I’m unhappy in my relationship. So why am I staying?

So, you found yourself in an unhappy relationship. As a matter of fact, you have considered leaving and you know want something different. But, for some reason you choose to stay and cannot decide what to do. Want to know why you’re staying? Want to know why you can’t bring yourself to leave? Well, I got some clarity for ya so keep reading below.

There Is Hope

Over time, you have experienced both the positives and negatives with your partner. You are holding on for the chance that one day, you can have that positive relationship again or overcome this phase. Fantasizing about the future keeps your relationship alive but you are torn because there are only a few times of hope. Sometimes the hope is realistic, and trying something new could put your relationship on the right track. And other times, the hope is actually denial. Just as in the stages of grief, denial is a key phase when processing that you are losing someone you love. Your role is to differentiate whether or not the hope can lead to a realistic change and improve your relationship. 

You Are Happy Enough

In addition to your hopes for the relationship, you are “happy enough” in your relationship. Typically, you make decisions based off avoiding pain or gaining pleasure. In this case, there is not enough pain to put you in a position to make a definitive change. To the contrary, there is enough pleasure that you are comfortable staying in your current circumstances. Even though you are unhappy and curious about a change, you are happy enough not to take action towards change.

You Decided This Is Best 

After assessing the positives and negatives, seeing hope, and deciding you are happy enough, you have decided that this is the best-case scenario. In thinking about your decision, you have looked at alternative options (divorce, break-up, affair, etc.) and you have said to yourself that staying together is your best possible option. Furthermore, you are making the conscious decision to stay in your relationship rather than leaving (even though it doesn’t seem like it). 

What To Do Instead:

If you have got to this point and are still thinking to yourself – but I am not happy enough and I do want to take action. Then, the answer is to develop your own ability to decide what you are willing to accept and not to accept in a relationship. This development is necessary in the areas of self-esteem and assertiveness. You need to recognize that you are worthy of having the relationship you want. Also, you need to have the assertiveness to “stick to your guns” when you find yourself in a relationship that you cannot tolerate.  Be open with your partner about your bottom lines (i.e. drugs/alcohol, other relationships, time together). As a result, you will do yourself and your partner a huge favor by being forthcoming and honest about your needs. 

Chris Cummins Marriage Counselor

About The Author

Chris Cummins is a couples counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He focuses on working with with couples in high conflict and couples who are experiencing substance abuse. Living in Colorado, Chris enjoys hiking traveling and anything else outdoors.

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