Why do we choose to stay in relationships that are past their expiration date?
Sometimes we stay because it’s easier than leaving and we can’t bear the thought of a messy break up. We stay for the kids, or because financially it’s more viable. We stay from expectation, because we think it’s what we are meant to do. We stay from guilt that we haven’t tried hard enough and don’t want to see the other person hurt. Sometimes we stay because we’ve felt manipulated into doing so.
Ultimately underneath it all, it comes down to fear. Our fears outweigh the unrealised benefits of leaving. We feel fear of the unknown – we don’t know how we will survive on our own, we might feel lonely, we don’t know how our partner will react, we don’t know if we can support ourselves. What we know is familiar, what we don’t know is unfamiliar, and its our natural instinct to stick to what we know. We can also have fear of the future, fears of being left single and fears of what others will think. All of which keep us binded in our unhappy relationships.
I personally stayed in a long term relationship for a year or two longer than necessary, because I just couldn’t make the decision to leave. I knew it wasn’t a healthy relationship, I knew I was deeply unhappy, but I felt that I loved him and thought that I couldn’t live without him. Despite the lies and red flags piling on top of each other…. I stayed way past the used by date. I had lost my sense of self, I no longer knew who I was, I desperately sort clarity and the courage to make a break. I felt ALL of the fears.
I remember writing a pro’s and con’s list at one point. One of my reasons for staying was that I couldn’t decide between dogs! Yes, our dogs. How do you choose which one to take and which one to leave. At the time it was heartbreaking and debilitating.
Yet the universe does for us, what we can’t do for ourselves. The longer we stall on something, eventually it will become so uncomfortable that we have no choice, or one is made for us.
Choosing to finally leave that particular relationship was life altering, and not in the negative way that I had imagined. I had conjured up worst case scenarios in my head of what single life would look like at age 40.
After a grieving period and letting go of the life that I thought I wanted, I learned how to heal myself. I found new interests, new friends, and a new lease on life. I developed the most self confidence and self belief that I had ever felt in my entire life. For the first time in my adult life I was truly happy and it was incredibly liberating.
From my experiences of darkness and misery, I learned to never depend on anything outside of myself for my happiness. It only comes from within – if I am at peace and happy within myself, I will be happy within a relationship and happy without one.
I believe we have a knowing already if a relationship is not a good fit for us, yet sometimes love is blind, or it takes a while to make a decision. We tend to ask everyone we know, rather than listening to our own inner instinct. Our self belief and self esteem can be low at this time, we are not standing in our power, so we leave decisions up to others, who are not living our life. Often when we are in this place, we have trouble making even the simplest decisions – like what to order for lunch.
From my experience, I’ve found it is often attachment rather than love, that keeps us in relationships that aren’t right for us. Rather than an overflowing of love that is directed towards another, attachment is more an emotional need and it’s based more on self – filling our needs, how they make US feel, rather than what we feel towards them. We cling onto attachment based relationships from a place of lack and scarcity, which we feel is better than being all alone.
I believe if we are spending more time feeling unhappy and or resentful, then usually that is a good indicator that it is time to do something about the situation. It might be time to seek outside help together or find the courage to consider parting ways.
We are only here at this time, in this form once, so why do we waste so many years feeling depressed, in a situation not deserving of all that we are. We are here to experience joy and happiness, not misery.
I know from experience how hard it is to leave long term relationships, yet I also know that the benefits outweigh the costs of staying. Letting go of what no longer serves us, makes space in our life for the new to enter.
My own personal experiences of leaving unhealthy relationships, placed me on the path to now coach and mentor in this area of life, love, heartbreak & relationships. My signature programs ‘Let Him Go for Good’ and ‘Rock your Relationship Goals’ help women gain greater awareness of themselves and their relationship with others, they allow us to connect to ourselves first and clear the clutter of the past. If you feel this to be of benefit to you, I’d love to have a chat and see how I can help…