There are many reasons that people remain in toxic relationships, however there are some key themes that run through the reasons. Leaving a relationship is never easy and when you add unhealthy boundaries, enmeshment or abuse it becomes even more complicated. The 5 reasons are listed below:
- You are waiting for the good times to come back again. The honeymoon phase is present in the beginning of most relationships, and just by hearing the phrase many can relate. It is expected that the giddy excitement that you feel in the early stages will begin to lower and stabilise. However you would expect that after the honeymoon phase has dwindled, that the personality of the person you fell in love with would remain the same. This is not the case in abusive relationships, especially if it is with a narcissist. You will often be swept off of your feet in the early stages and placed on a pedestal, your partner will mirror your wants and needs to you and become everything that they believe that you want. As the relationship progresses and they believe that they have you hooked, they take the mask off and begin to show their true colours. Because you were caught up in such heady excitement in the beginning believing that you have met your soulmate, it can be so difficult to leave the relationship once it takes a turn for the worst. Instead you hold onto the hope that your partner will revert to how they were initially but this does not happen, and on the rare occasion that they do return to they honeymoon phase behaviour, it will not last for very long.
- You are waiting for your partner to end the relationship. Being in a toxic relationship can really drain your energy and lower your self-esteem, to the point that you subconsciously hand over your autonomy and put your life into someone else’s hands. Secretly hoping that your partner will just end the relationship is a fantasy that many people have especially when they are in abusive relationships, some even have fantasies of the person just leaving the home and not returning. Feeling so desperate and powerless is a awful position to be in and it often brings up feelings of shame. There is internal shame because you know that you have given your power away, but this is something that happens gradually as your self-esteem and confidence is worn down by your toxic partner.
- You are believing and hoping that the other person will change. You may find that you frequently complain, request, and reason with your partner about why they need to change, hoping that some day it will have an effect. If you are in a relationship where you have repeatedly made requests which have just fallen on deaf ears, the chances are that they are not going to change in the future. Sometimes people give ultimatums and threaten to leave the relationship, however changes that are made under these circumstances are unlikely to be lasting.
- You depend on the person financially. It is always difficult to leave a relationship if you are dependent financially but it is possible, it just requires that you plan extensively beforehand. Once you are certain in your mind that you want to leave the relationship you can begin to work towards it. You may not be able to take action immediately but knowing that you have a plan in place will be comforting.
- You do not believe that you will meet anyone else. This is a fear that many people have and abusive partners reinforce this fear by telling their partner that no one else will want them. Over time, being told that no one else will want you and constantly being criticised, can take its toll on both your self esteem and confidence, which will lead you to believe that what you are being told is true. People often resist change and prefer to settle, which is where the belief creeps in that it is “Better the devil you know”, or “That the grass is not always greener on the other side.
As I mentioned above there are many reasons why we remain in toxic relationships, but its important to remember that regardless of your situation you can always begin to work on yourself. If you cannot leave your situation immediately, you can begin working on yourself because you are 50% of any relationship that you are in. This may look like:
- Working on your boundaries.
- Reviewing your own behaviour.
- Ensuring that you treat yourself lovingly both on the inside and outside. How do you speak to yourself throughout the day? Do you constantly criticise yourself, or speak words of encouragement?
- Take some time to see if any of the behaviours displayed by your current partner remind you of behaviours that you witnessed from your parents as a child. If you grew up in a toxic family it is likely that you will attract a partner who displays these toxic behaviours. If you begin healing these wounds from your childhood then you can ensure that you do not take this baggage into your next relationship, and continue attracting the same.
Do you feel as though you are in a toxic relationship? Do you have reasons that you can add to this list? I hope that the above helps you to work on yourself until you are in a position to move on.