New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers

Why Do People Stay in Unhealthy Relationships?

May 17, 2023 | Abuse, Family Issues, Fear, Helping a Loved One, Relationship Issues, Self Esteem

Relationships are incredibly complex and sometimes, we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships that feel impossible to leave. An unhealthy relationship is one that does not benefit the individuals involved and can be emotionally or physically harmful. Yet, some people choose to stay in these relationships even though it is not in their best interest. 

There are a variety of reasons why some people stay in these relationships longer than they should, and each situation is going to be unique. Below, we dive into some of the most common reasons people might choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship.

Fear Of Being Alone

Arguably, the most common reason people stay in unhealthy relationships is the fear of being alone. Many people believe that being alone is worse than being in a bad relationship, and this fear can cause them to cling to their partner, even if they are not happy in the relationship. They may also have a fear of not being able to find someone else, which can make it seem like this is their only option.

Low Self-Esteem

Another reason people stay in unhealthy relationships is due to low self-esteem. They may believe that they do not deserve better and that this is the best they can do. This can be a result of past experiences or negative messages they have received from family or friends. As a result, they may accept mistreatment and stay in an unhealthy relationship because they do not believe they can do any better.


This can be financial, emotional, or both, but dependency on their partner is a huge reason people stay in unhealthy situations. If one partner is financially dependent on the other, they may feel that they cannot leave the relationship because they will not be able to support themselves. Similarly, if one partner is emotionally dependent on the other, they may feel that they cannot leave because they will be left feeling lost and alone. Any form of dependency is dangerous, but it can be difficult to get out of, especially if children are involved.


Children are another big reason people stay in unhealthy relationships, and oftentimes, they are the reason they never end up leaving. They may believe that staying in the relationship is better for the children than getting a divorce or separating. Or, they may fear that the children will be negatively affected by separation or divorce. While this is understandable, it is important to remember that children are often negatively affected by witnessing their parents in an unhealthy relationship as well.

Lack Of Support

A lack of support from friends and family can also be a reason why people stay in unhealthy relationships. If the individual feels isolated and alone, they may be more likely to stay in the relationship because they feel they have nowhere else to turn. This is especially true if the abusive partner has isolated them from friends and family.


Finally, love can be a reason why people stay in unhealthy relationships. Despite the mistreatment they may be experiencing, they may still love their partner and believe that they can change. They may also feel that the good times in the relationship outweigh the bad. This can make it difficult for them to leave and move on.

Undesirable Alternatives

A major indicator of women staying in unhealthy relationships is their perceived alternatives. Essentially, this means that they view any alternatives as less desirable than their current situation. In many cases, this is simply not true. But because they feel that any other situation will be worse than what they are currently enduring, they choose to remain where they are. This is often the case for women with lower self-esteem.

What Types Of Unhealthy Relationships Exist?

Abuse in relationships can take many different forms, and it can be incredibly difficult to recognize when it’s happening for some. Not all unhealthy relationships involve abuse, but it is common to see them exist simultaneously. Some of the most common types of abuse include: 

  • Physical abuse: This form of abuse might involve hitting, slapping, pushing, or any other form of physical harm. 
  • Emotional abuse: This could be verbal attacks, manipulation, or isolation from friends and family.
  • Sexual abuse: Coercion or non-consensual activity are the most common forms of this type of abuse.
  • Financial abuse: This can involve controlling or withholding access to money or other resources.
  • Digital abuse: This lesser-known form of abuse involves stalking or monitoring through technology. 

Abuse in relationships can occur between partners of any gender, sexual orientation, or age group. It can happen in romantic relationships, but it can also occur between family members, friends, or even coworkers. Abusive behavior is often a pattern that escalates over time, and knowing the various types can help you identify it as soon as possible.

What Can Be Done?

If you or someone you love is in an unhealthy relationship, it is important to take action as soon as possible. There are many resources available, like counseling, support groups, and hotlines, and these resources can provide emotional support, information, and guidance on how to leave the relationship safely.

It is also important to build a support system. This can include friends, family, or a support group. Having people who support you can make it easier to leave an unhealthy relationship and can help you to build a new life for yourself.

Recognizing the signs of an unhealthy relationship is another important aspect. These can include physical or emotional abuse, controlling behavior, jealousy, disrespect, and lack of trust. Additionally, you’ll need to remember that leaving an unhealthy relationship can be difficult and may take time. Be patient and kind to yourself during this process, no matter how challenging that may feel. Seeking support and building a support system can help you through this difficult time.

Finally, work on building self-esteem either for yourself or the person you love that is currently in a bad situation. This can be done through therapy, self-reflection, and self-care. By building self-esteem, we can learn to recognize our worth and can have the confidence to leave an unhealthy relationship.

People stay in unhealthy relationships for a variety of reasons, including fear of being alone, low self-esteem, and love. While these reasons may seem valid at the time, staying in an unhealthy relationship can have serious consequences for all parties involved. If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, it is important to seek help and support to leave the relationship safely. 

In the end, you must prioritize your own well-being and safety. Leaving an unhealthy relationship can be scary, but it is a necessary step towards building a happier and healthier life for yourself. Remember that you deserve to be loved and respected, and there is help available for those who need it.

New Dimensions Can Help!

New Dimensions provides a variety of treatment options for adolescents and adults who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.  To learn more about the therapy services at New Dimensions, visit our website at or contact us at 800-685-9796.  You can also learn about individual, couples, and family therapy services at


Keywords: Unhealthy relationships; Toxic relationships; Dependency; Fear of being alone