Getting Stuck In Unhappy Relationships
Most of us go into relationships optimistic or at least optimistic about our pessimism. During parts of the year, when couples are at the center of yearly celebrations, we look for reasons to cling to our relationships. It does not need to be a special time of year for us to stay in a relationship that is not serving us. We simply have to stay in a relationship long enough.
According to Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory, when attitudes and behaviors are in conflict, we tend to adapt the attitude. For example, “We have been together for 6 months, I am sure that this is just a rough patch. I mean whose partner has not told that that they hated their entire family and their outlook on life at some point in their relationship?” We also stay in romantic relationships in the hopes of working out things we could never resolve in our native family. Still others stay because they are weary of the rejection and stress that awaits them in becoming single again.
If we practice Self-Compassion often enough, we will slowly develop core values and the ability to advocate for ourselves that will give us the means to correctly identify harmful relationships, and extricate ourselves from them. In the meantime, we need a cheat sheet. So, here our some signs that you should get out of your current relationship (note: this list is not exhaustive):
Sign 1: I have not been in a relationship for a long time. I was just waiting for the right person.
I have not been in a relationship for a long time. I was just waiting for the right person. This sounds lovely, even romantic, but if it is not followed by I have been working with a therapist or a likeminded professional to develop the skills that I needed to be in a healthy relationship, you should get out of this relationship. Nine times out of ten this person has not been in a relationship because they lack the maturity, self-compassion, or compassion for others necessary to be in a relationship.
People, who feel ready to be in a relationship do not wait on the side lines for a long time unless they have lost a significant other or marriage partner to illness or divorce. If neither of these cases apply, it is best to move on. If one of these cases apply, I would still want to know whether or not they received grief support from family or professionals and similar services for the ending of an important relationship.
Sign 2: Thank God I met you. I was beginning to think that love no longer existed.
Thank God I met you. I was beginning to think that love no longer existed. Here is another stellar compliment, but it sounds more like they were beginning to believe that no one would put up with their selfish ideas about love. Contrary to popular belief, many very good people are actually searching for love. So, if their pursuit has been so difficult, it is probably related to their unreasonable expectations.
Sign 3: I was beginning to think good men or good women no longer existed.
I was beginning to think good men or good women no longer existed is similar to sign 2 with the subtle difference of how much pressure it places on you. It sounds like they have an idealized sense of the person they want to be with, which likely does not involve any of their own contributions, and your job (should you choose to accept it) is to live up to these fantastical criteria. This is another one-way relationship set up for solely the person you are with to get their needs met. This will not end well. You will try. You will become resentful. You will complain to your friends. You will finally get out feeling that you have lost much time.
Sign 4: They spend a lot of time talking about things and people they do not like.
This is one of my favorites. People wrap up their fears and prior struggles in wrapping paper they think evokes strength. They say things like, “I am not angry. I am jaded,” or “I am not critical of others. I am strong.” Both of these statements come from folks with unresolved issues that manifest in anger directed towards neutral objects, such as a television show, an actor, a particular type of food. People, who simply do not like things mention their dislikes in passing.
People with unresolved issues say hateful things about that for which they do not care, and they tend to go on long tangents about these objects without provocation from you. There is nothing wrong with being jaded or hardened by difficult experience, but it is a defense not a solution, and this particular defense makes it impossible to be open and reciprocating enough to participate in a healthy relationship.
Sign 5: They have no friends of the same gender.
They have no friends of the same gender. The problem with having no friends of the same gender is that it makes it hard for one to accept oneself and one’s native qualities. This lack of acceptance bleeds into judgment for their relationship partner, and an inability to tolerate constructive criticism. We all wish we were perfectly designed when we enter a relationship, but the truth is that we have a lot to learn from each other to be happy together.
Using What You Have Learned
All of these signs describe people, who have been through difficult experiences, and have a right to present the way that they do. However, when it comes to relationships, we must have enough of our experience and character together to not harm our significant others. People, who demonstrate any one of the 5 signs do not yet possess these skills, and would find more benefit in going to a professional to develop them before embarking on a potential relationship.
Whatever the signs (many are not listed), trust your intuition. Trust your heart. Ask yourself if they prioritize your well-being and your goals along with theirs. Ask yourself if you would trust them with your sick child or parent. Notice your body, and see if there is any tension there. After all, you deserve to be full of well-being, and ease.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 102. In The Books.