What to do if you feel trapped in a relationship?

trapped in a relationship

Do you feel like you’re trapped in your relationship?

Unfortunately, a lot of people do. Believe it or not, two-thirds of the US population has been in a situation when you’re certain that your partner is a great person, but still – the two of you are not on the same page about what you want from life and each other in the future.

Feeling trapped might mean that you need to reexamine your current relationship and see where things are going. However, reflecting on your thoughts and sorting out the problems with your partner can be complicated.

In this article, we’ll explain what you can do in order to save your relationship from becoming toxic and enjoy life with your partner. We’ll also point out when you should consider getting help from professional counselors and how they can help you deal with your relationship issues.

Signs You’re Trapped in a Relationship

Did you know that toxic relationships have a negative impact on your psychological well-being and quality of life? The truth is that it often leads to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and excessive stress. Research proves that people who frequently experience conflict in their relationships have higher blood sugar levels than usual, which keeps their bodies in fight or flight condition all the time. And this stress response, in turn, makes them feel like they’re trapped in a relationship and can’t find ways to get out.

If this sounds like you, you might also be feeling unhappy in your relationship. And if you’re thinking about finding useful ways to deal with this problem and revive the old warm feelings you used to have towards your partner, you should know that the first step to making a shift is to identify what exactly makes you feel uncomfortable.

Here are some of the most common signs of being trapped in a relationship:

  • You’re constantly under stress – It doesn’t matter whether your partner is around or not, you feel tense and anxious, which makes you think something isn’t right.
  • You feel manipulated by your partner – Sometimes you feel that your partner manipulates your emotions and tries to control your actions, and this makes you feel trapped.
  • You’re chronically unhappy – You can’t remember the last time you felt free. You constantly feel sad and depressed and can’t find ways to improve your mood.
  • You dream about alternative realities – If you fantasize about places where you could have been if you hadn’t met your partner or other people with whom you could be in a romantic relationship, chances are that your relationship makes you feel trapped.
  • You feel lonely even when you’re in a relationship – Surprisingly, some couples tend to feel lonely even when they’re dating someone. If your partner doesn’t understand your feelings, it might be the reason why you feel trapped.
  • You don’t feel appreciated – Being loved, cared for, and appreciated are some of the basic things that people value in relationships. But not feeling appreciated is one of the most common signs of being trapped in a relationship.

Why Do You Feel Trapped? – Most Common Reasons

Identifying the signs that you’re feeling trapped in a relationship is much easier. But can you understand the reasons behind these negative feelings that don’t let you feel happy? If you don’t, chances are that you’ll try to ignore the issue and pretend to yourself that you’re happy even when you’re struggling. For instance, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people prefer to stay in unhappy relationships.

But taking care of your personal life is crucial for your emotional well-being and mental health. That’s why you should try to find out the reasons that make you feel trapped in your romantic relationship.

You don’t have personal space

It’s true that being honest with your partner, and sharing your concerns, daily adventures, and ideas is important for healthy relationships. But sometimes couples don’t even notice that they compromise their personal space and lose their unique identities in relationships. That’s why it’s important to set healthy boundaries and remember that you’re an individual who requires you to spend time with yourself from time to time.

You’re stuck in a routine

When you get used to getting married or dating your partner, your initial intimacy often becomes a simple and repetitive routine. This might make your relationship less satisfactory and more like an obligation. As a result, people often feel trapped in relationships.

Emotional or physical abuse

Research shows that about 50–80% of adults have experienced emotional abuse in their lives (Karakurt & Silver, 2013). On the other hand, as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical abuse. While physical or domestic violence is easier to spot, some signs of emotional abuse may be felt, manipulated, verbally threatened, or judged. And it’s not easy to realize that your partner emotionally abuses you, but if you feel trapped in a relationship and don’t know why, try to assess your relationship as objectively as you can and find the real reasons.

Lack of meaningful conversations

You may often hear the phrase that communication is an integral part of happy and healthy relationships. And that’s indeed the truth. In fact, research proves that communication between partners predicts marital satisfaction (Lavner et al., 2016). But if you can’t find ways to have honest communication with your partner, discuss things that concern you, and understand what you think about each other’s actions, then you might feel trapped in a relationship.

What to Do If You Feel Trapped in a Relationship?

If you’re tired of feeling trapped in a relationship and are looking for functional ways to overcome this relationship problem, the following steps might help you to get out of a rut and revive your love life.

  • Regain your confidence – The first step towards developing a happy and healthy relationship is to find the power within yourself to become more confident. Having low self-esteem might be one of the reasons you feel trapped in a relationship. So start working on yourself and convince yourself that it’s time for a change.
  • Define the exact goal – If you want to overcome your complicated feelings in a relationship, you need to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve. So, identify your and your partner’s problems and determine the specific outcome you want to get.
  • Reflect on your relationship – Figuring out your and your partner’s communication patterns and the direction of your relationship. Maybe you have different goals for the future and that’s why you feel like you’re trapped. Or maybe your partner feels the same way. In either case, you should reflect on your relationship, ideally with your partner.
  • Get professional help – If you notice that none of these methods improves the way you feel about your relationship, you might need to get help from relationship counselors. Whether you prefer individual counseling or couples counseling, professional therapists will help you identify your problems and solve them efficiently.

Can Couples Counseling Help?

Sometimes, getting professional help from couples counselors could be the best possible way to overcome your relationship challenges. Even though couples counseling has become one of the most widely used forms of therapy recently, a lot of people still doubt its effectiveness and find it hard to determine whether it’s actually worth it.

The reason is that relationship-related problems are extremely intimate and, often, couples prefer to work on these issues themselves. However, if you can’t find constructive ways to get over the feeling of being trapped in a relationship, professional therapists at Health for Life Counseling in Grand Rapids, MI, and Ada, MI can provide a completely safe environment to discuss your problems together with your partner.

Most recent studies conducted on the effectiveness of couples counseling have shown significant improvement in relationship satisfaction after receiving the treatment (e.g., Schofield et al., 2012). Besides, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 70% of the treatments for couple distress had positive effects on their communication problems. This means that couples counseling has great potential to get to the bottom of the challenges in your relationship and help you deal with them.

So, if you think that some help from professional relationship therapists would be helpful, don’t hesitate to reach out to our licensed counselors at Health for Life Counseling in the West Michigan area or talk to them online. Don’t forget that no matter what kind of challenges you’re facing right now, you don’t need to overcome them alone.

Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids provides the following programs that could help your relationship.

Learn more about the Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids

Learn more about Counseling and Therapy services at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids

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