8 signs your relationship is holding you back in life according to psychology

As Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit and a mindfulness/Buddhism expert, I’ve often delved into the complexities of relationships.

There’s a fine line between a relationship that enhances your life and one that stifles your progress.

It comes down to growth. A good relationship encourages you to grow, both as an individual and as a team. 

But if your relationship feels like an anchor, it might be holding you back in life.

Psychology provides some clear pointers on this subject. And as someone who has spent a lot of time studying and practicing mindfulness, I’m here to share these insights with you.

So let’s dive into the signs that your relationship might be holding you back, according to psychology.

1) You’re constantly sacrificing your personal growth

Relationships are all about balance. It’s about giving and taking, supporting each other’s growth, and moving together towards shared goals.

But what happens when it feels like you’re the only one making sacrifices?

According to psychology, one clear sign that your relationship might be holding you back is if you find your personal growth stunted or sacrificed for the sake of the relationship. 

Are there dreams you’ve let go of, or have you stopped pursuing hobbies you love? Perhaps you’re skipping out on opportunities for self-improvement just to maintain harmony in the relationship.

Remember, a healthy relationship should enhance your life, not limit it. It should be a source of inspiration and encouragement for personal development, not a barrier.

2) You feel emotionally drained

One of the core teachings in Buddhism is that life is full of ups and downs. It’s normal to have challenging days or moments of frustration in a relationship. 

But when you find yourself frequently feeling emotionally drained, it may be a sign that your relationship is holding you back.

Psychology tells us that our emotional well-being is closely connected to our overall health and success in life. Our relationships should ideally be sources of support, comfort and joy, not constant stress or anxiety.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Zen master and mindfulness expert, once said, “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” 

This quote resonates with me deeply, as it underlines the importance of self-love and acceptance in our own emotional well-being.

If you find that your relationship is causing you more emotional turmoil than happiness, it might be time to take a step back and reassess. 

You deserve a relationship that uplifts you, not one that depletes your emotional energy.

3) Your core values are compromised

In Buddhism, living in alignment with our core values is considered essential for leading a fulfilled, meaningful life. These fundamental beliefs guide our decisions, shape our behaviours, and influence our relationships. 

However, if you find that your relationship is pushing you to compromise or even abandon these core values, it’s a serious red flag.

When our relationships force us to live incongruently with our values, it can lead to deep-rooted dissatisfaction and even mental health issues.

Whether it’s honesty, kindness, or personal freedom, your core values should never be compromised. 

If your relationship requires you to act against these principles, it might be holding you back from true happiness and self-realisation.

4) You’re living in the past or future, not the present

Mindfulness, at its heart, is about living in the present moment. It’s about accepting and embracing our current experiences instead of obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. 

However, if you find yourself constantly ruminating over past conflicts or anxiously anticipating future issues in your relationship, it’s a sign that something isn’t right.

From a psychological perspective, this constant state of mental unrest can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. 

It can also prevent you from fully engaging with the world around you and experiencing joy in the present moment.

A relationship that keeps you anchored to past regrets or future fears is not conducive to mindfulness. It’s a raw and uncomfortable truth to acknowledge, but it’s crucial for your mental well-being.

5) You’re losing your sense of self

We can sometimes get so wrapped up in our relationships that we begin to lose sight of who we are as individuals. 

If you’re finding that your own identity is becoming blurred or overshadowed by your relationship, this may be a sign it’s holding you back.

Psychology emphasises the importance of maintaining a strong sense of self in a relationship. It’s healthy to share interests and grow together, but it’s equally important to nurture our individual identities.

In my book, “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”, I delve into the Buddhist teachings on maintaining a balanced ego.

It’s about understanding that while we are part of a collective whole, we are also unique individuals with our own paths and purposes.

If you’re feeling like your relationship is causing you to lose touch with your individuality, it might be time to reassess. Remember, a fulfilling relationship should celebrate both the ‘we’ and the ‘I’, and never force you to lose yourself in the process.

6) You’re stuck in a cycle of negative emotions

Buddhist teachings and mindfulness practices emphasise the importance of recognizing and accepting our emotions without being controlled by them. 

However, if you find yourself constantly experiencing negative emotions such as anger, resentment, or jealousy in your relationship, it’s a sign that something needs to change.

Psychology tells us that persistent negative emotions can be detrimental to our mental health and overall well-being. They can create a toxic environment in our relationships and even prevent us from achieving our life goals.

If your relationship is consistently triggering these negative emotions, it may be holding you back. It’s a harsh truth to face, but acknowledging it is the first step towards breaking the cycle.

Your relationship should bring you more joy than sorrow. If it’s causing you constant emotional turmoil, it might be time to seek help or take steps towards change. 

Buddhism and mindfulness teach us that we have the power to transform our suffering into understanding and compassion, but this often requires courage and honesty with ourselves.

7) Your personal boundaries are consistently violated

Boundaries are crucial in any relationship. They help maintain respect, trust, and a healthy level of individuality. 

If you find that your personal boundaries are being consistently violated in your relationship, it’s a clear sign that it’s not serving your well-being.

Psychology explains that boundary violations can lead to resentment, a loss of self-esteem, and even emotional trauma. It’s a raw and uncomfortable truth to face, but one that’s absolutely essential for your mental health.

A healthy relationship should respect your personal space and autonomy. If you feel your boundaries are being constantly crossed, it might be time to reassess the relationship.

8) The relationship feels easy… too easy

At first glance, this point might seem counterintuitive. After all, shouldn’t a good relationship feel easy and comfortable? To a certain extent, yes. But mindfulness teaches us the value of being present with discomfort and challenges as opportunities for growth.

If your relationship feels too easy, to the point where there are no disagreements, no conflicts, and no challenges, it could be a sign that it’s holding you back.

You might be avoiding difficult conversations, suppressing your true feelings, or simply settling for a comfortable routine instead of pushing each other to grow.

Psychology confirms this. Couples who challenge each other to develop new skills and expand their horizons report higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

A truly fulfilling relationship should push you out of your comfort zone and inspire you to grow. If everything is always ‘easy’, it might be time to check in with yourself and ask if you’re truly happy or just comfortably numb.

Navigating relationships can be complex, but understanding these signs can help you identify if your relationship is holding you back.

Relationships should not only bring you happiness but also contribute to your personal growth and well-being.

If you’ve recognized some of these signs in your own relationship, it might be time for change.

Whether that’s having a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner, seeking professional help, or making the tough decision to move on, remember that your happiness and well-being should never be compromised.

For more insights into maintaining a balanced life while navigating relationships and personal growth, take a look at my book “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”. It provides valuable wisdom on how to live a fulfilled, meaningful life while maintaining healthy relationships.

You have the strength and wisdom within you to make the changes necessary for your happiness and growth. Trust yourself, stay mindful of your needs, and don’t hesitate to seek help when needed. You’ve got this!

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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