Why do we stay in bad relationships?

Why do we stay in bad relationships?

It’s surprising how relationships can be loving and nurturing and can last forever. But it’s just as amazing that when we find ourselves in bad relationships we may stay in them for way too long. Why do people stay in relationships when they want to leave? Why just settle for second best? Why not just leave?

Because it’s not easy.

A healthy relationship should be based on love and trust. It should be nurturing and caring. The couple involved should have similar goals and enjoy the companionship. They choose to be together because they feel rewarded emotionally and physically. This doesn’t mean it’s conflict-free, but issues are resolved and harmony is sought. Problems are worked out together—as a team. Communication is open and the couple expects the best for each other. There is mutual respect.

When trust is gone. When the only the negative aspects of the other person seem to rise to the surface. When future goals are different. When most of their time together is spent bickering and nothing is resolved. When they both rather be somewhere else. Where there is deceit and acceptance of the other is gone. And of course, when the sex is gone or it has become a chore.

People choose to stay in dead-end relationships for many reasons. Are there any good reasons to stay? It all depends on an individual’s circumstances. Not everyone can or feel free to leave.

People stay in toxic relationships because they have children in common. But kids suffer the consequences either way. If the separation is healthy, amicable and the children’s interests come first—as they should—kids won’t suffer the blow of the separation so much. It is up to the parents to make the transition smooth. Staying for the children can backfire and may be worse in the end. Kids will feel the tension and the absence of love, thus absorbing the negativity. Parents are role models and children learn about relationships from watching their parents.

Also read: Dating again: how to tell your kids

Why do we stay in bad relationships?

In Jane Isay’s article in The New York Times titled, “Keep Marital Secrets Closed,” Isay explains how she stayed in a relationship with her gay husband for their kid’s sake, and how she was confronted by their children once they found out the reason they didn’t part ways. The children felt betrayed, confused and angered.

It’s true that it is hard to leave a spouse or partner for economic reasons—giving up a lifestyle you have become accustomed to, medical insurance, a nice car, etc. However, living a sad yet comfortable life is no way to live. All the money in the world won’t make a person happy. It is hard to start again from scratch, to move, to sleep alone, to date again. But you can make it if you focus on you again. Taking a second chance at love, a second chance at life might feel like looking down at an abyss, but it might bring happiness in the long run.

Most people fear being alone, but in the end we are alone no matter what. But being alone is not so bad. The freedom of choosing what to do, where to go, is well-worth it. Time alone will also help you figure out what you actually want from life, what you need. It will also help you see yourself as an individual, not as half of a partnership you no longer want to be a part of. People are lonely even in a room full of people, let’s not forget this truth. We are social beings. We get used to people, even if their company brings us suffering. Some people take the easy path and keep on living with their partner just because they fear being alone.

There is also the issue of security. Knowing you have a place to go back to is nice. However, if you dread going back, better go it alone. Security doesn’t really exist. At any given moment you can lose everything, then what?

Many people just stay, hoping that other person will change. But they won’t change. As I often say: If you can’t stand being with someone and hope they will someday change, just leave.

There is also such thing as addictive relationships and codependency. Some relationships feed on love-hate patterns. It’s like an addiction. Bickering, putting the other person down, belittling, running off, insulting. And then making-up. Is it really worth it to have someone push your buttons, on and off like that? These relationships go through the same cycles again and again. Once a relationship falls prey to the codependence dance chances of recovery are almost nil.

Many people stay in a bad relationship because they fear losing friends and family. The truth is, yes, you will lose some of those relationships. But you will make new relationships.

Yet one of the most important things that keep us in a toxic relationship is fear of change. Change is not easy. Change is scary. It’s like jumping into the unknown. Leaving without a paved way ahead is stressful. It is akin to the fear of making a big mistake. But the truth is that there are no mistakes. Wouldn’t staying in a bad relationship be a mistake? There is no such thing as mistakes, only results. Try and see life as an adventure with its ups and downs, maybe then change won’t appear so daunting.

The key is that you should be honest with yourself. honesty. Be honest about where you are in a relationship, and whether it is healthy to stay. There are all kinds of relationships and the thing is, we are the ones who make all our own choices. We are responsible for our life. Life just doesn’t happen to us. Why suffer in the wrong relationship? Choose your battles, the one’s worth fighting and give up the one’s you just can’t win.

Laura Carbonell

Laura Carbonell is a bilingual and bicultural language teacher in San Francisco, the place she calls home. Born into a family of writers, she enjoys sharing her vision of empowerment and motivation online. She blogs at Onlifeandhope.com