I wrote a blog last month that pinpointed 50 reasons why people remain in unhealthy relationships. Research shows that it is hard to end an unhealthy relationship. Furthermore, it shows that being in an unhealthy relationship is detrimental to your mental health. There is a push and pull that goes along with being in an unhealthy relationship that leaves you feeling that you are on a roller coaster. Many times you may realize that you are in an unhealthy relationship, but you stay anyhow. Here are some reasons why:
1) Thinking your partner will change. Sometimes you see the potential and ignore the red flags right in front of you. You may say to yourself, “I know I can save them”, “I believe they can change”, and “I cannot leave them when they are going through such a hard time already.” All of these reasons will keep you staying around. Consequently, no matter what you do you cannot make someone change. Change comes from inside and your partner needs to make the conscious effort to implement change. Similarly, for the change to stick they have to want to change for themselves and not solely to please you. Lasting change can only come from within.
If you take an inventory of your past and current relationship you may find yourself in an endless loop of the same quality relationship just with different people. You may believe you can “save them” or make them change. Unfortunately, believing this can lead to an unhealthy relationship balance. You will find yourself being the “rescuer” and your partner the “victim.” Hope is a major factor in wanting to stick it out. However, unrealistic expectations can leave you feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and angry. Take time to seriously rationalize if your partner has made active steps to change or if it has been empty words with no actions or follow through?
2) Time invested. You may feel that you have been with the person since high school or that, “they knew the old me”. It is commonplace for you to feel that you have given so much time and effort and have been through so much together that separating would be hard. Being in an unhealthy relationship takes a lot of time and effort to stay afloat. Therefore, it may appear harder to let a relationship go that has taken so much work and effort to maintain. Do not let time invested be a deterrent to leaving an unhealthy relationship. Measure the quality of the relationship instead of the quantity of time that has been spent. How has the quality of your relationship been over its duration? If your relationship has been characterized by chaos, break ups, and instability being together for 3 years does not fully justify staying.
3) Fear of being alone and other socially based pressures. Our society places high emphasis on being in a relationship or married. You may feel like it is better to be with someone and unhappy than by yourself. Finding that you are okay by yourself means that you are able to handle a relationship. You cannot fill a whole that you feel with another person. Our social media crazed generation may leave you feeling empty and that if you don’t have a significant other that there is something wrong with you. Furthermore, you may feel “stuck” in the relationship due to outside factors: kids, shared assets, and social circles. You may have taken a risk-reward approach and have estimated exiting the relationship as more hectic/risky than staying and having the added rewards such as financial gain.
4) Low self-esteem. You may be in an unhealthy relationship and not know how to get out of it or feel like it is “all I deserve”. Whenever you do not think highly of yourself you will allow more things to happen due to a possible fear of not being able to find another mate. Moreover, you may have been emotionally abused so much that you feel and have come to believe “this is the best I can get.” If someone has degraded you and made you feel like you are less than that is a telltale sign of being in an unhealthy relationship.
5) Modeling in the family of origin. We seek out relationships that were modeled to us as we were growing up. If you have seen your parents in an unhealthy relationship you will have a greater tendency to repeat the same pattern and except unhealthy interactions. This tends to happen because what you have seen has become your social “norm”. Furthermore, if you have grown up in a family where you have been invalidated you will find yourself with a mate that repeats the same pattern in your relationship. Unfortunately, you will end up with the same result grasping for the validation you need, but feeling disappointed because that need is not met. It is typical to find yourself dating a person with similar qualities as your opposite gender parent. If there was a void that is in that relationship it can be repeated in the people you are attracted to if you have not resolved those issues.
If you find yourself facing one, some, or all of the roadblocks in your relationship feel free to reach out to a professional to help you establish ways to break out of unhealthy relationships and patterns. You may feel like you want to leave, but you just do not know how. A mental health professional can help you break generational patterns, increase your self-esteem, and normalize being single. Do not allow the five roadblocks to keep you stuck in the same pattern. If you have looked into your relationships and have date the same personality with a different face it is time to find out what is beneath the pattern. Keep in mind that simply because something you are experiencing has been your normal that does not always mean that is healthy. It is okay to get out!