So you’re dating someone, but you don’t have all those cutesy moments we see in rom-com movies. To some degree, that’s normal — relationships aren’t always going to be sappy or have happy endings.
But you realize you’re actually pretty unhappy, and fairly often. Maybe your partner is annoying, or they give you “the ick,” or you don’t feel important to them. However, you don’t want to break up. The thought may even terrify you.
If you’ve experienced this before, I hear you, and you’re not alone. It’s hard to be single in this society with all the praise of relationships and our social clock urging us to get married. According to Thriveworks research, 34 percent of Americans believe relationships are the main cause of their mental health concerns, and 23 percent believe you can’t be truly happy if you’re single.
At the same time, though, I want you to know you deserve (and can find) a relationship that makes you feel content. So let’s talk about why you don’t want to leave and what can help.
Why do we hold these relationships so tight?
Many of us cling to unsatisfying relationships because of our fear of the unknown, of being alone forever. Will we find someone else? Will other people find us loveable and attractive? Are there any single people left out there?
“Sometimes people cling to clearly unviable relationships because they are not confident there’s always a better partner out there,” said James Thomas, a dating and relationships expert at Condoms.UK.
The scarcity mindset plays into this. We’re focused on what we don’t have and see other people as our competition for finite resources (a.k.a., potential partners). “A scarcity mindset, in a nutshell, is where you question whether anyone else would like you and want to be in a relationship with you,” Thomas said regarding dating. “You think dating opportunities or love interests are very few and far between, or totally nonexistent.”
What can help with those fears?
First, remember this: Leaving this relationship now doesn’t mean you won’t find someone else later. “There are billions of us on this earth. There’s always someone out there for us, whether you’re in an unhealthy relationship or not,” Thomas encouraged.
After you’re able to break free and you know a better relationship is ahead, be patient. (Easier said than done!)
“Take things easy, don’t overthink things, and don’t jump into a relationship in a hurry… If you dive into relationships in a hurry, you’ll never know how much of a better match you could have found if you didn’t compromise for a relationship you’re not 100 percent happy with,” Thomas said.
He recommended being a hopeful romantic, not a hopeless one. “Hopeful romantics still maintain this optimism about love, but they do not leap as readily… Instead, they focus on building a healthy, strong relationship with their partner with realistic expectations,” Thomas explained. “They don’t put too much pressure on a first date, don’t need grand gestures to feel appreciated, don’t compare their relationship, or leave love solely up to fate.”
To become a more hopeful romantic, Thomas suggests working on your self-worth. “My advice would be to focus on yourself until you feel confident and love who you are first, as the most important relationship you will always have is with yourself.”