So, you’re in a bad, dysfunctional, crappy relationship. How do you know this? Because despite your undying love for this person, you feel miserable, you’re not getting what you want and you’re in deep, emotional pain. Red flags are all over the place and yet, you’re not paying attention to any of them. Here are 10 lies we tell ourselves to remain anchored…
- I love him/her, or I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Love is like a sailboat. When it’s on the water, it carries you smoothly across the seas. But when it’s on dry land, it doesn’t do a damn thing. Love is an almost pointless, burdensome emotion when you feel it for someone who treats you like garbage and doesn’t actually love you back. And that is why it is the number one WORST lie we tell ourselves to keep hanging on. Focus instead on the actions in your relationship. What is going on percentage wise. If you can’t see it clearly, keep a journal of your feelings (today, I was angry, today I felt good, today we fought again). Make sure you re-read it after a few months and read it with your BRAIN, not your heart or your emotions. Gauge whether it is an overall healthy relationship or not. But do not base whether you remain in a relationship on love alone. Don’t glorify the fact that you have a sailboat or not. Glorify the fact that you have a sail boat on the water that’s taking you somewhere.
- He said he loves me. So what? I love you too. And Taylor Swift loves her fans, each and every one of them. Love is action. Love shares the same values. Love doesn’t feel like pain. The love songs are WRONG. Love doesn’t hurt. He can “say” he loves you all he wants, and even though it sounds wonderful and comforting, it’s his action that matter. Does he show up when you need him to, does he want to spend a decent amount of time with you? Does he do kind things for you and love you the way you need to be loved? All good questions you should be asking yourself.
- He needs me. No he doesn’t. He’s a grown man. He’s perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Or, at least, he should be. If he’s really in need of an adult woman to take care of him, or keep him out of trouble, or whatever it is he can’t do himself, then you’re dating a teenager or worse, a man-toddler, a “moddler.” Do yourself a favor. Don’t get into the “mother” role. That’s a weird dynamic that will end up feeling awkward down the road.
- I need him. No you don’t. You just think you do. You are also a grown woman. People need each other situationally, not in entire relationships. You might “need” someone to get a dish down for you if it’s high up on a shelf (then again, get a chair). You might “need” someone to take care of you if you’re sick, you might “need” someone to set you straight every once in a while. But you should not need anyone financially, or emotionally or to be “around” to give you what you lack or take care of your kids or make you look or feel normal. Being grown-up entails learning how to make do on your own even when you are lacking. Sure this sounds cold and shrewd. Hollywood and American culture has defined people who take care of themselves as cold and emotionless. SO not true. You can be independent, take care of yourself, not need anyone for anything AND have a loving, warm , passionate relationship.
- We work together/we live together. I have to make it work. Get a new job. Move out. These are excuses you use to keep you in a bad relationship that needs its proper burial. Getting a new job or finding a new place to live is extremely scary and disruptive. We all want stability and we’ll do darn near anything to keep it. But you have no right staying in a bad, loveless, or otherwise painful relationship just because you are afraid of change. Take a deep breath, open your eyes, and dive into the unknown. You both deserve this kind of freedom.
- I’d feel like I was giving up. Sometimes relationships do bear the weight of struggle. There are phases couples go through, and having patience and working through those troubles is a necessary part of your commitment. But ask yourself two questions: 1.) Is my partner as committed as I am when it comes to working through this? And 2.) When I take a hard look at the QUALITY of our relationship over its lifespan, what percent has been really good, as opposed to painful, and have I been able to maintain my values throughout? Be honest now. Giving up can be a good thing when it comes to toxic.
- I don’t want to be single again. Too bad. Not wanting to be single is like not wanting to go to the dentist to get root canal. It’s a part of taking care of yourself. Better yet, it’s an unnecessary fear. There are 96 million singles living in the US alone. 12.2 million widows, 3 million widowers, and 25 million men and women who are divorced. It’s time to change your paradigm about being single. It doesn’t mean you’re always alone. It doesn’t mean you are unloved. And it certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you (especially according to these stats). But being single does demand that you face yourself and learn to be independent. It means spending extra time getting to know what you like and what you are capable of. If you avoid being single at all costs, you deny yourself a chance to experience life in a new, positive way. Still need convincing? Read Jen Shefft’s book Better Single Than Sorry. As Jen says, “single doesn’t equal lonely…”
- No relationship is perfect. I need to accept that. Yup. You’re right. No relationship is perfect. But “perfect” should not be the standard to which you hold your relationship to. Nor should it be the highest measure which allows you to shoot close to perfect and be OK when you don’t reach it. In fact, perfect has no bearing on how to measure your relationship. But health does. Health is a lot easier and more realistic to measure. Take people, for example. Say you have two friends: one smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, eats fried foods, never exercises, watches TV for 5 hours a day, has problems with obesity and was just told by his doc he has early onset Diabetes. The other friend is lean and fit, eats healthy, exercises every other day, educates herself and also just got back from the doctor. She gets a clean bill of health. She also manages her money well, volunteers in her community and is generally a happy person. Is she perfect? Nope. But she’s healthy. View your relationship in terms of health, not perfection. Health is also something we can work towards, perfection is not.
- There’s no one else out there for me. If this is what you’re telling yourself, you are in serious depression and denial and need a wake up call. I understand that many people out there are in geographically challenged areas, maybe even isolated. I understand that we all don’t look like Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie. And I totally get the (faulty) thinking that there is only ONE soulmate out there for each of us (not!). I even get that the pool of available men shrinks the older we get. But this kind of thinking is a.) hopeless, b.) negative, c.) false, d.) limiting and e.) it ends up being prophetic if you really begin to believe it. Wipe it out of your mind. It’s an excuse to stay in a relationship that is poor and unhealthy simply because you are AFRAID to try again. Simply because you are afraid of taking a risk. Of course you want something better for yourself, but with this kind of thinking, you begin to believe that the risk of a better life is simply not worth taking. Why? Because there are no guarantees. And we want guarantees. Well, there are none. You need to get out of this relationship despite having another one to jump into.
- He’ll/She’ll change. He’s/She’s just not ready yet. A tiger can’t change its stripes, but it can change the direction is which its walking. Do you see the difference between what it can change and can’t? Humans can also change certain things about themselves but not others. We can change a like or dislike, or even a habit. But we cannot generally change a value–something we inherently believe in. We can change our minds about something, but we cannot generally change our inherent nature. My point? He’s not going to change the fact that he neglects you. She’s not going to change the fact that she doesn’t really love you. You know how hard it is to change one little facet about you when you try so hard? Well, imagine how hard it is for someone who has no inclination to change. It’s pretty much impossible. Second point: YOU are not the one who will change him. Especially if you’ve been at it for quite some time now. Give up the fantasy. You’re life is not Love and Other Drugs, Casablanca, The Notebook, or any other cheesy love story told on the big screen. Move on. Change what you can…yourself and your situation.
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