The Top 7 Reasons We Stay in Bad Relationships

“Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~Hermann Hesse

She knew it sooner than I did. And more intensely than I did.

I, on the other hand, may have considered our differences but never thought of them as deal-breakers. I tried to justify the many struggles we had between us and believed that our marriage could work despite the challenges.

I had this feeling things would get better and stayed hopeful no matter how bad our relationship got.

I told myself that her extraverted personality and my more introversion could work together. And that her more social and outgoing nature and my more private and homebound inclinations were just minor differences.

I believed it was both of us trying to settle into our professional careers that led to our conflicts. Or maybe, it was moving away from California so she could complete her professional training that put pressure on our relationship. Or it was because we didn’t have a support system that we weren’t getting along.

In retrospect, if I’m being completely objective, I can see there were problems.

There were fights and disagreements that would have landed us on a reality TV show.

There were days of not talking and threats of leaving regularly.

There were instances where we ignored each other’s feelings and preferences in our life goals. There was a lack of understanding and compassion for each other.

Yet, we stayed together for years, and even after our separation, I still didn’t want this relationship to end.

Even after our divorce, I was hopeful.

Was this the optimist in me?

Was I being delusional?

Are you too wondering why you’re stuck in a relationship that isn’t working and bad for your spirit?

You may feel the dysfunction on a daily basis and feel frustrated with the constant fights and disagreements.

Are you wondering why you’re having trouble letting go when the person you’re with isn’t the right person for you? Are you wondering why you’re stuck in dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship? And even worse, not doing anything about it?

Here are top seven reasons we stay in bad relationships.

1. We have grown accustomed to people who treat us badly.

Those of us who grew up in abusive or hurtful households feel used to complicated love.

We begin to believe that people who hurt us are the ones who truly love us.

We have learned that it’s okay to be treated poorly, to not have boundaries, and to feel hurt by other people’s behavior.

Others have taught us that it’s acceptable to accept abuse and dysfunction. We not only can tolerate it but have to come to view this is as normal.

2. We prefer bad relationships over the unknown.

This is the biggest reason most of us stay in dysfunctional, hurtful relationships.

We may despise the person and the relationship, but we hate uncertainty and change more.

Our brains are simply not wired for changed circumstances.

We would suffer any amount of pain to avoid dealing with the unknown in the future.

3. We prefer a bad relationship over being alone.

We can’t stand being alone.

We can’t imagine a life by ourselves.

We see ourselves with cats, other lonely people, and silent walks in the park.

We hear silence, see no one, and feel like disappearing from earth altogether.

The alternative we imagine of being without someone feels hopeless and scary.

4. We don’t value ourselves.

We have a low sense of self-worth and don’t believe in ourselves.

When we find people who tear us down and bring us down, we take comfort in their behavior because it confirms our beliefs about ourselves.

We are open to people treating us badly because we are used to treating ourselves badly by talking down to ourselves, criticizing ourselves, and hurting ourselves.

We don’t believe we are worth the time and attention of someone kinder and more compassionate toward us. We may even fear being treated well because we don’t trust that we deserve it or that it will last.

5. We feel rejected, dejected, inspected, and tossed to the sharks.

Ending a relationship, no matter how good or bad it was, makes us feel unwanted.

It hits at our self-esteem and self-worth.

It makes us feel unwanted and unworthy.

Many of us felt unwanted or abandoned in our childhood, and ending a relationship in adulthood brings all our old feelings to the surface.

We’d rather stay with someone than fall into a sinkhole of unworthiness, never knowing if we can pick up your self-esteem again.

6. We feel out of place and out of sorts.

We don’t know what our place or role in the world is anymore.

We are no longer the husband, wife, partner of so and so.

We lose half of our family and friends, our ex’s family and friends.

We don’t know what to say to people at dinner parties, work, or any other social situation.

Our society tends to put an emphasis on couples, so without a partnership we become lost and on the outside of everyday life.

We become talked about, and our relationship status seems to be at the center of attention.

7. We don’t believe you there’s anyone else out there for us.

A big part of why we’d rather stay together is that we doubt we could ever find someone nearly as compatible again.

How do we know we can date again? How do we know someone else will find us attractive again? How do we know if love will strike again in the future?

Instead of uncertainty of a day that may never come and a love that may never bloom, we choose to stay with the person we’ve already found.

Instead of hanging on to a relationship that is bad for your heart and soul, consider the possibility of moving on, grieving, and letting go of this relationship that isn’t working.

Trust your gut, know that this relationship isn’t right, and act on your inner knowing.

Look at the relationship objectively, as I wish I did sooner, and make the decision to walk away before things get any worse. As much as you would like it to get better, if neither of you are working on the relationship, or if you’re just not right for each other, it will not improve.

Know that brighter days are ahead if you release this person and the unhealthy relationship from your life. You can get through this breakup, as you’ve likely done many times in your life, and can move on from this relationship.

Brighter days mean being alone sometimes; it means finding peace; it means getting to know yourself and eventually finding yourself in a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

So many people have gone through heartbreak, have lost that one special person, and have gone on to find the right one.

Uncertainty after ending a bad relationship is uncomfortable but better than the comfort of dysfunction.

Letting go and ending this relationship is risky, but with great risk come life’s greatest rewards.

One day of peace and comfort by yourself is worth a thousand days being in a relationship that is suffocating and dysfunctional.

Instead of showering love on someone who can’t reciprocate, consider giving yourself that love.

Open your heart to yourself, speak gently to yourself, do nice things for yourself, make your life comfortable and relaxed.

Cultivate an inner sanctuary of silence, compassion, peace, and acceptance of yourself, perhaps through yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature, or by seeing a therapist to work through the core wounds from your childhood.

Work on spiritual practices that help you accept yourself for who you are and be comfortable in your own body without needing to be with someone. This could include breath work, affirmations, journaling, or even some form or art.

Finally, remember, your ex has helped you grow and lead you to the place you are today, but it’s not healthy to keep them in your journey to the end.

Letting go of your ex allows you to pick up the journey on your own for a bit so you can grow stronger and be better prepared for healthy, happy relationships in the future.

After your own solo travels, you can find another love that will help you grow as a person and further reach your potential as a human being. Or will allow you to discover who you are so you can live an honest and authentic life, which will lead you to rich experiences, spiritual growth, and deeper friendships.

Losing this unhealthy relationship doesn’t mean your world has ended and there will never be someone out there again for you.

Ending this relationship will open the realm of possibilities for authentic relationships, healthy love, and true happiness.

About Vishnu

Vishnu is a writer and coach who helps people overcome breakups to rebuild their lives and live with purpose.  He blogs at For Vishnu’s latest book, 10 Sacred Laws of Healing a Broken Heart, visit his Amazon page here.

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