Stuck in Bad Relationship Quicksand?

Out of anxiety or fear, guys sometimes reside in this perpetual state of limbo when it comes to figuring out if they want to stay put in their intimate relationship or marriage. Men make excuses for staying in bad relationships, like, “I don’t want to hurt her,” or “We used to be so good – there must be a way to get back to that point.” Do these questions reflect the truth of the matter, or simply make for excuses to keep us from changing a bad deal in our lives?

Often times, fighting relationships have a happy ending. And sometimes they don’t. Then there’s other times where a weird combination of the two gets created. Guys find themselves staying in relationships that they otherwise would have gotten out of a long time ago. Then, they make up all sorts of things in their head to keep them stuck in their bad situations, like quicksand. Men tread water to cope, as to not swim away or drown, but sometimes tread for some time, not necessarily unhappy, but comfortable enough not to make a change.

It’s hard to summon up the resources – courage, strength, intuition – to do a sea change in life, and negative relationships can truly be the hardest to break from. Even if we’ve gotten comfortable in our relationship suffering and misery, at least we’re familiar with it. It’s a security blanket. Change, on the other hand, is a whole separate thing. We’re not predisposed to change as human beings, and relationship adaptation is often times a  sea change that many guys are not willing to make. So, we grin and bear it, sometimes for several years or decades, and we hope for the best.

Time gets lost really quickly when we live in this state of relationship flux. When we live like this, we’re not listening to ourselves, or our true desires for intimacy and happiness. We deny both ourselves and our partner a chance to find happiness in another relationship, or just to simply to not be trapped in the current one.

Here’s some ways guys get stuck in bad relationships:

  • Fear kicks in, and we think “I’ll never attract someone like her/another woman/anyone else again.”
  • We “accept our fate in life” (victimization)
  • Money fear kicks in (e.g. finding a new apt./condo, front bills alone, split up furniture, paying child support)
  • We make excuses for ourselves and for her, and tell ourselves that our situation is better than it really is (we rationalize it)
  • Head takes over (logic), and heart gets banished (gut, or intuition). The two simply aren’t talking.
  • We “cope” with it, or avoid it altogether
  • We wait for her to break up with us
  • We tell ourselves that our partner won’t be o.k. on her own, or that we’ll devastate her if we break up the relationship.
  • We tell ourselves that it will damage our children by leaving, that there will be irreparable damage to them, so how could leave then?

Strong messages take over, like:
(a) Staying a “stand-up guy”
(b) Being a good relationship partner
(c) Feeling guilty
(d) Worried you’ll “hurt her feelings” by leaving
(e) All the above

Relationships are designed for happiness, and if you feel like you’re subscribing to the message that all relationships do is bring misery upon you, you’ve committed yourself to being stuck. There is relationship happiness out there for you, believe it or not. You can surely create the right type of relationship if you’re miserable now and want to make a change for yourself. There is hope, and if it’s not in your current relationship, maybe it’s in another one. It’s dealing with ourselves first that’s the hardest part.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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2 Responses to Stuck in Bad Relationship Quicksand?

  1. Fran says:

    This has been very helpful to me…recently I became involved in a joyous relationship with a man whose wife wanted a divorce after 30 years of unhappy marriage; we were very happy and proceeding well, then when she heard of this, she decided she wanted him back, and with her importuning him, he returned to her. From all he had exhaustively told me about their unhappy unfulfilling relationship, I was astounded (and of course very disappointed and hurt)…your blog on being stuck in relationship quicksand helped me understand why he would allow himself to be manipulated back into that bad relationship.
    Thank you. I wish he could read it…but it is not up to me to let him know this.

  2. Jason says:

    Thanks, Fran for your comments. I’m sorry to hear about your situation, and I hope this post shed some light on that for you. It’s tough when we’re used to doing things a certain way, without attending to those emotions inside of ourselves. Thanks for reading, and take care!

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