There are so many people who get trapped in toxic relationships, who are so unhappy we don't even understand why can't they just leave. If this is your case, take a look at this post, as we may have three important reasons why you can't seem to be able to break up with him.
Why is it that so many people tend to stay in unhappy relationships? Millions of people (not just gay men) feel trapped in a relationship they can't leave. Even though no one needs consent for breaking up with a partner, some barriers indeed stop them from breaking free. But what are these psychological barriers
When asked, men who're stuck in unhappy relationships, these are some of the explanations they give:
- They're staying for their kids.
- They take care of their sick mate.
- The guilt of some harm they did keeps them pointlessly trying to fix it.
- Money binds them together (especially in this bad economy).
- They don't want to be of being self-supporting single parents.
- They feel ashamed for leaving "failed" marriages.
- They're scared their ex may harm himself.
- They believe they're too old to find love again.
- They think this is the best they'll ever get.
In reality, all these explanations come from three different psychological issues deep within our subconsciousness. Let's break them down.
Many men in toxic relationships tend to deny their relationship is bad for them at all. If you see yourself (or your friend who's in a toxic) constantly justifying the situation, minimizing your partner's behavior, or creating excuses for him, then take a second to see what's really happening; it's not him, it's you... actually, it's the both of you.
When people are in denial of problems in their relationships, it's because they cling to the hope of their relationships getting better someday. They hold to the memories of better days or focus on the occasional good times, brief affection, or love droplets. A bad relationship can get better, but it'll not happen on its own.
Being in denial also means denying your own pain. Suppose you're constantly telling yourself and others, "everything's fine." In that case, your refusal's making you believe that's true, and you're less likely to look for help and change to get out of that toxic relationship if you think it's not toxic at all.
2) Unconscious Fear
One of the main reasons people get trapped in unhappy relationships is the deep fear of loneliness and separation. When we're in a long-term relationship, sometimes we forget to develop individual interests, activities, and support networks. We tend to be so focused on our partners and our lives as a couple that sometimes we neglect our friends, hobbies, and activities to adopt our partners'.
Even if we have our own group of friends or focus on our jobs and have "individual lives" apart from our romantic relationships, there's a chance our emotional needs rely entirely on our partners for support.
Being so attached to your partner can turn into codependency that only grows when you envision yourself on your own, and the fear of loneliness and isolation comes out. Codependency needs to be treated, as it only gets periodically worse.
The fear of loneliness can come from the idea of feeling lost once the relationship is over. For example: when we are in a committed relationship, living together, or even married, there's a chance we also fall into the role of "provider" or "homemaker" if only one of the two is currently working; when the relationship is over, we can fall into an identity crisis.
Many people leave their family home or college roommate to live with a partner or get married, so they never experience living alone. Living alone helps us become autonomous adults, and that's an experience not all of us get before going to live with a romantic partner. If we never live on our own, there's a fear of feeling lost as we never mentally "left home."
Also, leaving our parent's home to live on our own helps us learn how to deal with an emotional separation. So, if we leave our family home to live with a romantic partner or get married, and that relationship has to end, we may have to deal with the unfinished work of becoming an independent adult.
The fear of loneliness can come from multiple unconscious sources. In many cases, it can be a paralyzing force stopping men from breaking free from their unhappy relationships.
3) Lack of Autonomy
Being an autonomous man means you don't need anyone to function perfectly; being emotionally secure and independent in every sense. When you lack autonomy, the idea of separating from your boo becomes even more nerve-wracking, as it makes you dependent upon him.
Men without autonomy will feel trapped, not only in a bad relationship but in the ambivalence of undecisive desperation (yeah, that). In one way, you want to get away from that man and that toxic atmosphere that's become your life with him. Still, also, you crave the stability and "safeness" your relationship brings you, even if it's fake or brief. So this means you want to get out, but you feel like you'll suffer more without him.
Let's leave something clear; being autonomous doesn't mean you don't need people at all and that you'll go alone forever. Autonomy means experiencing happy independence and a healthy dependence on others, knowing you'll never suffocate each other.
Let us give you some examples of psychological autonomy:
- You have your own friends and hang out with them apart from your bf (who is okay with it).
- You can initiate and do things independently (plans, projects, hobbies, or even house cleaning).
- You trust your partner enough so you know you can say "no" and ask him for space when you need to be alone.
- You have your own opinions and values. You can be open to discussing them, but they're not easily suggestible.
- You're free and confident to make decisions on your own.
- When there's a problem, you don't take things personally.
- You know others' feelings and actions are not your responsibility.
- When you're alone, you don't feel lost and empty but at peace.
The lack of autonomy is, in many cases, not only the reason they can't leave but also the reason why several couples are unhappy with each other in the first place. If you know you lack autonomy, you know you can lose yourself in your relationship; it stops you from getting closer or committing. Also, if you sacrifice who you are (your interests, friends, and needs), there's a chance you develop a strong resentment towards him, and when you want to leave, it's too late.
What can you do if you feel trapped in a relationship?
Psychological barriers to gay breakups are a real thing that's stopping several men from leaving toxic relationships that are harming them. Still, there are things that you can do to start dealing with those barriers, and they're more accessible than you think.
For starters, simply breaking up with that man can look like the most straightforward solution. But let's face it if it was that easy, toxic relationships wouldn't exist, and you would not be reading this post. However, breaking up is not the only solution, and it might not even be necessary to stop feeling as unhappy as you are. Not all toxic relationships began like that; the dynamic turned toxic because both men allowed certain bad conduct to happen, again and again, hurting one or both.
The key here is that you need to work on yourself first. Don't be afraid to ask for help and seek professional aid who can give you tools to develop a support system. Working on this will help you become more independent and assertive. Once you realize you're a fully autonomous person, you'll see more easily what you need of your relationship and if you're going to get it there.
Every one of us needs to take responsibility for our own happiness. We have to develop our passions, look for our needs, and have a life of our own. Yes, we can share that life with another man, but we should never live exclusively for the sake of that relationship.
By working on yourself and your autonomy, you'll be more confident to talk to your partner about making some changes to your dynamics. You can start by defining some boundaries and making tiny twitches here and there. There's a great chance he's not even aware you're unhappy, and making those changes will make him happy too. Although ending your relationship can be the final and definitive solution if things don't seem to change, especially if it's an abusive relationship that threatens your integrity.
Don't forget to ask for help if your psychological, emotional, or physical integrity is at stake. Yes, relationships can be fixed, but it's you who decide if it's worth the hard work in the first place.