Over the years I have worked with several people who struggle to find healthy relationships or leave unhealthy ones. After a while I began to notice constant patterns/themes to why people don’t leave their unhealthy relationships. Here the most common reasons you are still in an unhealthy relationship that may apply to you.
Change is hard
Of course it is. It’s easy to become content in our routine even if it is making us miserable. The problem with letting the challenge of it and fear of the unknown stop us from making better choices for you is that you are allowing fear to dictate your life. Let me tell you that it never ends well.
You’re afraid to be alone
Who doesn’t enjoy companionship, most of us do. The problem as mentioned before is that fear is not your best friend here. Yes, fear helps keep you alive in life or death situations but it isn’t helping you now by keeping you paralyzed in an unhealthy relationship.
Would you really be alone if you left? What about your friends and family, do they not count? I understand that those relationships are not exactly the same as an intimate one.
The question really comes down to why do you believe you would never find another person you would be interested in or who would be interested in you. How realistic is that really? I’m not saying the minute you leave your relationship, you’ll be in a new one, nor am I encouraging that anyway.
You’ll want some time to grief the loss and focus on rebuilding yourself during your single time. However the odds that you’ll be single forever just seems so unrealistic given that you’ve clearly found people who show interest in you otherwise you wouldn’t be in a relationship to begin with.
You doubt you can do better
Why? Who told you that this? Usually if you do enough self-exploration and introspection you will find an automatic belief about yourself which has built over the years usually stemming from childhood and early life experiences. Examples include: “I’m stupid,” “I’m not lovable”, “I’m not worthy”, “I can never do anything right”, and the list goes on.
Figure out what your automatic belief is that you’re carrying around. You can usually find it during difficult times in your life or when you make mistakes which then reaffirm your automatic thought about yourself such as “You see I knew I couldn’t do it right, I never do anything right.”
It won’t help if your partner encourages these negative thoughts about yourself. Ever wonder why they verbally abuse you? Most likely it’s because of their own low self-esteem and their fear of losing you if you realize how negative they are and what you’re true value is. Either way those aren’t the qualities of a happy person so you can definitely do better.
It’s too late
Says who? The only time it’s too late is when you’re dead and if you’re reading this now then the odds are very likely that you are still alive. Many people find new love in their golden years and you can anytime you want to be open to it.
But they have so much potential
If I had a quarter for every time I heard this. “I know he’ll be nicer once he goes to counseling, if only I was more patient, if only I loved them more, if only they loved me more”, and so on. Do you plan other aspects of your life on this idea? Would you move in to an apartment infested with cockroaches and lead paint on the notion that “well once the landlord decides to fix the problem it will be wonderful.” I didn’t think so.
You need to remember that “What you see is what you get”. If you aren’t comfortable with dating someone who smokes don’t date them thinking well I know he’ll quit one day. The only person in charge of making change is yourself. Why waste time waiting for the other person to make changes they may or may not stick. Do yourself a favor and find someone who already has the qualities you want today.
You’ve invested too much already
I understand that this one is difficult to let go of. You’ve spent years if not decades building a life together, investing time, emotions, and finances that you find it difficult to let go and walk away. Chances are that most of your memories together include pain and resentment. What will you have to show for that? You won’t get a medal for sticking it out, just more damage to your self-esteem.
You believe “true love” bears all
Yes the best kind of love is unconditional and like the relationship with our children or our parents we love them no matter what. Does that mean you have to tolerate everything they do? No! You can love someone and still chose how much you want them around.
True love does not mean sacrificing yourself in an unhealthy or abusive relationship because at the end of the day you should also love yourself. How else can you expect healthy relationships if you mistreat yourself by tolerating abuse? You can set limits like leaving and considering a future relationship only once they’ve gone to counseling and stopped the behaviors that pushed you away to begin with.
We have children together
More reason why you should leave. By you staying in this type of relationship you are teaching your children to tolerate the behaviors that are unhealthy to begin with. What message do you want to leave your children? Most likely not that one.
You’re children will be grateful to see you caring for yourself and wanting to teach them healthy examples of adult relationships for them to model once they grow up.
Did any of these reasons resonate with you? So now what? Remember that you only get one chance at life and will you look back and regret having stayed in an unhealthy relationship more than leaving it. If you know you want to leave but feel stuck then it’s time to see a counselor who can help you gain the strength to move forward in whatever direction that is. They won’t be able to make the choice for you but they can prepare you for the challenge and support you while you make difficult decisions.