Why Do We Stay in Bad Relationships: 10 Common Reasons
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Relationships are an essential part of our lives. They bring love, companionship, and emotional support, but they can also bring pain and heartbreak.
Unfortunately, many people find themselves staying in bad relationships despite the detrimental effects on their mental and physical health. This is a common problem, and the reasons behind it can be complicated.
The reasons why individuals stay in bad relationships can vary from person to person. Some may stay due to fear of being alone or because they believe they won’t find anyone else.
Others may stay because of financial or emotional dependence, feeling guilty about leaving, or believing they can change their partner. Sometimes, people stay in toxic relationships because they don’t even realize that their relationship is unhealthy, to begin with.
Regardless of the reasons, staying in a bad relationship can have serious consequences. It can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression, and affect overall physical health. Moreover, it can lead to a cycle of codependency and toxic patterns, making it difficult to break free.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind ‘’Why do we stay in bad relationships’’, the impact it has on their well-being, and what can be done to break free from the cycle of codependency.
We’ll provide helpful tips and advice for recognizing and addressing bad relationships, and ultimately, finding the courage to move on.
What is a bad relationship?
We are all different but essentially, we are all humans with basic needs. In short, any relationship that drains you without giving you anything back is bad.
More specifically, anyone who manipulates you into doing things you are not comfortable with is potentially toxic. Of course, we should never just jump to conclusions but if your partner isn’t willing to communicate or commit to healthy boundaries, you might want to consider your options.
So, why do we stay in bad relationships? This is a complex question because there are many factors ranging from social influence to self-blame and love.
As this paper on ‘’Commitment is Key’’ further explains, people do not generally like going against decisions, in this case, committing to someone.
10 common motivations behind staying in unhealthy relationships
Review these 10 common reasons to give you some clues while answering the question “Why do people stay in unhealthy relationships”.
Fear of the unknown or of hurting someone else can be so debilitating that we can’t think clearly. As this paper on how the brain responds to stress explains, being in bad relationships can shut down our self-control and create mental paralysis.
In this state, you can no longer judge whether your relationship is healthy or not.
Related Reading: 10 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Love
2. Low self-esteem
Being bad at relationships is common to those who grew up in dysfunctional families and never developed inner self-esteem. Consequently, as they look for external validation, they often fall prey to toxic people.
3. Financial dependence
Self-esteem is key to commanding respect but without financial freedom, many people are stuck in their bad relationships. Again, fear steps in with overwhelming thoughts of being potentially homeless and destitute.
Why do we stay in bad relationships? For instance, codependents are notoriously bad at relationships because they are insecure about themselves and so let others step all over their boundaries.
5. Mental issues
Many people stay with their mentally disturbed partners despite not being equipped for this because they feel guilty.
So, why do we stay in bad relationships? Because we feel a certain loyalty and responsibility for others regardless of whether that responsibility is ours to take.
What is a bad relationship if not with someone who forces you to do things against your will? The irony is that manipulators know when to shower the charm to keep you close.
7. Stockholm syndrome
Again, why do we stay in bad relationships? In short, people sometimes develop “trauma bonding” which is a form of Stockholm’s Syndrome.
As this medical article on trauma bonding explains, this is when victims form psychological attachments to their abusive partners.
One of the most obvious answers to the question, “Why do people stay in unhealthy relationships” is to keep the family together for the sake of the children.
Another of the major emotions behind the query “Why do we stay in bad relationships” is denial. It’s a form of defense mechanism against emotional pain because the mind simply can’t deal with it.
Related Reading: How to Deal With Someone in Denial: 10 Ways
10. Guilt and shame
People often unduly blame themselves. So, it’s important to seek relationship counseling to find ways to manage those deep emotions.
5 approaches to move on from an unhealthy relationship
Moving on from an unhealthy relationship is not easy for everyone, but it’s an essential step toward healing and growth. In this next section, we’ll explore five effective approaches to help you move on and start a new chapter in your life.
Review these next points if you want to answer the question, “How do I get out of a bad relationship”.
1. Discover your values
How to let go of a bad relationship starts with understanding your sense of right and wrong because values are your moral compass. You can then apply them to list your expectations in relationships.
2. Understand your needs
Most importantly, knowing both of your needs allows you to define what successful relationships look like.
Watch this School of Life video to give you a starting point with the most common needs for any relationship:
3. Practice assertive communication
To end a bad relationship, you need to be firm but compassionate. With the non-violent communication framework, you can practice beforehand what you’ll say.
4. Manage your guilt
The biggest challenge when considering how to let go of a bad relationship is dealing with emotions, especially guilt. It can help to refer to your list of expectations for a relationship to keep you on track.
5. Give yourself a timeline
It’s useful to make a list of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. After you’ve had the “expectations” conversation with your partner, you clearly state the timelines before you end a bad relationship.
What keeps people in bad relationships?
The reasons why we stay in bad relationships are varied. On the one hand, manipulators are very good at putting on the charm at the right moment.
On the other hand, you might be a people pleaser or you might even be modeling your caregivers’ relationship that you experienced growing up. Either way, a bad relationship leaves you with a host of unpleasant emotions and violated boundaries.
Letting go of bad relationships
There are multiple reasons why we stay in bad relationships depending on the situation and the people involved. These range from fear and shame to mental issues and manipulation.
To answer for yourself the question “Why do we stay in bad relationships”, first evaluate your needs. Secondly, explore your core beliefs about relationships and which ones no longer serve you.
If you then want to work on the query “How do I get out of a bad relationship”, go through the tips mentioned above but remember to also reach out to relationship counseling. They’ll give you the guidance that you’re on the right path for you.
You owe it to yourself to break the cycle of bad relationships once and for all.
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