3 Behaviors That Keep Us in Unhappy Relationships

Unhappy Couple

“Don’t settle for anybody, just so you can have somebody.” ~Unknown

Here I was again, sitting in front of my computer looking at things I could involve myself in to occupy my time now that I am newly single.

Should I pay $125 for a private tennis lesson and still be terrible afterward? Could I buy a soul cycle package and not eat lunch or dinner for the next month? How many paint nights could I do over the course of the summer? Do I even have enough friends to join me?

As I sit here and think about what happened, I ask myself, was my life a happy one before and after this person left? The answer is yes. Yes, it was!

I have a career I’m happy about, live on my own (finally), am getting into shape again, and have marvelous friends, family, and my cat. The only difference is that I do not have him.

I had imagined many things with this man. I told myself we got along perfectly—that he and I understood one another; that we just “meshed.” So I felt like he must be “the one” until he made it clear he was not.

Although I was sad because he was no longer in my life, I realized I was mourning the assumptions I had made, the uneasy feelings I overlooked, and the dream I created in hopes that the search was over, that the uncertainty about my future had vanished.

So what is it that I really did here? What is it that I, and so many people, do to convince ourselves that we are with “the one” when we, in fact, are not?

Here’s a list of the three behaviors we are repeating and how to change them. (Hooray!)

1. We underestimate or overlook our intuition.

We don’t listen to that nagging voice or feeling that says, “Nope, this feels weird,” “You just lied about the kind of food you like, to please him/her,” and “S/he doesn’t get how passionate you really are.”

2. We become anxious about the future.

If your family is like mine, they want to know if you will be married…ever, and they “worry” when you’re single. This is ingrained in us. Societal pressures and norms tell us that we have a problem if we don’t at least have a prospect in our late twenties to early thirties.

We have internalized this message, and hope and dream every time we get into a relationship. This can keep us in relationships because we have convinced ourselves we could not start over again and that this must be the partner for us.

3. We settle.

Yes, I said it. I don’t mean settling in the sense that we will date any individual because they give us attention. What I mean is we are willing to compromise on some fundamental values, qualities, and important character traits. This can happen because of #2, or because we simply do not yet know what we want in a relationship.

How to Change These Behaviors

We all have that intuitive feeling; some of us call it a “vibe,” others call it an energy. It exists so that it can be used! Listen to it. If you feel something is off, it more than likely is. Don’t ignore it. Sit with the feeling, and then dig.

Ask yourself: Why do I feel this way? What feels wrong here? Be your own explorer. This could help save you time and energy in a relationship where you do not feel comfortable or understood.

As humans, we all want to avoid pain and suffering. It’s normal. So in relationships, we can do two things: run away when we are afraid emotions are invested, or we can stay in a relationship and tell ourselves we are happy.

The brain is a powerful tool, and if you tell yourself something enough times, you will begin to believe it. If you have made up your mind that your lot in life is to suffer in relationships, then you do not believe in all the beautiful things the universe has in store for you.

This is what causes us to get caught up. We think “this is probably as good as it’s gonna get”

No, it isn’t! Create a vision board, or write out the qualities you seek. Being firm on what you want in a relationship, and believing it is possible to attract someone with those qualities, will make it less likely that you will settle for less.

Part of the problem many of us have faced is that we are unclear on what we want, and so we attract some qualities but not all. Believe it or not, dating and break-ups allow us to regain clarity, to say, “Yeah, I like this but not that.” The clearer you are, the clearer the universe can be.

Settling is a painful word. We all want to believe we have and never will do this. It’s not to say who we dated isn’t worthwhile, but it’s saying you decided that person’s needs were more important than your own.

You were willing to shut something off inside yourself for this person, and that, my dear, is unacceptable.

Everything you are, you think, and feel is important. You deserve to have all of that valued by your partner. If you find you are suddenly overlooking parts of yourself, or omitting them, then you are not being true to your authentic self.

Now imagine doing this long term. Not happening.

The best thing to do here is to begin the process of learning who you are as an individual. What do you like? Where do you enjoy going out? What kinds of people do you like spending time with? What were some things in this relationship you consider to be deal breakers? What are some things you loved?

Take this into your next relationship. But remember to give yourself time to grieve this loss, and turn the focus inward.

There’s a line that always pops into my head after a break-up. Its “square peg, round hole,” and I usually say, “I did it again, didn’t I?”

I was reaching, trying so hard to make him fit. But I have realized this is a part of the process. This is okay; I am human! I am allowed to have hopes and dreams; I just need to learn from these experiences.

So that is what I will continue to do—enjoy my life, love who I am, and one day when I am ready, I will meet my round peg!

Unhappy couple silhouette via Shutterstock

About Raquel Carrasquillo

Raquel Carrasquillo is an LMSW working with legally blind individuals in their adjustment to vision-loss. She lives in NYC and enjoys spending time with family, her cat, Snow White, and her lovely friends. Follow her on Instagram at raqstar612.

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