February 07, 2014 / Don’t Put Up With Destructive Relationships
Despite all the pressures out there to stay together, don't do it.
One relationship matter which simply blows my mind despite it regularly happening is the amount of unreasonable and destructive behavior both men and women are willing to put up with when it comes to their significant others. It’s time to stop. Do not be miserable in your relationship (or even put your life/health at risk) for pretty much any reason. That includes children, it includes religion, it includes some arbitrary notion that "couples should tough it out", it includes "they are seeking help", it includes "they promised to change", it includes "I feel bad" and every other rationalization and/or excuse you can think of. It’s time to stop making excuses for your significant others’ behavior and do what is right for you.
1. Abusive behavior
This is an easy one. I get that Stockholm Syndrome is a real thing, but I will never understand it. However, what I do know is that there is pretty much never a reason to stay in an abusive relationship, EVER. Don’t try to work it out and don’t give anyone who is abusive another chance. Leave, and get the proper authorities involved.
2. Religious/Cultural Reasons
Are you unhappily married but does your religion or culture heavily frown on divorce? Is it a significant (or even small) factor in your decision to stay with your spouse? The reality is that while religions frown upon divorce, most major religions grant them and have a mechanism for doing so. Don’t be guilted by your religion into remaining in an unhealthy, unhappy relationship, especially when there is almost always a way to divorce even among religions and cultures that frown upon it!
3. Financial Reasons
Many couples stay together (not just married couples) for financial reasons. As someone who has both had very little money and a relatively decent amount of money, I can tell you from personal experience that what really matters is whether or not you are happy. Having financial freedom and flexibility definitely makes it easier to be happy, but if your extra financial flexibility afforded by a destructive relationship isn’t making you happy, it is pretty much worthless and you shouldn’t value it much.
It is often the case that parents think having both parents raising children is worth staying together with someone you hate. There is some evidence that being raised in a family with two parents is beneficial for children, but I am not sure that this is really the case when it comes to two parents who hate each other versus a single parent. I have experience in this matter as well, and while I turned out fine, it isn’t clear that I would have turned out any worse if my parents just cut the chord early versus being married while hating each other and constantly fighting for nearly 30 years.
5. Giving them their tenth "second chance"
Second chance comes from the word second which is driven by the number 2. As in one more chance. Not 3 more, not 4 more, not 10 more, not 50 more. The bottom line is, if someone is not willing to change after already giving them another chance, they are either incapable of changing or don’t care enough about you to change. A third, fourth, fifth, 100th chance is not about to change anything. As "they" say: "The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". Stop giving your significant other chance after chance when they consistently prove they are incapable or unwilling to actually change.
One major reason people do not break up when they should is "guilt". They simply feel bad (especially when the other side doesn’t want to end things). This is much more challenging than it seems to overcome, but you must do it for your sake, and frankly, also for the sake of your significant other. Have the courage to make the right decision and accept that no amount of time is going to make the amount of guilt you will feel change (if anything, more time will make it harder or worse).
7. I will be alone
One major reason that people stick it out in a relationship is the fear that they will be alone forever because they "can’t do any better" or "I will be left a single mother that no one will want" etc. First of all, being alone is actually better than being in a horrible relationship that makes you unhappy. (More and more people are realizing this it seems.) Secondly, with the exception of potentially rare cases (handicap/health issues/etc.), know this: If you want to find someone, YOU WILL FIND SOMEONE.
I understand that following my advice here is much easier said than done; I understand we are naturally drawn to be empathetic and have a natural instinct to extend considerable leeway to those we care (and even cared) about. I further understand that there are often huge societal or family pressures to do the exact opposite of the advice here, but sometimes, the right decision is to be selfish. Do not be in a miserable, destructive, unhappy relationship for the sake of others. It’s ok to think about your own well being.