It often feels as if the world is made for couples. Hotel rooms are usually cheaper for two; it’s not much fun eating a ‘sharing platter’ for two on your own; and on Valentine’s Day, everyone and their dog is all cozied up with a significant other.
An innate fear of being alone is largely responsible for people staying in unhappy relationships long past their sell-by dates. We humans are biologically programmed to be together; we hate being alone and although it’s no fun living with an abusive partner, the social stigma of being alone is often perceived to be worse.
Being in a toxic relationship is incredibly lonely. Your partner has probably put a lot of time and effort into isolating you from your family and friends. It can also be difficult to leave when you have children and a home together, and for women whose partner is the main wage earner, it is very hard to leave without any financial resources to ease the transition.
The bad news is that staying in an unhappy relationship is not only soul destroying – it is also bad for your health in a number of ways.
Heart Disease and Unhappy Relationships
Staying in an unhappy relationship is actually bad for our health. Research has shown that people in stressful relationships marred by conflict and unhappiness are much more likely to need heart surgery, have heart attacks, or die because of heart problems.
Poor Mental Health
Unhappy relationships also contribute to a breakdown in mental health, which is no great surprise. People who are unhappy with their partners are more likely to be depressed. Being subjected to negative behaviors such as endless criticism, hostility, and put-downs also affects a person’s mental health; often to the extent that their self-esteem takes a severe beating and they don’t have the confidence to leave.
Stress Related Illness
Being in an unhappy relationship has a number of physical effects on our bodies. We are more likely to suffer from stress related illnesses, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and digestive problems. Living with constant stress also puts huge pressure on the adrenal glands, which in turn affects the body’s immune response. Eventually, the immune system stops working properly, which means you will pick up every bug doing the rounds.
Longer Recovery Time
Hopefully you won’t be diagnosed with a serious illness, but if you are, the added stress of being in an unhappy relationship is likely to negatively impact on your ability to recover from disease. Research carried out on breast cancer patients found that people in stressful relationships had a worse recovery trajectory than patients in supportive relationships.
If any of the above sounds familiar, it is time for you to make an honest assessment of why you are staying in an unhappy relationship. Nobody deserves to be unhappy with his or her partner, so instead of making do with a massage Montreal when you work away from home, maybe it’s time you started planning your exit strategy.