You need help because you’re stuck in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere . Here’s how to find courage and strength to get out of a bad relationship.
I wrote this article for a reader, who said: “I recently found out that my husband has been having an affair with an ex-high school girlfriend,” says “Lisa” on Is My Husband Lying About Cheating? 4 Ways to Tell. “Now he tells me that he feels empty and without purpose, and wants to save our marriage. I want to leave him because I know he’ll cheat again and I don’t trust him, but I’m scared. Help me!”
My first suggestion is to read Leaving Him Behind: Cutting the Cord and Breaking Free After the Marriage Ends by Sandra S. Kahn. She’s a psychologist with 13 years of counseling experience, and she helps women whose unresolved issues keep them stuck in bad relationships or marriages – even years after a divorce is final. Part of finding strength to get out of a relationship is learning how to leave the past behind. My second suggestion is to get in-person support from a counselor, support group, or trusted friend. If you want to get out of a relationship but you’re scared, you need to surround yourself with women who have survived and thrived after their marriages ended.
How to Find the Strength to Get Out of a Bad Relationship
Figure out what you’re getting out of the relationship. Many people – both men and women – don’t have the strength to end relationships, even when the relationship is bad, unhealthy, or going nowhere. The reasons for staying in bad relationships are different for everyone, and depend on the type of relationship it is. But, the bottom line is that there is a reason you’re staying with this person: you’re getting something out of it…even if it’s just protection from the discomfort of saying good-bye! The sooner you figure out your reasons for staying, the easier it’ll be to find the courage to end the relationship.
Learn about the different reasons for staying. Why do people stay in marriages, work partnerships, or love relationships that are going nowhere? Here’s a list of reasons; use it to figure out why you’re staying. Or, use it to help you brainstorm at least five reasons for not leaving.
Possible reasons you can’t find strength to leave:
- Fear of being alone
- Lack of motivation to find someone new (eg, a new hair stylist, better business partner, more suitable roommate, etc).
- Fear of not being loved or accepted by anyone else
- Feelings of low self-worth, or even self-loathing
- Concern about what friends and family will say
- Financial problems
- Poor role models (eg, parents or friends who lack courage to change their lives)
Figuring out why you’re staying in a loveless marriage may help you find the courage to get out of a bad relationship.
Let go of the need to control other people’s feelings. You can’t control how people – friends, family, or the person you’re breaking up with – will respond when you break off the relationship. You can’t control what they do, how they feel, who they tell, or how they think. That’s their business. Let it go. Focus on what you can change in your life, such as your own behavior and words, and your response to other people. This can involve protecting your boundaries despite criticism.
Think of a time when you did something that required courage. What was the most difficult, frightening thing you’ve ever done? Reflect on it for a few moments. Then, figure out what gave you strength and courage. For one woman, it could be a soul sister, a support group, or a parent. Another woman could find the courage to say good-bye in a book about self-confidence, or a particular issue of a magazine such as O, The Oprah Magazine (reading Oprah’s magazine is one of my favorite ways to stay authentic and grounded in who I am!). You need to figure out how YOU get your strength…and one of the best ways to do that is to recall when you’ve been brave in the past.
Ask women you admire about the source of their courage and strength. We can learn so much from smart, strong women! The women around us can help us build better, happier, more successful lives, even if we don’t know them personally. Take Nicole Kidman, for instance: I love knowing that a woman of her fame and fortune is as vulnerable as “normal” women are. She doesn’t know what the future holds, and has to strive to be positive just like we do. Her struggles and successes give me strength. If there’s a woman in your life that you admire, or one loved and lost, then talk to her. Gain strength and wisdom from her experience.
And when you’re talking to strong women, remember that sometimes the worst thing you fear could be the best thing that ever happened to you. An article like Was My Marriage a Waste of Time? The Silver Lining of Break Ups can help you see this.
Tap into your spiritual strength to find courage to leave a bad relationship. A solid inner strength can get you through almost anything – whether you’re feeling guilty about ending a relationship or worried about dissolving a business partnership. Spirituality or a reliance God, Buddha, or even Mother Nature can give you access to strength you didn’t even know you had. Find ways to maintain a strong connection between your heart, soul, and mind, and you’ll be stronger than you thought possible!
For more tips on getting out of a bad relationship, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
Do you have the strength to get out? I welcome your comments below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.