5 ways of thinking that keep you trapped in a toxic relationship

5 ways of thinking that keep you trapped in a toxic relationship

Every relationship is always a thing of two. Even toxic relationships. This means that, in a sense, we too have helped make the relationship reach a point where it is unsatisfactory or even harmful. There are some ways of thinking that can keep us trapped in a toxic relationship, preventing us from severing the bond that binds us to the person, even if we are aware that that bond is harming us. Understanding biases in our assessment of what happens to us will help us take the final step.

How do we contribute to a toxic relationship through our prejudices?

1. Prejudice of the status quo

An old proverb says that a known evil is better than a good one to know. Conventional wisdom reinforces the idea that it is preferable for things to remain as they are, unless they are truly terrible. We are victims of the prejudice of the status quo, an irrational preference for the current situation.

Basically, when we establish a baseline, it becomes our point of reference and we perceive every change as a loss or a threat, even if it is a positive one. In fact, even in toxic and far from ideal relationships, we can find a precarious balance.

When we adopt this mindset, we prefer continuity to change, a known past to an uncertain future. We choose the certainty of misfortune over the misfortune of uncertainty. We think we're not going to find anyone better or try to console ourselves by thinking that it's actually not as bad as it sounds.

2. Loss aversion

We hate losing something when we have already invested in it, be it money, time or effort. This is another reason we get stuck in toxic relationships. In fact, it's one of the main reasons couples who have built a life together but no longer have anything in common don't break up.

When we apply this mindset to relationships we can become deeply unhappy, clinging to a relationship that no longer satisfies us, just because we don't want to "throw away" everything we have "built together".

This way we end up focusing solely on losses, without realizing how much we could gain. There is no doubt that 5, 10 or 20 years of a relationship is a long time and there will be shared stories and a lot of emotional investment, but when a relationship is toxic, ending it is more beneficial for both of you.

3. Confirmation bias

We like to think that we make little mistakes and make good decisions. That thought comforts and reassures us. Therefore, it is not difficult to fall into what is known as confirmation bias. It is the tendency to privilege the data and clues that confirm our beliefs while we reject or ignore those that deny them.

This phenomenon is even more intensified in the contents of an emotional nature, such as relationships. When we don't want to end a relationship, probably because there are still strong emotional bonds, we tend to exaggerate the positives and minimize the negatives.

In fact, many people who are abused in their relationships justify their partner by saying that "he's actually a good person". When love still exists, it is difficult to remove the blindfold to see reality as it is, so sometimes we prefer to focus only on the positive reinforcement we receive, such as a gift or an unexpected detail. This keeps us excited, thinking change is around the corner, when it probably isn't.

4. Effect of false consent

Our mentality is not formed only on the basis of our experiences, but we also take note of what is happening around us. In fact, we continually look outward to compare what happens to us with what presumably happens to others. But in comparison we are not objective.

We tend to think that our views, beliefs, values ​​and habits are more widespread among the rest of the population than they actually are. This is known as the false consent effect and can become one of the reasons we get stuck in toxic relationships.

If we develop this mindset, we'll believe it's okay to put up with that relationship because, after all, most relationships are like that. We can think that "all couples fight", "that all mothers control" or that "it is normal for one's partner to be possessive". In this way we normalize the abusive situation we are experiencing, thinking that it is normal, when it is not.

5. Sense of guilt

Guilt is one of the worst chains that keep us trapped in toxic relationships. There are people who have a highly self-critical mindset or have developed it after years of manipulative dynamics such as gaslighting.

In these cases, the person is likely to think: "it's not his fault, I'm too sensitive" or "I gave him good reasons". Generally, these kinds of thoughts in which the victim assumes the blame are an attempt to justify the other and keep the relationship at an acceptable level by turning a blind eye to the abuse.

However, it's important to keep in mind that although every relationship is a thing of two, there are some red lines that shouldn't be crossed. And precisely because every relationship is a thing of two, it must be satisfying for both of them. If the relationship is a source of constant discomfort, it may be time to end it. Leaving the known may hurt, but it won't hurt forever.

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