Why Do We Do This?

Why do people who clearly are unsuited to each other (and are usually well aware of the fact) stay together?

I can understand the thing about staying together for the sake of the kids, although I’d dispute that it’s frequently the right answer – even for the children themselves.

But why oh why do people who should obviously part and have no serious reason not to do so, still cling so desperately to the idea that it will somehow work out for them, when the last thing they have any desire left to do is even to cling to each other? So, what’s the point? What’s wrong with admitting defeat and going your separate ways and trying to be more discerning next time around?

There is something that many empowerment courses for women teach and that is that it’s fine to say, “No!” If necessary, say, “NO!!!” if it seems that the other person is unable to hear you. I think that, like many problems that women face, men often suffer from this same shortcoming too – they’re just brought up not to show their feelings as easily, so they tend to hide the fact better. I’ve said before that I don’t like “strident” women, but that’s not the whole truth because I don’t like strident people of any gender. It’s just that I normally like women more and I’m therefore more offended by such females. That said, the fact is though that standing up for what you want is pretty darned important and none of the above stops it being absolutely fine to discover that, in spite of what you once thought, even setting up home together, let alone staying together, is not a good idea after all. If that’s so, just say, calmly and as gently but firmly as you can, “No, I’ve changed my mind. I think it’s a bad idea and I don’t want to do it after all.”

I mean, you might feel a bit of a heel because you once told her/him you were in love with them, but that could well have seemed like the truth at the time – until you sobered up, or the happy pills wore off and you suddenly realised that another ten minutes with that person was not going to be your idea of fun, so the next fifty years had got to be a really bad idea! But there are a lot of people out there who know what they’ve said and simply gulp with fear, mentally kick themselves and then carry on – even to the extent of going through with marriage knowing full well they really don’t want to do it and should never have said whatever they did at the start!

My only claim to any sort of wisdom on this subject is a fairly long lifetime of experience and that keeps on proving to me that I should be bolder and more prepared to hurt someone I care about and perhaps once loved. I’ve rarely followed my own advice, but I have known in my heart in more than one relationship that it would have been better for both of us if we had faced reality much sooner instead of dragging out something that wasn’t right and then having to face exactly the same result in the end. I don’t mean that to be selfish or unkind, but more in the “cruel to be kind” category. If you are aware that you’re no longer in love and you want to end a relationship, whether you’re male or female, isn’t it better to just do it and face the consequences, whatever they may be? Sure that may be hurtful, especially if your partner at the time is still pretty stuck on you, but isn’t it preferable to get it over with and allow the healing process to begin, rather than waste the next ten, twenty, or more years being unhappy and almost certainly making your partner and even any offspring constantly unhappy too?

To me, it’s one heck of a lot better to have the courage (more courage than I’ve sometimes had) to hurt someone briefly once and allow you both to move on, instead of being cowardly and (even unintentionally) hurting them time and time again over years, however hard you try not to.

9 Responses to “Why Do We Do This?”

  1. As they say, breaking up is hard to do. But I think you hit it on the head– sometimes its hard to admit. In my case, way before I was married, I stayed in a few miserable relationships because I couldn’t admit my friends/parents they were right about the loser I was dating. I stuck it out to prove them wrong when I was the one, in fact, wrong but couldn’t admit it.

    As for my partners in less than perfect relationships, like you, sometimes I stayed too long. I wish I had the nerve and guts to have left sooner. They don’t teach that in school 😦

    Very thought provoking post. Now I’m thinking about my ex-boyfriends!


    • Hi JJ. Nice to hear from you again. Yes indeed, you’re so right and maybe they should teach a lot more in school about relationships – real ones and not the idealised and often religion driven junk they fill kids heads with at the moment that is frequently the beginning (I think) of our unrealistic expectations.

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  2. You ask some tough ones, Adam!

    I have witnessed and believe that there are as many reasons for people being/staying together as there are people. I’ve learned not to second guess them (unless there is abuse at hand) because of that fact.

    AND, there are so many partnership situations with which I could never live, that actually work (in some dysfunctional way) for the people involved. Decades ago, there were literally scores of people who thought my husband and I to be mismatched…

    As humans, we come ill equipped to marry and become parents. It’s all about how our self-esteem develops and how much we learn along the way….I’m rambling…..

    • Well, a touch I suppose, but I always did like rambling (walking in the countryside) 🙂

      You’re quite right, of course, but amongst those many reasons for couples staying together, there are one heck of a lot who are doing it out of habit, or fear, or simply cowardice in not having the courage (sometimes both partners) to call it a day and move on. That way we can quite easily “waste” a whole large chunk of our lives – and whatever your beliefs it is the only life we definitely know for sure that we have.

      Whilst it’s rare to say that a relationship was ever a total loss – if nothing else we hopefully learnt a bit about what we don’t want – but, now I’ve lived a large part of my life, I can so easily look back with the 20/20 vision of hindsight and ask myself, “Why didn’t we end that ten years sooner? What might we both have achieved if we’d only had the courage to face reality at the time?

      Thanks for commenting and taking the trouble to think about what I said – that’s what I so like the very most about the majority of you guys… 8)

      • The habit and fear reasons you write about are prevalent.
        Let’s take my mother, married to Satan (not my father) for 25 years. She was 75 years old and was overwhelmed at what it would take to leave the marriage, so she hid the fact that he was abusive and she endured. Until I discovered it and my husband and I literally pulled her out of that situation and brought her to live with us. Had we not discovered it AND faciiitated the moving/legal battle/living , she would still be there today. There is a lot of this same thing going on out there…but I realize it’s only a part of the problem.

        Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20!

      • Exactly. It’s often the daunting prospect of actually physically separating that holds people back, but there’s also the fear of being alone and much more – some people would seemingly rather be with an asshole (or Satan?) than with no one! Scary stuff.

  3. Nice article, great looking blog, added it to my favs.

  4. What a thought provoking question as I sip my tea…I dont know what makes people stay together either. I am sure it is a variety of reasons and I think the actual idea of finality and all it entails is a big factor. Or fear of the unknown. Or both. A dear friend of mine has wanted a divorce for two years but he doesnt want to have part time custody of his children so he stays. So sad because he is so unhappy but he is also making a choice. It baffles me but I am not living it…

    • Oh yes, I agree the reasons can be many and varied and I’m not trying to judge anyone or even trying to apply my values to someone else’s relationship – the strangest couples sometimes seem to work well together and good luck to them for whatever they get out of it.

      But it’s still very difficult to see why some people don’t just “bite the bullet” and make the split. Your example, though, is a sad but obvious one and we can only sympathise, eh?

      However, I do agree that there are those that shy away from the finality and certainly fear of the unknown plays a big part for some too.

      Maybe it’s sometimes a bit like this too?

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