By Liz Lampkin, Crosswalk.com
Connections. Bonds. Associations. Friendships. Support systems, family, and interpersonal. How people regard and engage with each other is how relationships are generally defined. Everyone, young and old, has relationships. They are vital to ones’ existence. They’re designed to increase emotional well-being, create stability, and add value to life quality. As we go through life, our relationships with people change, sometimes for better or worse. It’s a part of life. But what happens when we remain in relationships that hinder growth? More importantly, why do we remain in those relationships?
Some people stay in stagnant relationships because they have created an unhealthy sense of attachment and loyalty to their partner. They stay because someone else needs them for their growth, even if it stifles their own. Other reasons people remain in relationships stem from an unhealthy sense of self-focus. This concept consists of someone solely focusing on their thoughts, needs, desires, and emotions. When people develop this in relationships, they are prone to stay because of the “investments” they’ve made in the other person, creating the notion that they must receive a “return” on said investments. When a person waits to receive a return on investments (time, money, intimacy), they become attached and refuse to walk away without believing their efforts were not in vain. Other reasons people stay include refusal of being alone, they don’t want to start over, they think they don’t have any other option, or they fear the notion of not having a long-term partner. Many believe these are valid reasons for staying in stagnant relationships. However, they don’t realize how it affects them and their future partners. So, why should people stop staying in stagnant relationships? Take a look to find out.
1. Keeps You from Growing
Remaining in stagnant relationships of any kind stifles your growth in every aspect of your life. It prevents your growth because you’re bogged down with the weight of maintaining a connection that’s worth letting go of. If your primary focus is the relationship, you can’t focus on your needs. While we know and understand that relationships are about two people, you can’t neglect your own existence to maintain relationships that cause you to sacrifice more than what it’s worth.
2. They Lower Your Expectations
Connections that cause you to become complacent also cause you to lower your expectations. When you become comfortable with someone who gives the bare minimum to keep you around, that bare minimum subconsciously becomes your norm. This becomes the norm because having low expectations shields you from being disappointed in your partner and the relationship in a sordid way. When this happens, you convince yourself to stay. This has to stop. When you have low expectations, you miss out on what God has for you and your relationships. You should always want and expect the best for yourself in every aspect of your life.
3. They Drain You Mentally and Emotionally
Relationships that show no signs of growth in any way can exhaust you mentally and emotionally. The stress of being involved in relationships that leave you unfulfilled can take a toll on your overall well-being. You may begin to adopt unhealthy habits for comfort, begin to doubt your self-worth, have feelings of hopelessness or fall into a state of depression. No relationship is worth this. If you find that you’re spiraling into destructive practices to fill mental and emotional voids, take some time to pray and ask God to restore you to the person He wants you to be.
4. Creates a Negative View of Relationships
Stagnant relationships of any kind can create a pessimistic view of how relationships should be. They can have you believe that real love doesn’t exist or that you are unworthy of having a productive relationship. It can also bring about feelings of fear and anxiety when engaging in other connections. You don’t want this to happen to you. Relationships are a wonderful and essential part of life and should be viewed as such. Everyone needs healthy connections to thrive in life. Without them, you remain stagnant.
If you are in a relationship where you feel as if you are at a standstill and your heart desires to move forward, ask yourself the following questions:
- How can I move forward from this relationship?
- What caused me to remain in a state of complacency?
- Does this relationship honor God?
- Is this the relationship God wants for me?
As you ask yourself these questions, be honest with your responses and take careful note of how you can move forward. If you’re having a difficult time letting go of associations that leave you unfulfilled, always remember the following:
1. You can walk away from any stagnant relationship. You owe it to yourself to be fulfilled in any connection you make. Don’t be afraid to leave those behind who are holding you back.
2. Love yourself more than loving relationships that aren’t good for you. If you don’t know how to begin this journey, start by looking into God’s Holy Word and discover how He loves you. Experiencing the love of God through His Word will renew your confidence and give you the strength to walk away from any relationship that is unworthy of your presence.
3. Your relationship with God can guide you to healthy relationships. Pray and ask God to fill your life with healthy relationships. As your heavenly Father, He knows what’s best for you in every aspect of your life. Humbly ask God to bring people to you that will help you be the person God has called you to be. You should also ask Him to allow you to be a blessing to those He brings to you as well.
4. Never be complacent or maintain relationships with people who don’t want to move forward. This isn’t just about dating or romantic relationships. It’s about ALL of your relationships. If you begin to feel your involvement with others is forced, begin to take a few steps back to assess things, trust your instincts and move on!
5. It’s okay to start over. Many people dread the process of starting over with someone new. While this can be a roller coaster, it’s necessary for your well-being. Starting over with someone new gives you a fresh start and allows you to correct mistakes you made in past relationships. Besides, it’s better to take a ride on a new roller coaster than remain stuck on an old one.
6. You deserve more. You deserve to be happy. You deserve relationships that deserve you.
7. Know your worth. You are worthy of connections that bring out the best in you. Never settle for less than who and what you deserve from others. Know what you want and deserve in relationships.
8. God did not design relationships for stagnation. God created relationships for His glory, to build each other up and to fulfill His purpose. Any association that prevents you from walking in your purpose is one that you must walk away from.
As you continue your life’s journey, know that relationships come and go. Whether they’re long or short-term, with each one, you should grow more into the person God has called you to be. Let go of those who hold you back and embrace those who thrust you forward.
Author Liz Lampkin is an experienced writer, teacher, and speaker. She is an advocate for singles who encourages them to live their best life God’s way. Follow her on Instagram @Liz_Lampkin.