4 Reasons Why We Stay in Toxic Relationships (And Why That’s OK)

Flickr / Dennis Skley
Flickr / Dennis Skley

It seems crazy to stick with someone who you know is bad for you. But isn’t it funny how it’s the destructive and even toxic relationships that are the hardest ones to let go of? I’ve tried to get my head around this many a time and here are a few ideas on why I think we do this.

1. We confuse destruction for passion.

Those relationships that are made up of extreme highs and lows are addictive. We take the lows because we know that on the flip side of those are the highs. We think that this is what being in a passionate relationship is all about. It’s fiery, it can be sexy, and we can get addicted to the drama. Anything in between seems boring as opposed to healthy.

2. If we did leave, what would we do then?

Say you do walk away—what then? We invest so much time and emotional energy on the other person in this type of relationship; either trying our upmost to keep them happy, predicting their next move, making up with them or crying to our friends at how we’ve being made to feel like crap because of them again that if we walked away from all that, what would be left in our lives to fill that void? Emptiness can seem far scarier than unhappiness.

3. Sometimes our friends get sick of us and take a step back.

One of the roles of being a friend is to be there through bad times. But if you go back to your friends time after time with the same issue and refuse to be proactive about doing something about it, there’s only so many different ways they can offer the same advice and be a shoulder to cry on. They’ll probably stay your friend but take a step back when it comes to getting involved in your relationship. This leads us to feel alone and we become even more immersed in the relationship. We don’t have the trusted voice of other reason any more, which makes leaving the relationship even less an attractive or realistic prospect. We spend too much time inside our own heads and can lose sight of what’s right and wrong.

4. Love.

A relationship doesn’t have to be abusive to be destructive. Sometimes two people can love each other so much but just don’t work together. They bring out the worst in one another and the result is a relationship solely based on crazily heightened emotions. So it can seem like there isn’t really anything tangibly wrong at all. We can confuse a less that great relationship for making effort and compromising and we fiercely love the other person so we fight for them, right? And when people on the outside comment on how stupid or blind we’re being, that they only have our best interests at heart and so on, that probably won’t do any good either. Sometimes you have to come to the right solution yourself and that can actually serve you so much better. It’s not a case of staying in something and turning a blind eye, it’s a journey that that we navigate through and reach the point of realization ourselves—that moment when we then know that walking away is the only and better option.

So don’t beat yourself up for staying in an unhealthy relationship. It’s not being weak or naive. Sometimes you just have to go that distance to make it out. TC mark

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