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Breakups: Finding the courage to leave

December 1, 2008

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Your relationship is completely unfulfilling. Or it has no future. Or, deep down, you know it’s unhealthy. It must end, but somehow you can’t bring yourself to leave. You’re stuck in a state of “relationship limbo.” This is a terrible place to be because it drains your energy and dampens the spirit. What could possibly be keeping you from leaving? Well, consider the following possibilities:

Fear and insecurity

Most major life changes are accompanied by fear and insecurity, and ending a relationship, even one that is unfulfilling or unhealthy, ranks at the top of this list. Undoubtedly you’ve come to depend on your partner or relationship for certain emotional needs. The prospect of losing that foundation can be truly frightening, despite the fact that you know the relationship must end.

Dumper guilt

To initiate a breakup of your relationship carries a heavy burden of responsibility. Perhaps you are immobilized by the prospect of disappointing or hurting your partner. This may be giving rise to the phenomenon known as “dumper guilt,” and it could be keeping you from leaving, in spite of the fact that you know you must.

Outside pressures

Many relationships are subjected to the expectations of family, friends and society at large. These expectations can become a heavy weight to bear, particularly when the relationship is faltering. Perhaps your inability to leave is being influenced by outside pressures.

Financial considerations

Most breakups result in a change of lifestyle and financial status. If, by ending your relationship, you will be faced with changes in your financial condition, or faced with the prospect of finding a job, for example, then you may be immobilized by these considerations.

Shame

Many people feel that ending a relationship carries a “stigma” of failure. This can result in feelings of shame. Shame is a very powerful emotion, and can easily cause you to remain immobilized.

Addiction

If none of the foregoing factors are keeping you from ending your unfulfilling relationship, then perhaps you are addicted to your partner or the relationship itself. Addiction to another is more common than you might think, and can be very hard to shake. If you think you might be addicted, your best bet is to consult a therapist or relationship coach.

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