"You SHOULD leave him!" Do these words ring familiar? Have you been told this by concerned family members and friends because they see you with a relationship partner who does not value you enough?
Is it maddening when you tell yourself to leave him but find that you just go back to him? Maybe you overly reflect on past good times and just want them back? Perhaps you see potential in your partner that no one else seems to see. Or, maybe you love him so much and can’t truly see yourself without him? Perhaps you fear being alone, even for short time.
If you can relate to these dilemmas please hear that there are a lot of "emotionally walking wounded" people out there like you. I coach many women and men who are in up and down, drama-filled, problematic relationships.
To be fair, sometimes we exaggerate or distort what our partners do and we fail to see our own blind spots regarding our own relationship behaviors. In my book, Why Can’t You Read My Mind?, I discuss nine toxic thinking patterns that destroy loving relationships. The premise of this book is that we need to be aware of how we think and feel about our partners. We do need to identify our irrational beliefs, which get in the way of loving relationships. For example, do you do "All or nothing" thinking where you see your partner as always worried about himself before others? Or how about labeling where you unfairly assign an all encompassing negative label to your partner such as lazy. The problem with giving someone a label is that you are encouraging him or her to live up to it.
But let’s say this guy you are casually dating, seeing on a steady basis, or even married to is treating you poorly and has been doing so for a while. And consider all you have been doing (which does not seem to help) to promote a healthier relationship such as trying to talk things out, come up with better compromises, or maybe you even suggested counseling.
In this case, as yourself the following questions:
1) Is there anything else I can change to make this relationship better? If the answer to this question is truly "yes", then you can keep working on it. But just make sure the work you do is with a small "w" (learning, within reason, to communicate better) versus a big "W" (recovering from repeatedly being put down). If there really is, however, nothing you can do to make the relationship better than please go on below to questions 2 and 3.
2) Do I feel better or worse about myself (in an emotionally healthy way) by being in this relationship? If, for example, you are only in the relationship to avoid being alone then this is likely not a healthy situation for you. If you feel really taken with him (except for the times he treats you poorly) than ask yourself how reasonable is it that he treats you poorly in the first place? Has it become a habit for him to treat you that way AND for you to accept it?
3) Am I better off with or without him–for the long term? Do you really believe this guy is your best option for being in a healthy, happy relationship? If you honestly can say, "no", then maybe it is time to go!
All relationships are unique and can feel complex. But my relationship coaching clients have found that the above questions can help to clarify relationship decisions and make them feel less complicated. I hope you find them helpful as well.
For more about Dr. Jeff, please check out drjeffonline.com