Bad Relationships Aren’t a Cure for Loneliness

by | Jun 4, 2019 | Connections, Emotional Intelligence, Men's Issues, Relationships, Self-respect, Vulnerability

Let’s get this out of the way early. Guys, if you want a happy and successful life, you must say no to bad relationships and walk away from them. Drop them like the bad habits that they truly are. As a therapist, relationship issues often dominate the lives of my clients and is at the center of their dysfunction and stress. I talk about this a lot, choosing bad relationships is the perfect way to bring chaos and problems to every other part of your life. You can’t choose your parents or your siblings but you can choose who marry and who you mate with. Certainly there are a lot of reasons why people choose bad relationships but the most troubling one is that they have a hard time with being alone, at the very least, they have a hard time with the idea of being alone.

Alone or bad relationship?

One simple indicator of good or bad mental health is whether or not a person is able to be alone. I’ve met people who are repulsed by the idea of being alone, in virtually any context. They’re not even willing to go have dinner by themselves. On a personal level, I have no concept of choosing a bad relationship, it’s just hard for me to wrap my mind around this because let’s be honest, when relationships are really bad, there’s little that’s worse. It’s extremely telling when a person says that they would rather be in a bad relationship. I believe that it speaks volumes.

I have never met someone who was happy, satisfied and abundantly successful who also prefers bad relationships over being alone. Building a successful life of personal excellence with a bad relationship would be like trying to build a house of cards in a wind storm. If you feel like you’re the type that prefers bad relationships then consider two questions: 1) Why do you prefer a bad relationship to being alone? 2) How bad does a relationship have to get and how bad does it have to be before you decide that you’re not willing to stay in it? In other words, what is your tolerance and threshold level? What are you willing to put up with and how far is too far?

The anatomy of loneliness

There’s a lot more to loneliness than being solitary and isolated. Bad relationships don’t really solve the loneliness dilemma, at least not very well. At the very best, it’s solving a problem with a problem. Sure, you may not be isolated or solitary and that’s the only benefit (if you can call it that). Instead of being isolated and solitary, you have resentment, mistrust, power struggling, jealousy and the like. What we need, as people, is emotional connection and intimacy. The type of connection that can only happen when we trust, exercise empathy and respect each other. Couples that have power struggles, fight and are just generally incompatible aren’t going to have closeness and bonding which is the fundamental definition of loneliness.

What happens when bad relationships end? It’s ugly, that’s what. It’s often a ‘get them before they get you’ situation. Couples fire all missiles and burn things down in order to punish their soon to be ex and where does that leave you? Feeling bitter, angry, hurt, mistrusting and stuck. It sets you back in life. The pit you have to dig yourself out of is deep and expensive and you’re going to be so much less likely to land that amazing relationship. Is this what you want to be setting yourself up for?

Bad relationships may provide some kind of temporary avoidance to loneliness but in the long run, only makes it worse. Much worse. Many people end up being isolated and solitary while also dealing with a crippling lack of trust and more baggage than a 747 but too many people mistake companionship for intimacy. The bottom line here, if you haven’t caught it yet, is that you can still be lonely when you’re in a relationship. We’ve all been in social situations and even in situations where we are surrounded by people and still felt alone. Bad relationships tend to leave people feeling far more lonely in the long run. In truth, they cause more harm than good.

Incorrect and limiting beliefs

Q: Why do people choose bad relationships before they choose loneliness?

A: False and limiting beliefs, of course. Here’s a short list of false or limiting beliefs that many people keep on a slow burn.

  • Being in a relationship, even a bad one, is what makes me valuable as a person
  • It’s not okay to be single
  • If I’m not in a relationship it’s because I’m a loser
  • Having a relationship will complete me
  • Being in a bad relationship is better than being alone

Making informed decisions

A lot of people fail to realize that with relationships, you can make informed decisions. Let’s say you were looking at a car that you really wanted. If you opened the hood and the engine was falling out of the bottom would you change your mind? Of course you would. As much as you really want the car, you’d make a decision to pass and realize that it has some serious problems you’ll want no part of.

The same is true for relationships. You can make informed decisions about women and relationships. Just because you feel attracted to someone doesn’t mean that you have to get involved or stay in a relationship with them. You can exercise some intelligence and know that someone is bad for you and that the relationship will be chaotic even though you may feel attracted to this person. Take the time to see it 5 years from now. I believe that is good advice for life. Making informed decisions. About everything. And while it’s easy to review data on making informed financial decisions and other things like this, informed decisions about relationships evade so many people but believe me, that information is out there.

Here’s the thing guys, a lot of people have this part of their lives figured out and if you think those people are a lot different than you, you’re probably wrong. It usually boils down to limitations that are just a matter of perception and not actual reality. You can get the right information and learn the right methods. You can graduate from the limiting beliefs if you want to. You just have to be willing to face some fears and put in some work. I promise that it’s worth it, you deserve to be in a relationship that makes you happy, not miserable.

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