It’s the most frustrating thing – not being able to let go of love for someone who treats us badly.
How come, if we are in relationships that we know aren’t working, do we have such a hard time ending it? Why, if we know that breaking up is the smart thing to do, can we still not do so?
Breaking up with someone, whether we want to do so or not, is never easy. We go into relationships with such hope and ending them can seem like the end of a dream. Or the end of a nightmare.
There are a few reasons why we can’t let go of love for of someone who treats us badly. Knowing why it’s so difficult might make it easier for us to let go.
#1 – Social standing.
I know that it seems weird but for many people they are worried about breaking up with someone because of the effect that it will have on their social group.
I actually have two clients who both know that they aren’t right for each other but they are worried what will happen to their softball team if they break up. Will they both continue to be able to play? Will the drinks out afterwards be uncomfortable?
I also have a client who is married and considering a divorce. She is worried about who will get the friends if they divorce. Will they have to take turns hanging out with people? Will it get awkward? Would it make her feel bad if she wasn’t included in something?
I totally get it that people are worried that if they break up with someone it might impact their social lives but, unfortunately, basing your decision on your social life is not a good idea. Yes, beers out after softball or not taking part in a dinner party might not feel good in the moment, but they are just passing feelings, feelings that will change as time goes on.
Furthermore, I am guessing that, if you are considering breaking up, you guys aren’t too much fun as a couple so your social group might be happy if you two go your separate ways!
#2 – Fear of being alone.
This might be the number one reason that you can’t break up with someone, even if you know that you should.
I don’t think there is a single client who I have worked with who hasn’t been concerned about being alone forever if they break up with their person. I, personally, remember thinking in high school that if my guy broke up with me I might never love again.
I can tell you, with 100% certainty, that if you break up with someone who isn’t making you happy, and you are willing to put yourself out there again, you will find someone else to love you. You are amazing and your person is out there waiting.
Furthermore, if you can’t break up with someone then you will be forever doomed to not be in a happy relationship because, if you are stuck in this one, you won’t be able to find someone else.
So, if you can’t break up with someone even if you know you should, know that, if you can find the strength to do so, you will find the person of your dreams.
#3 – Hope for change.
For many people, especially women, we hope and believe that we can fix the things about our partner that make us unhappy.
Perhaps your partner spends too much time with his friends at the expense of time with you. Perhaps he works all the time and does give you much attention. Perhaps she doesn’t treat her family the way you would like her to. Perhaps you wish she had higher self-esteem.
You believe that, if only you love them enough and don’t give up on them, they will change, correct?
For many people who are unhappy in relationships but who can’t break up with their person, can’t do so because they believe that they can fix the other person and then they will live happily ever after.
Let me tell you, unless you are happy with who your person is RIGHT NOW, then you are doomed to be unhappy if you don’t break up with them. People can’t be fixed. They can choose to make change of their own accord but you won’t be able to fix them, no matter how hard you try.
#4 – Time invested.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this from clients – “I have put so much time into this person. I don’t want to walk away now.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have told them that that is no reason to stay.
Yes, you might have invested a lot of time in this person (I put 20 years into my now defunct marriage) but don’t spend even one more minute with someone who you aren’t happy with. Cut bait right now and invest the next few minutes, hours and days of your life on taking care of yourself and putting your energy out into the world to find the person of your dreams.
Furthermore, I do believe that any time we might spend with someone, no matter how it ends, isn’t a waste of time. You learn a lot, about yourself and about relationships, during your time with someone. The only reason that time would be wasted is if you walk away without taking what you have learned with you.
So, don’t let sunk time, time that you have already spent, make you stay in a relationship that you know should end.
#5 – You don’t like to give up.
Another thing I often hear from clients is that they don’t like to give up. That they want to continue to fight for a relationship. What I tell them, in response, is that one person can’t fight for a relationship. Unless both people are willing to fight, a broken relationship will not get fixed.
None of us like to give up and admit defeat, but if you are the only one fighting for this relationship, giving up is the best and wisest thing that you can do.
When we can’t let go of love for someone who treats us badly, even if we know we should, we are letting ourselves down.
Lots of time and effort is spent going back and forth on the pluses and minuses, recovering from crying jags and feeling hopeless about the future. You are paralyzed because the lack of action is overwhelming.
Basically, your life is put on hold while you try to break up with someone you should break up with.
Knowing, and accepting, that there are reasons why you can’t break up with someone is the best way to be able to take the steps to do so.
Go through the checklist above. Consider those that apply to you. If you can work your way through them, you just might find that you have the strength to break up with someone, for both of your own goods.
You can do this! And, if you do, you will give yourself the chance to live happily ever after!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.