Part of you knew you had to leave your bad relationship long before you accepted it and took action. In retrospect, you were miserable and being with him nearly killed you. So why did you stick it out for so damn long?
There were good times. It wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were good times, and days that were so filled with happiness you couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. The happy times were always fleeting, however, and only occurred often enough to keep you from walking away.
Things declined slowly over time. You didn’t sign up for a crappy relationship, and you were excited and happy in the beginning. Things declined so slowly that the change was nearly undetectable. It felt like you were suddenly in a horrible relationship and you weren’t entirely sure how you got there. If you’d noticed earlier where things were headed, you most likely would have bailed out sooner.
You thought things would turn around if you stuck it out a little longer. You always felt like if you could just hang on a little bit longer, you would be over the hump and there would be nothing but smooth sailing in the future. It always seemed like you were so close to getting through that rough patch, and you didn’t want to quit when happiness felt like it was right around the corner.
You invested a lot. You put everything you had into this relationship. Your love, support, time, tears, money- you’d hate to walk away with nothing. While the idea of losing the relationship made you sad, it was the thought of losing everything you’d invested in it that felt unbearable.
You didn’t want anyone else benefiting from your hard work. Part of you feared that if you broke up, your partner would meet someone else and have a perfect relationship with them- thanks to all of your hard work. If anyone deserved to benefit from all of your love and support, it was you, and you were willing to hang out a little bit longer to see if your work was about to pay off.
Occasionally, the person you originally fell for would come back to say hello. Every time you felt like you were emotionally ready to bail, your partner would magically become the person he or she was in the beginning of your relationship. You would suddenly be happy again, and your faith in the relationship would be renewed. It was all a ploy to get you to stay, but it felt real and reassuring at the time.
You were embarrassed. You defended your relationship to family and friends and made excuses for your partner when people who care about you voiced concerns. At a certain point, it felt embarrassing to admit that you were wrong and that you needed some support. You knew logically that you didn’t need to be embarrassed, but the feeling was there, just the same.
You started to believe you didn’t deserve any better. The manipulation and disrespect wore you down over time until you believed you were getting the relationship you deserved. Of course that was false, but the relationship wore down your self-esteem to the point where you thought no one else would love you.
You didn’t know what a good relationship was. You didn’t really have any good relationship role models or experience with a healthy romance before this happened. It took you a while to realize just how bad things had become, because you had no frame of reference. Part of you felt like what you were experiencing was normal, because you had no idea what a healthy relationship actually looked like.
You were in love with an idea of the future. You were too caught up in a hypothetical happy future together to see just how horrible your present was. You looked ahead to better times and ignored the reality of what was going on. It was so hard to let go of your relationship because you were also letting go of that dream future, and that dream was what you were really in love with all along.
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