Look, you might think breakups are painful, but nothing is as painful as staying in an unhappy relationship.
You know what I’m talking about. Maybe you had a relationship in the past (maybe even a marriage) that you felt like you couldn’t get out of for far too long…but then when you finally ended it, you wondered why you didn’t end things sooner.
Or maybe you’re currently in a relationship where you feel like you’re settling and you wish you were brave enough to just walk away.
Whatever your situation with the unhappy relationship, I’m going to walk you through a three-step process for figuring out what to do to stop being miserable and start living life from a happier place.
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I’ve been in a few unhappy relationships in my life, and the one common thread I can see among all of these when I look back on them is that I was so blinded by the idea of what I wanted the relationship to be that I couldn’t see it for what it really was.
It can be super frustrating to invest months — or even years — into a relationship only to realize one day that it’s not what you want it to be.
Maybe you’re ignoring suspicious behavior that you think might indicate that he’s cheating and you don’t want to deal with that reality…
…or you aren’t really physically attracted to him anymore…
…or he talks down to you and you just bury your head in the sand about how he’s treating you.
No matter what the details are of your unhappy relationship, let me say one thing, and I want you to really hear me:
You are not happy. And you deserve to be.
Did you get that? I think a lot of people don’t think they’re entitled to happiness and so they deal with an unhappy relationship rather than moving past it so they can be open to a truly wonderful relationship.
I want better for you.
Steps to Take Before Ending an Unhappy Relationship
Of course, the more time you have invested in this relationship, the more cautious you want to be in assessing the situation and deciding what to do next. Here are three steps to finding your happiness, even if it means being alone.
1. Determine if the Relationship is Unhappy, or if YOU are Unhappy in Your Life
Stress from other areas of your life can have a significant impact on your relationship. According to Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D.:
“Stress also brings out people’s worst traits, which may lead their partners to withdraw as well, because who wants to be around someone when they are acting their worst? Over time, the relationship becomes more superficial (less we-ness and involvement in each other’s lives) and couples become even more withdrawn, experiencing more conflict, distress, and alienation in the relationship.”
I can attest to stress negatively affecting a relationship: about three years ago, I had a business partnership (outside of Sexy Confidence). At first, the partnership was going well, but a few months in, I found out that this guy was trying to rip me off.
It was the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in business. I was so unhappy, and that bled into my relationship with my girlfriend. We were constantly bickering. The arguments were never about anything serious, and I remember thinking, “what is wrong with our relationship?? What is going on here?”
It wasn’t until the business partnership dissolved that I could look back and realize that the stress I was feeling had leaked over into my romantic relationship with Jess. Unknowingly, I had taken out my frustrations on her.
You probably have taken out frustrations on a partner before too, right? It’s all too easy to do, since they’re right there to take the brunt of it.
So before you write off the relationship, consider whether you have stress or problems in other areas of your life. Maybe you can deal with those situations separately rather than assuming it’s the relationship that’s wrong.
2. Do You Have Unrealistic Expectations of What a Relationship Is?
Sometimes people (especially if they haven’t been in a long-term relationship before) think relationships are going to be all roses and unicorns with no fighting or rough patches.
Relationships are always messy. There are ups and downs, and even if you’re in a down spot right now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever.
I personally don’t know one relationship that isn’t massively imperfect. Sure, you see people post photos and social media updates about how amazing their relationship is, but trust me: there’s more to the story that they’re not sharing.
Maybe a couple had a big fight right before that perfect sunset shot in Maui, or they’re both cheating on each other but pretending things are great. You just really never know what’s going on with people.
Conflict is going to happen in your relationship. The key is how you resolve that conflict and how you communicate what you need in the process.
However, if you feel like every relationship you’ve ever been in has been an unhappy relationship, you might need to reassess your expectations about what a relationship should be.
3. Cut the Cord Immediately
If you realize that it’s the relationship making you unhappy and that your expectations of a relationship are grounded in reality, then you need to cut the cord from this man immediately.
I see it time and time again: people invest time and energy into a relationship…because they’ve already invested a lot of time and energy into the relationship. This is what’s called investing in a sunk cost.
A sunk cost is something you keep doing because you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and/or money into that thing. Here are a few examples:
You start watching a movie only to realize it’s TERRIBLE…but you keep watching through to the end. You leave being mad that you wasted two hours on such a bad movie.
Or you read a book that bores you to tears, but you refuse to stop reading it on principle.
Relationships can also have sunk costs. But just because you’ve invested years in a relationship, this doesn’t mean you need to continue to be in an unhappy relationship.
If you are miserable being with this person, you have to realize that investing more time and energy into this relationship is not going to improve the situation. You’re just not right for each other.
And it’s not just me saying this: a study published in Current Psychology found that people were more likely to stay in relationships that they’ve already invested time and effort in…even if they were unhappy.
Believe me: I know how hard it will be for you to end a long-term relationship. You might be married or live with the guy. You may have your finances tied together…or even kids that will suffer from the breakup.
But consider things from the perspective of your future self: can you see yourself in this relationship in one, five, even 20 years from now? Or does that idea fill you with dread?
If you’re in an unhappy relationship and you’ve done whatever you can to make things work, then it’s time to admit that it’s not the relationship you really want and deserve.
You deserve a relationship that makes you happy. Sure, you will have bumps in the road. You will argue. Sometimes you may wonder what you’re doing with this guy. But the big picture is one of happiness.
You don’t have that right now, but in order to find it, you have to first let go of what isn’t working in your life, and that includes this unhappy relationship.
We only have a short time on this planet. Don’t waste time being with the wrong person or settling for less than you deserve.
Are you in an unhappy relationship right now? I want you to vow that you are going to end it! Leave me a comment below committing to finding your happiness, even if it isn’t with this man.
You’re going to need all the resources you can get to heal from ending this unhappy relationship. Try out the Sexy Confidence Club absolutely free for 14 days to get access to a super-supportive community of amazing women, as well as exclusive access to my content and even my personalized answers to your dating questions. Sign up today.
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