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Running Head: Unhealthy Relationships

Why Girls Stay in Unhealthy Relationships?

Carolyn Miller
Glen Allen High School

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There has been a great deal of research about why girls initially get into relationships
with bad boys, but less research about why they actually stay with them. There are a plethora of
stories about girls who think that they are being rebellious by dating bad boys that actually end
up being abused and mistreated while in those relationships. It has become evident why girls
choose to be in relationships with these bad boys, but less clear as to why they would continue to
stay in these relationships despite the verbal, mental, and physical abuse that they might
experience. There are many sources out there that seek to offer theories for this question,
however, the varying perceptions about the issue make it difficult to really understand and
identify one isolated reason for why women chose to stay in unhealthy relationships.
What constitutes as an Unhealthy Relationship?
One common misconception regarding this subject is that one or both of the partners in a
romantic relationship have to be experiencing physical abuse in order for their relationship to be
considered unhealthy. This definition of what it means to be in an unhealthy relationship
disregards many other types of abuse such as sexual, psychological, or emotional violence
(Not My Kid, n.d.). As a result of this misconstruction, it becomes difficult to directly identify
when a person is really in an unhealthy situation and therefore even more difficult to understand
why they wont leave. In addition to knowing the basic and very broad definition of what it
means for someone to be in an unhealthy relationship, it is also necessary to know what the
specifics are as well. As outlined by the University of Washingtons medical school, there are
many ways to identify unhealthy relationships, some of which include a partner feeling

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pressure to do things they would rather not do, and a partner being disrespected and made to
feel inferior (Hall Health Center, 2015).Though it is important to have general knowledge about
what an unhealthy relationship entails, it is also imperative to remember that the definition of an
unhealthy relationship is not limited to these expressed criterion as relationships between
individual couples do differ.
No Two Relationships Are Exactly the Same
After understanding exactly what an unhealthy relationship is, it is secondly important to
recognize that no two relationships are precisely the same. Some resources will only provide a
single reason as an answer to this question, but the answer is not always relevant or applicable to
every unhealthy relationship. It is easier to get a better understanding of the issue through
sources that provide multiple reasons through multiple different perspectives. For instance, Love
is respect.org separated their theories into four very general headings which include conflicting
emotions, pressure, distrust of adults or authority, and reliance on the abusive partner
(Love is Respect, n.d.). Similarly, while approaching it from a different angle, Julia Austin from
Madame Noire developed a list of six reasons why women stay in negative relationships. The six
topics include "He made you feel special", "...this is as good as it gets", "You don't realize how
bad it is", "You gave up your life", "He'll die without you", and "You dont know what else is out
there" (Julia Austin, 2012). These websites are helpful because they offer fresh, relatable, and
comprehendible perspectives as to why women stay in negative relationships, while also covertly
highlighting how every unhealthy relationship is different as well as a womens excuse to stay in

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Perspectives and Theories
Fear of Being Lonely: One of the most commonly mentioned reasons for why women
stay in unhealthy relationships is because they are afraid of being single. Based on a study from
the University of Toronto, the fear of being alone causes people to lower their standards in
future and existing relationships (NewsBreaker, 2013). People, especially women, are so afraid
of being alone that they are willing to except anything from anyone just to feel like they are a
part of something. Among men and women, there is a common fear that if they leave their
current partner, no one else will want to be with them. According to News Breakers Melissa
McCarty, settling is the modern day happy ending (NewsBreaker, 2013). People stay with
their current partners, despite how unhealthy the relationship is, to validate that they are desirable
as an individual and as confirmation that they will not end up alone.
Fear of Being Vulnerable: In addition to not wanting to be alone, the fear of being
vulnerable in a relationship with someone new is also a common reason for why women choose
to stay in unhealthy relationships (Bill, 2013). Being vulnerable in front of anyone is a very
difficult task. When girls are in relationships, they often give all of themselves to their partners.
This in turn causes them to be vulnerable, and puts them in a position to be hurt and heartbroken. Based off of a very popular quote posted on LoveThisPic, it is easier to stay in a
relationship with someone a person has already opened up to, rather than to meet someone new
and start all over again. This theory goes hand in hand with the first in that it suggests that
women will settle for an unhealthy relationship over having to find someone that they can
actually be happy with or even over choosing to be single.
Celebrity Influences: As a result of celebrities being in the limelight, there actions are
often mimicked by those who look up to them. In this way, when celebrity women are quoted

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praising the idea of the bad boy and glorifying unhealthy relationships, it makes it ok for other
women who are in unhealthy relationships to do the same. Iva Anthony, a writer for Madame
Noir, drafted a list of statements from 15 women celebrities essentially praising unhealthy
I love guys who are streetI wont even give soft guys a chance.
Loren London (Anthony, 2014)
This list includes women who knew beforehand that there partner was no
good but still chose to pursue a relationship with them. Not only did they
get into these relationships, but they made the abusive nature of the
relationship seem cool and acceptable. When young girls who look up to
these women see this, they feel like unhealthy relationships are normal and
will not leave if they ever find themselves in one.
Common Excuses
When a woman who is in an unhealthy relationship is asked why she wont just leave,
there is long list of clich excuses that are given in order for her decision to remain in the
relationship. Researches such as Nick Notas and Julia Austin, address these many excuses and
even offer their own insight as to why the logic is faulty. One excuse that is common among both
sources is that he needs me (Notas, 2013) or hell die with [me] (Austin, 2013). Though it is
important for both partners to be supportive in a relationship, it should never get to a point where
one or both of the partners feel as if they cant live without each other (Notas, 2013). This
theory coincides with the research of Lynne Namka on codependency. Her article focuses heavily
on codependency and being hooked on relationships as it relates to a person's childhood. The

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emotional trauma that a person has experienced may cause them to be dependent on their current
relationship and cause them to feel like they need to do whatever they can to make their current
relationship work.
This review looked into the question why women choose to stay in unhealthy
relationships. Through the information gathered from numerous differing sources such as
websites, blogs, medical research pages, and blogs it can be concluded that there is not one clear
cut reason for why women choose to stay in unhealthy relationships, rather there a plethora of
different reasons that can apply to relationships on an individual basis. As a result of all
relationships being different, it is virtually impossible to narrow down the reasons for this issue
into one simple answer. In order to determine why girls stay in unhealthy relationships it is
important to explore individual personalities and prior life experiences. For this reason, this
subject is still very relevant because it is affecting many young women all over the world on a
day to day basis. This research will hopefully lead to understanding how to get girls to leave
these unhealthy relationships and even prevent more girls from getting into these unhealthy
relationships in the first place.
Reference List
Anthony, I. (2014). Gotta Get A Ruff Neck: Celebrity Women Who Love Bad Boys. Retrieved
from http://madamenoire.com/473996/women-who-love-bad-boys/
Austin, J. (2012). Love Without A Limit: Why Women Stay In Bad Relationships. Retrieved from

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Banschick, M. (2012). Why Nice People Cling to Bad Boys (or Girls). Retrieved from
Bill. (2013, June 26). No girl wants to start over with a new guy [Web log comment]. Retrieved
from http://www.lovethispic.com/image/110933/no-girl-wants-to-start-over-with-a-newguy
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships. (2015). In University of Washington Medicine. Retrieved
March 22, 2015, from https://depts.washington.edu/hhpccweb/content/health-articles/allundergraduates/healthy-vs-unhealthy-relationships
Namka, L. (2002). What Does Love Got To Do With It?: Why People Stay in Relationships With
Angry People. Retrieved from http://www.angriesout.com/family1.htm
NewsBreaker. (2013, December 13). Research Suggests People Stay in Bad Relationships
Because They are Scared to be Single [Video file]. Retrieved from
Notas, N. (2014). 7 Excuses Women Make to Stay With the Wrong Guy. Retrieved from
Understand the Challenge. (n.d.).In Not My Kid. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from
Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?. (n.d.). In Love is Respect. Retrieved March 22,
2015, from http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay-in-abusiverelationships