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Sex + Relationships

Relationship Guide 101: Why Is It Hard To Breakup?

Relationships are delicate, exhilarating and not the simplest things in the world. Maintaining a lovable relationship can be trickier than one can fathom. Things progress magnificently, you two get along just fine, the chemistry is indisputable, the urge to be in constant contact is flattering, and therefore, the sparks fly all over the place. It seems pure bliss for as long as you can remember. But like anything in this world, your relationship too turns topsy turvy. There might be times when the unpleasant instances would overtake the good ones. Constant fights, bickering, never-ending arguments, and incessant door-slamming over anything and everything is what your relationship suddenly becomes all about. The relationship turns increasingly toxic, loses its essence, and yet for whatever reason, you prefer to stay back and attempt to hold on to it.

We all have had an ex that we cannot seem to flush out of our minds. Why can’t we let go of someone even when we know they’re not good for us? Why do we feel the urge to stay and hold on to a relationship when it’s evident that it’s over and no matter how hard you try, the crack is never going to heal? What drives us to place ourselves through this? Why do we deny that the relationship has ended?

The underlying reason might be the fear of being alone or losing the level of comfort one has with their partner. After being together with a person for too long, it’s easy to forget what being single or alone feels like, especially if you haven’t prioritized yourself from early on while maintaining a certain level of independence. And if things are not toxic round the clock, you try to overlook the bad parts, or block them out and use it as an excuse to stay as there are still some happy moments even if the bad ones overpower them. Since people get habituated to their partners, they forget what it’s like to be without them. Sometimes, they also prefer to stay because they think they haven’t tried enough. This guilt of not having done enough motivates them to give themselves and their relationship another chance.

But when we come right down to it, is it fear, comfort, or something deeper? According to studies, which were conducted to research the motivation behind staying in ‘unsatisfying relationships’, people decide to stay back for the sake of their partners. These studies considered individuals who were over ten weeks into the relationship and keen on breaking things off yet were reluctant to do so. As per studies, people are less likely to end a relationship if they feel their partner is more hooked on it, indicating an unselfish concern to preserve their partner’s feelings.

Another study conducted by researchers from the University of Minho, Portugal, suggested that two people are motivated to remain in an unhappy relationship if they had invested their time, effort and money in it. It is known as the ‘sunk-cost effect’ which suggests that if you have been investing a lot in your relationship, you’re seldom to let go of it and then you go on investing more in it. This process goes on forever and one gets tangled in the relationship.

But none of these reasons seems legitimate enough to put yourself into a den of disappointment with no light further. This leads one to think there might be some truth in what Stephen Chbosky said in his book, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. The quote that I resonated the most with while reading the said book is ‘We accept the love we think we deserve.’ 

But why do we do that? That is a complex subject that is open for discussion. However, I feel it’s very closely linked with our self-worth. We accept the love we expect we deserve, supported by how we feel about ourselves. So, if you are not treating yourself with the love and respect that you deserve or crave, then it’s arguable whether you would demand the same from anyone else. Moreover, I feel one needs to appreciate how wonderful they are and therefore embrace the incontrovertible fact that actually others would be lucky to have them in their life.

If you treat others well and demand or require reciprocation of your actions, in the same way, you’re not being unreasonable and there’s nothing arrogant about it, it’s more about self-respect. But the point to dwell here is, if you’re not used to the love you deserve, you’re very unlikely to demand it. Because growing up we are taught to settle for things the way they are and therefore we accept the love we think we deserve, based on what we know of love and the love we are used to.

Deepa Bairi

Delhi North '23

Student at University of Delhi, New Delhi. She is an introvert who overthink every situation. She writes her heart out, during her free hours loves to paint and hum to Bollywood songs.
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