Painful Relationships: Why do we Stay Stuck?

Via Elyane Youssef
on Feb 20, 2016
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hung on strings

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ~ Stephen Chbosky

I’ve been in unhappy relationships before.

When I look back now, I can clearly see that all of the effort that I poured into them wasn’t of benefit. Somehow, the relationship remained painful and destructive regardless of how hard my partner and I tried to fix it.

In some cases, I would instantly recognize the destructive pattern that the relationship had taken and quickly leave. In a few other cases, I would stay and try to hold on until I became completely depleted of energy.

Sadly, there were many situations where I failed to decipher the reason that had led me to linger far too long in a painful tie.

On the conscious level, there are plenty of reasons why I kept myself hooked in these unhappy patterns.

You see, sometimes, we stay because we hold out hope that the relationship will become auspicious or that our partner will change. Other times, we can’t leave because we are too attached to the person or the memories. And more often, fear of the unknown and fear of losing what we have at the present moment can keep us stuck forever in an unfathomable relationship.

The reason that made me cling to destructive and painful relationships wasn’t what I wanted to hear or realize, but it was certainly what I needed to know.

I think that we stay in unhappy relationships because we want to stay with the people who activate our pain.

And the reason is because pain is as intense and as tempting as happiness.

Pain is a desirable feeling that generates gratification, and so, we pursue the things that lead to it because they strengthen the sense of self that we hold. We basically want to be with people who give an absolute identity to whatever misery we are currently experiencing. In other words, they are the food to our pain.

Just like plants that need water to grow, pain needs people, situations and events to grow.

And when it grows, it becomes utterly destructive, both to ourselves and those around us. We become dramatic, negative and cynical.

I became addicted to pain because it made me an unhappy, miserable, person who is unworthy of love. And only through my destructive relationship was I able to grasp at that identity.

I thought to myself many times, why would I need to be an unhappy, miserable, person who is unworthy of love?

The shocking answer is because this is who I thought I deserved to be.

You see, our past painful experiences may have led us to this disastrous conclusion about ourselves but it is a truth that is difficult to consciously perceive.

We accept the situations, relationships and the people that we think we deserve.

If we have a closer look at our lives, we can easily recognize that who and where we are today relates to the people we surround ourselves with. It is our state of mind that choses the people we are currently with, whether they’re friends or family.

That being said, haven’t you ever wondered why you may have left a destructive relationship earlier than a peaceful one?

I know I have done this many times.

The truth is, we know deep down that we don’t deserve it.

We know that we don’t deserve a partner who cheats on us, who treats us badly or who emotionally abuses us. And so, we leave.

But as long as we stay, we are staying in what reflects our inner state.

I have stayed with a cheating partner for more than a year because frankly, I thought I deserved to be cheated on. I only left when I realized that I don’t deserve that particular unhappy relationship.

“You don’t attract what you want. You attract what you are.” ~ Wayne Dyer

I think this is why happy people are in happy relationships and know how to stay away from pain even when things go off track. It is not because the relationship is happy—it’s because the people in it are.

They know what they want; they know what they deserve.

However, when we are in a painful state of mind, we will attract painful people and we will remain stuck with them because they provide the nutrition for our pain.

In order to cut ties with pain, we must first work on loving ourselves and appreciating our own self-worth. We should know what we accept and what we don’t, what we deserve and what we don’t.

Only when I nurtured self-knowledge and learned to love myself did  I realize what kind of relationship I deserved to be in.

While we blame others for our own unhappiness, the truth is we are only using them to feed our suffering. The moment we decide that we don’t deserve to live in suffering, we will no longer use others to justify continuing this cycle.

We might stay in destructive relationships for years. Sometimes, we fail to behold this reality and it is completely okay.

We will see the truth only when we know that pain can’t grow forever. It might take decades but eventually, we will come to notice that we have died in the process.

Know that once we start working on our inner being, the pieces of our outer being will fall into place.

Know what you deserve and live accordingly.

If you are in a cycle of pain, it is best to leave. Pain will never serve you; at least it never served me.

~

Author: Elyane Youssef

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

Image: Tareck Raffoul


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About Elyane Youssef

Elyane S. Youssef is an extraterrestrial who was given birth by Earthlings. While living on planet Earth she fell in love with art, photography, writing, traveling, and...pizza. She is a practicing Buddhist who's still uncovering the roots of suffering and the way out of them. Elyane finds her joy in backpacking. Besides getting on and off planes, she is in a serious relationship with words and hopes to inspire as many people as possible through them. Once her mission is accomplished here, she will return to her planet to rejoin her extraterrestrial brothers and sisters. In case you're wondering, yes, she is still willingly obsessed with Frida Kahlo. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Be happy.

Comments

20 Responses to “Painful Relationships: Why do we Stay Stuck?”

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’m trying to do this. I need to let go of my painful person, but I always seem to bring him back. I have had enough…

  2. Elyane says:

    I'm sure you will when you're ready <3

  3. Kim says:

    I needed to read this today. I need to divorce my husband who is an alcoholic. I just don’t feel like i have the strength. But i am dying staying.

  4. Susan says:

    I think all of that is easy to say is you are young and healthy. There are determining factors such as children, finances, health insurance, elder care and other practicaticalities that often trump “feelings” in determining whether to stay or go in the real world.

  5. Marleece says:

    Great article and so true upon reflection! Our self worth and self love is mirrored in what kind of relationship we accept and attract. Wish I knew then what I know now. Thank you for writing this.

  6. dan says:

    i have an ex i can not let go of ( 6 months now ) and she is pregnant with someone else. With her for 8 yrs – broke off because i did not want children at my age (58) now i regret it but its way to late and know i will not find anyone like her. help

  7. Holly says:

    Thank you, Elyane. Seriously.

    Just posted this on my Facebook with your article:

    Discovering that a whole hell of a lot of the reasons for the pain I’ve experienced of late — and before — has been because of a lack of self worth and love. Dedicated to what matters, now.

    “I think this is why happy people are in happy relationships and know how to stay away from pain even when things go off track. It is not because the relationship is happy—it’s because the people in it are.

    They know what they want; they know what they deserve.

    However, when we are in a painful state of mind, we will attract painful people and we will remain stuck with them because they provide the nutrition for our pain.

    In order to cut ties with pain, I think we must first work on loving ourselves and appreciating our own self-worth. We should know what we accept and what we don’t, what we deserve and what we don’t.”

    Thank you so much for your act of bravery in writing this piece — and it was, exactly, what I needed. Funny, it was just below a piece on Tantra Love — which I did experience with my most recent ex (and source of pain) in the beginning. Then, when she couldn’t stop hurting me.. I just stayed and stayed because I thought I could heal her pain. But no… no more savior complex here. Have to LET GO. 🙂

    I’ve realized just how much of my destructive romantic relationships have been because of low self worth (from childhood & adolescence). Thank you for putting a bull eye on what I need to aim for, and I’ll make sure to follow you.

    Light,

    ~holly

  8. corndogcatman says:

    One thing you did not mention: for some people, emotional pain is the only form of passion to which we can open up. Some people, like me, have been afraid to let go and open up to "positive" passion — it feels too dangerous. But we want passion nonetheless. In a painful relationship, often one can find a sort of passion, even if it is "negative".

  9. Janette says:

    let her go…if it was meant to be she wouldn't be having another person's child.

  10. conqueredsoul says:

    This is such an interesting perspective. I am a very passionate person, and i constantly wish i could project that passion onto a positive relationship, and positive perspective. I've been on and off with my partner whom we have 2 children with and i have purposefully sabotaged relationships with decent guys in order to stay in this passionately-negative rollercoaster i have going with this guy. The saddest part is that he has been doing the same thing on his end. And we have a twisted belief that we are stuck together/meant to be. When in fact i think we are both addicted to our negative passion and emotional pain. It's so difficult to let go~ just because I don't even remember what a normal relationship feels like. But i think it's time.

  11. Elyane says:

    Sorry to hear this Kim. I hope you gather the needed strength to do what you have to do <3

  12. Elyane says:

    I have no doubt Susan. Circumstances play a big role in determining such decisions.

  13. Elyane says:

    It's never too late to know x

  14. Elyane says:

    Dan I'm sorry you had to go through this. I think everything happens for a reason. With time we get to see the bigger picture and thus the reasons of why a particular event happened. Have faith x

  15. Elyane says:

    Holly, thank you for your heartfelt comment. I'm glad and most certainly happy that my words were of benefit. May you experience happiness and peace in the coming future x

  16. Elyane says:

    I can definitely relate and thank you for bringing up that point. I agree that one needs passion even if it's painful. There are plenty of artists in the world for instance, who can't produce art unless they are experiencing "negativity". However, I think the difference between positive passion and a negative one, is that the positive one lasts. On the other hand, pain and the "negative" are only needed for a certain period of time; they're somewhat transient.

  17. Janet says:

    To Stephanie and Kim. You're not alone. After 35 yrs of marriage I am walking out. I have just retained my atty and started down this journey. I've threatened many times and actually left in 2000, retained atty and started proceedings and guess what happened. I was manipulated back, promised the world and now here I am 16 yrs later and the mental, emotional, cheating and other abuse is worse than ever. I really am not exaggerating, the abuse was nonstop, it was every minute of every day for over 35 yrs. oh yeah and let me throw out there that my husband is "the good guy" so the few people that know are on his side because I have no visible scars or injuries. They call me the liar. Haters are gonna hate. I've taken the "I don't give a rat's a_ _ attitude! I can't lower myself any longer. I am doing this for myself and my inner peace. Now I must say, this is beyond horrifying but I am bound and determined this time to leave for good. I had almost been destroyed as a female human being but somehow I rose up in this last year. What keeps me going is reading articles like this and almost more importantly, reading all the comments from the woomen. Every single comment from a woman who was able to successfully leave and never go back all say the same thing…the first year is horrifying and that they didn't know how they ever made it but the fact is, they made it. So all of you out there are my examples to just keep putting 1 foot in front of the other. And oh yes, I am leaving lots of security by divorcing my husband because my health is not that great and prevents me from working and many other things but I'd rather be homeless living in my car than continue to put in 1 more day than I have to with this man. Oh yeah, and just emotional heart pain is beyond anything because we've been married over 35 yrs, and the fact is, I didn't choose to fall in love with an abuser. BUT, every morning I get up and just start putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that one day it will be a "good different". Peace to all of you and courage in whatever, whatever your decision ends up being. There is no easy way in any of this. But we can continue to encourage one another and stand side by side as technology friends. Peace to all. And oh yes, believe me, I get it when a woman is just not able to leave. Every morning when I get up everything screams at my mind saying, "why are you doing this?" "This is crazy at your age," "you are leaving security!!" "You are losing good medical and going to crappy insurance,". I really care. Janet

  18. Janet says:

    And oh yes, believe me, I get it when a woman is just not able to leave. Every morning when I get up everything screams at my mind saying, "why are you doing this?" "This is crazy at your age," "you are leaving security!!" "You are losing good medical and going to crappy insurance,". I really care. Janet

  19. LC says:

    My husband was an abusive alcoholic. We've been together for 10 yrs. I'm 26. I was ready to leave and now he has stopped drinking for 2 months and things have been fine. I'm still so f***ed up from the past 5 yrs of his alcoholic abuse to me. I'm trying to accecpt his change but its so confusing. He is so in love with me and it kills me to think of him and me with separate lives bc we communicate well. I'm so torn. I want to give him a longer chance but the past was so messed up, I can't get it off my mind. So fresh still.

  20. Angela says:

    A friend of mine gave me this question…When you've dealt with his bullshit for so long that the damage has been done, the question is no longer whether or not you think he will change. The question now is, even if he did change…could you ever feel the same?

    My husband is a mentally abusive alcoholic. It was total hell. I left and then he quit drinking for 5 months and things got better and then he went right back to drinking again. Started with a drink here and there and then sneaking drinks and now full on. I don't have a doubt that he loves me but I finally had enough and filed for divorce early this year. I still struggle with the thought that he could change but in reality…they can't…especially without help. I love him very much also but I had to save myself.

    I wish you the best in this struggle because I know how it feels to second guess making this decision but I think deep down, you already know your answer if you just listen to yourself.

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