7 Really, Really Bad Reasons to Stay in a Relationship

Are you holding on to the fairytale of being saved by the knight in shining armor?
It's time to let go of the fairytale and face reality

If any of these sound familiar, it's time to re-think your situation.

We've all been there – in that relationship that your friends, family, coworkers, even that cashier at the grocery store have been wondering why you’re still in. Sure, it started out great, with all of the thrill and fireworks of new and exciting love. He chased you, won your heart, and told you everything you wanted to hear. He made you feel so beautiful, so alive, so wanted.

But gradually things started to change. There was fighting. There were hurt feelings. There were things that were said that shouldn’t be said to anyone. There were scars that couldn’t seem to heal. There may even have been infidelity. And it just kept getting worse.

Of course, there were also apologies. There were the highly dramatic make-ups that seemed like the only thing that brought you close to that initial excitement that you now wanted to get back to so badly. But you could never quite get there. So you settled for the break-up/make-up rollercoaster ride to fill the emotional void that was ever widening.

Ultimately you find yourself resigned to a constant feeling of depression, which, when coupled with a lack of communication and a lack of support, leads to a life that’s just utterly lacking in love. But you can’t let go.

What is it that compels us to stick it out in these relationships that are clearly not healthy for either us or our partner?

There are many reasons, but more often than not it’s a combination of several motivations. And the first step towards making your situation better is in understanding why it is that you’re making the choices you’re making to begin with.

See if any of these sound familiar:

1. You’re afraid you’re getting too old

You’re afraid if you leave that you’ll feel desperate to find someone else quickly, because you think you’re running out of time. You may also feel that if you can just make this work it will be much better than having to start all over again with someone new. Or, you may feel the pressure of your biological clock ticking. Although the biological clock is a very real thing, none of these reasons are a good reason to stay in a relationship that’s not working. Bad relationships don’t get better with age.

2. You’re afraid of being lonely

This one is one of the most common reasons for staying in a relationship that’s just not working. You may have very clear memories of how alone you felt on those long lonely Saturday nights when you had no plans and nobody to be with. As much as we all long for someone to share the beautiful, special moments in life with, as well as someone to be intimate with, being with the wrong person just for the sake of avoiding being alone will ultimately lead to more pain and sadness than the pain of loneliness.

If the fear of being alone is keeping you in a dead-end relationship, find some girlfriends to spend time with, or get yourself a furry four legged friend. As Greg Behrendt said in the very humorous (and very popular) He’s Just Not That Into You,“...that’s what pets are for. Pets are God’s way of saying, ‘Don’t lower the bar because you’re lonely’.”

3. You’re stuck in the fairytale

It started out as such a storybook romance; he was the knight in shining armor, you the damsel to be saved. Or it was such a fateful, romantic chance meeting that brought the two of you together that you just know it was destiny, and you’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill that destiny. But the reality is something more like: he was charming in the beginning, you had some great chemistry, but you’re not really compatible in your goals, values, or beliefs. It’s time to let go of the fairytale and see it for what it really is – a bad match.

4. You feel guilty about the idea of leaving him

You want to get out, and you know it’s not healthy for either of you, but you know he’ll be devastated and you don’t want to hurt him. You may also feel that if you leave him, he won’t be able to find another woman who will care for him, and he’ll fall into a depression (and maybe even become suicidal). While this is an excellent reason to try to help him, as a friend, it’s no reason to stay in a romantically connected relationship with him. If you are seriously concerned, make sure he has access to help, but don’t take on the responsibility of being his savior. Leave that to the professionals.

5. You’re feeling pressure from family or friends to settle down

You know he’s not the right guy for you, but your family likes him so much and you just don’t want to disappoint them. Or, all of your siblings and most of your friends are married already, and everyone’s questioning when you’re going to settle down, asking you “when’s the wedding?”  This kind of external pressure may make you feel like you should just settle for less than you want and commit to a guy that’s really not right for you. Don’t do it.

6. It’s easy and comfortable

The relationship is not great, and certainly not what you always wanted, but it fits in your comfort zone, and you’re afraid of change. He’s not the worst partner, and who knows if you’ll find anything better - after all, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. Trust in your heart that when you learn how to find and choose the kind of guy that’s right for you, change will be good.

7. You’re afraid that no one else will want you

You’re afraid you won’t be chosen by anyone else, so you stick with what you’ve got. This one is all too common, and is due to low self-confidence and low self-esteem. The good news is that it’s fixable, and you can have fun in the process. By trying new things, learning new skills, and finding out what makes you happy, you will build up your confidence levels and your self-esteem will automatically rise with it. It’s kind of a snowball effect, and it’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your life, as it will help your career, family ties, and friendships get stronger. And then you’ll find that you’re the one doing the choosing.

If any of these sound like they could be describing you and the relationship you’re in, then it’s time to take a good, honest look at the situation and decide whether it’s honoring what you really want in a relationship. If not, then it’s time to get out.

Do yourself a big favor and honestly evaluate and understand your motivations for staying in the relationship for so long. Then take the steps necessary to learn how to avoid making these same mistakes and getting into a similar relationship in the future.

Remember that you are beautiful, you are worthy of love, and you deserve to have the love and respect that you want in a relationship.

What do you think?  Any other reasons that you or someone you know has stayed far too long in a relationship? Tell us about it in the comments.


  1. The Hopeful Romantic says

    *sigh* Really good post - i think that most of us have been guilty of a lot of these at some point. Fairy Tales and Romcoms have a lot to answer for!

    • Jane says

      Yes, these are unfortunately all too common, especially among those of us who wear our hearts on our sleeves and fall hard. :-)

  2. says

    I learned so many things from this post. And after reading it, I looked back and considered where should I fit in the reasons enumerated above. My boyfriend and I are together for like almost 3 years but we never had the confidence to say "goodbye" even once. Of course we've been through a lot and I also felt the need to let go. Maybe I can relate with reason number 7... indeed, this is the most common.

    • Jane says

      And you're not alone in relating the most to number 7. The fear of no one else wanting us really does determine many of our behaviors and is usually the underlying reason that we settle for a relationship that doesn't truly honor us. The good news though, is that it is one we have control over since it's all about how we view ourselves and all that we have to offer.

      • Damien says

        I have chosen to NOT date women that have stayed in previous relationships too long because the underlying cause could still be laying dormant. Many men won't care...but those men may also have a history of being the contributor to something that will hinder your growth. Get out of the relationship and stay single for a LONG time. Healthy men look for what you've done and haven't done with your soul over a long period of time. They also look for your ability to stay out of constant relationships.

    • Beth Moontree says

      Other reasons I don't want to leave my partner are: I will have to rent a smaller house; the last time I 'decided'to leave I chickened out, I panicked. Also I wouldn't be able to keep one of our pets in rented accommodation and would miss them.

  3. Denise says

    I stayed way too long in my relationship especially because of our son. I want him to have the joy of living with both parents and a father around all the time. Now I am finding out that this is really not doing me any good.

    • Jane says

      What a beautiful intention, Denise. To give your sweet, precious son the gift of living with two parents. You thought it was best, and no one can ever fault you for that. Such a tough choice when it comes down to that or living like you are, not being loved the way you so deserve. It takes such courage to recognize when someone isn't working and to try another path. And what is right for some of us, isn't for others. Be so gentle on yourself here, Denise; you've been through so much already. Embrace yourself and your sweet little boy. These decisions are never easy. Take it slow, one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Get as much support and love for you and your son as you can right now. We all stay too long sometimes, it's all a part of this journey to finally learn what it really means to love ourselves and stop accepting the crumbs we call love.

    • Victor says

      We really have far too little context here to know what is really happening. Denise, why are you not happy with your husband? What is best for your son? Does he benefit from having his father in the picture? Without further context the statement "this is not doing me any good" sounds very selfish. Please expand.

  4. Victor says

    I have a quick question...why is that there are so many web-sites by women about "bad relationships" and so few by men about "bad relationships". That's one to kind of mull over for a bit. Is it maybe, just maybe, that certain women expect way too much and are too apt to complain about the actions of their partner, or is it that men are somehow intrinsically worse than women and women have more to complain about? From my own personal experience, and having known many men and many women, I have found that women are far more likely to complain about their mates than men. In fact, I rarely hear men talk much about their wives and girlfriends much at all, and when they do it's often very flattering even though I have met some of these wives and girlfriends and the truth is far different. However, I oftne hear women complaining about their mate, especially regarding what he failed to do for them.. On the balance, therefore, I would say men are far more content and this is reflected in the blogs. Any thoughts?

    • Aamina says

      I don't think this has anything to do with being male or female, and this article should not have been only about women. I know A LOT of men who settled for the same exact reasons listed above. My cousin married his wife because he said "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know" WOW how romantic!

      It's not that women expect too much, trust me there are MANY men out there who settle too. The difference between men and women is that men will just keep it all inside, mention it maybe once or twice in passing, but will internalize how they really feel and won't do anything about it. They deal with it in different ways when they are unhappy. Women tend to spend more time focusing on how we're feeling, we share more, and we discuss more. We want to get to the bottom of things. Men will turn on their favorite sport and zone out and all of a sudden their problems are gone. Men go out with their buddies have a drink, talk about the game, video games, everything unrelated to women and their relationships. Women get together and talk about nothing but relationships. I know I am generalizing here, but this is just typical stuff.

      So all I'm trying to say is that BOTH men and women do this, stay in unhappy relationships. I know at least 5 men who are doing this, 3 of them married, two in long term relationships still too scared to tie the knot. And two of my female friends.

  5. silva Demirdjian says

    my boyfriend took me for granted i paid for everything we even drove cross country with a truck
    and helped him get jobs and would not help me with money
    One night he picked a fight i told him to get out of the hotel
    that was four months ago he has since blocked me on his phone and wont come back i feel
    lost without him

    • Jane says

      My dear Silva, ask yourself why you want to be with someone who takes you for granted, doesn't pay for anything, has you driving cross country with a truck, uses you to help him find a job, doesn't help you out with money, picks a fight with you and then blocks you on his phone and won't come back?

      Of course you feel lost without him. A relationship like you've described makes for a lot of excitement and drama and makes it easy to forget about ourselves and what's really going on in our own lives. But I'm wondering what you've really lost? Why do you want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you?

      Aren't you worth more than this?

  6. Diane says

    Hi there, I really like your post that makes me cry now, I can relate 2,4,6,7..
    anyway, me and my ex-husband has been living for more than 3 years now. We just currently separated and we are still living in the same house. Don't get me wrong, but he is a great person, he has great family, great friends, but my parents doesn't like him. And he also doesn't like my parents..so we move here in Canada to get away from my parents.
    Anyway..its a long story and I can just get on and on the whole day, direct to the point.
    I feel that I lost love on him, it started 6 months ago that all I was thinking about him is all negativity. I couldn't see myself growing old with him. I didn't see myself with him in the future. It seems like suddenly he is not the kind of guy I can spend the rest of my life with. I feel guilty because he loves me I think he still love me, I just feel guilty that im leaving him and no ones gonna take care of him. Sometimes I can find comfort with him but I don't think that's enough reason for staying with him. It wouldn't be fair if I stay with him just for that reason. So I decided to end it I thought I don't have the courage to end it I am very afraid to be alone that no one will like me. I feel terrible right now because we are still living in the same house together and he still talks to me and still being friendly with me after that. I don't know what to do because I really wanna move on. But how can I do that if he still being nice and friendly with me. Its hard.

    • Jane says

      It's hard to come to terms with the fact that you may feel differently about someone after you've said your marriage vows, Diane. And even harder to know what to do with your feelings and where to go from here. So many of us figure out what we wish we'd figured out before we got married, after the fact, but then, there are often children involved and certainly marriage vows that we made with another person who expected us to live up to them, too. Have you considered marriage counseling, Diane? There was obviously something that drew you to him in the first place, that made you feel in love with him enough to marry him, so now it becomes about trying to find your way back to that place in your heart together. Ask yourself what changed for you. Ask yourself what happened and can it be salvaged with a different point of view. What if you see him for the imperfect person he is, just as you are imperfect, too. What if the two of you could discover some kind of common ground, some kind of common interest that could give you both the fresh start, the fresh perspective your marriage needs.

      Only you know what you need here, Diane, but I would give him and you - and your marriage - some special attention, and certainly some counseling by someone you can trust and who you both feel comfortable sharing yourselves with, before choosing to give up on the love you once shared. Don't let anyone else's views influence what might still be there underneath everything else - even if it's your parents. Marriage may not live up to the fairytale ending that so many of us have been led to believe is reality, but in the end, if you give it your best effort and try to see things from both your sides, you'll have the least regrets knowing that you made this effort. Much love to you, my beautiful friend; as you go through this part of your journey.

  7. Diane says

    Hi Jane, thanks for replying my post, but I don't feel happy with him anymore. I don't see the spark on him..i know it is waste if I just throw a relationship like that, our vows. But don't you think it is a bad idea to stay in a relationship just for the sake of your marriage even if there is no happiness anymore? I am 24 years old and he is 49. We have different culture. We have different beliefs, I like to go out and he doesn't like to go out. You know what I mean, things like that, and you know what makes me sad is he has lack of trust in me. Even after he let me sign a prenuptial agreement before we married. I can feel that he loves me but he is not willing to do anything to make me happy even simple things. I know that I am sounds very selfish this way, but that's what im looking for a man willing to give unconditional love. Which I do the same.

    • Jane says

      It doesn't sound selfish, Diane; it sounds real. You have a huge age difference to navigate. Add to that different cultures, different beliefs, different lifestyles, and a luck of trust - and a prenuptial agreement -and it becomes clear just how much you're hurting here. I believe everyone deserves to be happy, my beautiful friend, regardless of who we are or where we've been.

      Find the support you need to find your way here, Diane; it doesn't matter what anyone thinks or says, you're the only one who knows you, who knows him, who know your relationship. We all have our own unique paths on our own individual journeys and only you know what path is right for you, only you know if there's anything left to try, if there's anything more you can do. Nothing's ever a waste; we learn, we stretch, we grow. Be kind to yourself, remember we always do the best we know with what we know at the time. You will find the strength to get through this, too.

  8. sonal says

    when you come to know of his player intentions...
    (others had already alerted you abt him) yu are feeling emotionally drained. you come to know that he is not being exclusive nd going out with other gals. finally you decide to end up without creating scenes. wat should be the correct way? should you ask him why did he cheated on you and took you for granted or you should simply leave him, cut all contacts nd move on. players are always good at cooking up good excuses fr cheating.

    • Jane says

      Do what will give you the greatest sense of peace and calm, and leave you with the least amount of regret, Sonal. It's about you, not about him or anyone else. It's about taking care of yourself and making this all as easy and loving on yourself as you can. You do this from a place that remembers that you're the one doing the choosing here, and you're no longer choosing this. You're no longer choosing him. You're what matters; regardless of what he - or anyone else - thinks or says.

      Personally, I've never found any benefit of asking why. You're hurting enough without hearing anything more of something that has nothing to do with you.

  9. Uche Okoye says

    My name is Winnie. I have been into a relationship for 14 years now. The funny thing is that I dated 1 guy exclusively. I wish that I could turn back the hands of time now, I probably would have dated more than 1 guy.I just read the 7 really bad reasons to stay in a relationship now. Initially there were several qualities that I liked in my boyfriend, but he has changed recently. We are planning to get married,but sometimes I get afraid of what the future might hold for me.I am 32 years this year. And indeed, sometimes when I think of leaving the relationship, I feel as if I am getting too old, may not get another relationship, all my mates are married, and the stress and time of starting up another relationship all over again. please advise me.

    • Jane says

      It's much easier to figure out if the two of you are truly compatible in the ways that really matter now before you get married, than it is after when there is so much more at stake. We all have things we wished we'd known earlier, Winnie, but it's not too late to figure this out now before you go any further with someone who you may have regrets about later. Ask yourself what you're really afraid of, and then find out if it's a fear that's real or something that's part of your programming.

      You're still so young, you still - and always will! - have so much to offer someone who's right for you. I don't know the specifics of your situation but what I do know is that it doesn't matter how many of your mates are married or how much stress and time may be involved with starting up another relationship, if you're marrying someone simply because it's easier than being alone and starting over, things won't get any easier or less stressful down the road.

  10. nels says

    Hi. I'm 34, my bf 36, we are together 2+ yrs. I live with my son. I am unhappy n d relationship& feel like calling it quits even though I hv a supportive, attentive, affectionate, ambitious and hardworking bf. I feel as if I am unfair to him cuz I constantly lie to him bcuz he can't handle the truth, and I can't handle the backlash of telling him the truth. One of the reasons I am considering leaving is, well I am an independent person & when he's helping me with anything my opinion doesn't count. He's very possessive of the stuff he's bought for me & doesn't appreciate my teenage son using it. My bf lives with his mom & is seeking to buy house & land . I'm very worried that when that happens my son wl hv to be "careful" around his stuff. It's like we hv to be on our best behavior around him. He doesn't mingle with my family & has started to judge them. I also feel pressured by friends and my gdmom to marry him as he has a secure job & I would enjoy a better life style, but I don't want to marry for the wrong reasons plus physical chemistry is non existence. I don't know what to do. Should I just remain with him & be secure or take the risks?

    • Jane says

      He's on his best behavior now, Nels; it will only get worse after you're married and he's even more comfortable with whatever arrangement you've worked out. What is that secure job he has and a better life style worth to you when you compare it to your son's well-being - and yours as well? And what guarantee do you have that any of that will benefit you?

      If neither of you can handle each other's truth, how are you going to handle the day to day realities of living together? Sounds like many red flags, Nels; for both you and your son, and getting out of a marriage versus a relationship are two very different things.

      What does that little voice inside you tell you to do? Personally, I would run as fast as I could from someone who gives you any reason to feel that you have to be on your best behavior around him, but you have to do what you can live with. The fact that you're asking these questions and doubting what to do sounds like you already know the answer for yourself. Trust yourself; deep down you always know.

  11. D says


    I just wanted to get an honest opinion about my situation. I'm 36 and my bf is same age, I started seeing him at a time when I was very into my job and didn't have time for dating, he would wait for me and insisted on seeing me, he was nice and loyal and good in bed so I have it a chance, as time went by I started having more and more feelings for him and when he told me he wanted to have babies with me I jumped on the opportunity cus I felt my biological clock was really ticking and I really wanted kids. Within 6 months I was pregnant and now we have a 2. Year old girl and another one on the way. The thing is even though I care for him deeply I think he is using me a little bit ( maybe just like I used him to have children???)
    He doesn't have a good job and does not help with any expense around the house or our little girl... he has 3 other children from is ex wife and he sends then money but I really think he just doesn't care enough to do something about it. He also is a bit old fashioned about helping out around the house . I get really frustrated when I find myself trying to explain he could help out in other ways besides money and that it's ok too. I also think I settled on being with him from the beginning cus I don't feel he is the smartest person I know, he is as bad as it may sound a little on the not so bright side. On the other hand he is very gentle quite person that give our baby lots of love he is loyal and cute and I enjoy our sex life ( I find he less and less attractive because he is not providing ) I am independent and strong on the other hand and I feel I wouldn't find anyone else that will love me the way he does. I am also afraid of being lonely and have my children growing without a dad. But on the other hand I don't know if I should settle just because he is not a bad person or cheats and hits me.
    I feel like I want to work on the relationship but nothing I say doesn't really makes a difference, he says he understands but nothing is really changing at all.
    Thanks for reading !

  12. Lernik says

    Hi dear Jane, days ago i wrote you an E-mail, and today i started to look over your website once more, this time i started with "single life" and read Love is Never complicated article which started to clear up things for me, at the last paragraph you linked "hold on to them" to your another article, i read this one as well and found even more clarity to my problem.
    Just wanted to say Thank you.

    P.S. still waiting for your answer on my mail !

    • Jane says

      So glad you're finding more clarity to your problem, Lernik. There's more here if you dig deep. :) I'd love to be able to take the time to respond to each and every email, but due to the sheer volume of emails I receive, I'm no longer able to respond to each one of them personally. However, I normally feature one email a week on Fridays on the blog - so you may find it answered there - and I'm now offering email coaching in addition to my one-on-one coaching programs, as a more affordable option. I hope you find an option that works for you! Know that I do read all my emails, and they are often the inspiration behind my blog posts. :)

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