Have you ever been in a relationship you absolutely knew was bad, but couldn’t break free? I know I have.

I remember how it feels: you’re not happy…you feel belittled, taken for granted, mistreated, under appreciated, etc. But you can’t end the relationship. You come close to doing it. Maybe even you pull the trigger and do it. Yet, you aren’t strong enough to take yourself seriously. So, you find yourself back with that person again. It’s almost like because you feel so bad about yourself in the relationship, you’re afraid to leave and be alone. What if I really am all the things he/she makes me feel?

Or, the circumstances in your life make the relationship convenient. Maybe you’re a single parent, and it’s hard to find someone to date. It’s hard to meet new people, when you have a child. Maybe you just don’t want to continue introducing your child to new people. So, your boyfriend/girlfriend is familiar with your child and your child is comfortable with him/her. You don’t want to mess that up.

Or, your life is in a state of transition: you’ve returned to school to advance your career. You’re about to move. Whatever the circumstance, you’re life is about to change so it doesn’t make sense to start a new relationship. Why spend time getting to know someone new, if you’re going to be changing your environment and being forced to end that relationship anyway? If you’re about to make a transition in life, why not wait until life changes and use that as an opportunity to break up with the person. In the meantime, you resolve to enjoy the little benefits you get from that bad relationship and ignore the problems.

Or, all of the above.

In either case, you can’t break free from a bad relationship because that bad relationship fills a particular void. There is something lacking in your life and that bad relationship is filling that void in some way.

  • Maybe you are afraid of being alone. Maybe you were put down by a parent or sibling or other influential person. For some reason you’re not comfortable/confident by yourself.
  • Maybe you lack internal motivation. Maybe you thrive off the approval of others. When you have someone in your corner, you’re a fierce competitor. But without the approval of those close to you, you have little drive.
  • Maybe you are indecisive. Maybe your parents were over-protective and regularly stepped in to make decisions for you. Now you have trouble making decisions on your own, because you’re hoping someone will make them for you or at least help you make them.
  • Maybe you are too dependent in some way. Maybe your feel insufficient by yourself. At some point – in some aspect of life – you may have been told you weren’t “good enough,” and some you feel you always need someone else to take care of you.

The way the game is usually played, the person you’re dating in this bad relationship knows your void(s) and exploits it/them. By knowing your void, your partner knows how to manipulate you.

You need to know those voids too. Then no one can exploit that void.

So, have you really considered why you can’t break free from a bad relationship? Even if you’ve been fortunate enough to break free, can you remember why you stayed as long as you did? What was it that made it ok for you to stay? What was “that thing?”

Why was “that thing” so important?

When you can identify “that thing” and understand why “that thing” was so important, you can begin to defend yourself against such bad relationships. Now you know where you need to be strengthened. You can begin to find different ways to fill that void other than wasting time in a bad relationship.

As we begin strengthening your ability to fill those voids in ways other than investing in a bad relationship, you can begin resisting the urge to join yourself to a man/woman that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. By strengthening your ability to fill those voids in alternative ways, you will be able to break free from relationships that are bad for you.

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