Why do we put up with toxic relationships?

Recently, I’ve been helping a friend who has been stuck in a toxic relationship for the past 6 months. I have a hard time helping her because I can’t understand why she would want to be with someone who half the time is great, and half the time horrible. He is unappreciative and rude to her most of the time. It seems simple to me for her to leave the relationship and completely forget about him. However, after reading an article I found on psychologytoday.com, I understand why that is so hard for her. As stated in the article, although we have been programed to make life as enjoyable and happy as possible, sometimes toxic relationships are hard to avoid.

The article talks about reasons that my friend could possibly still want to be in this relationship could have to do with the way she grew up. The article explains that if my friend grew up with a relationship with her parents similar to her relationship with her romantic partner, she may perceive this behavior as acceptable. She could believe that, “if you are nice to me, you are allowed to hurt me.” (psychologytoday.com). This would relate to the psychology concept of nurture, and learning behavior.

Another reason that my friend wants to stay in this toxic relationship is because of chemical reactions in the brain. The article refers to the chemical dopamine, which is responsible for feeling happy, being released during lust. Also, being in this unpredictable relationship creates adrenaline in the brain. The article says, “Adrenaline is a stimulant. Stimulants are addictive. In terms of neuro chemicals, you can think of dopamine as straight whiskey, adrenaline as beer, and the brain as a boozehound.”(psychologytoday.com). This explanation relates to the psychology concept of neurons and chemicals in the brain.

The article suggests that the way to escape a toxic relationship like the one my friend is in, is to learn why she wants to be in this relationship. She needs to realize that the reason she wants to be in this relationship is because of subconscious psychology and chemicals in the brain. 


Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/obesely-speaking/201402/hooked-messy-loving

2 thoughts on “Why do we put up with toxic relationships?

  1. Troy Patrick Gilson

    I agree 100% with your post, I just was in a toxic relationship for 6 months myself. My girlfriend was an emotional roller coaster, she had trust issues, confidence issues and anger issues. After vacationing with her and her family in Florida, I began to realize that my relationship with her was exactly the same as her parents. I’m a very easy-going person, which made my girlfriend think that I didn’t care about her or us. Her father and I had very similar personalities, and the moment that she called her father a “dick” for not fighting back with her mother, it explained the world to me: she viewed her behavior as how she should act in a relationship because that’s how her mother acts. I grew up with my parents never getting in one fight in front of me which I guess is the reason that I thought her personality was so unacceptable and the reason why she felt the same about mine. Thanks for opening up my eyes!

  2. Kelsey Eagan

    I just recently got out of a toxic relationship, and I put up with it for a long time. I feel like I didn’t realize how badly I was being treated until I got out of the relationship. Whenever I saw someone in a relationship like this, I couldn’t understand how they stayed with the person, and I always thought to myself that I would never put up with something like that, and I would get out of the relationship right away, but that obviously wasn’t the case. This definitely explains a lot!

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