Be honest: Are you completely exhausted by your relationship situation?
Do you find that you keep going back to your ex, no matter how miserable you are? …And you just can’t stop?
Do you wonder why, in spite of the hurt and the anger, breaking up is just impossible?
So many people get in this position where, in spite of being absolutely miserable, they hold on and get stuck in the cycle of suffering.
Why do you do that? Because you’re sure that they’re your person? Perhaps, partially, but there’s way more to it than that.
Knowing why might help you finally realize that you can let go of someone and get on with your life.
So, why do you keep going back to your ex? Here are 5 possible reasons why.
1. You still want those crumbs of happiness.
You know what I’m talking about — those moments when everything is great.
Perhaps it’s watching the kids open their Christmas presents, uniting against difficult in-laws, or simply enjoying a sunset together.
Those moments bring you back to where you were at the beginning of your relationship when you were a team and loved each other.
Those moments are very potent ones — they make you pause and wonder if breaking up is a good idea or if perhaps there isn’t hope that you can work things out.
They make you wonder if you could ever have moments like this with anyone else.
And those moments of happiness are wonderful. But they’re just moments, aren’t they? Moments in the middle of the misery you are both living with.
So, yes, appreciate those moments but ask yourself if those moments are worth it.
2. You’re not a quitter.
“I am not a quitter,” you may say. And I can totally appreciate that.
No one wants to give up on anything, especially something as important as a relationship. So, they hold on, believing that, perhaps even by sheer force of will, if they don’t give up, all will be fine.
What I tell my clients, when they tell me they don’t want to quit, is that it’s important that both partners in a relationship are fighting to keep the relationship, that it’s not a one-sided effort.
Many of my clients give and give and give in the face of misery, hoping that their person will just love them again and that their lives together can be happy and not hell on Earth.
But if their person isn’t trying in return, there’s no fight to fight, and giving up might be the only option.
Remember, giving up is OK. Sometimes, there’s nothing that can be done to save a relationship. Throwing in the towel doesn’t mean failure.
It means that you’re strong enough to let go of something that is making everyone miserable and move forward towards happiness and love.
3. You stay out of habit and for the traditions.
It seems really basic but one of the reasons that you can’t stay away from each other, even though you’re miserable, is because of habits and traditions.
When I was considering leaving my husband because we were both miserable, it was the small things that kept me from doing so.
The thoughts of no more Friday night videos and Caribbean Christmases and summer visits to my mom and sharing of carpool duties were enough to paralyze me into staying.
I couldn’t imagine there being any change in the things that we had been doing for decades.
Are there things that you and your person have always done together that seem impossible to let go of? Whether they’re big or small, they’re often enough to keep you from leaving.
I can tell you that 10 years after my divorce, I have someone else to watch Friday night movies with, my kids and I have kept up the tradition of Caribbean Christmases and summer visits to my mom’s.
And, somehow, everyone seems to get where they need to be, even though we are no longer married.
So, don’t let habits keep you in something that is making you miserable. Life is too short!
4. You fear feeling pain from heartbreak.
Many people don’t realize that one of the reasons that they don’t make changes — whether it’s leaving a relationship, moving to another town, or changing jobs — is because they’re afraid of the feeling of pain that might result.
Our bodies are hardwired to avoid and fear pain — it’s a matter of survival to do so. So, when we’re faced with something potentially painful, like the loss of a relationship, we shut down.
Our brains do whatever they can to stop the pain from coming.
Think about where you are right now. Is your head full of all sorts of competing thoughts?
“Do I stay or do I go? What happens if I do? Will I ever be loved again? What about the kids?”
The thoughts go round and round and round and you are exhausted and left searching the internet for answers.
That is your brain, sabotaging you from taking a step that might cause you pain. And it’s a very effective tool because the confusion shuts you down from taking action unless you can push through it.
So, recognize that your fear of pain is probably a big reason why you just can’t leave.
5. You’ll miss the sex.
Many of my clients who are in unhappy relationships still have really good sex lives.
Perhaps, it’s the drama of their situation. Or, perhaps, it’s a chemistry that has never faded since the beginning. Whatever it is, that attraction is real and important and hard to walk away from.
And, when the sex is that good, it’s like those little moments — it makes it hard to rationalize walking away. If the sex is amazing, the relationship must be salvageable.
Unfortunately, sexual chemistry and healthy relationships don’t always go hand in hand. Some people have good sex and just can’t agree on anything else.
Conversely, I know people who are madly in love but their sex life struggle. It’s very frustrating.
Like pain, sex is a primal thing, something that helps keep you alive and propagate the species.
The prospect of giving it up can be terrifying and the fear that you will never feel so good, sexually, again, is enough to stop you from walking away from someone who makes you miserable.
Understanding why you keep going back to your ex is the key to stop doing so.
You might feel like the reason you do is because you’re soulmates and you’re destined to be together but, really, that’s not it. Its way more mundane than that.
Crumbs of happiness, stubbornness, habits, and sex are the real reasons you are hanging around, miserable. You can even add the dread of online dating to this list, right? Be honest.
Does knowing the real reasons why you can’t walk away make you more determined to do it? I hope so!
You can do it!
Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at [email protected] and get started!