People are designed to connect and help others. We often feel comfort when interacting with others. We seek warmth, happiness, and fulfillment in knowing others are there for us. Sometimes our choices are rewarding; other times they fall short. The thing is that it can be tough to determine what will work and what won't. We tend to use our emotions instead of our brains to choose the right mate. This leads us to select the type of person we want and not the kind of person we need to push us to be a better person.
However, there is a lot more that goes into forming connections with someone than just making a choice. Frequently, relationships that start on the right foot can hit some bumpy spots along the way. The ups and downs are typical in most relationships and should be expected. If they start to seem more frequent and last an extended amount of time, you might have to ask yourself if this connection is right for you.
Keep in mind when you are in a relationship, between the ages of 20-30, adults will change an average of 5 times. Meaning our goals, wants, needs, views for every decade after we will change one time. Relationships will naturally progress and change, trapping yourself in a relationship can be a time-waster.
Let's look into what happens if things seem to be going well at the beginning of a relationship and how we get trapped or stuck so easily. The goal here is to see the signs and stop them or get out before we get trapped.
What is a Relationship Slave?
A relationship slave is someone who feels stuck and can't leave a relationship. They basically trusted and gave all the power to the other person. The easiest way to do this is by not bringing in money or not having transportation. The person that is the slave often isn't happy and wants to leave but has no way to provide for themselves on their own.
Why Do We Feel Trapped in the Relationship?
You most likely feel stuck in a relationship because one or both of you stopped progressing. I say this all the time. If you watched the same movie everyday, you could anticipate every line and move in the film. That doesn't sound exciting to me. Over the years, I have been in a few relationships that I felt stuck, or they just felt dead, and as I reflect, I asked myself what happened and why did they fail.
The standard answer that I came up with is that one person got comfortable and content in the relationship; they were okay with just how it was. The growth stopped; they didn't want to push into the next chapter of life. They didn't get new hobbies or grow the hobbies they already had; they stayed in the same job; they didn't interact with friends or new friends to have unique stories to tell. Often, we feel stuck when we know every move of our partner. You ask yourself where are we going? So to answer the question, the reason you feel stuck in your relationship is because of you are flat out bored. It's just not going in the direction you are hoping.
Reasons You're Stuck or Become a Slave in Your Relationship
The reasons we get stuck in a relationship, often we give all the power to someone else. In the cases that I have seen, this happens when women give up all the power to the man.
I have seen this when the couple has a new baby, and the mom quits her job to stay home to take of the baby. I am not saying anything is wrong with this, but this is how the power exchange happens. So now the father of the baby is bringing in all the money, the mom has NO money to leave. So if things start to go south, her means to leave have been cut off or altered.
We might even stay in a relationship that has lost life is because we don't want to leave because of the children. Maybe our parents went through a bad divorce, and we don't want that for our children. Now, we feel stuck because we are forced with a choice we don't want to face.
We also might not believe we can make it on our own; we are codependent; we might not have ever been on our own before. We could be hiding our insecurities and shortcomings by serving others. We see value in helping others over doing what is best for ourselves. We might need to heal our inner child to find out why we feel the need to stay in a situation that isn't benefiting us. (Check out my Inner Child Healing book on Amazon.com)
How to Prevent Yourself from Becoming Trapped
Let's look at some ideas that will help us not be trapped in a relationship if things start not to work out so well.
1) If you're not in a relationship yet, my best advice is never stop bringing in some type of income. If you are in a relationship and you aren't working, then find a way to make money. Take back that power. (Once you stop bringing money that gives all the power to the other person).
2) Keep separate checking and saving accounts. You can have a joint account if you're married to pay bills only. It is vital that you have your own savings so that you can save money that the other person can't touch. This gives you a way not to feel trapped. Also, this is a way you can leave, if needed.
3) Don't combine your names on bills. I see this often with young couples. If you aren't married, there should be no reason to consolidate bills. If the relationship is to fail, then it is a lot more challenging to split the bills. A lot of the time, the couple has a contract so one person has to keep paying the bills to keep their credit clean. It might have been the other person's responsibility to pay that bill but now that they have broken up and that person decides not to pay the bill, the other person has to pay to keep it off their credit.
Signs your Relationship is Stuck
You feel drained and unhappy in your relationship
You feel like no one is listening and you are talking to a wall
You feel controlled or put down
You feel like you are a slave or restricted in your relationship
You spend your relaxing time or free time worrying about the relationship
You feel much happier when your partner isn't around
You feel that you don't have a voice; your opinion doesn't matter, no rights
You think undervalued and nothing you do is appreciated
Everything is your fault and you take the blame
You never have time for friends, family, or most importantly, yourself
You find yourself doing everything for the kids; you feel like a single parent
You are verbally abused or put down by your partner
You have been cheated on, threatened, or abused at least one time during your relationship
How to Free Yourself from a Relationship Slave or Feeling Stuck.
Come up with a plan. If you're already in too deep and feeling stuck, let's talk about some ways you can get back on your feet and retake power. First thing, you have to determine what you are going to do. Do you want to work on the relationship, or do you wish to terminate it and move on?
What steps will you take for both of these options? What are the possible outcomes? You should focus on the desired outcome that you chose, but you should always have a backup plan in case things change. It's generally a good idea to have a plan B when making a significant life change, for both the planning and execution to have multiple routes to go. Most likely, you will hit a roadblock and have to be ready to adapt on the fly.
"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful." ― Mark Victor Hansen
The quote above is part of the grit growth mindset.
Come Up with the Obstacles to Change. Who or what is preventing you from getting closer to what you want to change? Are your hurdles internal or external? Do you have the power yourself to control or influence them, or are they completely out of your control?
For example, do you have a binding agreement that you can't change or is it financial insecurity that will be fixed by getting a second job? You might have to enroll the kids into a new school or alter your work schedule. These are the kind of things you want to identify and write down. Being aware of what is preventing you from meeting your goal will help you better achieve it.
Identifying People Affected. After you developed a plan, you want to make a list of people that this will affect and can influence you. When life changes happen, people will be affected by your choices; this is normal and okay. The idea here is to identify who will be affected so that you can be aware of the change. This will help you moving forward so you won't be caught off guard. Examples of people that could be affected are: partner, partner's family, children, your family, co-workers, church or religious groups, people in the church. Every list is going to vary from person to person, so really take some thought when doing so. It would help if you recognized the obstacles so that you can eliminate them.
Following Through with the Plan. In this final step, you can feel confident and aware of knowing what you need to do. After planning and preparation you have put in, you are ready to put your plan into action to move towards your outcome.
Remember there will be ups and downs, the road will get bumpy before it smooths out again. In addition to some unknowns and things you can't see, keep moving forward and you will get there. If your relationship is wearing you down instead of benefiting you and giving you strength, then you know it is right for you to make the necessary changes.
Life is too short for both parties not to be happy.