As Good As It Gets? The Problem With Staying in an Unhappy Relationship Out of Fear

May 16, 2012  |  

It’s been said that love is a dangerous necessity, a world class mystery.  No one is its master. Perhaps one can suppose that as doctors practice medicine and as attorneys practice the law, that individuals merely practice love.  As people hop in and out of relationships in search of love, it can certainly be said then that there is no one right way to behave in a relationship.  But while we acknowledge that no cookie cutter formula exists and that no absolute, definitive road to successful relationships has been paved, let us not be remiss in thinking that there are not approaches to relationships that we can absolutely and definitively file in the dead wrong department.

I’ve listened a lot lately to people speak about their relationships.  And while I, frankly, am much more comfortable in the platonic lane these days, I love love.  It creates great joy in my heart to see people who truly desire to be in committed relationships hopelessly and effortlessly in real love with people they’ve entrusted their hearts to.  As such, I’ve been struck by how frequently people are admitting that they remain in relationships not out of love but out of fear—fear that although they are not truly happy, that what they currently have just might be as good as it gets for them.

Some women remain with men who they aren’t excited about because they treat them well and have the ability to be great providers for their families.  Some men remain with insecure women who lack emotional maturity because they possess all the physical attributes that keep them visually and physically stimulated.  I’ve had women admit that there isn’t much compatibility between them and the man they’re dating, but say, “But I’ve never had anyone treat me this well before.”  I’ve also had men admit that it is hard to get past their woman’s childish and insecure ways but say, “But I’ve never had a woman who was on my level professionally AND came in a package that looked like this before.”  These same men and women have been extremely apprehensive to walk away from relationships that really aren’t working because they’re afraid that they may not be able to find the highly desirable traits they have in their partners with other people.

I certainly understand that there are those who come along and break the mold.  They are game changers, and once the game’s been changed, there really is no going back.  But ladies and gentlemen, we have to acknowledge that the mere fact that someone is a good catch does not always make them a great catch for us.  You can’t hold on to someone because they are the best you’ve had so far and you’re afraid that you won’t find someone comparable if you let them go.  Well, you can, but you probably shouldn’t.  Happiness is paramount, and if you aren’t truly happy…you can’t force it.

I am a firm believer that people can have whatever it is they believe they can have.  If you believe a person that you really should leave is the best you may ever have, it’s likely you’ll never have better.  But imagine what possibilities would exist if you’d rather choose to believe that if you had it once, you can have it again…and maybe even better?  Imagine who could come into your life if you’d simply change your perspective?  Instead of having the attitude that you may be losing out on a good thing, use your experiences with this man or woman as proof that people like him or her do indeed exist and that they happen to be attracted to you.  Although your current relationship won’t last, you know now that a relationship with a man who treats you extremely well is possible.  Or, you recognize that your bad chick game has just been upgraded.  You can rest in that and move on with joyful anticipation of what is to come.

When you find the person who truly melts your butter, we’ve agreed and voted that you make your own rules in your practice of love.  But, let’s agree right now that this whole staying in relationships because you’re scared of the what-ifs business is wack and should be filed away in the dead wrong department we talked about earlier. Why? So you can give yourself a chance to truly be happy.  Pinky swear?

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  • Pingback: Their Hearts Say Move Along, Their Minds Say Gotcha Heart, Let’s Move It Along…As Good As It Gets: The Problem With Staying in an Unhappy Relationship Out of Fear | songofherself()

  • BeckyT

    This sounds great on paper, but it is a fairytale! I divorced my ex husband 7 years ago based on this premise, and every man I have dated since has been a nightmare. I should have stayed where I was. 

  • yea yea

    pinky swear 

  • thisarticlewasaboutme!

    What if there is a child involved? 🙁

    • me

      the same rules apply. rather be single and happy and raise your children than force it because if u are unhappy, it will also harm ur kids

  • FStubbs

    The flip side of the question is … are you asking for too much? 

    • BrooklynBorn

      i’ve only heard that from people who don’t want to give you what you ask for and want you to settle for they bs. what one person won’t do it will be too easy for someone else.

  • cin

    Nice, concise article.  Perfect timing for me – it’s been about 3 weeks and at least 3 years of mulling over whether or not I had the courage to move on for that reason alone:  happiness.  Being ‘good enough’ didn’t seem fair to either of us.  Letting go was rough, but I have no doubt we will be better people because of it – well, I for one have learned many lessons.

  • november rain

    This needs to be plastered on a billboard somewhere. 

  • Great article! Short, sweet, and empowering! Never settle for less than what you know you deserve and will make you happy.