Unhealthy relationships are becoming an epidemic. More often than not, people are remaining in relationships that cause them to be hurt, confused, mistreated, and even abused. But why are they staying when it is blatantly clear to everyone else that they should walk away? Why do people connected to someone who is making their life miserable? Why don’t they just walk…err, run away?
Last night, I facilitated a workshop at a local women’s shelter, and all of the women there had endured some type of abuse. At some point, they walked out and that decision landed in the safety of the shelter. It was an honor to sit down with this diverse group of “sheroes” and it caused me to think more about relationships, in general and unhealthy relationships, more specifically.
Why do people endure unhealthy relationships?
Perhaps they don’t know that it’s unhealthy. After leaving the shelter, I was later on air doing an interview, and we discussed how jealous and possessive behavior can look “cute” and “endearing” at first. The fact that he (or she) shows up where you are, and seems overly interested in your activities and attire, makes them seem as if this person really cares about you. As the incidents of jealousy and possessiveness increase, sometimes we remain oblivious to the changes that are obvious to others in our lives. You may not go out anymore, your clothing may change, you seem distant. But it’s all done in the name of preserving your (unhealthy) relationship, and that shows committment, right? No…it shows that you are losing yourself to a force that is attempting to subdue you, and that if you continue to accept this behavior that it will be to your detriment.
Then again, perhaps they know it’s unhealthy, but have no clue what to do with that reality. Or, (and this happens often) they know the relationship is bad, but they have decided that they want to win. So, this means that every piece of “leave him or her alone” becomes motivation to stay with this person and make it–if only to avoid the “I told you so’s” of the people who cared enough to tell you that your relationship was not a good place to be. This is the wrong time to “let your haters be your motivators,” as the song says. Whatever the justification, it is steeped in the fact that by the time any relationship becomes undeniably toxic, both parties are vested so deeply, that it almost seems easier to remain in dysfunction, than to escape into loneliness (or I told you so’s as previously stated). Sadly, this keeps many people in relationships that will impact their lives negatively now, and some, for years even after a breakup.
Perhaps it’s less unhealthy than their last relationship. Now, this is the kicker. Some people actually believe that as long as this relationship is not “as bad” as their last relationship, then everything is ok, and there’s not a problem. This is not okay. Despite the fact, that this person only cheats on you consistently and the last person physically assaulted you, that comparison does not make either one of these relationships better than the other. They are both bad, and they are both unhealthy, you cannot continue to deny the truth, nor can you ignore the fact that you must do something about it.
I could go on, but then there wouldn’t be a part two. If you happened to see your relationship characterized in this article, then you can no longer claim ignorance. It’s time to make some changes because if nothing changes, nothing changes. If you need help, I am here, if you have questions, ask. This is not the time to think about loyalty, or committment–unless you’re thinking about the loyalties and the commitments that you made to yourself.
I told the group last night, and I am telling YOU now: As Katt Williams says, “it’s all about your star player…this means you.” Now you know better, so I hope you’ll at least think about doing better. Every action begins with a thought (hint-hint).