Feeling Trapped In A Relationship? 6 Reasons Why -- And What You Can Do To Fix It
Updated September 30, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lori Jones, LMHC
If you’ve been in a relationship for a while now, and things have seemed to hit a brick wall, with little to no progress being made, you’re not alone. Even if negative feelings surround your current relationship, it can be quite difficult to leave, and unfortunately, it can cause a sense of being trapped. Realistically, there are two options, either you can try to move on, or you can attempt to fix the issues in the relationship that are causing you to feel this way. In this article, you will learn about some of the possible reasons that can cause people to start feeling trapped in a relationship and how you can address them.
1. Too Many Rules & Restrictions
One of the most apparent causes of feeling trapped is your partner imposing rules and restrictions. For example, there may be curfews to ensure that you aren’t out doing something that you aren’t supposed to. You also might not be able to hang out with your friends often, or you might avoid it because you would rather not have to be interrogated by your significant other.
Being checked up on doesn’t necessarily end when you become an adult, and if you are trying to avoid confrontation and being limited in what you can or cannot do, this can cause a person to feel suffocated. This is known as a lack of autonomy, and without your independence, you might start to become dependent and require permission from your partner for everything. 
These issues can indicate serious trust issues within a relationship, and if you’re feeling trapped because of it, it can be very damaging to you and your relationship. Therefore, it is best to communicate with your partner about how you feel and work together to build trust with each other to fix this problem. If this doesn’t work, you might consider leaving the relationship because your freedom is being taken away by your “partner.”
2. You’re Stuck Paying For All Of The Bills
It’s a kind gesture to be willing to cover payments for your significant other, especially if it’s reciprocated; however, generosity and selflessness can be taken advantage of. For example, you might wind up being pressured into and responsible for someone’s phone bill or car payment if you’re not careful. However, it doesn’t always have to be malicious; someone might be unwilling to get a job. Nonetheless, they aren’t pulling his or her weight.
Having a partner who is unwilling to contribute can cause overwhelming strain on a relationship, especially financially. Although it might be easy to say “just leave” or “you’re being used,” it’s easier said than done, and it can cause a person to feel like they are trapped. In addition, despite the financial burden and the lack of cooperation from the person involved, an individual can still feel an emotional attachment to him or her, which creates a dilemma.
This issue can especially be problematic for married couples, who can’t just leave; they need to go through a divorce. Having a productive and non-confrontational talk with your significant other about contributing to the relationship financially can solve this issue. Still, if that doesn’t work, counseling may be required.
3. Physical & Emotional Abuse
One of the most unfortunate yet common reasons for feeling trapped in a relationship is domestic abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men are physically abused by an intimate partner; however, abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. Therefore, these values can be higher. 
In fact, emotional abuse is very common and can include being shamed, being controlled, and being verbally threatened, to name a few. These are things that have the potential to be underreported as well. Regardless of the type of abuse, it’s not always easy to get away from someone who is harming you; you might depend on the abuser for numerous reasons, especially financially and emotionally. The abuser may also try to manipulate you to think that things are okay as well.
Even if you manage to get away, the abuse doesn’t always end there, and stalking and threats can occur, which doesn’t really let the trapped feeling go away. If your ex, or soon-to-be-ex, is persistent about trying to be in your life, you might need to call the police and take additional legal action.
4. Fear Of Loneliness & Being In Denial
If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to find someone else if you break up or divorce your partner, this could very well be the reason why you are feeling stuck in your relationship. This is because it inherently creates a conflict that is not easily resolved without careful decision-making.
On the one hand, you’re unhappy with the state of the relationship, and you want out, but on the other one, you’re afraid that you might not be able to find someone else if you take the leap and leave your current partner. In addition, some people don’t know what it’s like to be alone and independent truly, which creates more anxiety on top of the stress that comes with feeling trapped in a relationship.
You might also try to think of reasons to justify staying in your relationship. For example, you might tell yourself, “well, things aren’t too bad; it could be worse,” or you may also think that things will get better with time. Unfortunately, while things can improve, it’s also a sign of being in denial, and this can cause you to turn the other cheek on your partner’s misbehaviors and other shortcomings. 
5. You’re Stuck In A Routine
It can be easy to fall into a repetitive routine if you’ve been dating or married to the same person for a while now. The days of doing anything exciting seem to be few and far between, and the lack of this can contribute to the feelings you are experiencing.
Relationships need to be maintained, and just because you have been together for a while, this doesn’t mean that neither of you needs to put in any effort. Statistically, it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll be together forever. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce. 
To fix this, you and your partner will need to spice things up to end the monotony in your relationship, causing you to feel trapped. However, if you’ve made pleas to bond and do fun things together, and it has yielded no improvements, you might need to consult with a professional who can help you out.
6. You Aren’t Being Listened To
Communication is essential to any happy and functioning relationship. However, if you feel like your needs aren’t being taken into account or taken seriously, this can make you feel like you are trapped. It can make it seem like your thoughts don’t matter to your partner, making you feel like you are all alone.
On its own, a lack of communication can create a lot of discontent in a relationship, and for costing nothing, many people underestimate the value of knowing that you are being heard and your needs are being considered. Of course, no communication is an easy recipe for many problems, such as trust and intimacy issues, but it’s also the main ingredient for solving them.
If you’ve tried talking to your partner about how you feel, and your concerns aren’t being taken to heart, as well as your needs aren’t being met, help from a couple’s counselor is the next step that you should consider, and it can get to the bottom of why communication issues are there in the first place. If successful, you should start to feel less, or hopefully, no longer trapped in the relationship.
No one wants to feel negative feelings towards the person we’re with, but unfortunately, some circumstances can create them. In this article, you’ve learned about some of the most common reasons why you might be feeling trapped in a relationship, and on the bright side, most of these issues are entirely fixable.
Even if you feel stuck right now and leaving your relationship has crossed your mind at least once. Still, it’s the last thing you want to do, counseling is an option, and it can potentially rekindle the positive emotions in your relationship.
These days, getting help is more accessible than ever. With ReGain’s online counseling and therapy services, you have a convenient and affordable way to address the problems causing you to feel trapped in your relationship. ReGain’s licensed professionals have plenty of experience helping couples with issues just like yours and have even saved relationships that were on the verge of divorce.
If you’ve been thinking about leaving because of these feelings but haven’t considered all of the options available to you, it’s recommended that you give therapy a shot. In addition to giving you the skills to manage the problems in your relationship, you can also strengthen it and have a better future together. At that point, you won’t feel like you are trapped, but you will want to stay.
“My girlfriend and I have been working with Alison for about four months now and with her help and guidance we have strengthened our relationship ten fold. Her communication style is amazing and she really strives to make the best of our time with one another. If you’re looking for a counselor you can put your faith in with the whole experience, she’s the one to go to.”
“With Cassandra’s help, we’ve been able to bring our relationship to a new, healthier, and much happier level, working through painful situations, growing as individuals and as a couple, and with tools to stay on this path. She’s very responsive, and it has been great to have her facilitate our messaging through the app all week. I highly recommend Cassandra. She’s skilled, supportive, and down-to-earth. We feel totally comfortable with her.”
- Lancer, D. (2018, May 12). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201805/do-you-feel-trapped-in-unhappy-relationship.
- NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved from https://ncadv.org/statistics.
- American Psychological Association. (2019). Marriage & Divorce. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/index.
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