From log kya kahenge to the fear of loneliness, there are many reasons why women stay in unhealthy relationships. They have a tendency to stay in relationships despite being unhappy, even if they are aware of the toxic nature of it. But why? Where do women draw the line?
We asked 5 women, at different stages of life, about why they stayed in unhappy relationships for as long as they did. What they said really resonated with Dr Chand's insights!
There was pressure from people but more importantly, I had placed a lot of pressure on myself. I thought love could fix everything and lead us to happiness. But then I slowly began to realise that one doesn't naturally lead to the other. You constantly tell yourself that maybe this is how it is supposed to be, maybe this is just the process of fixing it and then you wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. But, the ugly fact is there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Once you come to terms with that, you realise the effort just isn't worth it.
- Samyukta Nair
When you're married, there is so much more in the picture than just your partner. So many other people in the equation you can't afford to hurt. From my children to my parents, I couldn't bear the thought of compromising their situation. I was financially and emotionally dependent on a person who was clearly not good for me. But after sticking it out for years, and talking to my husband about this, we have both reached a more peaceful stage and can co-exist in this relationship.
- Litika Jain
I was engaged to a guy. It was an arranged marriage but I did not feel appreciated or respected in the relationship. He would constantly put me down and make me feel less than average. Comments like "your work isn't important" or "I need you to be at my beck and call 24/7" became a part of my day. These are only some very mild examples of things I was subjected to every day. However, I stayed quiet for a really long time because things like log kya kahenge and my parents' izzat became a priority over my own happiness. I thought I'll work around it or help him change and become a better person (yeah like that was going to happen)! But one day, things got out of hand and I couldn't take it anymore. He had disrespected my parents publicly and that was the final nail. As long as it was me, I was keeping it together but I couldn't bear my loved ones being treated badly. I immediately told my folks that the emotional abuse was too much to take and I couldn't spend my life with this man. They didn't wait for even a minute before calling off the wedding. As it turns out, I was worried about nothing!
- Samantha Jones
Women are strong believers in fairy tales and perfect endings. Sometimes it can get hard to understand the reality of your relationship because you wish for it matches your expectations and refuse to see it for what it really is. Eventually, wishfulness isn't enough to keep you happy and you reach a breaking point. It's about coming to terms with the fact that there's so much more to life than a relationship gone wrong. You pick yourself up and you move on with your life.
- Prathna Malhotra
The connection was very strong; right from the beginning. He was everything I thought I wanted and looked for in a man. I used to tell him that he's perfect on paper. As strong as our connection was, we lacked compatibility. That, combined with a lack of commitment and a vicious circle of arguments became a pattern. We gave it four years, and when his folks still didn't seem to be happy for us, we decided to move on. He never stood up in front of them for me, no matter what they said. And when I did call his parents out for what they had said, he blamed me instead. That's when I decided that I couldn't do this for the rest of my life.
- Amrutha Mittal
To answer a few of the questions raised by these women, we spoke to Dr Maitri Chand, a marriage and family therapist for her take on this issue and her insights were reflected in the stories we heard from the women around us. She spoke about the inherent need we have to stick it out and willingness to make things work that often backfire.
According to her, at times the need also arises from something lacking while you were growing up, which is why you look at your partner to fulfil your parental needs. Dr Chand explains that while you may have a more formal relationship with your parents where you aren't so open about your needs, you can expect, and ask for, these things out of your partner outrightly. A failed relationship with your partner, in effect, reflects a failure of two sections of your life - the approval you needed from your parents and the love you needed from your partner. This is what makes women hold on to a relationship longer, to succeed on one front at least!
However, Dr Chand says that there is a threshold, a breaking point when it all falls through. Usually when the anxiety of staying in the relationship and making things work seems worse than being alone and by yourself. Which is when most women decide to leave.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of these women
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