On one hand they crave freedom and independence; on the other hand, they want the security of a relationship – even a bad one.
Less so today, some cultures still stigmatize divorce. Despite the abundance of reasons, many of which are realistic, there are deeper, unconscious ones that keep people trapped – usually fears of separation and loneliness that they want to avoid.
Often in longer relationships, spouses don’t develop individual activities or support networks other than their mate.
Yet, both men and women often neglect developing individual interests.
Some codependent women give up their friends, hobbies, and activities and adopt those of their male companions.
The combined effect of this adds to fears of loneliness and isolation people that they envisage being on their own.
For spouses married a number of years, their identity may be as a “husband” or “wife” – a “provider” or “homemaker.” The loneliness experienced upon divorce is tinged with feeling lost. This also may be significant for a noncustodial parent, for whom parenting is a major source of self-esteem. They left home or their college roommate for a marriage or romantic partner.
Millions of people remain in unhappy relationships that range from empty to abusive for many reasons; however, the feeling of suffocation or of having no choices stems from fear that’s often unconscious.
One man was too afraid and guilt-ridden to leave his ill wife (11 years his senior).
Battered women may stay out of fear of retaliation should they leave.