It is a difficult situation, one of the most complex you can find yourself in:
You’re in a relationship that others may even envy, but deep down you know something isn’t quite right.
You go through the motions and check off the boxes of what a “successful” relationship should look like, but you can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t what you desire.
Often it is not even a major outburst or a major disagreement that brings about this realization.
It’s just the nagging thought in the back of your mind that you’re in this relationship more because of societal pressure or fear of being alone than true love and compatibility.
Here’s how to tell if you or someone else is in a relationship because he or she feels pressured to do so.
1) Decisions seem obligatory rather than spontaneous
In the realm of relationships, there is a certain tension that comes with spontaneity. With unexpected moments of love, impromptu outings or even just an unplanned date night at home.
But when you’re in a relationship because of pressure, that spontaneity often takes a back seat to obligation.
The decisions made are not driven by the desire to make your partner happy or because you want to do them, but because this is what is expected of you.
You find yourself making choices that are not based on your feelings but on societal norms or the fear of disappointing others.
If you notice that decisions in your relationship feel more like fulfilling a duty than an expression of love, it may be an indication that the relationship is more about pressure than true connection.
2) Silence feels uncomfortable
I have always believed that one of the hallmarks of a strong relationship is the ability to enjoy silence together. To sit in the same room, not say anything, but still feel connected.
But when pressure got me into a relationship, I found that silence became something I feared.
Silence no longer meant comfortable company; it became a stark reminder of the lack of emotional depth and connection we had.
I constantly tried to fill the silence with small talk or distraction, anything to avoid the discomfort.
And then I realized: if you cannot feel comfortable in silence with your partner, this may be a sign that the relationship is not based on mutual understanding and love, but on external pressure.
3) I started avoiding deep conversations
There was a time, I remember it well when my partner asked about my dreams, my ambitions and my vision for the future.
I’m usually the kind of person who enjoys deep conversations. But at that point I found myself deviating and steering the conversation toward lighter, less intimate topics.
Looking back, it wasn’t because I had no dreams or ambitions. It was because I was afraid. Afraid that my vision for the future didn’t include this relationship I felt pressured into.
I started avoiding deep conversations because they brought home the stark reality that I was settling for a relationship that wasn’t right for me.
If you find yourself doing the same thing, it could be a sign that you are settling into your relationship because of pressure rather than love.
4) The fear of loneliness becomes a driving factor
This may be hard to believe, but research has shown that people often stay in unhappy relationships because of the fear of being alone.
From my own experience, I have found this to be true. I felt a growing fear of being alone, and this overshadowed the dissatisfaction I felt within the relationship.
The idea of being single was more terrifying than being in a relationship that was just okay, nothing spectacular.
The fear of loneliness had become a major driving factor in my decisions about the relationship.
When fear, rather than love or happiness, becomes your motivation to stay, it’s a strong indication that you’re settling because of the pressure.
5) You start to justify your unhappiness
I’ve noticed something interesting about how the human mind works. When we find ourselves in situations that are less than ideal, but unwilling to change, we begin to justify our circumstances.
In my case, I often found myself defending my relationship and explaining away the dissatisfaction I felt. Phrases like “No relationship is perfect” or “We’re just going through a rough patch” kept ringing in my head.
But deep down I knew these were just excuses. I tried to convince myself that the unhappiness I was experiencing within the relationship was normal.
If you regularly catch yourself justifying your unhappiness or making excuses for why your relationship isn’t as satisfying, it’s a crucial sign that you may be settling because of the pressure.
6) Your gut keeps whispering that something is wrong
You know that little voice in the back of your head? The one who often knows what’s best for you before you do?
Well, during my journey I noticed that voice constantly whispering, urging me to take a closer look at my relationship.
There were no glaring warning signs, no obvious reasons to break up, but my intuition kept telling me that something was wrong.
I started to realize that when you’re in a relationship for the right reasons, your gut feeling is usually one of peace and contentment, not constant discomfort and uncertainty.
If you constantly feel like something is wrong, trust your gut. It might tell you that you’re settling because of pressure rather than passion.
7) You feel relief when your partner is not there
This was a difficult realization for me. I noticed that when my partner was away or busy, I felt a sense of relief instead of longing.
Instead of missing them, I enjoyed the freedom, peace and solitude. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about them, but their absence seemed to lift a weight from my shoulders.
I used these moments of loneliness to escape the pressure and dissatisfaction of our relationship. This wasn’t about needing personal space or time for myself, it was about letting go of a relationship that felt more like an obligation than a choice.
If you find yourself feeling relieved when your partner is not around, it could be a sign that you are settling into your relationship under pressure.
8) Your happiness becomes secondary
Here’s what I learned the hard way: When you’re in a relationship because of pressure, your happiness often takes a back seat.
Instead of prioritizing what made me happy, I found myself prioritizing the needs of the relationship. The focus was more on maintaining the status quo, avoiding conflict, and meeting societal expectations, and less on my fulfilment.
The fact that I wasn’t really happy, that I was making concessions to my dreams and desires, became secondary to maintaining the relationship.
If you notice that your happiness has become less important and you are constantly sacrificing your needs for the sake of the relationship, it is a powerful sign that you are under pressure in your relationship.
The final reflection
Identifying with these signals can be a hard realization, but it is an important first step towards change.
Recognize that this pressure to commit to a relationship does not mean a life sentence. With conscious effort and self-awareness, you can navigate out.
Start by acknowledging these behaviours in your relationship. Notice when you prioritize the relationship over your happiness, or when you justify your unhappiness. Pay attention to the relief you feel when your partner is not there.
Once you become aware of these patterns, it becomes easier to pause and ask yourself some crucial questions: Is this what I want? Does this match my dreams and ambitions? Does my feeling tell me that this is good for me?
Changing old habits takes time, but remember that every small step of prioritizing your needs or expressing your true feelings brings you closer to authentic self-love and respect.
An excellent resource to start this journey is the masterclass Love and Intimacy on The Vessel. It provides a framework for reshaping the relationship you have with yourself and helps identify your pressures so you can cope with them.
Remember, the goal is not just to find a relationship, but to find a relationship that truly brings joy, fulfillment, and growth. So be patient with yourself on this journey and remember that the right relationship doesn’t require you to find a solution under pressure.
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