5 Terrible Reasons You’re Staying In An Unhappy Relationship
Knowing when a relationship is worth saving or ditching…
Do you sometimes feel like you’re not getting as much from your relationship as you’re putting into it? Do you feel like something is missing, gone, lost forever, or was never been there, to begin with? And yet you stay in this unhappy relationship.
Have you ever wondered why?
Why do I stay with someone who doesn’t want the same or a similar life to me?
Why do I stay with someone who I don’t actually trust or even like that much?
Why do I stay with someone who I can’t communicate openly with?
Why do I stay with someone who rarely makes me a priority?
Why do I stay with someone I’ve never physically desired?
Well, these are all very good questions and there can be as many reasons as there are relationships but most often these “reasons” come down to one of five underlying phenomena…
Now, these five reasons are not what you’d call groundbreaking, you may even have some awareness of why you stay, though it’s normally only when we’re brave enough to delve deeper, or get some expert relationship help, that the intricacies of these reasons accurately surface to help us see our relationship more clearly.
Of course, if you fall into one or more of these five categories, it does not necessarily mean that your relationship is doomed, though it’s certainly a time to open up your heart and mind to whether your relationship is able to be revived, or whether it’s time to switch off the life support.
So, here they are, the five things that most often make us stay engaged in a dead-end relationship, even though we feel miserable, alone and perhaps unloved.
- It’s natural. Nobody likes failure.
Avoiding failure is innate in us. It’s probably part of our survival instinct, really. Feelings of embarrassment, defeat, and loss are nobody’s favourite. Relationships, on the other hand, are part of our lives — we humans are a social species, we need relationships to grow and thrive.
But when a relationship goes south, when you and your partner start drifting apart and you find out you are constantly feeling unhappy it’s failure alert time. Sure, challenges happen, and being in sync with your man 24/7 is impossible! There are times when you will annoy each other and let each other down, though when nothing seems to improve and you’re not making any progress for months and months or even years, the fear of failing (possibly again) can keep you hanging on for no good reason…
If the issues are irreparable you can then choose to leave knowing that the relationship didn’t work out long term, and at the same time this does not mean that you or the relationship was a failure. If people want to judge you, let them – just don’t judge yourself. What anyone else thinks is irrelevant. Never feel embarrassed about a relationship ending! Ever.
Perhaps it’s a question of choosing the lesser evil if you think about it. And let me tell you if embarrassment does rear its head it is the lesser evil. And, after all, there is no rule that every single relationship must work out. Most won’t until you meet your true match.
- There’s worse than this.
Do you know what one of the clearest unhappy relationship signs is? When you catch yourself thinking “it could be worse”. This, let me put it bluntly, means that your relationship has gone on life support and it’s time for you to do the humane thing and put it out of its misery.
Maybe your experience with men has made you believe there is no such thing as a happy relationship? But what if you’re just picking the wrong men? Or maybe you have friends in even unhappier relationship and you are comparing your situation to theirs? We always compare ourselves to others, after all. Or maybe your parents’ relationship was fraught with pain and disconnection, and this became your model of what love is (rather than not)… a miserable model, an unhealthy norm.
So yes, you may be right — there is always worse. But just because there are worse relationships than yours, it does not mean you should continue to feel miserable. You could instead be actually happy, have you thought about this?
I know of a woman who was married to a physically and emotionally abusive man (she was not a client). After many years she managed to take the kids and leave him. It wasn’t easy and over time she got her life back. A few years later she met another man, and even though he wasn’t a “terrible” man he had some long-term issues related to drugs and earning capability (he could never keep a job)…
She once told me that compared to her ex he was an angel. Even though the new man was better than the last, his issues were very problematic and certainly impacted the lives of all involved. She knew these issues were impacting the lives of her children and her, yet she still didn’t believe she deserved better. Something to think about.
- This rut is just too comfortable.
Let’s face it — we are creatures of habit, all of us. And we are generally adaptive, so we can get used to pretty much anything. It’s not always easy but we do — think of all the women suffering in abusive relationships (as above).
Even if a relationship is not abusive but has simply run its course you may be reluctant to leave because, well, you’re used to living with your man, sleeping in the same bed – even if you don’t much sex or any sex at all.
It’s a bit paradoxical, I know, but I’ve worked with a lot of clients in this situation. They are unsatisfied with the relationship but they hang on out of habit. Here’s what I tell them: break the habit, form a new one, a happier one – habits that support your core values!
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- There’s no guilt trip like this.
There’s no greater feeling than being in love. You love and the world is yours. You enjoy every second together, you see yourself growing old beside this man, you can’t find even the slightest fault in him (or nothing you want to consciously recognise).
And then time passes and reality turns out a little bit — or a lot — different. Love gives way to perhaps despair and discontent but… you can’t end the relationship because you still love him. Do you really? Or you are feeling guilty about actually not loving him anymore? Or are you hooked to how you want to be together versus how you are? And let’s be frank here – this is not about anything being wrong with the guy, everyone contributes one way or another, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that one of you or both of you have changed!
Either way, guilt can surface. It’s perfectly understandable. We don’t like hurting people, do we, unless you’re a revenge seeker, which I do not recommend! But here’s the thing — you will hurt him more (and yourself) by staying in a loveless relationship than by ending it and giving him and yourself a chance of finding truly connected and compatible love.
- The world outside is just too scary.
The number 1 reason people stay in unhappy relationships is fear. Science has proved this and it shouldn’t come as a surprise as fear is such a great motivator for a lot of the things we wish we would not do in our lives.
You might feel you have invested too much time, feelings, and even money in a relationship and you fear you will lose all this if you leave. What you need is just a little change of perspective: you are not losing all these years or time. You’re acquiring experience you can then use to attract the relationship that will be healthier and more in alignment with who are you.
Or maybe you are afraid you’ll die lonely if you leave him? This fear of being lonely is very powerful in many of us. It can effectively cripple your love life by keeping you stuck and miserable in a relationship with no future.
The only way to get out of the vicious circle of fear and unhappiness is to face the fear and beat it. What’s the worse that can happen? Staying alone? That’s not necessarily bad, you know, especially when the alternative is… being desperately lonely and going against yourself in a soul-destroying relationship.
If you’ve tried everything you possibly can to make it work or you’ve stumbled across a significant deal breaker then it sounds like the time has come to…
…face your fears, fight the guilt, and get out of the relationship that is making you miserable. You don’t deserve this. No one does.