Why People Stay In Unhappy Relationships, A Love Expert Tells All

Leaving love is harder than you think.

why people stay in unhappy relationships

Relationships are either going to be a lesson or a blessing, sometimes both. But let’s face it, they all come as experiences we need to take life in our stride. For some, they stay in relationships that are well past their expiration date for a number of reasons. Though it might be a learning curve, people are willing to stay in an unsatisfying relationship with or without knowing; let’s take a look at five reasons why people stick around long after the spark has fizzled out.

A Big Investment Is Hard To Leave Behind

This is most common in older couples or those that have been together for many years; both partners have invested a lot of their time and energy into the relationship and don’t want it to go to waste. Bigger factors such as children, homes, cars, businesses, and finances majorly influence why people stay in less-than-satisfactory relationships. If children and financial ties are involved it can be more difficult to split up, with implications of a messy divorce or break up that will dramatically affect everyone involved.

If a partner isn’t happy in a relationship, they will put their happiness last. They’ll put the needs of the family and convenience of staying together first. Even without children, a couple that has been together for many years can still feel the obligation to stay. 

why people stay in bad relationships
Image: Sai De Silva

Self worth And Relationship Standards Are Connected

Particularly for women, staying in unhappy relationships is easier when they have low self-esteem and sense of worth; if you believe you aren’t ‘enough’ and don’t see your value in your family, community or work life, you will to settle for relationships that aren’t great for you.

This leads to suffering from the psychological term ‘low comparison levels’. This means your standards and expectations of your relationships are quite low. With this, your partner can reach your expectations easily as they were low to begin with, thus feeling okay to stay with them because you expected not much in the first place.

Women who have suffered from emotional or physical abuse in the past find it the most difficult to place value on themselves and normal standards of their partner’s behavior. Their sense of worth was lowered at an early age or too often by consecutive partners, they now value low-quality relationships and perceive them as good.

The Alternative Is Too Scary

If you’ve thought about leaving the relationship you know what might happen if you went through with it. As humans we tend to stick to situations that are familiar because it’s something we understand; drastically changing that can bring on feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Simply put, if you’re someone who perceives being single or being with someone else as a better alternative than your current relationship, it’s likely you’ll break it off. If you believe the alternatives are too much of a change or not worth leaving your partner for, you’re more likely to stay.

Women that have low self-esteem stay in these relationships because they believe there isn’t anyone else out there and they should stay with their current partner, rather than be alone. However, financially independent women, those that live in areas with more men than women, or women with normal self-esteem are more likely to leave an unhappy relationship.

Methods Of Manipulation Are Being Used

In this scenario your partner is fully aware you may want to leave the relationship. They will use a number of manipulation tactics that forces you stick around without you knowing.

Emotional abuse such as ridicule, using belittling language and in some cases threats of violence toward themselves if you leave are ways they can manipulate you into staying. Most common in people with low self-esteem, especially men, this behavior stems from those who feel less attractive than their partner and need to use these tactics to keep them around.

why people stay in bad relationships
Image: Anastasiia Vedmedenko

Love Is A Convenient Explanation

A more weighty reason why people stay in unhappy relationships: love. Mostly, it can be harder to leave your partner. If there are still feelings of love and the hope it will one day return to your fairytale beginning.

The love in your heart that says to stay and the logic in your head that says to leave can coexist pretty nicely. Your common sense kicks in and reminds you of all the things that are wrong with your relationship. Your heart is taking over your body and blurs the line of what’s right and wrong for you.

Whether you identify your relationship with one or many of these reasons, talk to your friends and family. By actually discussing what’s going through your mind, you will be able to pinpoint issues and come to terms with if you should leave the relationship or not. Seek help through a therapist or talk to Dr. Lurve who specializes in helping women with relationships and love.

You can read about why Dr. Lurve thinks many have unrealistic expectations in relationships here

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