Sometimes we stay too long and try too hard for a relationship that we know isn’t working. Those kinds of relationships are called Band-Aid relationships.
Symbolically, there is just a Band-Aid that’s keeping two people together.
The things that are holding everything from crumbling down are so tiny and insignificant, yet they are so powerful that they make people stay long after they know they should leave.
Band-Aid relationships are so hard to detect. Mostly because we have a hard time admitting to ourself that we are in one.
We have to be brutally honest with ourself first, admit that we are headed down the wrong path and see whether there is something we can still do to fix things or if it is better to walk away.
If you are in a Band-Aid relationship, some or all of the signs listed below will look familiar:
1. You never know if or when you’re going to spend time together
Let’s say the weekend is approaching and you have no clue if you will spend any time with your partner. That doesn’t sound right, does it?
You seem unable to make any plans in advance. Every idea for a date or hanging out at home comes last minute. Being together is not treated as a priority and that’s just wrong.
Couples in meaningful relationships can’t wait to see each other. When they spend some time apart, it seems that something is off. Otherwise this is a clear sign of a Band-Aid relationship.
2. You believe your relationship is failing when you compare it to the relationships of the people around you
You look at all the happy relationships around you and you feel sorry for yourself because you are missing out on so much.
You are happy for your friends of course. But you are also sad when you see their partners going the extra mile while yours is unable to even lift their a finger.
Comparisons are never a good idea but the moment you start making them is the moment you have to admit to yourself that you are not satisfied with your relationship.
3. You are exhausted and have no more willpower to work on fixing your relationship
You have felt like you have been hitting a brick wall for a long time now and you seem unable to find a solution to problems or the dissatisfaction you feel in your relationship.
You talked things over with your partner more times than you can count. You make promises that you’ll both do your best. You both stick to your words. You make the effort.
But in a few days time, everything goes back to the way it was. They go back to their old ways and you are sick and tired of being the only one trying.
Eventually, you stop trying altogether. You see that it is pointless. So you just exist in that relationship without any hope that you will actually be happy in it.
4. You really believe that having any relationship is better than none
Be open and honest with yourself first. You fear being alone so much that you really do believe that being in a crappy or mediocre relationship is better than being single.
Being single isn’t always easy but it has many perks you are not seeing right now. If the fear of singledom is the only thing keeping you attached to your partner, you are becoming a textbook example of someone in a Band-Aid relationship.
5. Love has transformed to habit
This is especially true for those long-term relationships that seem to go on and on even though they are not functional.
People in long-term relationships are so used to each other that they can’t even imagine anything else. They fear everything else.
The feeling of being in love is a distant memory, they live a life of roommates, all the chemistry and sexual tension went out the window and all that is left is that sense of familiarity.
When a person spends so much time in something that is wrong for them, wrong starts to feel right because they have forgotten how it was when everything was great.
So if you find yourself in a long-term relationship that is not going anywhere and which is not making you happy, don’t regret the years you invested in the relationship.
Years will pass anyway. If you stay for too long, the Band-Aid that’s keeping you together will snap and your relationship will have an inevitably messy end.
6. You are in love with the potential your relationship has, not what you have now
You are not living in the moment. The present time of your relationship is not what you want or what you dreamed of.
That’s why you fast forward in your mind, to a time in the future where everything is great again. Where your relationship is everything that you dreamed of and more.
That’s just not real. Your unwillingness to deal with the current situation of your relationship is making you delude yourself by thinking that everything will miraculously work itself out in the future.
Odds are it won’t. Things will stay the same. The problems you have will probably get even worse as the time goes by. If they can’t be solved, the best thing to do is leave and find your happiness elsewhere.
What can you do about it?
If talking openly and honestly with your partner about everything that is going wrong in your relationship doesn’t go as planned, there are some things you need to do.
1. Ask yourself, “Is this the person I can see myself with when I’m old and gray?”
Don’t answer right away. Think long and hard. Do you really believe that you can be happy with them? Have they done anything to show you they care as much as you do?
Do you really believe that they will change their behavior if they haven’t by now? Have you given them enough time and enough chances already?
Most importantly, can you handle them behaving the way they do for the rest of your life? If the answer to this question is no, you will know that you don’t need to stay in that relationship any longer.
2. Be honest with yourself and determine what’s keeping you attached to that person
If you come across answers similar to, “We have been together for a long time that I can’t simply let go”, “Maybe somebody else would be even worse” or, “I don’t want to be alone again,” they are not good enough reasons to stay.
Habit, safety, familiarity, and hope shouldn’t be the only things keeping you in a relationship. You deserve more than that. You deserve that unconditional, all-consuming and committed love. If you don’t have that, don’t settle.
3. Communicate and see his side of the story
We want answers and we want them now. Sometimes we come on too strong. We look at things that bother us and we don’t really take our partner into consideration.
We have to talk less and listen more. There are two sides to every story. Tell yours and listen to his. Try to find common ground. If you are both ready to work on your issues, if you both still care, maybe there’s still hope.
4. Determine a time limit
Sometimes we get so caught up in our hope that things will get better with time that we give it too much time. Before we know it, years pass by and everything is the same, if not even worse.
That’s why we need to determine a time limit that will be enough to see if things are getting better. Promise yourself you’ll stick to the time limit.
See for yourself how long you want it to be—a month, three months…. but remember: anything more than six months is too much. If nothing changes by then, nothing ever will.