Why do we stay in destructive relationships? All about unhealthy and bad relationships.

WabiSabi Therapist and Mediate2go.com, Unhealthy Relationships, Bad Relationships

Lynda Martens is the WabiSabiTherapist and a Mediate2go.com Blog Contributor. Please read her article about "unhealthy relationships" and "bad relationships". Also see our blogs on Moving on.
I have a theory about this.
In my work, I meet many lovely, smart people who describe themselves as being stuck in a relationship that is hurtful to them in some way.  This has never been a part of my own personal experience and, like many people, I have felt confused about what keeps people in a relationship that is destructive and clearly hurtful to them, and often their children as well.
There are many reason why people stay when they are chronically unhappy.  Often there are practicalities involved.  Financial realities…not having the resources to support yourself…wanting to keep families together for the children…complacency… Sometimes people make threats about doing harm to themselves and others if the relationship ends…or we worry they won’t be okay without us. Often we hope that a person will change, or there are periods of less conflict that encourage people to extend the life of a relationship beyond what is wise or safe.  In spite of hurtful behaviours, no one is all nasty, and there is attachment and love for the person who is hurting us.
And underneath…way way underneath…sometimes this is what’s happening…
Before you read what’s below, I add the caveat that although I use the term “he”, hurtful people are not always male.  Also, many relationships are not clearly made up of hurters and victims…there is lots of grey here.


WabiSabi Therapist and Mediate2go.com, Unhealthy Relationships, Bad Relationships
But this is for the person who stays when they know they are being hurt…I will present this in the form of an internal monologue…
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“It happened again.  Why can’t he just stop?  He says it won’t happen again and then it does.  I should know better.  I’m such an idiot for staying in this.  Why can’t I just leave?  But he loves me…well he says he loves me, but if he loves me then why would he treat me like this?  I know…I know that when I nag at him it makes it worse and I know better than to nag at him about chores …But if he really loved me he would stop.  If I was prettier/skinnier/less of a nag/a better cook… he would stop.  He tells me that anyway…that if I was different, he wouldn’t have to get angry. ”
“The thing is, I knew he was like this when I met him.  I saw the signs right away.  But he was so alone, and his family was so horrible …I wanted to help him.  Okay…I wanted to rescue him.  I thought if I loved him, he would be happier, and he would change.  I think that the right woman can change a man.  When it comes down to it, if I was special enough…lovable enough…he would stop.  And he says he loves me, so maybe he’ll stop.  I can’t give up on him.  I can’t give up, because if I give up and leave, then I would be admitting that I’m not special enough or lovable enough.  I wouldn’t just be giving up on him… I’d be giving up on me and my ability to believe in my own specialness.  Being with him is the only proof that I am lovable.  If I leave, then he might be a better man for someone else, and I couldn’t stand that.”
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But…the reality is that his behaviours have nothing to do with you.  You could be the most perfect, caring, lovable, beautiful person on earth and he would still be who he is.  His behaviours have nothing to do with how absolutely special you are.  His behaviours are only connected to his inability to manage his emotions (and they are also connected to what you will tolerate from him).  The proof that you are worthy of love is to be found in your self-respect and ability to protect yourself physically and emotionally.  Talk to someone.  Talk to someone who truly loves you.
And that’s my theory.  Share this with someone you think is stuck in a destructive relationship.
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