A bad relationship is a living hell, yet millions of people stay in them – sometimes for life.
There are reasons. I recently set out to compare notes with my colleague, Jake Eagle.
Jake is an extremely gifted psychotherapist and co-developer of perhaps the most effective romantic relationship program on earth: Dating, Relating and Mating.
He and I quickly discovered that there are patterns among people who feel stuck in miserable, long-term relationships.
It is critical to find your pattern and address it if you want to safely recover your relationship or free yourself from bondage.
Six reasons why people stay in a bad relationship, even though they are unhappy:
If you are in a bad relationship, find yourself in this list! It’s a critical first step.
1. People stay in bad relationships because they fear that they are not really an okay person.
Being in relationship serves as “proof” that you are okay. After all, you have a partner. But the real problem is that you never look deeply into what it is that you believe is not okay about you. You sense you are broken in some way. You want to avoid feeling that uncomfortable broken-ness. You don’t want to open that can of worms.
Staying with the “wrong” person helps you avoid looking at myself. It’s a massive distraction.
You stay for two reasons:
1) The other makes you feel good about myself (perhaps by comparison).
2) The other makes you feel bad about yourself and you spend your days prove that you really a good person. It’s an ongoing fight and one that you don’t want to give up. To give up might mean you lose this battle.
2. People stay because they’re afraid of being alone.
This is very common. You would rather be in a mediocre relationship than be all alone. What you don’t realize is that being alone and learning to care for yourself and fill your own emotional needs is actually a prerequisite to creating a healthy romantic partnership.
Your fear of being alone will make you a limited partner. You are in the relationship out of fear, maybe as much as you are in it out of love.
3. People stay because they believe that a difficult relationship represents a chance to grow—it’s a spiritual path.
You believe that suffering paves the way to growth and enlightenment. And you believe that sacrifice is a good thing, a way to become a better person. But, these beliefs—in our opinion—are false. We believe that you can grow more and develop more spiritually when you are in a relaxed, healthy, vibrant partnership.
Suffering is not the way to get there. Suffering only makes it harder to open your heart and reach your full potential as a person.
4. People stay in a bad relationship because they are making resource trade offs.
He makes the money. She keeps the house and manages the calendar. She needs security. He needs sex. (Or vice-versa). Both parties have struck a spoken or unspoken deal and are using each other to fill a need.
Resource trade-offs are a means to an end, but that end usually does not involve intimacy or happiness. Interestingly, some people are so invested in the idea of trading resources that they do not believe any other kind of relationship is even possible.
To resource traders, true love is a fantasy made up by Hollywood screenwriters.
5. Hollywood brainwashing causes some to stay in bad relationships.
Speaking of Hollywood, many people are brainwashed by decades of storybook endings. In the classic Hollywood three-act film structure, everything comes together in the third act – after the hero and heroine have been through seemingly impossible struggles.
And the fairy tale ends there, right on that ultra-happy note.
So, the resource traders have a point. This kind of cultural brainwashing leaves you believing that, regardless of the fatal flaws, everything is supposed to magically work out in the end. You end up waiting decades for the happy ending that never comes.
Meanwhile, you are likely projecting to the world that your relationship is indeed wonderful. The truth becomes a source of shame. Ending the relationship feels like a massive defeat and an overwhelming embarrassment.
6. Self-sabotage: The king of cling.
The most provocative reason why people stay in bad relationships may be self-sabotage. Self-sabotage occurs when you do the opposite of what makes you happy. Why would you ever do that?
Because it’s what you know. You’ve spent years tolerating the misery and, well, everything else is terrifyingly unfamiliar. A fulfilled life with lots of joy is not your life. Happiness is for others, not you. This is the trap of self-sabotage.
So, you stay – and contribute to the problem – even though it’s painful. At least it is not foreign. You stay because you are most comfortable right where you are. Self-sabotage is a way of life for so many of us.
Four important principles about relationships that everyone should understand before making life-altering decisions:
1. Staying in a bad relationship is one of the greatest sources of stress and depression. This fact is well researched. Something must be done if the individuals involved want to lead full, happy lives.
Even the healthiest individual cannot avoid stress and emotional turmoil when locked into a painful, non-fulfilling relationship. Waiting for magic to happen is an exercise in futility.
2. It is usually best to repair a long-term bad relationship rather than ditch it without any conscious effort to recover. The recovery process most often requires the cooperation of both parties. If the day comes when you do part ways, it will be much easier (although still difficult) knowing that you gave it your best effort.
3.It is always easier to prevent bad relationships than to recover one. Don’t overlook the red flags when you are dating.
4. Bad relationships don’t turn good with greater commitment. If you are dating and it is bad, getting married will make it worse – much worse.
Three important resources to consider
If you are tired of being in a bad relationship and want to take action steps to recover a happier life, then consider the following:
1. Take Jake and Hannah Eagle’s Dating, Relating and Mating course. It will help you more than any other relationship education to identify your areas of incompatibility and heal them.
It will also help you avoid getting into yet another relationship that doesn’t work and find someone who you know is right for you. Click here to learn more.
2. The AHA Solution is the program for you if self-sabotage is your issue. To free yourself from self-sabotage you must understand why you are doing it and how it operates in your subconscious mind.
You cannot make choices about things that lie outside your awareness. Self-sabotaging tendencies always operate outside of awareness (even when you think they don’t). Learn more by watching this free video.
3. Get coaching. Often it takes a skilled outside perspective to solve complicated problems. We all need expert help, even the most highly trained therapists go to others for help. The best therapists go regularly. Click here to learn more.
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