Relationships are tricky, messy, and sometimes even confusing. During the start, we might feel like it’s the best feeling in the world but with time, that feeling transforms as the relationship grows.
And, just like anything else in the world, there are good days and bad days in a relationship. But sometimes a relationship might just have more bad days than good ones.
It’s during this time that the relationship turns all-consumingly toxic and loses its essence and yet for whatever reasons, some people choose to stay back. They, after all of this, try to hold on to it.
Trigger Warning: Mention of cheating, emotional and physical abuse
I remember when my friend told me that his girlfriend had cheated on him. Crushed as he was, he still decided to stay with her and hoped to ‘work’ things out. Things never worked out as she cheated again.
Another friend of mine was going through a rough patch in her relationship leading to emotional and physical abuse, and even then she didn’t leave her partner.
Even though it was shocking to see my friend in a position like that, I wasn’t surprised. Mainly because just a few years ago, I had been in the same position and done the same thing as he did. But now I wonder, why?
Why did he do that? Why did I stay with my ex when I knew the relationship had reached its end?
I mean, is it really true when Stephen Chbosky said, ‘we accept the love we think we deserve?‘
What drives them to put themselves through this? Are they in denial that their relationship has ended?
But as it turns out, my friend is not the only one, there are so many people who decide to stay in relationships even if they are not happy or know that it’s practically ended.
Some mentioned it’s the fear of being alone, while some said it’s because of the level of comfort.
After so long with a person its very easy to forget what being alone is like, especially if you don’t prioritize from early on maintaining a level of independence.
Ease. Probably a third of the time things are okay. As in it’s not toxic 24/7 and you forget the bad parts, or block them out.
But when it comes down to it, is it fear, comfort, or something deeper? According to two studies conducted to investigate the motivation for staying in ‘unsatisfying relationships’, people also stayed back for the sake of their partners.
The studies took into account people who were over 10 weeks into the relationship and people who were thinking of breaking things off yet were reluctant to do so.
As per the studies, people are less likely to end a relationship, if they think their partner is more dependent on it, indicating an ‘altruistic component.’
Another study conducted by researchers from the University of Minho, Portugal, suggested that people are motivated to stay in an unhappy relationship if they have invested their time, effort, and also money in it.
This leads to a ‘sunk-cost effect’ which means that an investment done earlier leads to more investment even if it’s not the best of decisions.
If we think about it, isn’t this exactly what happens in a relationship we are not ready to let go of?
But not everything comes to researches, right? We are more than just the results of a couple of studies which is why we contacted a psychologist Dr. Juhi Shrivastava who has dealt with similar cases before.
She mentioned that there are multiple reasons for people to stay in a relationship long after they know it has ended.
One of them being, the fear of loneliness. As people get habituated to their partners, they forget what’s it like to be without them. Another reason might be because they feel guilty. Somewhere down the lane, they choose to stay because they think they haven’t tried enough. This motivates them to give their relationship another try.
But even though we know the science, the reason, and the feelings behind staying, is it really worth it? I mean, are we comprising ourselves in the long run?
And, what is a bigger loss than the loss of losing ourselves? According to Matthew Verdun, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and Gemini Ferrie, a love coach mentioned that if we’re looking for closure from the partner, then it might not always work out in our favor
Sometimes we have to look within ourselves for it. And, didn’t Rober Frost say, ‘the best way out is always through?’
What we can do to help is reconnect with ourselves, re-visit an old hobby, do something which gives us joy. We need to remind ourselves that if it doesn’t bring us joy, it’s not worth it.
So, in a way, it’s not really us accepting the love we think we deserve, it’s accepting the fact that we are more than our relationships, we deserve to put ourselves first, and lastly, (repeat after me) we accept the love which doesn’t compromise our sense of self. Period.