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Is Guilt Stopping You From Leaving Your Relationship?

By October 6, 2015 March 31st, 2021 Psychology & Relationships

Have you ever been fed up with someone, but felt like you couldn’t leave them?

When you finally get fed up, a voice pops in your head: What if me leaving is the motivation they need to change? What if they’re different for the next person?

You tell yourself things will change. But they don’t, and you get angry – angry at yourself for falling into the same pattern, angry at them for disappointing you, angry because you’re alone.

Maybe you can’t tell anyone, or maybe you’ve told people so many times they’re sick of listening. Either way, you’re alone in the desert with your ball and chain, and you don’t know what the hell to do.

 

The Bullshit-Free Oasis Beckons

 

If the above resonates with you, you might be in a relationship that doesn’t serve you. Contrary to what you’ve been told for your entire life, breaking up doesn’t mean your relationship failed.

Too often I see clients staying in relationships because of guilt, shame, and fear. You tell yourself things will improve, you just need to be a better partner. Be more patient. Be more understanding. Be more supportive.

What you’re really doing is taking more than half the responsibility for the relationship. As they contribute less, you contribute more. Emotionally, mentally, physically, you’re exhausted. But you won’t leave.

You won’t leave because the world has told you two really nasty things: leaving is failure, and failure is bad.

 

I Have Some Questions For You…

 

Would you stay in a job that wasn’t paying you because your parents would call you a bum if you quit?

Would you eat food that makes you sick for the sake of finishing your plate?

Would you keep seeing a personal trainer who overworks you and causes you injury?

No – because the purpose of a job is to pay you. The purpose of food is to nourish you. The purpose of a trainer is to help you become strong. You can make these decisions quickly, easily, and without guilt or shame because they’re so clear.

If you’re struggling with guilt, shame, and a sense of obligation, it’s because you don’t know the purpose of your relationship.

Here’s a broad definition to get you started:

The purpose of a relationship is to enrich your life and the life of your partner.

Let’s dive a little deeper and look at what that means to you.

 

Free Relationship Counselling, Right Here

 

I’ve never really tried to translate what I do in session into an article, but if you’re down, so am I.

There are so many ways a relationship can benefit you. Since this is a huge question, it’s helpful to break things down into categories. Here’s something to help you get started:

Maybe your relationship meets basic needs like food, shelter, and a place to live. Maybe you aren’t social or outgoing, and your partner involves you in a lifestyle you have trouble creating on your own. They might provide you with acceptance, and that’s something you’ve never had before. It could be they push you to achieve your dreams.

Figure out what your relationship used to give you, and what it gives you now. Think about what you want from your relationship, and compare the two.

If your two lists are really similar, your relationship is successful. If they aren’t, it’s time to take action.

 

If Your Relationship Isn’t Meeting Your Needs

 

Needs change. What you wanted at 25 and what you want at 40 are wildly different. We change radically throughout our lives, but no one ever teaches us how to stay in sync with another person going through the same process.

The first thing to do if your relationship isn’t meeting your needs is to talk about it.

But what if your partner isn’t receptive? What if they won’t talk to you? What if you try again and again, but they just shut you out?

Well…

If two people make a commitment and one person doesn’t honour it, should the other person continue to do so?

When you say it out loud, it’s hard to answer with a yes. But actions speak louder than words, and there are a LOT of people in one way relationships.

Your relationship is defined by the roles you play in it. How many hours per day are you a woman, a man, a husband, a wife? How many hours are you a mother or a father? A room mate? A caretaker? A therapist?

If your relationship isn’t meeting your needs, if you’re spending more time being room mates or care takers than lovers, if your partner isn’t willing to change, why would you be willing to stay?

 

Lining Up Your Ducks

 

OK, so you understand your relationship sucks and there’s little to no hope of change. It’s been months or even years, and your partner is unwilling to take action. You know the guilt and obligation you feel is a load of crap, but you still feel stuck.

Here’s why:

Remember that triangle picture above that listed all sorts of needs? Well, those needs form your stability as a person. Your brain will fight tooth and nail any decision that leads to instability, so revisit that list you made earlier.

To make leaving easier, you need to find new ways to meet your needs. Look at all the things you’re getting from your relationship, and figure out how you can meet those needs in a different way.

It’s also a great idea to have a counsellor in mind to help you through the break up, or even beforehand to talk through your problems.

 

Are You Tired Of Your Relationship? Struggling With Guilt Or Obligation?

 

Ryan

Author Ryan

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Avatar Jenny says:

    What if you are really at the point of not wanting to give up no matter what. You want to make it work for the sake of your child or just that you know that you are a difficult person to live with but that they are not as innocent as they claim to be either. I know he would say that I don’t contribute to the relationship but I think that is a load of crap. I just don’t contribute exactly the way he wants me to. ex. make bed and his lunch every day!

  • Avatar Caroline says:

    I Feel like a roommate, a maid, there is nothing between the 2 of us for 7 years now. i’m to fat.. not attractive….

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