May 29, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA
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Why do we Stay in Unhappy and Unhealthy Relationships?

unhealthy relationships

We all Know a Couple Who Should Have Broken up Years Ago. Do You Ever Wonder Why They’re Still Dragging Things Out? We Might Have the Answers

Relationships have rocky moments. You might look at your partner and wonder why you’re together, and why you’ve built so much of your life around this other person. Yet for all this, you still want to be with them. If I was being romantic, I would say that you stay together for love, and because of the joy you find in your partnership. That isn’t always the case, though. So let’s look at the most common reasons people stay in their relationships, even if they’re feeling uneasy.

  • 1.Pragmatism. 

It’s hard work to untangle yourself from someone you’ve been with for a long time. It might upset your financial security. You may have to get a divorce, sell your house, or separate assets… there’s just a lot of admin. If you think you might get through this rough patch, or simply can’t face dealing with all of it, perhaps you’ll stay. 

  • 2.The kids.

My parents split up a few times when I was a child. It was awful. I was unhappy, my little siblings were confused, and I don’t imagine my parents felt great, either. However, my mum told me that her parents had stayed together for the sake of her and my aunty, and that hadn’t made anyone feel good. If anything, it made the divorce more messy. Staying together “for the kids” might mean that your children see a nuclear family unit, but can also make them feel guilty, expose them to fights, and acclimatise them to the idea that relationships/marriages don’t have to be loving, which may well affect their own romantic endeavours. Kids are the most important thing in their parents’ lives, right? Give them a good environment. That doesn’t have to be one with two parents present at all times

  • 3. Fear of change.

 It’s funny to think that people are afraid of change because without it we’d all be living in caves without WiFi. Nevertheless, human beings are resistant to new situations, even if they’re going to have plenty of benefits. Leaving a bad relationship, improving your mental health and perhaps meeting someone new can be really daunting! Plus, all those things sound great… but what if they don’t work out? What if you make a mistake? A study in the UK from 2016 states that 22% of people end up regretting their divorce. It’s not uncommon for people to get remarried to a previous spouse. Therefore, I would recommend getting help from a couples’ therapist and trying to build a more healthy relationship before leaving. Stay because you love your current partner; don’t stay because you’re afraid. 

  • 4. Scarcity mentality. 

When a couple breaks up, friends often hear things like “Where am I going to find another person like them?!”. Here’s the honest answer: nowhere, hopefully. Clearly, they weren’t right for you. There’s plenty more fish in the sea. Actually, there aren’t, we’re on the brink of environmental catastrophe– but there are a lot of humans around. If you want to date someone, you’ll find them. Hop on Tinder or ask a friend to set you up. Or… well, don’t! You don’t need a romantic relationship to feel happy or fulfilled. Grab yourself a vibrator, spend more time with your family, travel, and do all the things your ex didn’t want you to do. Maybe get a pet! So stay if you love them, not because you think there are no other boring, 30-year-old singletons around. The next one you see might be the best person for you, so you’ve just taken the first step to a long-lasting relationship with an alternative partner

  • 5. Avoiding guilt and shame. 

Oh boy. There is no shame in separation. Sometimes, romantic relationships don’t work out. That’s a fact. It can’t be helped. If you haven’t lied, cheated, or been abusive, you have nothing of which to be ashamed. I say all this from a place of privilege because I know I wouldn’t be judged by those I care about. Nevertheless, there are some places where divorce isn’t common, and people report feeling that they have to stay with their spouse. To them, I say this: leave your relationship, and cut anyone out of your life who makes you feel bad about it. Move away and never look back. You have one life, so fill it with joy and orgasms and have fun. Don’t stay in fear of the wrong person just because some nosy family member thinks you should. 

  • 6. Is it selfish to leave?

 I’ve heard this thrown around, mostly at women. Oh, the husband and kids want you around, so you have to stay. Otherwise, you’re a meanie. Fortunately, women have rights and agency, so make sure you use them. The children, as discussed, will not enjoy a divorce/separation, but ultimately it’s for the best. As for your husband… if he was a good husband, you probably wouldn’t want to go. Suggest instead that laziness and other deficiencies are his own selfishness, and see how fast the narrative changes. Also, it’s ok to prioritise yourself. That’s not a crime. 


I think there’s one reason to stay in your current relationship. It’s because you’re happy and in love. Anything else is going to eat away at you and give you low self-esteem. So if you’re unhappy, take some time to think. It might be an easy decision or it might be a tough decision. I’ve heard people say both. Then pack a bag, grab a drink with your friends, and know that you’ve made the best choice for yourself.
Rachel Hall, M.A., completed her education in English at the University of Pennsylvania and received her master’s degree in family therapy from Northern Washington University. She has been actively involved in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, and coping with life changes and traumatic events for both families and individual clients for over a decade. Her areas of expertise include narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and therapy for traumatic cases. In addition, Rachel conducts workshops focusing on the psychology of positive thinking and coping skills for both parents and teens. She has also authored numerous articles on the topics of mental health, stress, family dynamics and parenting.

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