Why do we people stay in relationships that are obviously bad for them? We've all been there either ourselves or watched someone we care about to stay with someone who was hurting them and yet o matter how much they acknowledge it they can't walk away. Well, there is a reason why we can't cut the cord.
This innate urge to stay in an unhealthy relationship is more common than you think according to studies published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Fear Of The Unknown
There are a lot of reasons why a person would stay in a toxic relationship but one of the common ones is the fear of life without them. Despite having once been okay without them, the longer they date, the more intertwined their lives become, and the more the relationship represents a level of security and comfort that is too scary to walk away from.
Plus dating these days is hard, and the idea of having to start back from scratch can seem quite daunting for those in long-term relationships. They would rather stay and settle than to the risk of finding something better.
Distaste For Change
While change is the only constant in life, it's also the most uncomfortable part of it. The reason we fear change is our innate need to control. The more we feel in control, the more we calm our nervous system because we feel prepared to predict and tackle the next step.
However, a breakup requires inviting change. We can't guarantee what's next. Our days suddenly require us to build an entirely new routine that is only dependent on us. For some, staying in a toxic relationship is their own way of protecting themselves.
When you've dedicated enough time and energy to get to know someone ad become vulnerable to them, you understandably feel a certain sense of loyalty. You start to see the best in them or hold on to a version of them you once knew.
According to Matthew Verdun, a Licensed marriage and family therapist: "People who grew up believing they have to be attached to 'the one’ for their lifetime but were never taught how to identify ‘the one’ are especially susceptible to this." If this describes you, ask yourself who are you more loyal to, yourself, or your partner?
Fear Of Being Alone
As human beings, we are programmed to crave human contact. We long to love and be loved. In a world where commitment is scarce and life is uncertain, we tend to hold on tightly to the connections we form, fearing that we may never be able to find them again.
We feel like we're on some kind of timeliness and convince ourselves that the older we are the more our chances of finding love are diminishing so we settle. But remember that as the saying goes, we accept the love that we think we deserve.
Sometimes staying in an unhealthy relationship is simply a coping mechanism. Just like with a fight or flight response, we tend to respond to stress by either letting it overwhelm us or by escaping it at all costs. By avoiding dealing with the problem, we think we're postponing the aftermath. In reality, the body and the mind are really closely connected.
So even if we shut off the problem on a conscious level, our subconscious mind still knows and alerts the body. We might find ourselves stressed regardless, fatigued, irritable, and unable to eat or sleep until we find a way to end the issue at hand and walk away from the relationship.
Low Self Esteem
The consequence of staying in a toxic relationship too long is that we start to normalize their issues and internalize it. We take all the blame for the way the relationship played out. This ends up breaking us from the inside out and our self-esteem takes a hit.
You might start to feel like you deserve it, that you're unworthy of love or that this is the only kind of relationship you know how to have. In all cases, relationships are a two-way streak and even if you play a part in it, stepping away from it to find the root of the issues will set you free from them so that you can break the pattern.
Codependency Is Easily Created
What the studies ultimately found is that the common reason people stay in healthy relationships is codependency. The study tapped over 1,800 participants in total and found that people deciding whether to end a relationship or not consider not only their own desires but also how much they think their partner wants and needs the relationship to continue.
"The more dependent people believed their partner was on the relationship, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup," said lead author, psychologist Samantha Joel. These findings show that people in unhealthy relationships start to give too much power over their happiness to their partner and feel like they don't know how to be without them.
Look For These Signs Of A Toxic Relationship
The first step in walking away from a toxic relationship is accepting it for what it is. Take a step back and look at the good and the bad. For instance: "An unhealthy relationship exists when one (or both) partners are not getting their needs met," says Matthew Verdun.
Oher red flags are not knowing how the relationship is moving forward. Maybe the relationship has alienated you from your friends or you've drifted apart. It's easy to hold on to an ideal or past version of the relationship but that will only set you up for constant disappointment.
It's Not Always Obvious
Remember that the red flags aren't always as obvious as name-calling, manipulation, or yelling. Sometimes it comes down to the flow of the everyday.
Watch out for parters who criticize, blame, ignore, or guilt-trip you because the effects of these actions are just as harmful to your being with long-term effects. Your partner should never dictate your mood or affect you on such a level that you lose yourself.
Ask Yourself "Why"
Ask yourself "why" you're in your relationship and be honest with yourself about the answer. You shouldn't need to convince yourself that you're in a healthy relationship.
In any relationship, always look at how you feel and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it's much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.
For more great relationship advice and tips on how to attain the kind of love you deserve, watch this video from expert, Amy North: Click Here To Watch The Full Video.