You’re walking on eggshells in your relationship, but leaving is difficult, impossible, or just heartbreaking. These tip are inspired by a reader’s comment…
“It’s hard because of guilt,” says Fran on How to Break Up With Someone You Don’t Love Anymore. “I love my boyfriend of 3 years but he is basically a jerk whenever I try to talk to him about relationship issues. I have to make him promise not to show anger if I have something important to say. I walk on eggshells, I talk gently and sweetly, but he is so unapproachable that we never settle things. Of course the same arguments keep coming up because nothing is ever solved. It got to the point where I clearly stated what I needed from him in an emotionless letter. He said he ripped it up. He laughs at couples therapy. He laughs at me when I tell him what I need. It’s so hurtful.”
She adds that she loves him and she wants to keep trying to save their relationship. She knows he’s taking her for granted, but she doesn’t know how to stop walking on eggshells in her relationship. I don’t have any magic advice that will change her boyfriend or save their relationship, but I can share how I stopped walking on eggshells in my last relationship…
I don’t have to tell you that relationships are complicated. No matter how bad a relationship is or uncaring a man seems to be, it’s incredibly painful and difficult to walk away. Why? Because we feel so many conflicting emotions. Fran said she feels a mixture of hatred for her boyfriend and “terrible guilt for wanting to abandon him.”
Stop Walking on Eggshells…
There is only one way to change your relationship, and that is to change yourself. You have to change how you respond to your partner.
You have to change how you see him – and how you see yourself.
Identify your faulty thinking
Can you see Fran’s faulty logic? She thinks that breaking up with her boyfriend is “abandoning” him. This makes him out to be like a child or an elderly person who can’t take care of himself. You abandon helpless creatures, not grown men who force you to walk on eggshells in your relationship! You abandon weak and vulnerable animals, not adults who refuse to learn how to be healthy and strong.
If you’re staying in an unhealthy relationship because of guilt, read How to Stop Feeling Guilty After the Breakup. This is the time to start dealing with those feelings.
And, now is also the time to identify your own faulty thinking about your relationship. What do you think about your boyfriend that isn’t rational or logical? I know this is difficult to do because you don’t know what you don’t know. It’ll help you to write it down. Do what Fran did: write down how you’re walking on eggshells in your relationship and what you know you should do.
See your partner’s behavior for what it is
What does “walking on eggshells” mean in your relationship? I was involved with a man who called me names under his breath when I made mistakes or didn’t learn something fast enough. I thought I was stupid and that I needed to try harder. I walked on eggshells in that relationship all the time: when he was in a bad mood, when we were stuck in traffic, when we were late for church, when he felt guilty about something that happened at work. I was always walking on eggshells.
I didn’t know that my boyfriend was actually being verbally and emotionally abusive to me. I thought he was super sensitive and compassionate, that he just needed a little TLC (tender loving care) almost all the time. I didn’t know that he was actually an asshole.
What do you know about your partner that you won’t admit to yourself? Deep down, you know that a healthy relationship doesn’t involve walking on eggshells. You wouldn’t want your sister or mom to be with a guy who is prickly and difficult to talk to.
Accept that your boyfriend won’t change
How long have you been walking on eggshells, and what does your boyfriend say about your relationship?
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Believe him when he says he doesn’t want to go to couples therapy. He’s being truthful with you. Believe him when he shows you who he really is – his behavior, his choices, and his life is an honest indication of his personality, values, and character.
Your boyfriend isn’t going to change who he is. The only person who has any hope of changing in your relationship is you. You have the choice to learn how to stop walking on eggshells in your relationship – and risk the consequences – or walk away. You are more powerful than you think you are.
Learn how to stop walking on eggshells
I wish I could say that I chose to break up with my abusive boyfriend, but I didn’t. We sort of drifted apart, mutually deciding that the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. I wish I had stood up for myself, though. I guess I just got used to walking on eggshells in that relationship for so long that I didn’t know how to do it differently.
Are you confused about what to do in your relationship, how to act with your boyfriend, where to go? You might find it helpful to read 5 Ways to Know if You’re Settling in a Relationship. But I think you already know that you’re settling for a man who doesn’t deserve you. You’re allowing yourself to stay in a relationship where you can’t be yourself, you can’t grow and learn, and you won’t find peace or happiness.
If you can’t or won’t leave your boyfriend, then you need to learn how to live with him. I can’t tell you what this means or how to do it. There is no relationship formula. Even if I knew exactly what was happening between you and your boyfriend, I still wouldn’t be able to tell you how to stop walking on eggshells in your relationship.
It’s up to you to take control of your life.
What to Do Next
Get help with your relationship – even if you go to counselling by yourself. Call someone you trust, someone who can give you guidance and support. Don’t rely on online relationship forums or the comments sections of blogs like this. Get counseling. Learn why you’re staying in this relationship, what is holding you back from growing into the woman God created you to be.
Read Walking on Eggshells: Discovering Strength and Courage Amid Chaos by Lyssa Chapman and Lisa Wysocky. You’ll learn about Lyssa’s journey from mental and physical abuse, flight from protective services, and teen pregnancy. Despite it all, and against incredible odds, Lyssa found her faith. She also found her way out of the spiral of bad decisions and even worse luck to build a healthy relationship with her mother and father and forge a rewarding, positive life with God. This heartrending, powerful, and inspiring book will help you gain the power, strength and courage you need to make difficult choices in your own life.
Write about your relationship. You’ll find that writing about what you’re experiencing can help you identify faulty thoughts and misplaced loyalties. You can write in the comments section below if you like, but I encourage you to write in your own private journal.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and share what walking on eggshells is like in your relationship. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you work through your feelings.
“It takes more courage to let go than to hang on.”
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.