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Last Updated on February 6, 2018

Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

Dating in today’s society is difficult. It’s like navigating a mine field. Once people finally find someone they can settle down with, they want that relationship to last. Even if it means settling when they feel unhappy in the relationship, have to tolerate discomfort in the relationship, and convincing themselves that the relationship will be better some day.

No one wants to be sad for sure. But why so many people choose to stay in an unhappy relationship even though they find it unfulfilling?

Think about life before anyone entering a relationship. They were going along, relatively happy, free and doing their own thing.

    Then they met and possibly fell in love with their partner. And things changed.

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      It was great at first. They started to build their own box, forming a close bonding.

        But then things began to shift because of different reasons. People will endure sadness, depression and live a life that is unfulfilled because it’s convenient and they are afraid to leave their comfy and cozy little box.

          They will rationalize staying for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have kids together or have lots of shared memories. Maybe they have been together for many years and have invested a lot in building the box. They just don’t want to waste everything they’ve built.

            They may think that they can still make the relationship better. They look at everything in the box and though they see the massive room for improvement, they want to fix those issues. They believe that love is tough and it needs to be hard in order to work. Or, they feel that they just haven’t tried hard enough.

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              Humans are creatures of habit. Once you find something that works and that makes you feel comfortable, you fight to keep it. For most people it’s just easier to stay. That’s the default. The box is safe and familiar.

                The Problem with the Box

                The problem with the box is that it blocks people from being aware of what happens inside and outside their relationship.

                  While some of the reasons such as having kids together are legitimate to stay in a relationship, people need to do a deeper assessment to determine the true reasons for wanting to stay.

                  If people only think about the effort spent on building this box, all the memories, emotions and things shared throughout the time and hate to let all of that go; they are sacrificing their opportunities to be happier. This is actually a sunk cost bias. It means when people have spent a lot of effort on something, they won’t stop investing in it even if it’s going wrong. They don’t want to waste the previous investment but this has blocked them from exploring and investing in better opportunities.

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                  Many have also misunderstood the term “hard work”. No one should work like a slave to make a relationship work. Engaging in the constant struggle only brings the worst out of both people. These struggles won’t make a relationship healthy and loving.

                  People might ask “but how’d you know if you never tried? Maybe when I try harder, things will be different.” No one would ever know the future. As humans, we’re hard-wired to want to know the unknowns. Anything that has not yet been completed will leave us wonder how it will become. It’s our nature to wonder, but everyone has the power not to be led by their curiosity when deciding what’s best for themselves. Besides, you would never know you wouldn’t be happier if you never got out of the unhappy relationship.

                  How to Get Out of the Box

                  The first and most important thing to do when contemplating ending the relationship is talk with your partner. Regardless how they feel and what you ultimately choose to do, your partner deserves to know upfront that you are happy and are contemplating ending the relationship. Having this type of crucial conversation is not fun or easy. But it is the right thing to do for both yourself and your partner. Honesty is always the best option in the end.

                  Press Pause

                  Sometimes, easing out of a relationship is easier than just ripping the band-aid off. So after initiating that difficult conversation, both of you may need to take a break from each other. It could be the best way to give you both space to breathe and really evaluate the relationship.

                  Taking a break is not a license to cheat. Nor is it an opportunity for you to see if there is someone out there better than what you have. The break is about self-reflection and self-evaluation. It’s a trip you have to take alone. If, per chance, you do find someone else during your time apart, break things off with your partner immediately. You always want to act with integrity.

                  Set a time limit for how long the break will last. Once the predetermined amount of time has passed, be sure to come together and discuss next steps. You never want to leave the relationship or your partner in limbo. You, the relationship and your partner need closure.

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                  Talk the Difficult Talk

                  When the break is over, gather again to talk about your thoughts about the relationship. If you have decided to end the relationship, don’t establish false expectations in any way. Be clear about your intentions and your desire to end the relationship amicably. Don’t make your partner think that if he or she changes something that the relationship will continue.

                  Don’t blame them for the relationship ending. Just let them know that you are unhappy in this relationship but not because of anything he or she has done. It isn’t a good fit. Be lovingly firm in your explanation.

                  Stay Because of Love, Not Fear

                  Deciding to end a relationship is never really easy— especially if you care for the other person.

                  If you want a genuinely happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship, you have to be willing to take some risks. Staying in a relationship out of fear, guilt or for any other reason except genuine and true affection for the other person is damaging to you, your partner and the relationship.

                  If you truly love your partner, have the courage to stay. If not, have the courage to leave.

                  More by this author

                  Anna Chui

                  Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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                  Last Updated on January 6, 2019

                  Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

                  Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

                  No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

                  People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

                  But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

                  If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

                  Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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                  Pain Is Our Guardian

                  Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

                  In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

                  Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

                  While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

                  Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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                  No Pain, No Happiness

                  You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

                  In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

                  In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

                  This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

                  Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

                  Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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                  This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

                  Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

                  Allow Room for the Inevitable

                  Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

                  Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

                  “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

                  Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

                  The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

                  While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

                  Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

                  Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

                  To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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                  You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

                  Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

                  Reference

                  [1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
                  [2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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