We are social beings and seek closeness and relationships. It is hard when we find ourselves in harmful ones but why do we stay? Helen Nieves wrote some noteworthy points to look at when we see ourselves or someone else stay in unhealthy relationships.
She listed eight factors that may contribute to someone staying in an unhealthy and even harmful relationship:
- Reliance or Codependency: Someone can become financially dependent on their partner and believe that without money they will not have a lavish lifestyle or simply believe that they won’t be able to stand on their own feet.
- Believing that abuse is normal: Perhaps someone grew up in an environment where abuse was common.
- Low Self -Esteem: A person with low self- esteem may believe that the abuse or maltreatment is their fault because their partner constantly blames them or puts them down.
- Pregnancy or Parenting: A person may feel pressured to stay in an unhealthy relationship because of pregnancy or may feel pressured to raise their child by both parents. Also, the abusive partner may threaten to take away their child if they leave.
- Change: A person may stay in an unhealthy relationship because their partner promises that they will change and they hope that they eventually will.
- Settle: Some people may settle being an an unhealthy relationship rather then being alone.
- Good-enough: Someone may believe that the abusive partner is “good-enough for me” and may feel that they do not deserve better.
- Cognitive Dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is a way to justify our actions so that we may never have to feel that we did something wrong. People have a hard time breaking free from bad relationships because it means coming to terms that you stayed in a bad relationship for a long time, and facing the fact that it was a mistake.
She mentioned the importance of looking after personal needs. As an additional point, it might be just as important to find a support system. People in unhealthy relationships usually are not sharing a lot of themselves, they might be social but superficial. Look for people you can trust to talk about these issues.
Call the Samaritan Counseling Center, we can help.
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