By · @elizabethcstone  ·  · 922 Shares

Bad Relationship and Arguing Couple“Well, if you move out, where am I gonna live? Does this mean I’ll have to find my own apartment?”

“Umm…” he said.

Jeremy had just told his girlfriend Amanda that he was going to leave her and move to another state for a job offer.

A few months into their relationship, Amanda had been evicted from her apartment and needed somewhere to live for her and her five year old daughter. Jeremy came to her rescue by letting her move in with him, after they made the explicit agreement that it would only be temporary while she got back on her feet.

Unfortunately once Amanda moved in, she never looked for somewhere to live. Instead, she conveniently forgot to pay the bills she had agreed to cover, even though she maintained her well-paying job.

As the months wore on, Jeremy tried to sit Amanda down and talk to her about apartment hunting, but each time, she seemed to magically talk him out of it.

After a contentious year that felt like it had dragged on and on, he finally decided it was over between them. Besides the fact that he felt tricked, he had realized that they had nothing in common. They were too different, and he knew that they had made a mistake by moving in together, way too soon. Instead of telling Amanda that she needed to go, Jeremy stalled while feeling more and more guilty about his decision to date Amanda in the first place.

After a lot of soul searching, Jeremy had come to three important, seemingly conflicting realizations:

1. Amanda was using him but he hated admitting it to anyone (even himself).

2. He let his own guilt and shame for making a bad decision (letting her move in) make him stick around way too long.

3. He wanted to do the right thing. Since Amanda’s daughter was involved, breaking up with Amanda felt even worse. He wondered if he should stay because he had bonded with the child, since Amanda had no qualms about letting him babysit while she was at work.

The point of all of this not to demonize either Amanda or Jeremy. Obviously, enormous mistakes were made.

It’s easy to shriek “GO! RUN!” but understanding exactly why people stick around for months or even years after a relationship’s expiration date is important.

Bad relationships don’t happen all at once, they creep up on us. If they were bad in the beginning, no one would ever do it.

So, why do we stay in bad relationships long after it dawns on us that it’s time to go?

The fatal triad of momentum, guilt and confirmation bias.

1. Momentum.

Once we start a relationship and put in the effort to keep it going, stopping feels like we’re losing our investment. The realization that we’ve wasted months or years of our life staying with the wrong person is often too much for us to come to terms with.

Once Amanda moved in with Jeremy and he spent a lot of his free time babysitting, letting go seemed incredibly difficult since he had invested so much time and energy in making it work.

2. Guilt.

Bad Relationship,. Struggles and Challenges for a Better RelationshipSometimes we fancy ourselves as the other person’s savior. We tell ourselves nonsense like, “They would be so devastated by the breakup that they would never recover.” Hooey. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by continuing a relationship with them because you feel bad about telling them it’s over. Yet, plenty of people stick around, feeling too much shame to admit that they are dying inside.

In Jeremy’s case, the guilt came from not wanting to further uproot the life of Amanda’s five year old daughter. This is not a bad goal, but seriously problematic for a lot of reasons. Namely the fact that if Jeremy continues his relationship with Amanda while not in love and emotionally checked out— the end result is Amanda’s daughter becomes even more attached, making his eventual departure that much more heartbreaking for all.

3. Confirmation bias.

This one is tricky. Confirmation bias is defined by wikipedia as, “(also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.”

What this means for relationships is that once you get into one, you will work hard to confirm that continuing the relationship is a good choice. This natural tendency is helpful when we’re in a good relationship because seeing the good helps us get through the hard times.

Unfortunately this is a disaster when we find ourselves in a toxic pairing. In the honeymoon phase, we often tell everyone (particularly ourselves) how excited we are about our new mate. Then, as the realization hits that the other person is not good for us, we’ll stick around for a while (sometimes a lot) longer in an emotional space of being unwilling to admit that we cut the wrong pony from the herd.

Jeremy wanted so much to believe that Amanda had both of their best interests at heart that he went on a fact-finding mission to confirm it. When I spoke to him about the relationship, he said that he thought he was being taken advantage of, BUT that Amanda did his laundry and was polite to his friends. He looked for every shred of evidence that his choice to date her was a good one.

No one wants to admit flat out that they were wrong. However, saving face, but losing your mind is never a good trade.

What do you think? Have you ever stayed in a relationship too long that wasn’t right for you? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.

Elizabeth Stone

Elizabeth Stone has made it her mission to help you date better, get through heartbreak, gain confidence and improve your relationship.

Tired of Meeting Guys Who Become Distant and Pull Away? Get your free copy of Why Men Lose Interest and make him desperate to be with you.

What Do You Think?

14 Comments | Join the discussion

  • Lorna (LaLa) Feb 15, 2015 at 2:10 am

    Oh dear, what sad, sad stories. Is no-one in the world happy? How about counting our blessings and trying harder to see and concentrate on the “good” in a situation and person? We all have faults and weeknesses. Perhaps you should all read the thoughts of the Dalai Lama in the book “The Art of Happiness” written by Howard C. Cutler available on Amazon. I have found the section on compassion very helpful. I wish you all love, joy and happiness in the future. Lorna (LaLa)

  • Elaine Feb 6, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    I was in one for 10 years. The first 6 were great then we got married.
    Turns out he didn’t want to share me with anyone not even my kids from a previous marriage. Only after we got married did this start coming out. I told him one day out if the blue I didn’t want to be married to him anymore and 6 days later he took his own life. 4 years later I am single happy and never been better. There was no guilt on my part, his choice to do what he did. It was hard to deal with as I still loved him but it was a toxic relationship. May he be at peace.

    • Lorna (LaLa)   Elaine Feb 15, 2015 at 3:31 am

      Elaine, thank you so much for sharing that with us. I am so very, very sorry for your loss, and so pleased to hear that you are doing well now. Life does throw a lot of bad stuff at us. You sound strong and confident, and I hope you will find love and peace in the rest of your life. And, indeed, may your husband now be at peace, too. It sounds as though he was a very unhappy person. With love and every good wish for the future. Lorna

  • Lifera Feb 6, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    I stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship for all the above reasons and tried hard to make it work, I had invested too much and I just couldn’t imagine starting all over again with someone else; the thought of being single again and searching, and going through one disappointing date after another, hopeful and imagining the next guy I meet could be “the One”, was just too devastating. But as I tried hard to hold on, things just kept getting worse, especially as my desperation began to show through.
    Now I am learning how to cut my losses and walk away if it is not working. In the first place, I would not invest myself emtionally, financially or physically in a relationship until the guy has met me more than halfway and I can clearly see what he is willing to invest in me & the relationship; commitments, engagements and promises alone just don’t cut it anymore. I always have a back-up plan, I make sure that I am not in too deep that I cannot walk away at whatever stage of the relationship. I know this may sound drastic, but women get dumped at the alter, husbands leave wives for other women, just when you think that he is fully committed to the relationship it turns out that he’s met you only 20% of the way while you have invested yourself 100% and more in the relationship.

    • Lorna (LaLa)   Lifera Feb 15, 2015 at 3:23 am

      Good for you!! Women these days have to be independent and always in a position to be responsible for themselves – should that be necessary. It is just a very sad fact of life now that we cannot expect our men to take full responsibilty for us any more – the way we did even 40 or 50 years ago. I know that now from experience, because at 66 I have gone through a painful divorce after almost 40 years of marriage, when I was a stay at home mum (which is what my husband wanted – he wanted me there for the children 100% – he used to joke about keeping women barefoot and pregnant!!). I thank God daily that I am able to be financially independent now, as a result of my setting up a rental business some years ago, and fighting like a she-cat for my divorce settlement. It is not to say that we cannot love our men to the moon and back, but just be aware and keep a little in reserve – always keep the back door open. Sad but necessary these days. I have three daughters who all have good careers as an architect, lawyer and teacher, and I pray that they will always be alright. GIRLPOWER!! We have always been the stronger sex!! Love and happiness and independence to you all. Lorna (LaLa)

  • Raul Feb 6, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I’m in a relationship with this woman that I let move into my house to help her out so, she can put her life together, She’s making progress but, she disrespects my house & me by being irresponsible and careless. She won’t pay any bills, clean the house, buy any food and when she does, won’t share with me. I know It’s all my fault. Everything is Cristal clear she’s not the Wright person for me! The problem is, when I make my mind to kick her out of the house, I feel guilty for not understanding her. What can I do?

  • Sarah Feb 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    When I was 35, I married a well-to-do, ‘broken’ man. I thought I could love him enough to fix him. I was wrong. He was 20 years older than me and at the time, it was OK. I quit my job, sold my house and became completely dependent on him. That was 35 years ago. Our children are grown, so are our grandchildren. None of them live close and although we visit on some holidays, they have very different lives.
    I am a former professional athlete (figure skater) and I used to make good money. We spent it all, over the years, educating the children, taking care of elderly parents, etc. our own illnesses over time… and have nothing to show for it. My husband has his own small business where he still works at age 86. We don’t even like each other but we both feel stuck. Neither of us ever thought we would be in this position. He has always had erectile problems and his health is not good. Sex was over for us before it ever really got started. We both tried but it just didn’t work out. I am a healthy, well person who lives a totally different life style. I have taught Yoga classes for years but certainly couldn’t support myself on it. Now, I am 70, even though I look and feel 50. There is no life insurance and there is a lot of debt. I did not cause the debt but I am equally responsible for repayment just because we are married. Working on my resentment about that part is exhausting. About 7 years ago I fell in love with a man I have actually known for many years and he with me. I had been faithful for all of those years as had he. He is also married and feels stuck in that marriage. It is his second marriage and it has taken his children 20 years to forgive him for the first divorce and now they have finally learned to embrace he present wife. They have raised her children and though his children did not accept her for many years, now that they have kids of their own, they have changed their minds about her. So the love of my life is the Grandpa of Grandpa and Grandma to the 6 grandchildren of his and the 4 of hers. What a complicated deal. She became suspicious about 4 years ago and demanded there be no contact between us-no phone calls, no text messages, no anything. I see him in a work situation about once or twice a week (his work). We are very careful and meet at his friend’s house or even visit in his car in a parking lot after dark and that’s it. He loves me. He helps support me, financially, and professionally. He is my joy and visa versa. We both feel that we simply don’t, ‘have it’ at our ages (he is 80) to blow up the lives of everyone involved. I am writing the book.

    • Lorna (LaLa)   Sarah Feb 15, 2015 at 3:08 am

      Sarah, It seems to me you are just making excuses, and always have, because you do not have the strength or will-power to take responsibility for your own life. Grow some balls. Realise that your actions will not affect the “children” in your life – they are not children and probably would not care what you did – you are making them an excuse. They would want you to be happy. You have always been a victim, and sound as though you enjoy it. Stop moaning about how life has treated you so badly. Get a grip – take life into your own hands. If you want this man and he wants you – go for it. What the hell?. We will all be dead soon, and then what will it matter? His wife already knows it is over if she knows about you already. As long as you do it in a kind, caring way to avoid as much pain as possible all around, you do not need to feel guilty. I am 66, so do have some life experience to comment in this way. We belong to an era when it was frowned on to appear to be so selfish – so many, many people lived a miserable life wth the wrong person. Life is for living, stop making excuses to opt out of real life and happiness. It is in your OWN hands. Do not blame other people for your own unhappiness and inability to make your own decisions in life. Your life is your own. As long as you do not directly and intentionally hurt other people, live it the way YOU want – you should never be accountable to other people. Stop feeling guilty and sorry for yourself. Guilt has a lot to answer for – get some counselling!! You are ALL living a LIE in this situation. Is that the best way to live your life? Is it a good example to others? Sorry to be so blunt, but sometimes it is hard to see the truth until it is pointed out to you. GO FOR IT. Bite the bullet. Take the bull by the horns. I wish you all the very best for the future. LaLa.

  • Leila Feb 6, 2015 at 4:19 am

    The last point in this article is worth repeating: saving your relationship but losing your mind isn’t a good trade. I also like the way this article says that even people in good relationships have some confirmation bias, so it’s not like just because you sense some bias working that you must be in a bad one 🙂 Another good point I want to repeat from the article is about children and how vulnerable they are to the relationships of their parents. If only for them it’s worth thinking things through very carefully before you decide on a big step like moving in with someone, no matter how much you may want to.

    • Lifera   Leila Feb 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Talking about losing one’s mind, I almost lost my job because of the emotional trauma a relationship put me through, at the end of the day it just wasn’t worth it. You can’t save what’s already dead.

  • toolong1966 Feb 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I have been doing this for 6 years! I’m in a friends with benefits situation where we are like a couple but free to see others but we do not. It’s messed up because we are so comfortable with each other by now, we don’t have tons invested emotionally but enough that I guess neither of us wants to leave. We live about an hour apart, see each other on weekends, have alot in common accept for I want a relationship, he doesn’t and he’s emotionally unavailable. I just keep hoping I will meet someone who will sweep me off my feet, want me as his girlfriend and I can let go of this unhealthy situation…..i guess its better than nothing, I’m still open to meeting other men, it just hasn’t happened…ugh…maybe I do love him more than I thought….

    • Lifera   toolong1966 Feb 6, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      Maybe you should accept it for what it is: a temporary situation before you meet Mr. Right. This will give you some peace of mind. He is not committing to you because you are not what he wants for a girlfriend, although the sex is good. So you should also stop seeing him as boyfriend material but as someone to satisfy your physical needs & keep you entertained while you search for a guy that you’d actually want to date. Instead of fantasizing about dating this guy, you should obsess about all the things that are wrong about him that makes him poor boyfriend material (e.g. His emotional unavailability). Just because he’s good in bed or fun to be with does not mean he’s good enough for you. He is only there to bridge the gap of loneliness. Start seeing him the way he sees you. Get your power back.

    • Lorna (LaLa)   toolong1966 Feb 15, 2015 at 2:36 am

      Maybe you should call his bluff!! Have it out with him. Tell him you want more – what you absolutely WANT, in a kind and loving way – then if he doesn’t agree, have the strength to walk away. Don’t look back, not for a second. Give him a time limit. Perhaps that will give him the shake up to get his act together. As it is – he has you eating out of his hand. Difficult, but if you are not happy and going nowhere, what have you got to lose? Do not give your POWER and self respect away to him. Get yourself lots of hobbies where you meet people. Make new friends. Spend more time with your girlfriends. Go on internet dating (but keep it friendly at first – don’t get hooked in again too soon!!). Volunteer your time to others worse off than you. Get a new hairstyle and some lovely new, sexy clothes and underwear (even if no-one else sees them), some gorgeous scented bath essence – and a vibrator (and tell him what you plan to do!!). Learn to love yourself. I wish you luck and love. GIRLPOWER!! Lorna (LaLa)


Leave a Comment

Your name will appear above your comment. You may use a “pen name”.