Do you know that you shouldn’t be with this person but something keeps pulling you back?
Are you asking yourself why you keep calling your ex even though you’re in another relationship?
Or why you continue to let someone abuse your friendship?
Or why one piece of cake turns into half the cake?
Being in an unhealthy relationship is not uncommon, nor is it limited to just people. You can have an unhealthy relationship with food, alcohol, or drugs. Whatever you’re locked in an unhealthy alliance with, the relationship is draining mentally, emotionally, and physically.
In my counseling practice I have helped many women untangle their unhealthy attachments by following the five steps I’ve listed below.
These crucial steps can also help you begin to move toward the freedom you long for.
- Discover the need. Until you understand what’s driving you in this unhealthy relationship, you’ll have little chance of putting on the breaks. So why do you reach out to that ex boyfriend? Have that extra drink? Continue to spend time with that abusive friend?We all have needs, what are yours? Perhaps you need a high level of social interaction and affection. If you are being starved, you will seek to meet this need in any way possible despite what you tell yourself. Discovering your needs can put you on a path to getting the need met in a healthy way.
This is often the most difficult step. If you need help drawing your why, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified professional.
- Have an accountability partner. A lone duck is a dead duck. You’ve already proven that you can’t pull out of this behavior on your own, so don’t try to go this alone. Recruit the help of a friend, a prayer partner, an elder in the church, or a counselor—someone whom you can share your struggles and who can provide you with some accountability.
No matter what happens, stay accountable to your accountability partner. When you disconnect from them too because you are feeling ashamed, you are a sitting duck.
- Metabolize the relationship. Not all relationships are all bad. We have a tendency to broad stroke our experiences as good, bad, abusive, etc. But the truth is that all relationships have many components.When you metabolize a relationship you ingest what you’ve experienced, you keep the good, purge the bad, and determine what you learned about yourself. This is the step that will prevent you from going into another relationship with someone simply because they have the opposite traits.
- Get healthy yourself. It is said that we only get into relationship with people who are emotionally at the same level as we are. If you are wondering why you keep finding yourself in unhealthy relationships, you may want to take a look in the mirror first. I’m not saying the person you are struggling with is without fault, but relationships take two. There is likely something unhealthy in you that keeps getting pulled into the dance. Become a healthy person and you’ll likely attract healthy people.
- Change your automatic thoughts. Every action you take begins in your mind. What were you thinking when you first formed this unhealthy attachment?If you say, I wasn’t thinking about anything, everything was great, you aren’t digging deep enough. Thoughts can be triggers, and they can be big or small.
What thoughts continue to lead you back? Do you keep going back to an ex-boyfriend because you are feeling lonely? Do you continually put up with an abusive mother because you feel guilty? Do you cling to relationships too tightly because you fear rejection?
Until you understand what you are thinking about, you will likely continue to succumb to the actions that are dictated by your thoughts.
Undoing the ties of unhealthy relationships is easier than you think if you are willing to take the steps necessary to live a life of freedom.
If you need help with letting go of an unhealthy relationship, please reach out. I’m here to help. If you like to read, I suggest that you check out Dr John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud’s book “Safe People”. It will give you a greater understanding of what you should look for in all of your unhealthy relationships