify, though. When I spoke of “hot” relationships and said that “partners will ‘bite’ each other now and then” I was not thinking about sex per se (though I can see why you’d think that and it certainly includes sex). I was thinking of things even like the biting comment – something that causes friction and thus heat. A bit of this can be like a spinkle of chili (I’m mixing metaphors) – a lot is too much.

  5. Evan Hadkins says:

    A Freudian mis-reading if not slip?

    I think what happens is that these comments are moments of real contact that break out of the usual habits. They feel good because they deliver real contact. The only problem comes to my way of thinking when they are the only (or main) way of making real contact.


  6. Barbara says:


    I think I’m reading this article for the first time. I thought I had back read all your articles, but I guess not. Or maybe I just couldn’t hear this until the situation appeared in my life once again. Living it over the last several weeks, including yesterday.

    I did think I had the destroyer under some sort of conscious control, only to find what I can now only describe as delusion, reappearance or yet another underneath layer I had no consciousness about. Not really clear on which yet or maybe all of those things.

    Very timely post, which I’m presuming is not only necessary for me but also synchroncity at work. Thanks, as hard as that is to say, probably as hard as this time period and knowledge is to deal with.

    PS The words I’ve been using instead of cruelty are hostile and sadistic.

  7. Evan says:

    Hi Barbara, it sounds like you’re going through a really rough time. Finding we’ve been deluded is really difficult, and getting to know our destroyer can be hard too. I hope you have the support you need to deal with this stuff, please feel free to get in touch if you think I can help.

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