Emotional Wellbeing



Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

Trapped in an unhappy relationship?



Stay or go?

It seems illogical to stay in an unhappy relationship that leaves you miserable more often that not yet many of us do just that. There are so many complicated reasons behind why we stay in situations that bring us down. They range from financial loss to preferring the familiar to the unknown. The common denominator though is fear. Fear of being lonely, fear that we won’t find anyone else, fear of regret and fear of loss.

It is common to catatstrophise (think of the worst possible outcomes) as well as try to predict the future when thinking about leaving an unhappy relationship. By default, we tend to focus on all that could go wrong instead of all that could go right. We use a negative filter when envisioning our future life alone.

It’s important to stay as balanced as possible when thinking about your current situation and your possible future. Ask yourself questions such as, “What will the cost be to me if I give up on a future that might be happier and decide to stay in this unhappy relationship?”.

Life involves risk. Do a risk assessment. Decide how unhappy you are in your relationship from 0 to 10. If you are completely miserable give yourself ‘0’. If you are ecstatically happy, give yourself a ’10’. Then decide how often you feel miserable. If you score below 5 on both then you should seriously consider your options.

Life is short

Life is not a dress rehearsal. One of the main regrets people have when looking back over their lives is that they didn’t try more things or take more risks. Life doesn’t have to be that black and white either as there are many ways to get our needs met. It doesn’t always have to be between two choices of ‘stay’ or ‘leave’ when you are in an unhappy relationship. Perhaps you can identify what needs are not being met in your relationship and find other ways to get these needs met?

Of course, the first port of call is your partner. Tell them why you are unhappy and see whether you can work through your issues – perhaps try couple counselling. If that doesn’t work, branch out a little. Take up hobbies, make new friends. This might breathe new life into your relationship. If this doesn’t work you owe it to yourself to seriously consider a different future – one where you can spread your wings and become what you were meant to be. I see so many clients who have stayed too long and are trapped in an unhappy relationship. They have become ‘shells’ of their former selves. They are cynical and don’t trust the world. They believe there is no protection outside the relationship.


The more we love ourselves the less likely we are to accept misery and bad treatment from others. Unfortunately there is no such thing as guaranteed security anyhow. Your partner whom does not bring out the best in you may leave you one day or may develop an illness leaving you alone later in life. I don’t mean to scare you but I do want to get you to think from a different perspective. Self-reliance is a wonderful thing – you can do anything you put your mind to. Watch the self limiting beliefs (and these will be huge if you have lived in an unhappy relationship where you are criticised or have lost self-confidence) as they are beliefs that can be changed – they are not facts.

See life as an adventure and tell yourself regularly that you have come this far and that you will find a way to handle whatever comes your way. This is far more empowering. Focus on how strong you have been in the past, you are more resilient than you give yourself credit for!

Mandy X

For more information on couple counselling (Skype sessions also available) email Mandy: mandyjkloppers@live.co.uk



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