Our guest blogger today is author/relationship coach Elvira Aletta, of YourTango, who discusses the excuses we use to stay in a “going nowhere” relationship.
An accomplished, smart and beautiful woman sits across from me in my office. She tells me about her relationship; the one she appears to be in but her boyfriend doesn’t. She has tried to leave him, she assures me (and herself), but every time she manages to walk out that door, he gets to her. She turns around and walks right back in again. Once she’s back, he acts like a jerk. Again. Leave. Get sucked back in. Repeat.
Who can’t relate to this scenario? God knows, I’ve been there. Before meeting my husband-to-be, I was in a relationship with a guy who would only show interest in me after I decided to break up with him. To get me back into his orbit he would swear I was the love of his life. As soon as I returned, he would go cold as a dead snake on an iceberg. What made me take him back more times than was healthy for anyone’s tender self-esteem?
We give ourselves a lot of reasons, but the bottom line is that when we allow someone to treat us as less important than we really are, our self-esteem is critically injured. Once our self-worth is low it is too easy for the ex to come over the wall of our good defenses and pillage what’s left of our confidence.
What remains is fear. Fear that this jerky person is as good as it gets. Fear of never finding love again. Fear of being alone with a dozen hungry cats for the rest of your life. This fear is so awful we make excuses (cognitive distortions) to stay in a bad or even a “not good enough” relationship. After all, this person is a known entity…right?
Result? The discomfort of sticking with them is not nearly as scary as what your distorted thinking is imagining life without them is like. So you stay put.
Here are some typical distorted thoughts with which we lie to ourselves — and suggestions for strong self-esteem building self-talk to combat them:
1. Instead of, “I’m afraid of being alone,” tell yourself, “I am not alone. I’m with Me. I am good company. If I get lonely, I can check out meetup.com or connect with friends I haven’t seen in ages. Most importantly, this time is an opportunity to dive into the world of Me and, for a change, listen to my heart first rather than someone else’s!”
2. Instead of, “But the sex is so good,” tell yourself, “It’s time to grow up. The toxic effect this relationship has on my self-esteem is not worth the price.”
3. Instead of, “I’ve invested five years in this person…I’m going to start all over now?”, tell yourself, “Imagine being 50 and you’re thinking, ‘Why didn’t I get out when I had spent only five years with this person instead of twenty-five!?'”
4. Instead of, “They need some time before they can make a commitment,” tell yourself, “What is this? A relationship or a lay-away program? In the service of self-respect I will not wait for you unless we have a mutually agreed up, reasonable plan. You take your chances that, by then, I will still be interested.”
5. Instead of, “This is as good as it gets,” tell yourself, “No, it’s not. If being with them does not make me feel great about myself, I won’t settle! This experience, as bad as it was, has not been a total waste. It’s made me wiser, so that when a person who is true and kind and worthy of me does show up, I will recognize them.”
The result? A whole new level of happiness and pride because the engine of self-worth is fueled, not from the outside-in, but from the inside-out.
Have you been in a “nowhere” relationship? What finally helped you to move on?