If any of these sound familiar, it's time to re-think your situation.
We've all been there – in that relationship that your friends, family, coworkers, even that cashier at the grocery store have been wondering why you’re still in. Sure, it started out great, with all of the thrill and fireworks of new and exciting love. He chased you, won your heart, and told you everything you wanted to hear. He made you feel so beautiful, so alive, so wanted.
But gradually things started to change. There was fighting. There were hurt feelings. There were things that were said that shouldn’t be said to anyone. There were scars that couldn’t seem to heal. There may even have been infidelity. And it just kept getting worse.
Of course, there were also apologies. There were the highly dramatic make-ups that seemed like the only thing that brought you close to that initial excitement that you now wanted to get back to so badly. But you could never quite get there. So you settled for the break-up/make-up rollercoaster ride to fill the emotional void that was ever widening.
Ultimately you find yourself resigned to a constant feeling of depression, which, when coupled with a lack of communication and a lack of support, leads to a life that’s just utterly lacking in love. But you can’t let go.
What is it that compels us to stick it out in these relationships that are clearly not healthy for either us or our partner?
There are many reasons, but more often than not it’s a combination of several motivations. And the first step towards making your situation better is in understanding why it is that you’re making the choices you’re making to begin with.
See if any of these sound familiar:
1. You’re afraid you’re getting too old
You’re afraid if you leave that you’ll feel desperate to find someone else quickly, because you think you’re running out of time. You may also feel that if you can just make this work it will be much better than having to start all over again with someone new. Or, you may feel the pressure of your biological clock ticking. Although the biological clock is a very real thing, none of these reasons are a good reason to stay in a relationship that’s not working. Bad relationships don’t get better with age.
2. You’re afraid of being lonely
This one is one of the most common reasons for staying in a relationship that’s just not working. You may have very clear memories of how alone you felt on those long lonely Saturday nights when you had no plans and nobody to be with. As much as we all long for someone to share the beautiful, special moments in life with, as well as someone to be intimate with, being with the wrong person just for the sake of avoiding being alone will ultimately lead to more pain and sadness than the pain of loneliness.
If the fear of being alone is keeping you in a dead-end relationship, find some girlfriends to spend time with, or get yourself a furry four legged friend. As Greg Behrendt said in the very humorous (and very popular) He’s Just Not That Into You,“...that’s what pets are for. Pets are God’s way of saying, ‘Don’t lower the bar because you’re lonely’.”
3. You’re stuck in the fairytale
It started out as such a storybook romance; he was the knight in shining armor, you the damsel to be saved. Or it was such a fateful, romantic chance meeting that brought the two of you together that you just know it was destiny, and you’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill that destiny. But the reality is something more like: he was charming in the beginning, you had some great chemistry, but you’re not really compatible in your goals, values, or beliefs. It’s time to let go of the fairytale and see it for what it really is – a bad match.
4. You feel guilty about the idea of leaving him
You want to get out, and you know it’s not healthy for either of you, but you know he’ll be devastated and you don’t want to hurt him. You may also feel that if you leave him, he won’t be able to find another woman who will care for him, and he’ll fall into a depression (and maybe even become suicidal). While this is an excellent reason to try to help him, as a friend, it’s no reason to stay in a romantically connected relationship with him. If you are seriously concerned, make sure he has access to help, but don’t take on the responsibility of being his savior. Leave that to the professionals.
5. You’re feeling pressure from family or friends to settle down
You know he’s not the right guy for you, but your family likes him so much and you just don’t want to disappoint them. Or, all of your siblings and most of your friends are married already, and everyone’s questioning when you’re going to settle down, asking you “when’s the wedding?” This kind of external pressure may make you feel like you should just settle for less than you want and commit to a guy that’s really not right for you. Don’t do it.
6. It’s easy and comfortable
The relationship is not great, and certainly not what you always wanted, but it fits in your comfort zone, and you’re afraid of change. He’s not the worst partner, and who knows if you’ll find anything better - after all, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. Trust in your heart that when you learn how to find and choose the kind of guy that’s right for you, change will be good.
7. You’re afraid that no one else will want you
You’re afraid you won’t be chosen by anyone else, so you stick with what you’ve got. This one is all too common, and is due to low self-confidence and low self-esteem. The good news is that it’s fixable, and you can have fun in the process. By trying new things, learning new skills, and finding out what makes you happy, you will build up your confidence levels and your self-esteem will automatically rise with it. It’s kind of a snowball effect, and it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your life, as it will help your career, family ties, and friendships get stronger. And then you’ll find that you’re the one doing the choosing.
If any of these sound like they could be describing you and the relationship you’re in, then it’s time to take a good, honest look at the situation and decide whether it’s honoring what you really want in a relationship. If not, then it’s time to get out.
Do yourself a big favor and honestly evaluate and understand your motivations for staying in the relationship for so long. Then take the steps necessary to learn how to avoid making these same mistakes and getting into a similar relationship in the future.
Remember that you are beautiful, you are worthy of love, and you deserve to have the love and respect that you want in a relationship.
What do you think? Any other reasons that you or someone you know has stayed far too long in a relationship? Tell us about it in the comments.