Why We Stay In Unhappy Relationships

Over the years I have seen (and been in) so many unhappy relationships. A crazy number of my friends are with people that are so patently not right for them yet they stay with them anyway.

They waste years of their life with people that will never appreciate them, never make them happy and never allow them to live the life they want, but despite it all, they don’t leave. Ultimately, I believe it’s what leads to such a high number of divorces in the UK, and I wish there was something I could about it to help people realise it, but more importantly, empower them to do something about it. (maybe my training as a life coach will be a small step in the right direction).

Fundamentally, I believe we stay for the following reasons:

  • We are scared of being on our own – because being on our own, with the freedom to do what we like, control our happiness and be who we want is much much worse than being with someone that treats us terribly. Right?
  • We convince ourselves that the bad times are temporary and the good will outshine them (even if they don’t).
  • We are worried about having to start again – society has forced upon us an ideal age range to get married and have children, if you are nearer that period in your life then you may find it harder to leave the wrong person because you have no idea how long it will take to meet the ‘right’ person and getting married. What most people don’t realise is that this mindset leads to people being divorced (and single) at 30.
  • We worry we will never meet someone with the few good qualities that person has – we exaggerate those qualities in our minds and associate them with only that person, despite the fact there will be many, many, more with those good qualities AND some.
  • We make excuses for their bad habits – they’re stressed/going through a bad time/ I pushed them to it/ it’s my fault. The longer we blame ourselves and make excuses for why they behave badly, the longer we are denial about what is actually happening in the relationship and so we remain in it.
  • There isn’t a right time to do it – he’s just lost his job, we’re about to go on holiday, his sister is getting married. There will never be a right time to end a relationship, if you keep putting it off because of life events, your simply making excuse to avoid the inevitable.
  • Guilt – sometimes the relationship may have gotten so bad that you’ve met someone else, or you’ve fallen out of love with them. But you feel guilty at leaving them, maybe you own the house you live in, or you know they rely on you for income. So you stay, out of politeness to them.

To my brilliant readers, what are your thoughts on this topic?


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I'm a 27 year old single girl in London, blogging about my dating adventures, London culture and my adventures around the world.

49 thoughts on “Why We Stay In Unhappy Relationships

  1. Financial burden is a big one too. Funny thing is, in the past, whenever I felt as if I couldn’t make it financially without my partner’s financial support, I found that I was actually contributing more than my partner anyway and in fact I could do it. Now I never let that stop me, even if it means I have to eat rice and beans for a year.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. No, not quite. Once we cohabitated and started sharing expenses, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get along without being able to share costs. In truth, I would discover after leaving that I was usually the one taking on the majority of the financial burden, around 3/4, and their absence was not so terrible. As a bigger picture, women stay in bad or abusive relationships because of financial reasons as well. We automatically get paid less, childcare automatically falls on us, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Someone once said, “Women marry men hoping to change them; men marry women hoping they won’t change.” I don’t know how true that is but maybe people stay in relationships hoping for an unrealistic change (improvement).

    Liked by 7 people

    1. That is an interesting saying for sure. I can’t speak for everyone but I know lots of people (myself included) have stayed in a relationship in the hope of a change so great that it would realistically never happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I got a cat. Male workmates make jokes about animal cruelty and I ask them if all their partners are is sex to them… they sulk. I don’t drink or do drugs and can can keep mnemonic standup shows going in my head whilst isolated in straight jacket… so I deal with their wanker crap easy. As if my cat would go for a bloke who can’t clean his own clothes anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are typically the kind of blokes who honestly think they are into feminism now because the media directs them. I got my shit together by about 8 years of age. I would rather have no relationship than be with a good looking dickhead because it’s the norm. Worked out at about 16 how dangerous it is for women when wanker blokes in locker rooms brag about who they’ve been with. Some women benefit too. Norma Gene never does. Most of those guys I was at school with were academically dull and conservative… so are doctors, lawyers, or in finance in your country now. 😼😼


  5. Well… if you already have children, and you yourself grew up with divorced parents, that makes it harder. There comes a time when the kids might come to you and ask why your relationship is so bad, or why the two of you are even together. Then you know they will be okay. And then you leave.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is very true. My parents still married but I have friends whose partners are married and they wish they would separate because they have grown up with their parents arguing endlessly. It also gives children the wrong expectations/standards that a relationship should encompass continuous arguing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. I guess it’s a bit like (forgive the crude image) like having a rotten tooth. You suspect you might feel better after it’s gone, but facing a tongs-wielding dentist is a very immediate a scary problem…


  6. Bingo!! I can definitely agree with each of these. I am now very glad that the ex left me, I just wish he had done it differently. I know I am much better without the relationship we had.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this! I stayed with someone who was really bad for me and since leaving, never looked back! It’s scary how much of a negative affect one person can have on someone, and like you say, it’s even more scary how many people stay with people they shouldn’t. I just wanna shake them and make them see in to the future. I think you do it once and then never do it again. Well, I sure won’t be doing it again any time soon 👀😂 great post, loved it and your blog name

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you 🙂 yeah I think when you’re looking in as an outsider at someone else’s relationship it can be easy to see what is so patently wrong but I’ve found unless people reach that understanding themselves there’s no point hammering the point home to them. Yeah I think once you get out of a rubbish relationship you are definitely more wary about ending up in something as bad in future!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post!
    I think most people in an unhappy relationship are afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
    They stay in their relationships because they are afraid of being alone, scared to start their own lives, scared of so many things… When I am overlooking the battlefield of my relationships 🙂 , I will listen to my heart whenever I feel a relationship isn’t working anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. All good comments one and all, however on the flipside, for those that claim they are happily married, do we all think that none of the reasons listed above to split are non-existent in their relationships?

    To be fair it would seem a possibility that even the absence of some of the points may indicate a dull life!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You touched on a few points one being that we think they are going to change. One reason though we stay in bad relationship longer than we should is because we talk ourselves into staying even though we know it done. If our well meaning friends or famiky try to tell us different we get our stubborn on and dig in harder as a I will show you mentality. Obviously that only serves to hurt us . We often stay because it’s easier than to face the unknown life without the other person.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is very true! Whenever my family have said anything about a partner in the past it has actually pushed me closer to them rather than further away. But I guess it’s hard for our loved ones to see us unhappy and not be able to do anything about it!


  11. As usual, you’ve hit the nail right on the head. My ex is an artist, a musician, a creator of the beautiful and I forced myself to focus solely on those wonderful attributes that I was completely blind to just how incompatible we truly are. I still think about his paintings or how he would play his piano for me and worry I’ll never find someone like that again, but you’re right. There are thousands upon thousands of skilled people in the world. Thanks a ton Giulia!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you could relate 🙂 admittedly someone playing the piano for you does sound great, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find anyone else that can play the piano AND be compatible with you too. It’s about realising your worth and realising when you are settling!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I stayed in a relationship (thank goodness, we were only in the dating phase and didn’t go further) far too long. I was scared of bullet number 3 on your list. I was so lost and I had forgotten I am an individual and should not be recognized as “his girlfriend”. I am happy to say that after with much love and support and countless interventions with my family, I was able to break it off!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well done Dianne 🙂 I’m glad you were able to come to that conclusion by yourself, it takes great courage to do that! Now you have put yourself in the best position to find someone who truly makes you happy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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