A friend recently shared his worries about his 30-year-old son who hadn’t worked at all this year. The breakup with his girl friend of more than 5 years in 2017 had caused him to sink into depression and languish at home. His father felt that continuing to ‘hang out’ with her despite the fact they were no longer together was sucking the life out of the young man and keeping him in limbo. In the dad’s opinion making a clean break might have helped him get over the broken relationship and move on with his life.
Psychologists believe the reason many individuals stay in unhealthy relationships (especially long ones) is because of the comfort that we derive from familiarity. Ending a relationship often brings the fear of having to establish a new one. Or worse still, being alone for the rest of your life as no one will want you based on the current rejection or poor treatment you are receiving. Studies also show that this phenomenon is not gender specific and affects men as well as women.
The situation can be worse for married couples or live-in partners. Here dependence might make a big case for maintaining status quo. Financial responsibilities and independence being a major concern for many women. For instance, a friend was willing to tolerate her husband’s infidelity just as long as he took care of the family’s finances. She had never ‘paid bills’ before and the thought of doing that made her even more anxious than the fact that he was out every night with another woman.
Their teenage daughter who was devastated by her parents’ impending separation felt somewhat comforted by certain revelations from her friends. On sharing her distress with her inner circle, she realized that most were victims of bitter parental conflicts too and had financially dependent mothers who were not willing to end it.
Without a doubt having kids further complicates the decision-making process. Many couples feel that they must stick together for the children. However, nothing could be worse than kids having to witness abusive or bad relationships. According to research it impacts their cognitive development, makes them emotionally insecure, causes trust issues and affects their future relationships too.
Some studies suggest that children as young as 6 months register parent distress and even 19-year-olds are sensitive to parental conflict. As a result some mirror their parent’s negative behaviour later on in life.
Having said that, there are many types of toxic relationships including mean ‘friends’, colleagues or bosses who don’t miss an opportunity to tear you down. Oddly enough we may feel bad to let this person go or confront them. A classmate endured the insults of a so-called friend for years for this very reason till she couldn’t put up with it any longer. Ironically putting distance between them finally got her the respect she deserved.
Behavioural psychologists point out that any relationship that causes you anxiety and unhappiness can’t be good for you.
Understandably, the longer the relationship the more difficult it is to end it. After all you have spent years living or hanging out with this person. However, hoping things will eventually work out is no reason to continue. The moment you start justifying the bad with something good, it’s a warning sign.
Very often the process is slow. You get used to being trampled on or taken advantage off and come to terms with being unhappy. And sometimes, we may just not know any better. Past experiences (as in the case of children who witness parental conflict) may make you believe that this is normal or that you are the cause of the problem.
Studies have proven that individuals whose parents had a troubled marriage are likely to have problems with their partners as well. Another school of thought is that they make consciously seek out people who treat them badly in an attempt to fix issues in their childhood, but this is not likely to work out.
If you have more than one relationship that makes you sad and seem to be attracting the wrong people, it’s time to take a long and hard look at yourself. Your partner or friend might not be the only one to blame. Identifying and working through issues caused by past traumas might help you have happy and fulfilling relationships in the future. -CINEWS