5 Heartbreaking Reasons Women Stay in Toxic Relationships

woman unhappy with relationshipEver look at a friend's marriage and think, "She is SO unhappy. Why the heck doesn't she leave his sorry a**?" Well, wonder no more, because we've got the five major reasons women stay in a toxic relationship.

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First, a little Toxic Relationship 101. People who are in one "describe it as feeling like the relationship 'sucked their soul out' or 'killed their self-esteem,'" explains Eric Charles, a relationship expert and cofounder of A New Mode, a lifestyle site that helps women better understand men.

People in a toxic partnership may feel like they're walking on eggshells around their spouses, or that they have to clam up about their own emotions to keep the peace. And of course, they might feel their partners think they can NEVER do anything right.

It sure doesn't sound like true romance.

But interestingly, toxic relationships DON'T start out that way, says Charles. The problem comes when one or both people believe that the other person should make them happy and it's their duty to do the same.

"Nobody else can be ultimately responsible for your emotions," notes Charles. "That's the soil in which a toxic relationship dynamic can take root."

More from The Stir: How to Know If You're Trapped in a Toxic Friendship

Here, five major reasons women -- maybe even you -- stay put in a toxic r-ship.

1. You think you can change the other person. Empathetic people, who are sensitive to others' emotions and quick to put themselves in another's shoes, are especially at risk. "They believe they can change someone's emotions through their actions," Charles explains. Sure, their intentions are good. But "unfortunately, they don't see that they're attempting the impossible."

2. You've got fairy-tale glasses on. "Countless TV shows and movies portray a relationship that was filled with turmoil magically leading to a happy ending," says Charles. Because of that, many of us have been led to believe that "drama, heartache, and pain will someday lead to happiness in the end."

3. You're on an emotional roller coaster. In a healthy relationship, each partner is pretty happy, so although your interactions are loving and joyful, they're not earth-shattering. But toxic relationships have a much higher emotional contrast, Charles explains.

Think about it. When your self-esteem's at an all-time low and you're worried you can't please your partner, then all of a sudden something between you two actually DOES go well, your mood will "shoot into the stratosphere," says Charles. "You feel good, happy, hopeful, and inspired."

Only problem? The reason for this emotional high is "because the relationship takes you to such a low place most of the time."

4. Your lives are intertwined. Maybe you have kids. Or you co-own a business. Maybe you own a home together or share the same tight circle of friends. Whatever the reason, Charles says, "An outside factor beyond the relationship can make you feel like a clean break isn't possible."

5. You can't see a way out. Surprisingly, most people who are in a poisonous partnership actually KNOW it, says Charles. But they deny it (to themselves as well as to friends and family) because they don't see any alternative.

Thinking of a toxic relationship like a drug addiction may help, he says. "When you can see that the 'drug' is not really making you 'high' anymore ... you can see the reality of what's really at play -- and recognize that detoxing yourself is the only route to true salvation."

 

Image © Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStock

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