Relationships are such a beautiful gift given to us in life. Heathy relationships can bring so much joy. They encourage you to grow and become a better person. They provide a partner to walk through the ups and downs of life with and a best friend who binge watches Netflix in their PJ’s with you (Ron + I's fav is The Office or Greys Anatomy!!!!) When you choose a great partner, your relationship can be such a positive and encouraging piece of your life that pushes you forward.
On the other hand, unhealthy relationships can do the exact opposite. When you are in a relationship with someone that is not good for for you, it can drag you down rather than build you up. It can create an atmosphere of pain and distrust, rather than joy and comfort. It can keep you from growing into who you want to be or pursuing the dreams you have. It can be a heavy weight that ties you down and keeps you from running the race marked out for you.
I had an unhealthy, awful relationship before I met my husband, and even though he had some severe addictions and emotionally manipulated me, I always winded up back in his arms. I knew I wasn't in the center of God's will, but there were so many factors that played into me never running out of second chances for him.
If you are reading this article, I would guess that the relationship you are tempted to go back to likely falls under the second category. It may not be awful all the time and I am sure there are some great moments that the two of you have together. However, deep down you know that you deserve better. Yet, you keep finding yourself opening your heart open wide over and over.
You may be asking yourself, why is it such a struggle? How can I be free of the pendulum that keeps swinging me back towards my old relationship?
These are great questions and I am going to share with you the top 5 reasons why you may be struggling to let go of an unhealthy relationship.
You Question Your Worth
The first reason is probably the most important to deal with because it is the root cause of everything else. It is the lack of belief you have in your own self worth. Deep down, do you believe you are worthy of more? Or if you are honest with yourself, do you wonder if he is the best you can do? I get it... it is easy to say that we are worthy of love but it is another thing to believe it, to walk in it and make decisions from a place of worth.
My own problem in that old relationship was that I didn't know that there was anything better out there. He was the only type of man I had ever seen, so I didn't think anything else existed. I watched men like that my whole life, and his toxicity was normal to me. I didn't see myself having enough value to even believe a decent man filled with integrity was in the world- or that the rare guy, if he was wandering around this earth somewhere, would ever want me.
Even though you may struggle to believe your worth, that does not change the fact that you deserve to be loved, cherished and protected. When we look to other people to fulfill our need for value, we end up in relationships that are at best, co-dependent, and at worst abusive. No person can tell you what you are worth, they have no right to measure your value. It is only God who determines the value of who you are because He is the one who created you.
The good news is that no matter how much you have messed up or how badly things have turned out in the past, God has called you worthy. He has called you a dearly loved child. He died for you on the cross because he couldn’t stand the thought of you not knowing him. He wants you, He protects you, and He is waiting for you let him show you just how much you are worth to him.
I know it may be hard to understand or believe and that is okay, you don’t have to believe yet, you simply need to take a step towards belief. This begins by refusing to let someone tell you the lie that you are not worthy of the utmost respect and love. It means acting out of faith, knowing that God has something better for you even if you cannot see it yet. I had to speak into God's promises for me. Every time I wrestled with the lie that I wasn't good enough, I'd write it down, and then write God's truth next to it.
You're Lead By Emotions, Not By God's Word
It is easy to get swept away in the butterflies and passion of a relationship without ever really considering whether or not the relationship has any kind of real foundation. If you are reading this, it is likely that deep down, you know that the relationship you are in is not good for you. You know that there has to be something better. Yet, you keep going back to the person because it is easier to listen to what you feel in the moment rather than what is true in the long run.
Our emotions are ever changing entities, they are not stable or grounded. You can be angry one minute and elated the next. They can be such a high that it is easy to let them control us. We want to ‘feel’ something so we follow our whims and desires, twisting with every turn and being led without any sense of direction. Especially if you're a 4 on the enneagram, like me...
Now, I want to be clear... emotions are not bad, they are gifts given to us by God to make life more enjoyable. However, emotions can become dangerous when they replace truth. This happens so often in romantic relationships and it is one of the main reasons people will stay in an unhealthy relationship.
You may have even had people in your life who told you the truth about what they saw in your relationship but you refused to listen because your emotions for that person overpowered everything else. Truth is not always an easy thing to hear, it can bruise our egos or call us to do things we really don’t want to have to do. But just because it is uncomfortable in the moment, does not mean that it should be dismissed or ignored.
If you find yourself being led by your emotions in a relationship that isn’t healthy, I would encourage you to do these two things…
1. Talk to someone you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Call or text them when you feel tempted to run back to your old relationship. Give them permission to remind you of truth and to hold you accountable to not giving in when your emotions threaten to take over.
2. Write a list of all the reasons why you have made the decision to walk away from the relationship. Put it in a notebook and place it somewhere you will remember. Next time you are struggling to take actions based on truth, pull the notebook out and remind yourself of why you have decided not to walk back into the relationship.
You're Afraid To Be Alone
You fear the feeling of loneliness and you can’t imagine not being involved with someone. The relationship you have now is familiar and the unknown can seem very scary. You may even have a false sense of security that you have placed on the other person. You think that since the relationship has stayed together this long, then it is dependable. But just because a relationship stays together does not mean that the relationship is healthy. It is not always easy to let go of what is comfortable to grab a hold of what is better but it is well worth it. Maybe one of your biggest fears is that you won’t find anyone else and your thoughts begin to spiral down into all the possible “what if” statements you can think of.
“What if I never feel that same connection with someone else?”
“What if no one else is ever interested in me?”
“What if I end up alone as the crazy cat lady who lives in apartment 4B?”
The thing about “what if” statements is that they are asking for decisions to be made based on a future that does not yet exist. They have no basis or grounding, yet they demand immediate action.
It can be hard to walk away from the seemingly uncontrollable urge to give into the fear of “what if” but that does not mean it is impossible.
Instead of asking “what if” a better set of questions to ask are…
“Who do I want to be in a year and how do I want to be living my life?”
“What kind of marriage do I want? What kind of father do I want my kids to have?”
“Does the person I am tempted to go back to want the same future?”
Rather than being based on a future that does not yet exist, these question ask you to make decisions in light of where you want to be in the future. It creates a change in perspective and a goal to strive for, rather than inducing fear through imagined scenarios.
You Just Really Want To Change Them
If you are someone who is loyal and loves generously, it is probably hard for you to give up on someone. You want to believe that the person you love can and will change. You think that if you stick with it just a little longer, or love them a little bit more, they will become someone else. Even though others will say it is impossible, you are convinced that it isn’t. You don’t want to abandon them or perhaps you are even afraid that if you leave, they will fall apart. You feel a pressure to protect them and be responsible for their behavior.
But here is the thing, they will be who they want to be, not who you want them to be. As much as you may want to change someone, the reality is that you are dating the person as they are now, not a future version of something they could be. Even if you get them to act in a certain way for a little while, it won’t last unless they are the ones who want the change. You can not be the Holy Spirit for another person, you are not capable of changing their hearts, only God can do that. So, as hard as it may be you need to step away, set down the pen, and allow God to write their story.
You Feel Guilty
This one is hard because the truth is, we are all broken, we all mess up and we all hurt the people around us at some point or another. This can leave a weight of guilt that you carry around, leading you to stay in a relationship when you know isn’t good. If you are in a relationship where you have messed up just as much as the other person, it can feel almost hypocritical to say you deserve better. Maybe the other person is even affirming your guilt by reminding you of your past and using it against you.
But I want you to think about something for a second. Imagine your friend came to you and she said “I know I need to end this relationship and move on but I feel like I have messed up too much to walk away.” I wonder what you would say to her? Your response would likely be one of passionate disagreement, you would remind her that her past does not determine her future, that just because she has messed up does not take away her right to grow and move towards something better. You would want her to know that her guilt does not have to be carried with her, she can lay it down at Jesus’s feet because he takes every sin upon himself and washes us clean.
So, if that is how you would respond to your friend, why would you say anything different to yourself?
Just because you have made mistakes in the past does not change the fact that you have the freedom to walk towards something better. Don’t let the lie, that you are stuck with what you got, lead you to stay in a relationship that will not bring you closer to who you want to be in Christ. Because God loves you and He wants you to move closer to the beautiful life that he has for you.
Be encouraged to pursue growth and empowered to take action. You do not have to keep going back to something unhealthy, you have the freedom to move into something way better!