This week I’ve been pondering the nature of breakups. For decades, I joked with girlfriends that men, “always come back”. This means that after a breakup, for whatever reason, they just always seem to come back around.
Since most of my friends are women, this was a pattern that I noticed with the men in their lives (and of course, in mine too). It wasn’t until I got older and found myself circling back into the same relationship over and over again that I began to realize that this was not just about men.
Last week I had a session with a client who, during our previous session, told me she had ended a relationship with a man who turned out to be incapable of meeting her needs. When I asked her whether she’d had any contact with him since the breakup, I already knew she’d say yes.
This was not because of any judgment that I had about her, or even him. It just seems to be part of the relationship cycle.
It made me think about the statistic that it takes an average of 7 attempts for a woman to permanently leave an abusive relationship. I used to see this number as shocking until I found myself in an abusive relationship, struggling to leave and repeatedly going back.
I wrote a whole series of posts a few years back about why we stay in toxic relationships. I am thinking I need to dust those off, freshen them up and share them again.
However, the relationship that my client was in was NOT abusive. He was, it seems, simply unwilling or incapable of meeting her needs, and she had realized that she deserved more.
This made me start thinking about breakups in general. If that statistic is true about abusive relationships, what is the number of times it takes to end a relationship, period?? (Surely, someone has done this research.)
Why is it so hard?
Why do we always go back?
Just like in the case of abusive relationships, I am sure there is a long list of complicated reasons.
For instance, as a species, we just don’t have that much experience with it!
It has only been in the last few decades that divorce became a socially acceptable thing. For centuries, we didn’t even have the option. And by we, I mean mainly women. I think as a species – and as a gender – we are still really trying to figure it out.
In the meantime, our unconscious beliefs and barriers (or at least the ones imposed on us by our family, church, society, etc…) are impacting the relationships we find ourselves in and how we can or can’t end them.
I’d love to know your thoughts and experience with this idea:
Are you currently in a relationship that you know isn’t right for you?
Why do you stay?