Why It's So Ridiculously Hard To Leave A Toxic Relationship

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Man yelling at woman

Bad relationships don’t happen all at once. They creep up on us slowly to reveal their true nature once we are immersed and dependent. If relationships started bad initially, no one would ever start one.

Usually, people leave bad relationships when they realize they aren't getting treated correctly or their partnership isn't serving their interests or needs. Yes, some people will remain in a harmful relationship despite the trauma and heartbreak.

Some might stay in a toxic relationship long after it dawns on them and everyone around them that it was time to go long ago. Rather than trying to learn how to move on, start over, heal, and find a healthy relationship, they refuse to leave and think they can fix the relationship for good.

RELATED: Walking Away From A Toxic Relationship Is Hard

Here's why it's so ridiculously hard to leave a toxic relationship:

1. You feel like you've put in too much time to give up now.

Once we start a relationship and put in the emotional labor to keep it going, stopping feels like we will lose our investment. The realization we’ve wasted months or years of our lives staying with the wrong person is often too much for us to come to terms with, so we would prefer to stick it out than face failure.

RELATED: The 6 Most Common Reasons Why We Stay In Toxic Relationships

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.” Or, "I should wait until they are more stable before I bring up the topic."

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 because they feel too much shame to admit they are emotionally dying inside.

RELATED: 4 Types Of Toxic Relationships You Need To Avoid (& How To Spot The Signs)

3. You believe this relationship is what you 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 in a good relationship because seeing the good helps us get through challenging times.

Unfortunately, confirmation bias contributes to the disaster when we find ourselves in a toxic relationship.

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 unwillingness to admit we cut the wrong pony from the herd.

If you feel caught in the emotional trap of refusing to leave and thinking you can fix a bad relationship for good. It might be time to start learning how to end the deal, move on, start over, heal, and find the healthy relationship you deserve.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you’re not alone.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that approximately 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S. More than 12 million women and men over the years have suffered from instances of domestic violence and abuse.

There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

RELATED: Why So Many Women Stay In Toxic Relationships & How To Break The Cycle

Elizabeth Stone is a love coach and founder of Attract The One and Luxe Self. Her work has been featured in Zoosk, PopSugar, The Good Men Project, Bustle, Ravishly, SheKnows, Mind’s Journal, and more.