Bad relationships don’t happen all at once, they creep up on us. If they were bad in the beginning, no one would ever do it. So, why do we stay in bad relationships long after it dawns on us that it’s time to go?
Here are three reasons why leaving a bad relationship is a lot harder than it sounds:
1. You feel like you’ve put in too much time to give up now.
Once we start a relationship and put in the effort to keep it going, stopping feels like we’re losing our investment. The realization that we’ve wasted months or years of our life staying with the wrong person is often too much for us to come to terms with.
2. You want to be the hero of your relationship.
Sometimes we fancy ourselves as the other person’s savior. We tell ourselves nonsense like, “They would be so devastated by the breakup that they would never recover.”
Hooey. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by continuing a relationship with them because you feel bad about telling them it’s over. Yet, plenty of people stick around, feeling too much shame to admit that they are dying inside.
3. You make yourself believe that this relationship is what you really want — even though you don’t.
This one is tricky. Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or my side bias) is defined as, “a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.”
What this means for relationships is that once you get into one, you will work hard to confirm that continuing the relationship is a good choice.
This natural tendency is helpful when we’re in a good relationship because seeing the good helps us get through the hard times. Unfortunately, this is a disaster when we find ourselves in a toxic pairing.
In the honeymoon phase, we often tell everyone (particularly ourselves) how excited we are about our new mate. Then, as the realization hits that the other person is not good for us, we’ll stick around for a while (sometimes a lot) longer in an emotional space of being unwilling to admit that we cut the wrong pony from the herd.
This post originally appeared at YourTango.