Why Do We Stay in an Unhealthy Relationship?

Sometimes I get a call and they tell me this situation, they are not married, have no kids and have been with their partner for many years but they fight all the time. They can’t be together for an entire day without fighting. Then I am told that they want to work on the relationship to make it better, to find a way to communicate that will work. I ask them, “Why do you want to stay in the relationship?” and they tell me it is because they love their partner or when it is good, it is wonderful. Why would you choose a partner that you fight with constantly? Why stay in an unhealthy relationship? 

Here are some reasons. 

1. You don’t know what a healthy relationship is. You have a low comparison level and low expectations. If you have grown up in a home that is just as unhealthy then this environment is what is expected. Sometimes I will give an example of a healthy conversation to a client and they are surprised that I am suggesting it as a possibility because it seems impossible to them. They can’t even imagine a relationship that works like that, with respect and consideration from both partners.

2. You don’t think you deserve any better and you believe the alternative would be worse. This usually occurs if the person has low self esteem. They don’t think they deserve any better than this. So they settle and continue to try to fix what they have. 

3. Your fear is holding you there. Fear of being alone, fear of being judged or laughed at, fear of not knowing where to go and fear of disappointing someone. These fears immobilize you. 

4. You are used to the drama and toxicity and you are comfortable with it. The drama is exciting, there is adrenaline that pumps in you when you fight. It is stimulating. Also some people have grown up in this sort of an environment and it is known and comfortable. There are so many people who care more about having security and comfort than they care about having peace of mind. 

When two people fight and don’t see eye to eye, sometimes it is no ones fault, it is just not a good fit. You are very different people, from different backgrounds, different values, different expectations, different desires and neither of you is wrong you are just not a match. Don’t try to force a relationship that doesn’t fit and is a continual struggle. I understand that there will be struggles in a relationship but that is not what we are talking about here. And we are not talking about staying together for the children or because you hit a rough patch after years of marriage. Those are different scenarios. 

Dating is a time to find a life partner that will be a good match for you. Don’t just settle for the wrong person because of the reasons I mentioned above. Be strong enough to walk away and try again. This is a choice that you will be dealing with for years to come so make a wise choice.


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