Is it love? Why I stayed in an unhappy relationship

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They say that it is perfectly normal to be in an unhappy relationship from time to time. However, would it still be the case if you are in a long-term relationship but have already been down for a long time? 

One 26-year-old man on Reddit recently shared about his dull and unhappy eight-year relationship with his ex-girlfriend. He also sought public opinion on whether or not he should end his connection with her and how he would do so. He had never ended a relationship before and had no idea how to do so while reducing the girl’s suffering.

Ending eight long years of an unhappy relationship

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Before the Easter holidays, the man was already planning to end his long-term relationship with his girlfriend. They started dating at the end of high school as he was crazy about her back then. 

The first few years of their relationship were happy ones. According to him, “It was my first real relationship, so it was all new to me, but I did everything for her.”

After three years together, severe issues began to arise, causing tension in their happy and passionate relationship.

The girlfriend has an undiagnosed mental illness

The man said his girlfriend’s undiagnosed mental illness was starting to creep him out. 

“She’s experimenting with drugs, which only exacerbates the mental stuff,” he said in his post.

Aside from that, she was becoming increasingly distant. She has been known to skip out on him at parties and refuse to spend more time with him.

There came a time when she decided to suddenly break up with him. With no proper discussion and communication, the girl didn’t reach out to him for days. 

“I’ve always been an extremely strong person emotionally, but that broke me on a fundamental level as a human,” he said.

The torment he felt at the time surpassed any of his previous painful experiences. Despite his suffering, he decided to save and rebuild their relationship.

Weeks went by, and her mental condition was getting more unstable. However, during those times, the man was still clueless about what was happening to his girl as she refused to seek professional help. 

“I’ve tried everything in my power to help her, and she won’t help herself,” he said. “I’ve fought every day trying to make her and our relationship whole again, and it’s a losing battle.”

When the man realised he had been fighting alone the entire time, he wanted to call an end to the conflict. He saw his worth and realised how much he craved a better romantic relationship with someone else.

The breakup

After ending his eight-year-long relationship, the man’s long agony is finally over.

“After years of pain and trying to help her get help, I finally worked up the courage and just ended it,” he said in an update days after his original post. “I laid my heart bare, told her that I still love her and want her to succeed in life, but I can’t do it at her side anymore.”

According to him, he knew that their relationship wouldn’t last forever. After the breakup, he felt better than he has in years.

He has been able to smile and laugh again, and can socialise with other people again without his anxiety taking over. 

“It’s not selfish to choose yourself sometimes; You matter, too..”

After giving his last piece of love advice, the man did not forget to thank all the people that encouraged him to make such a brave decision for himself. 

What to do if you are in an unhappy relationship

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Unhappiness can take different forms. People in an unhappy relationship tend to stay together in the hope of going back to where they used to be. 

Things you can do to improve an unhappy relationship

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University. According to her, here are some strategies that can help improve your relationship. 

  • Recognise the problems

The first thing you should do is determine the problems in your relationship.

  • Is your relationship worth saving?

This entry requires you to admit what’s wrong. You need to decide if your relationship with your partner is still worth investing your energy in. 

  • Have an honest conversation with your partner

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Share the aspects of your relationship you would like to improve and ways in which you both contribute to its current status. 

  • Resolve problems together

Be solution-oriented. Keep in mind that you are not going against each other; instead, your partner is your number one ally. 

  • Don’t be afraid to take time away from each other

If things don’t get better, some time apart can provide a fresh perspective on the relationship. Time and space can create a new path – either alone or together. 

This article was first published in theAsianparent.