There’s a term used in my line of work called secondary gain. If there’s any situation you find yourself stuck in, it’s a term you should know. Especially, if you’re at a loss to understand why you’re plans for freedom aren’t coming to fruition.
Secondary gain, put plainly, describes the positive emotion, thoughts or reward, you get as a result of a negative situation. Negative, as deemed by you or someone else.
For example; if you’re overweight and struggling to lose the pounds, your secondary gain may be the camaraderie of your support group, or a social life that revolves around eating and drinking. To decide to lose weight, and to actively do it, would mean sacrificing either of these two things and possibly more.
Another, unfortunately common, example is staying in an abusive relationship. As horrific as the trauma may be, if your secondary gain is financial stability, social status or acceptance by a community, then this is likely the true reason that you stay, not love.
When it comes to relationships, secondary gain is a massive motivator for a multitude of sins. It’s huge. There are women who stay with cheaters and abusers because they are materially supported. There are men who stay in loveless marriages because their wife makes a good mother or housewife.
Secondary gain is also experienced by singletons who aren’t in relationships. The spectrum is broad, from women who remain unhappily single (secondary gain = freedom), to the reluctant serial daters who never get too deeply involved (secondary gain = perhaps an unwillingness to address painful issues from past relationships).
The positives that our subconscious mind is well aware of are an incentive to stay stuck exactly where we are.
So, think about the realities you don’t love about your relationship status right now. Then think about what you’re directly or indirectly getting from it.
What secondary gain is motivating you, and is it enough to stay in the life that it allows?