Why Strong Women Stay In BAD Relationships (And The Key To Getting OUT)

Love, Heartbreak

No one said it would be easy, but...

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, 40% of homes with children under 18 have a mother as the main — or only — breadwinner.

Of that group, 37% (approximately 5.1 million) are married women, whereas the rest are single moms.

In 1960, only 11% of homes with kids had a mom as breadwinner. 

That's a big change!

Everywhere we turn we see smart, strong women as C.E.O.s and high-powered leaders at the helm of great businesses everywhere. Women these days are able to do any job, and play any sport.

They can live their dreams, and they do!


So when we see these women stand by cheating husbands, or men who seem to treat them badly, we are astounded. How could they?

Why would someone who is a strong, smart woman in her own right stay in a bad relationship?

In our latest Expert video (which you can watch above), Senior VP of YourTango ExpertsMelanie Gorman,  asked a group of Experts exactly that.

The responses from some big-name experts —  Barb BoschettoEllyn BellPernilla Lillarose, and John Gray from Men are From Mars fame — are incredibly insightful.

Here are 7 powerful reasons why a strong, smart woman might continue to make bad partner choices and stay in horrible relationships:

1. She's scared.

There's something to be said for keeping a family intact.

It's what you know and it may be comforting. In its own way, it feels safe.

Breaking up is unknown and scary. 

And yes, even the strongest and smartest get scared sometimes.

2. She doesn't know what to do, or she feels trapped.

Even if she is strong enough to get herself — and her kids — out of the bad relationship, what then?

It's a scary thought having to do it all on your own. If you don't have a good enough support system in place, it can be too daunting to even think about.

3. She is compassionate.


Women are often more compassionate and understanding than men.

They are able to understand that he had a horrible day, didn't mean to be a jerk, or any other excuse a man might come up with.

It's that love and compassion and understanding which often keeps a wife with her cheating or unkind husband longer than it should.

4. She doesn't want to believe it.

It might sound stupid when you first hear it, but think about how you'd react if someone told you that your partner was cheating on you.

Even if you found a lipstick stain on his shirt or caught them in the act, your brain wouldn't want to believe it.

We want to believe the best of the people we love.

That's not to say they can't believe it. It just might take some time.

5. She's in love.

It's not an excuse. It's a fact.

When we love someone, when we get hooked on them, it's hard to suddenly turn that off.

In order to be able to successfully disengage, she needs to gather up her courage and, most importantly, she needs a support system to be there for her. Because leaving love is hard. 

6. She thinks this is normal.

It's heartbreaking to think about, but it's true.

If she grew up in an abusive relationship, or where her father cheated on her mother and her mother just ignored it, she might think it's normal.

We create a template of how relationships are supposed to be from our parents, usually without realizing it.

She might not even realize she has this backward idea of normalcy until the day she can't handle it anymore — until she realizes for herself that this is not something she wants for herself and takes a stand.

7. She thinks she deserves this.

This may be the worst, because it stems from a lack of self-esteem and self-worth.

As a child grows up, they learn their self-worth from the way they're treated and made to feel. Even from a loving two parent home, she can come to believe she doesn't deserve real love.

She can run the world and still believe that no one else will love her because she's *insert insecurity here*.

If you know someone who is staying in their bad relationship, don't judge.


Instead, reach out to her. Offer her support and friendship.

Be there for her, and help her to come to the realization that she deserves more. You can point it out to them all you want, but at the end of the day, it's something they have to realize on their own.

The best thing you can do is be there to help, and maybe help her find support from a support professional, no matter what.

If you are having trouble with parentingrelationships, sexattraction or anything else, please visit the websites of our Experts and contact John, EllynPernilla, and Barb directly. They’re here to help. 

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