Psychology Explains Why People Feel Stuck in a Relationship

Psychology Explains Why People Feel Stuck in a Relationship

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There are many reasons that people feel stuck in a relationship. When anything other than being romantically attached is keeping you from leaving, you are likely feeling stuck. It’s unfortunate when a relationship reaches this point, but it can happen over time.

Feeling stuck is when you no longer have romantic feelings for your partner, but you stay anyway. Whatever your reason may be, from loyalty to something else, it causes a feeling of being stuck in a relationship.

It may be hard to understand why you or someone else stays when the romantic attachment is gone. Never the less, it happens often. Even the reason that feeling stuck happens in relationships is hard to figure out.

While it may be hard to accept or pinpoint the reason for feeling stuck, there are now answers. Psychologists have figured out why people feel stuck in a relationship, helping you to understand, too.

Why People Feel Stuck in a Relationship

stuck in a relationship
Through a study of both married and unmarried couples, researchers began to identify why people feel stuck. It was quickly discovered that many of the participants described feeling stuck in their relationship.

From that discovery, the researchers decided to study how and why certain things keep a couple together. They began by defining what it means to be stuck and determined that at least one of three instances would occur. These instances include:

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-feeling like you shouldn’t have stayed in the relationship for this long

-taking a long time to end the relationship, even after you have decided to

-feeling uncertain about being with that person

The feelings mentioned above likely won’t be there at the beginning of the relationship. Usually, the relationship starts great, and both people are happy.

As the relationship continues positively, you will form a deeper connection, sense of loyalty, and entanglements. Then, once the happiness and positivity fade, this all leads to feeling stuck in a relationship. With all of the obstacles that will have to be overcome, it may seem impossible or hard to leave it behind.

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By continuing the relationship instead of facing the obstacles, you are only making the situation worse. It allows more and more constraints to occur, causing you to feel even more stuck than before.

What Causes Partners to Stay

Here are some reasons people stay together.

1 – Financial Instability

When a couple pays bills together and buys things for the home together, finances are easier to manage. So, when you do the math and realizes how much more income will go to bills when only one person contributes, it causes some anxiety about leaving.

It causes a complete lifestyle change, and some people can’t afford to make it alone. This financial problem can prevent them from leaving when they become unhappy.

If the person feeling stuck is the one who makes more money, they may worry about their partner. They may realize that the other person would struggle financially if they left. This often stems from feeling obligated to take care of their partner or from a sense of loyalty.

2 – Children

Having children with someone is a leading reason that people stay in a relationship. Uprooting the children or disrupting their lives is a serious concern for most parents. Plus, parents want a stable home for their children and don’t want them to experience being in a divorced family.

Another reason children play a role in couples staying together is because of co-parenting. Even if you leave someone, when you have children together, that person will still be involved in your life. Plus, this would mean you probably have to share parenting time, giving up precious time with the children.

3 – Loyalty or Obligation

A huge reason that couples stay together even when the romance has faded is out of loyalty. They may also feel they are obligated to stay for financial or other reasons. The longer a couple has been together, the more likely this scenario will occur when the romance fades.

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4 – They Got Serious Without Thinking It Through

Sometimes, when a relationship seems perfect in the beginning, couples move too quickly. They begin forming bonds and connections too early in the relationship that is not easy to undo. Instead of staying together for a while and thinking about taking big steps, they act on impulse.

This could mean moving in together early in the relationship or having a baby before truly knowing one another. It could also mean getting married quickly and beginning the married life before they were ready.

Once the excitement and perfection of the new relationship fades, however, feelings can change. This is unfortunate in these instances because it can be hard to get out of a lease or separate possessions. Even more serious is when a baby is involved because it requires co-parenting and continued connection.

Oftentimes, when things moved too quickly, one partner will feel like they have sacrificed their dreams. They likely had to give something up to live the life they have with their partner. This can cause them to feel stuck once they have realized what has happened.

5 – Nostalgia

All relationships had happy times at some point, and this could be a reason someone stays. When times get hard, people will look back on all the good times and reminisce about the way they felt.

Sometimes you may even have good times again, making you rethink the way you feel. Just as quickly as the happy feeling returned, however, you will likely return to the feeling of being stuck.

stuck in a relationship
6 – They are Too Comfortable

Comfort in a relationship is important. If you have grown comfortable with someone, it could be hard to leave. Even when the romantic aspect of the relationship is gone, comfort often overshadows it.

7 – They Think There are too Many Obstacles to Overcome

Sometimes, it isn’t simply one or two obstacles preventing someone from leaving. They may have many things to overcome, making it seem impossible to get out of the relationship.

Inspiration to your Inbox

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How to Become Un-Stuck

As easy as it is to start feeling like you are stuck in a relationship, there are a few ways to get rid of this feeling. If you feel like you are stuck, you have to take action in some way.

1 – Make a List and Rank All the Important Things in Your Life

When you do this, you will be forcing yourself to think of what is most important. If there are things high on the list that you can’t do while in your current relationship, it will be an eye-opener for you.

You could also list the things you want in life and the things you believe they want. If the views don’t align, you must consider that maybe it’s time to walk away.

2 – Plan a Way Out and Act on It

Before any further obstacles can occur, you need to make a plan and get started. The sooner you get out, the less there will be to overcome in the process. Remind yourself that you can walk away, and you can make it without the other person.

3 – Reflect on the Good Times and Reconnect

Sometimes, you aren’t able to walk away from someone, however. The obstacles that are in place may prevent you from leaving. You may not even want to leave, even if you feel stuck, because you want things to be good again.

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When this is the case, you should think back on the good times. Remind yourself of the reason you fell in love in the first place. Recall your happiest moments and the way you felt at that time in your life.

Talk with your partner about these things, and remind each other why you formed a life together. Then, try to stop thinking about how you feel stuck or why you can’t leave. Instead, focus on the happier times and try to reconnect in that way, again.

If you can’t leave, you might as well make the most of it. When you reconnect and rekindle positive feelings, you may find that your relationship isn’t as bad as you thought. Your partner will likely be just as happy with the reconnection as you are.

4 – Avoid Forming Obstacles Too Soon

When you begin a new relationship, go slowly. Don’t be afraid to take your time as you get to know your partner. By doing this, you will let the excitement of a new relationship fade away and reveal what the relationship may look like long-term.

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Then, once you have settled into the relationship slowly, you can assess. If you find any hints of wanting out, you can walk away freely without dealing with any obstacles.

stuck in a relationship
Final Thoughts on Why People Feel Stuck in a Relationship

As you can now see, there is psychological research to back up why people feel stuck in a relationship. There are many reasons someone might feel this way, and figuring out the cause is essential if you want to fix it.

Once you have figured out the cause, you can evaluate what is most important to you. Then, deciding if you should take action to leave or to fix things will become easier.

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Sarah Barkley is a lifestyle blogger and freelance writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Literature from Baker College. She is experienced in all things related to parenting, marriage, and life as a millennial parent, but loves to learn new things. She enjoys the research that goes into a strong article, and no topic is off-limits to Sarah. When she isn't writing, she is immersed in a book or watching Gilmore Girls. Sarah loves reading classic novels but also enjoys a good thriller.

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