How to deal with a can’t-live-with-can’t-live-without relationship

Sauvik asks: I am trapped in a relationship where I can’t even come out of it. I am in a situation where I am not happy without my girlfriend and also with her. What should I do?

Hi Sauvik –


I’m sure you’ve heard lots of songs that talk about your situation.  One of my favorites goes


I don’t like you

But I love you

Seems that I’m always

Thinking of you

Oh oh oh you treat me badly

I love you madly

You’ve really got a hold on me


Now maybe things aren’t as bad as you’re making them sound, but if you truly can’t be happy in this relationship, then I want you to think about anyone you’ve ever seen who struggles with an addiction.


Maybe they smoked cigarettes and tried to stop, or they had to go on a diet from eating too much; or perhaps you even know someone who’s gone through the very difficult job of getting off of an addiction to alcohol or drugs.


Now if you asked them, as they started their work, “Are you happy that you smoke,” they’d of course say no, that’s why they’re quitting.  But then if you asked “But are you happy when you’re not smoking,” they’d say “Of course not, that’s why this is hard!”


In other words, they’re not happy with or without the cigarettes.  And the only possibility they have for happiness is if they can quit smoking and then move on to a life where they don’t crave them anymore – where they’re past the addiction.


Well, my friend, that’s you.


You’re not feeling good with or without her today, just like that smoker or drinker or overeater isn’t feeling good.  But if you can get over your addictive relationship to her (by either improving the relationship or deciding to break things off), and move forward into a healthier life where she’s not as big a factor (either being single or having a new relationship)… you will start to feel good again.


Now you’ll note that I said you could either improve the relationship or break things off.  I’m a big fan of couples therapy, which tends to lead to one of those conclusions.  But if she refuses to work to improve things, then that might mean that you have to walk away.


And if you do, it’ll hurt, I know.  It’ll feel awful.  You’ll have all sorts of pulls back to her.  You’ll think you’ll never make it without her.


Just what every alcoholic goes through when they stop drinking.


And you might blow it and go back to her and be miserable again, and have to quit the relationship again.


Just what every drug addict tends to go through.  Maybe a few times.


But eventually… eventually, if you can just get through it all…


I’ll bet I don’t need to tell you about that song about being happy like a room without a roof, do I!


Best of luck,


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