When Fear Says "Stay"

Heartbreak, Self

Practical solutions to overcoming your fear and ending an unhealthy relationship.

Fear is a powerful force. It can paralyze you, motivate you, or make you question your ability to make wise choices. If you're in a relationship and wondering if its time to get out, how can you decide to leave when you're afraid to do so?

I'm all about HOPE. In most cases, there is an endless supply of hope for healing. Whether you're in a relationship that has been filled with joy or filled with pain, hope is there to pull you forward, motivating positive changes and giving you joy. However, sometimes the most healthy thing is to end the relationship. Sometimes hope is all about starting anew, building a life without your partner. This can be painful, and can be downright frightening. One of the biggest challenges facing those who are trying to decide if its time to end a relationship is what I call the FEAR FACTOR. You may be afraid in your relationship, yet afraid to leave. Here's some questions to ask yourself.

When you take a solid look at your relationship, can you honestly say that you have given what you can and not received back what you need?

Is your partner more about using you than loving you?

Do you feel taken advantage of, used, or discounted?

Does your partner show signs they they're unwilling to work toward resolution of your relationship challenges?

Do you hear messages that you're not acceptable? That you need to lose weight or change your style or walk away from your family or give up your friends?

Is your partner selfish and self-centered?

Has there been infidelity in your relationship that your partner is unwilling or unable to stop?

Have you been abused physically, emotionally, or spiritually?

Deciding when to end a relationship is tough, and often comes at a time when you're not feeling strong. Facing abuse, selfishness, or apathy from your partner can leave you feeling unable to move forward, undeserving of something better. You may be struggling with depression, anger, or feel near giving up. Taking that first step to freedom can feel overwhelming!

What are you afraid of? The list may be long. You may be legitimately afraid of financial challenges, feel emotionally bankrupt, experiencing depression that saps your strength. There may be children to worry about, friends who are judging and telling you what to do, and bridges that have been burned.

There is HOPE!

Even if you've come to the realization that its time to end your relationship, YOU are not a failure. That FEAR FACTOR is powerful, yes, but it can be used as motivation to move forward in a healthy direction. You can reclaim who you are, the core of you, the person you wish to be.

When you've hit the wall, faced your fear, and made the decision that its time to move on, grab these suggestions and take one small step forward.

  1. Plan ahead. Rather than making a move in anger or desperation, take time to plan carefully, especially if you are leaving an abusive relationship.
  2. Grab hold of people in your life who are willing to offer tangible support. If you've gotten to a place where you feel as though you have no one to lean on, reach out. Join a parents group, a singles group, or a faith-based group. Sign up for a class. Find others who are facing a similar challenge and give encouragement.
  3. Find a coach or counselor who will walk with you through the fear and give you concrete suggestions and moral support as you face this tough time.
  4. If there are children involved, gauge their ability to understand the coming changes. Children respond to your emotions whether or not you give them information - much better to let them know about the change, unless telling them would put you, or them, in danger.
  5. Explore options, make your plan, open a separate savings account, then MAKE THE MOVE!

No matter how beat down you feel by being in an unhealthy relationship, healing is real, and very attainable! Fear has kept you stuck, has kept you with someone that its now time to move away from. Let that fear get your attention. Let the fear of making a change motivate you to plan carefully. Grab support, then take that first step forward. The human heart is amazing, and often people who end an unhealthy relationship will remember the good times fondly - don't let rose-colored glasses send you backwards! 

If you've come to the end of hope within your relationship, grab hold of hope for healing and building a better life. You deserve it!