7 Tragic Reasons People Stay In Bad Relationships, According To Experts

They know it's not right, but they just can't let go.

miserable couple SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock

By now, many of us know what it’s like to stay in a relationship much longer than we should.

Long after the red flags have popped up and waved right in our faces, we stay with a person who we know deep down inside is not the one for us.

Family and friends might implore you to leave at the first sign of danger, but you stay, believing that you are the magical person that can make them change their ways.


There are many reasons one might opt to stay committed to a relationship that does not serve them. It could be about the kids and their stability, or they might be used to a double-income household. But according to YourTango experts, there are a few very specific reasons people decide to stay in bad relationships instead of opting for a new start.


RELATED: Don't Let People Stay In Your Life Longer Than They Deserve 

Here are seven tragic reasons people stay in bad relationships, according to YourTango experts:

1. Financial Stability

"For many, it is sadly money that keeps them together. Either both or one has no financial security without remaining in the relationship, whether it's because they need the combined income or depend on the income of the chief wage-earner in their household.

2. Negative Outcomes

Fear of family repercussions is another reason toxic couples stay together. It makes sense to want to keep a family together and/or potentially avoid the pain to children, parents, and other relatives that divorce could cause.  Still, many couples who should split up will wait until the children are college-age to keep up the facade of a happy home.  Also, depending on their religious beliefs, a divorce potentially can lead to alienation from their children and ostracization from their family.

3. Unhealthy Relationship Dynamics

Unhealthy codependency plays a significant role in unhappy couples not breaking up.  They may believe that the misery they know is better than the misery of being alone.


4. Lack Of Self-Worth

Low self-esteem can hamstring partners. They may believe they do not deserve the happiness they secretly crave.

5. Emotional Abuse

Most tragic of all, is when there is a narcissistic partner, people subject to the abusive control of a narcissist (gaslighting in particular) typically grow insecure about all aspects of themselves, from the way they look to their mental stability and intelligence.  They come to believe all the problems are their fault.  Many partners of narcissists don't realize what is happening and find it almost impossible to leave. "

Dr. Gloria Brame, Sex Therapist & Sexologist

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6. Repeating Childhood Patterns

"What is the brain’s most important function? This is not understood by most people and is often overlooked by professionals in our modern high-tech society. The brain’s principal function is to help us survive. And in that process, the oldest part of the brain is the most powerful. That part is far removed from our thinking brain. It is instinctive, devoid of rational thought, and most of all, difficult to change.

Herein lies the dark secret of why we often repeat— even actively seek out— the bad things we experienced during early childhood. To mention one of the worst examples from several clients I have been coaching, they were rape victims as children and then married a rapist, obviously without knowing about it at the time.

Here is how the ancient part of the brain works. We survived these difficult periods of our early life. In this old brain’s automatic “logic,” this means that kind of environment helped us survive. Therefore, it steers us subconsciously, yet powerfully, into that same unfortunate direction. And to a degree that is correct, we continue to survive, even though under unfortunate circumstances.”

Fritz George Sauer, CEO & Founder of Control Stress


RELATED: 3 False Positives That Make You Stay In A Bad Relationship

7. Trauma Bonds

“You may stay in bad relationships because of a trauma bond. You can't leave, even though you know the relationship is destructive to you. This attachment develops from two features of abusive relationships. One is a power imbalance. If your partner is willing to walk away, he or she has far more social power than you do. The other is intermittent good and bad treatment.

This means that sometimes your behavior is rewarded, and sometimes it isn’t. Because you never know when you’ll get your reward in the form of your loving and caring partner, you keep trying to win approval. Every time you go through this cycle of good and bad treatment, the emotional bond you feel with your partner gets stronger. This makes it difficult for you to leave.”


Donna Andersen, Author

RELATED: How You Know *For Certain* It's Time To Leave A Relationship

NyRee Ausler is a writer who covers lifestyle, relationship, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.