I have a friend who once asked me, “Why do I keep falling for the wrong guys?”
She was so honest in her question and I could see the pain in her eyes. Each time she goes through a heartbreak, she isolates herself and decides “it’s over with guys, I’m done trying.”
But before long, another man walks into her life and sweeps her off her feet. He says all the right things and does all those sweet little things that every lady dreams of. Slowly but surely, she opens up her heart and decides to love again.
“Maybe this time it will be different.” “Maybe he’s the one I’ve been waiting for.” And so, it’s all rainbows and butterflies for the first couple of months – everything is going on well.
Until life happens. The guy does something wrong – she forgives him. He does another thing – she forgives again. And it keeps happening until she feels she can’t take it anymore.
And there goes another breakup.
It’s a cycle that must be broken.
Sadly, this friend of mine is not alone. There are many ladies (and guys) going through such a toxic cycle of negative relationships.
If this is you, or you know someone like that, then I have good news for you – you have the power to break that cycle and start enjoying relationships that are deep, meaningful, and fulfilling.
What exactly is a negative relationship?
Simply put, a negative relationship is a relationship that does not satisfy you or make you fulfilled. There might be some things you like about your partner – and you two could have some really nice days.
But ultimately, you know that you’re not completely happy and there’s a constant longing for this happiness.
How to recognize a negative relationship (characteristics)
a). Fears, doubts, and suspicions: An intimate relationship is supposed to be full, free, and lovely. Whenever you have these feelings of fear & doubts, it’s usually a sign of something deeper. It’s always better to talk about these feelings and address them before they go too far.
For example: What are you afraid of? Why do you doubt your partner? Why do you suspect they may not be faithful to you? Understanding the reasons behind your fears and doubts will help you deal with them in a proper way.
b) Lack of trust: When there is no trust, you guys might as well just call it a day – because it is impossible to build a happy relationship with someone that you don’t trust.
So, question is: What happened to the trust and how was it broken? When did you lose that trust and how can you get it back? If you can’t find that trust, you’ll remain in a negative relationship.
c) Poor communication: As is often said, communication is the foundation of any relationship. If you cannot communicate effectively with your partner, then other parts of your relationship will suffer.
But if you can avoid certain communication mistakes, then you two have a big chance of building something special.
d) No emotional connection: In a negative relationship, you lose that special connection with your partner. You may not really be able to explain what is missing – but you just know that there’s something wrong with the “chemistry”.
e) Jealousy and manipulation: These two usually go together. Some people say that it’s okay to have a little bit of jealousy. But what really happens is that the “little bit” becomes “very much” – and it all goes downhill from there.
A jealous partner will always try to manipulate you and bend you to follow exactly what they want. That’s another sign of a negative relationship.
f) Other hints: Some other signs that show that you are in a negative relationship include:
=> Constant arguments and fights
Why it’s difficult to leave a negative relationship
I have a friend who was with a physically abusive partner for more than 4 years. Keep in mind – they were not married.
Another lady I know had a guy who cheated on her at least once every 2 months – and she knew about them. Yet she stayed with him for 3 years before finally leaving the relationship.
Why do people stay so long before breaking up from a negative relationship?
Here are some reasons why people find it difficult to break away.
a) Anything is better than nothing: This is the fear of being alone. It makes you settle for less; telling yourself that it is better to be with anyone at all than to be left alone.
b) Maybe they’ll change – I’ll work on him: It’s an illusion to think that you can change someone. They must have to decide on their own. But most times we find it difficult to let go because we believe that we can change the person if we try hard enough. And so, we just remain in that unhappy relationship.
c) You invested so much into the person: You may feel that you have given so much to the relationship and therefore you “can’t just walk out without trying to make it work”. You think about all the time, energy, money, and moments – and it feels like a waste to leave all of that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should run away at the slightest misunderstanding – but you must know when it’s time to move on.
d) You committed too quickly: I see so many people commit to each other rather too quickly. They have sex at the first opportunity, make promises to be together “forever”, and introduce each other to their families. And then, when they start seeing the real, unpleasant character of their partner, they find it difficult to leave because they feel so committed.
e) Who else can love me like this? This is a question I hear all the time. “Who knows if I’ll find someone better?” “What if no one loves me like this?” “I know that I’m suffering but who knows what is out there?”
All these questions come from a fear of the unknown; and sometimes, a feeling of inferiority. Whatever the case, we just remain in that painful relationship.
I remember a lady that said this to me, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. I answered her, “Yes, that’s true. But he is not a bird.”
This mentality works in business, finances, and several other aspects of life. In a relationship, don’t settle for less by playing safe and trying to protect the “bird” you caught.
f) What will people say? Public opinion can make someone stay in a relationship that is not good for them. It may be family opinion, friends, or colleagues at work.
“They will think I’m a dog jumping from one lady to the other.” “They will bring my private life to the office and it will affect my job.”
Therefore, they prefer to stay with the person and keep pretending that all is well.
g) Manipulation & Threats: It’s not in every situation that people willingly remain in negative relationships.
Sometimes, they want to leave but are being threatened by their partner to remain. In other words, they’re more like a hostage in their relationship.
This one is a complicated situation and should be handled differently by seeking help and talking to the right authorities.
How to break the cycle of negative relationships
a) Recognize red flags and leave immediately: There are some behaviors that are an absolute NO for you.
When you see such traits in your potential partner, don’t tell yourself that you’ll work on him and he’ll change. Instead, run immediately before you guys get committed to each other.
As you learn to choose more wisely, you’ll notice that you gradually start attracting the kind of people you want in your life.
b) Don’t make excuses for them: I remember this lady who was dating a guy and they were considering marriage.
While they were still dating, she caught her guy cheating on her, RED-HANDED! This happened on 2 different occasions. Rather than walk away, she simply said it was a mistake and decided to stay and “fight for her man”.
So, they got married. Well, it turns out that “her man” actually had three other ladies who were “fighting for him”. Now she’s crying and asking for advice ‘cos the guy is still cheating even in their marriage.
My question: What did she really expect?
c) Stop committing too quickly: Breaking the cycle of negative relationships requires you to be more intentional in your decision-making.
I know, it’s very hard to think straight when you’ve just met someone you like and your emotions are all over the place. So, a lot of times, we commit quickly without really taking time to know the person and decide if we’re good together.
As soon as that initial excitement dies down and you start seeing the person for who they really are, you’re filled with regrets.
Slow down a bit, there’s no need to hurry.
d) Stop expecting failure: When you’ve been heartbroken many times over, you kind of just expect it to happen again in your next relationship.
So, you enter the relationship with a negative mindset, always on the edge. You’re constantly looking over your shoulder and waiting for the moment it will all come crashing.
Sadly, you don’t disappoint yourself…you get exactly what you expected – another heartbreak.
It’s time to change your mindset to one of positivity and fruitful expectations. Your thoughts are guided by what you expect, and vice versa.
So, if you want better relationships, drop the negative and think only the positive.
e) Become the kind of person you want: This point could have come first – but I put it as the last point so that you never forget it. You see, everything starts with you.
Make a conscious decision to keep improving yourself – and become the kind of person you’d want to date. I’d imagine you want someone who is caring, loving, kind, and affectionate, etc. Question is: Are you all of those things? If you were another person, would you date yourself?
In relationships, like attracts like.
You are often drawn to people who are either just like you, or are very similar to you. If you observe a pattern in the kind of people that are attracted to you, and you are not happy with those people, then you need to take a look at yourself first.