It’s surprisingly difficult to find the strength to leave a bad relationship! You’d think it’d be simple (if you don’t like the way your boyfriend or husband treats you, then leave) but it’s actually quite complicated.
Here are some suggestions for leaving bad relationships, motivated by a woman’s question on my article about leaving abusive relationships.
First, a word from Gloria Steinem:
“If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?”
If your relationship doesn’t suit you, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to change! Sometimes the only thing that needs changing is your circumstances…and you have the power to make those changes.
If you want to compare your boyfriend to others — it can be fun and healing – read What Was I Thinking?: 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories
And, here are a few tips on finding the strength and courage you need to start a new chapter in your life…
How to Find the Strength to Leave a Bad Relationship
Deal with the fear that you’ll never be loved again. I’ve been stuck in bad relationships because I was scared nobody else would love me. I didn’t realize that there are plenty of good men who would love to love me, and who would be good for me! My self-esteem and self-confidence was rock bottom, and it held me back from moving on to bigger and better men. To leave your bad boyfriend, you need to build self-confidence.
Get rid of guilty feelings. Sometimes, women stay in bad relationships because they feel guilty, or don’t want to leave their boyfriends or husbands in a bad financial, emotional, or social situation. This is misplaced guilt and faulty reasoning! Don’t let negative emotions like fear of what people will think, fear of criticism, or guilt and shame keep you chained to a bad relationship.
Picture yourself a year from now. Where do you want to be living? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be loving – and who do you want loving you? Often, focusing on our goals – our wish list – can give us motivation and strength to do what we need to do…even if it involves letting go of someone we love.
Accept the help you need. Here’s a sobering thought from Gloria Steinem: “If women have young children, they are one man away from welfare.” But, accepting help from the government is far more preferable than staying in a bad relationship! When I was a kid, we were on the dole for huge portions of my childhood – and my mom was single, free, and independent (well, as independent as you can be when you rely on the state for support).
Start asking questions. “God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions,” said Steinem. “Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” Asking questions opens up new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new ways of being in the world!
Questions to ask yourself about life:
- Who am I now…and who do I want to become?
- If not now, when?
- Who do I admire?
- What did I want my life to be like when I was young, naïve, idealistic, passionate?
Questions to ask yourself about bad boyfriends:
- What am I getting out of this relationship, which I know is bad for me?
- Who is watching me in this relationship – my kids, nieces, neighbors, family members, friends? What are they learning about me, about life?
- What would I do about this relationship if I knew I would not fail?
You don’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. Just sit with them, let them simmer in the back of your mind. One day, you’ll be ready to make a decision to be strong and leave your partner…or be strong in a different way, and stay.
One last quotation from Gloria Steinem: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
Are you in a bad relationship, struggling to find the strength to leave? I encourage you to listen to your gut and your brain, and do what it takes to create a life that makes you happy and fulfilled.
If you aren’t sure if your relationship is “bad enough”, read 7 Signs Your Relationship is Worth Saving.
I welcome your thoughts on finding the strength to leave bad relationships below.