Reasons Why I Stayed In Toxic Relationships—Are You Guilty Of These Too?

We all have that one friend who calls us crying about her boyfriend all the time but no matter how much we advise her to leave him and express our concerns, she goes back to him.

Well, I am that friend. Despite knowing that my friends were right and looking out for my best interests, I ignored them ’til they got tired of hearing me complaining. It wasn’t until I finally did leave that I understood why I stayed, and I think my experience might be relatable to you too.

I Thought Love Could Conquer All

woman and man sit back-to-back on the floor
Photo Credit: Gemma Chua Tran / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Gemma Chua Tran / Unsplash

I always thought that as long as you loved each other, you could get through anything. I had to learn the hard way that love simply isn’t enough.

It’s a great foundation to build on, but without trust, mutual respect, and communication, we had nothing.

I Was Holding Onto Hope Of Change

man and woman holding hands, woman wearing a wedding ring
Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

Although I was only given glimpses of change, that never even ended up lasting, I kept waiting and waiting. I got to the point where I was only living for the future and going to bed hoping the next day would be better.

My life was passing me by and I was wasting time during which I could have been a lot happier.

I Was Afraid Of Change

man and woman sit at bonfire on the beach
Photo Credit: Manuel Meurisse / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Manuel Meurisse / Unsplash

For me to pack my bags and leave meant I would have to find a new place, pay for rent alone, leave the pets behind, buy all new furniture, etc. I simply didn’t want to deal with it so I was taking the easy way out.

Except I realized I was actually choosing the harder road, one where every day was full of self-doubt and arguments.

I Naively Listened To Empty Promises

two hands pinky promise in the sky
Photo Credit: Alise Storsul / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Alise Storsul / Unsplash

If I had a dollar for every time my now-ex apologized and promised that if I was patient and stayed he would give me everything I wanted, I could now be living in a mansion right on the beach.

Instead, I believed him, thinking I was doing it out of love.

I Justified Toxic Behavior With Excuses

man kisses woman on the forehead with eyes closed
Photo Credit: Victoria Roman / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Victoria Roman / Unsplash

I would make up ridiculous excuses like he only was texting me 48 times when I was out with my friends because he cared about me, not because he was possessive. Or that he threatened the guy who looked at me because he’s protective, not jealous.

Tell yourself that enough times and you start to believe it, and even normalize it.

I Worried About What People Would Think

woman looking at her phone by the lake
Photo Credit: Becca Tapert / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Becca Tapert / Unsplash

My best friend was getting married and my Instagram was filled with friends my age already having their first kid, and here I was not even able to get my partner to tell me I’m pretty.

I didn’t want to “fall behind,” but I also didn’t others to judge my relationship. Instead, I struggled in silence.

I Dreaded Starting Over Again

hand holding Tinder app open on phone
Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

I had heard enough Tinder horror stories to be completely turned off by the whole process. I couldn’t even fathom going on a blind date and building back up a whole relationship.

I liked the comfort of being able to predict what my partner was at least thinking or feeling and wasn’t ready to play dating games again.

I Thought It Was Better Than Being Lonely

couple watching Netflix on couch
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

We might argue three times through the movie and not even make it to the end because I’m left crying and he’s too tired from yelling that I picked a bad movie, but at least I had someone to even watch a movie with, right?

I was wrong, and now I at least get to choose all the rom-coms my heart desires.

I Thought It Was All My Fault

woman holding in her knees by brick wall
Photo Credit: Rafael Barros / Pexels
Photo Credit: Rafael Barros / Pexels

I felt personally responsible for their actions. Not that I can really blame myself, because this was something my partner did very deliberately.

He had mastered the art of gaslighting without even being familiar with the term. Whatever it took for him to avoid accountability, even if it meant shifting the blame on me gradually until I always volunteered to take it.

I Was Holding Onto The Past

woman putting up photos on wall, seen from the back
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

I was waiting for the day the relationship would go back to feeling like it did in the beginning and my partner would go back to being the romantic charmer who made me fall for it all.

Except, it was all a facade that he carefully crafted to get me under his grasp. Even if it might have been real, I had to come to terms with what was happening in the moment.

I Convinced Myself I Could Fix It

man with blue eyes and bandaid over a small flower under his eye
Photo Credit: Ami Moshrefi / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Ami Moshrefi / Unsplash

I’m not sure if I thought I could fix the relationship itself, or if I treated my partner as a project that I also could salvage. Either way, it shouldn’t have been my responsibility to fix either one alone.

Especially when it came to my partner. He would have had to have been willing to work on that himself. Not to mention, I was breaking too and had to fix myself first.

I Was Afraid No One Else Would Love Me

man and woman touching foreheads with eyes closed
Photo Credit: Batik / Pexels
Photo Credit: Batik / Pexels

If this person who supposedly loved me so much was treating me like this, then surely I deserved it, I thought. My self-esteem took a hit the longer that I stayed, and I became afraid of never being good enough or worthy of more.

I was scared of being rejected in the future as I didn’t think I could handle it.

I Was Confused About What Love Looked Like

woman looks at man and smiles at candlelight dinner
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

I had watched enough rom-coms to fall under the impression that for the couple to work out at the end, the guy must do something very wrong for which he needs to make some grand gesture to apologize.

Add in the fact that my parents were divorced and it makes sense that I didn’t have a healthy relationship standard to compare to.

I Held Onto The Ups

man climbing up tree to reach woman
Photo Credit: Tiraya Adam / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Tiraya Adam / Unsplash

It didn’t matter that the downs were much more frequent and made me miserable 90% of the time, and that even the ups ended in some sort of argument that tainted them anyway. I convinced myself I’d be bored if it was constantly good anyway.

A healthy relationship shouldn’t have such drastic ups and downs, and should remain constant to some degree.

I Felt Guilty For Leaving

woman looks at man while he plays guitar
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

Somehow I forgot that my partner was a fully grown adult who was fully capable of taking care of themselves. The relationship dynamic had unequally shifted so much that I had taken on the role of their giver and felt responsibility for even their basic needs while getting nothing in return

Our codependent relationship had me convinced that they would fail without me and that it would all be my fault.

I Missed Them When I Left

woman hugs man and looks into camera
Photo Credit: Dziana Hasanbekava / Pexels
Photo Credit: Dziana Hasanbekava / Pexels

It’s not like I never tried to leave, but I always came back. I thought that now they’d realize my worth and treat me better, except that we would fall right back into the same cycle.

They do say that the average person in a toxic relationship will attempt to leave seven times before finally leaving for good.