A bad relationship is not the one that is going through a rough patch of disagreement and bitterness that are inevitable when two different people come together. In fact, the attachment in such relationships is with someone who is ‘unattainable’ in the sense that he or she is committed to somebody else, and doesn’t want a long-term relationship, or is incapable of one.
Bad relationships are lacking in what one or both partners need. Such relationships can destroy self-esteem and prevent those involved from moving on, in their careers or personal lives. They are often fertile breeding grounds for loneliness, rage, and despair. These are addictive relationships when both the two partners are often on such different wavelengths that there is very little common between them. They hardly communicate with one another and don’t enjoy the time spent together.
Remaining in such a relationship not only causes continual stress but may even be physically harmful for either of the partners. Physical abuse that is often a part of such relationships dominates instead of love. The tensions cause constant stress and they can drain energy and lower resistance to physical illness. Continuing such a relationship can lead to unhealthy escapes such as alcohol or drug abuse and can even lead to suicide attempts.
Despite the pain of these relationships, many rational and practical people find that they are unable to let go, even though they know the relationship is not going anywhere. One part of them wants to let go of the relation but a stronger part refuses or feels helpless to take any such action. It is in this sense that the relationship is addictive. Look out for these signs:
SIGNS OF ADDICTION
Even though you know the relationship is bad for you, and others also may have told you this, you take no effective steps to end it. You give yourself reasons for staying in the relationship that are not really accurate or that are not strong enough to counteract the harmful aspects of the relationship. When you think about ending the relationship, you feel terribly anxious and afraid. This makes you cling onto it even more.
When you take steps to end the relationship, you suffer painful withdrawal symptoms, including physical discomfort, that is only relieved by re-establishing contact.
If most of these signs apply to you, then you are probably in an addictive relationship and have lost the capacity to direct your own life. To move towards recovery, your first steps must be to recognise that you are ‘hooked’ and then try to understand the basis of your addiction. In this way, you will be able to understand the perspective to determine whether, in reality, the relationship can be improved or whether you need to leave your partner.
BASIS OF THE ADDICTION
There are several factors that can influence your decision to remain in a bad relationship. At the most superficial level are practical considerations such as financial entanglement, shared living space, potential impact on children, feared disapproval from others, and possible disruption in academic performance or career plans.
At a deeper level, there are the beliefs you hold about relationships in general, about this specific relationship, and about yourself. Learn not to get hooked into the games of relationships; avoid dangerous roles you tend to fall into.
Find a support group of friends who understand you. Share with others what you have experienced and learned. Consider getting professional help. When you are very unhappy in a relationship but are unsure of whether you should accept it as it is, make further efforts to improve it, or get out of it.
When you suspect feelings of guilt or fear of being alone, and you have been unable to overcome the effects of such feelings. When you recognise that you have a pattern of staying in bad relationships and that you have not been able to change that pattern by yourself.
You have to be bold enough to break away from the relationship and your partner. It might seem tough initially but, later on, you will get used to it and enjoy your freedom. You will realise the value of that freedom only when you gather the courage to confront your partner.
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