Why is it so hard to leave a toxic relationship?

Leaving a toxic or damaging relationship can be really difficult; but what is it that makes it so hard?

While it can be clear to friends and family members that you are not doing well and the relationship has taken its toll on you, it is common to feel stuck when it comes to making the move to split.

Here are five reasons why this is:

  • You have high empathy

Empathy is a lovely trait to have and usually means we can be very aware of both of our emotions and also tune in to the emotional state of others. However, sometimes it can also get in the way as we can be overly supportive and forgiving of a toxic partner. This commonly leads to a lack of boundaries about what we are prepared to tolerate in a relationship. Don’t fall in love with potential!

  • You’re on the rollercoaster of highs and lows

In relationships were there is a lot of drama, it can feel like you are up and down on different days or even in the course of one day. Unfortunately, this is quite an addictive cycle to be in. Sometimes when someone is used to this cycle (they may have experienced similar patterns in their family), this feels perfectly normal and it can be really difficult to break the cycle alone.

  • You don’t want to be alone

For some people, being in a relationship – even one which doesn’t at all fulfil their needs – is better than not being in a relationship at all.  This is often a low self esteem issue, where the person blames themselves for the relationship ailing, or the person has attached a lot of fear to the idea of being without a partner, and what that means.

  • You feel terrified of the actual break up

This is when the person is hyper focused on the actual break up itself and can’t imagine enduring even the thought of the pain, tears and loss that might arise. They can’t imagine going through this, it may also bring up thoughts of failure. It can be hard for them to see past the initial pain, or to imagine themselves feeling happier due to the weight that would be lifted from them. In fact, some people report being surprised at how ok they were when it came to breaking point, and how quickly they recovered.

  • You remember the good times, and you always look for the good

All relationships begin with a ‘honeymoon phase’ which usually lasts between six months to two years. When we are thinking of extricating ourselves from a damaging or toxic relationship, we can often long for those good times when everything seemed so carefree and happy. However we also need to focus on what has not being going well and why we feel unhappy. John Gottman refers in his relationship research to a magic ratio of 5:1. This means that for every one negative feeling or interaction between partners, there must be five positive feelings or interactions. In other words, stable and happy couples share more positive feelings and actions than negative ones.

Once you understand why you’re stuck, it becomes much easier to consider your options. Please get in touch if I can help you with any of the above 😊

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