Today I’m talking about why smart, strong women stay in bad relationships and what you can do about it. I’m not talking about physically abusive relationships, although some low-quality relationships do have some verbal or emotional abuse.
I’m talking about relationships that aren’t good for you, that you know you don’t deserve, ones where you know you should be treated better. Maybe one in which you have evolved past in many ways, and your partner is no longer meeting your needs.
Why would strong, smart women stay in bad relationships?
What I am finding is that powerhouse women often find themselves in these types of relationships, but you often don’t know it because they won’t tell you for fear of being seen as weak. Many people think that staying in a bad relationship is a sign of weakness when it is actually a really bad use of your incredible strength.
In fact, women who are the breadwinners in the family actually have higher rates of intimate partner abuse than women who aren’t. This sounds astounding, because these are the very women who have the financial ability to get out of the relationships, yet these are the women who stay. In fact, research demonstrates that smart, successful women are more likely to be in relationships with toxic men than others.
It’s not always low self-esteem that a strong women stay in bad relationships
As I have been researching getting prepared to speak about this topic, I came across a line of thought that says that women stay in bad relationships because of low self-esteem, because they perceive themselves to be less attractive and generally have lower expectations of what a relationship should be like – so they accept bad treatment.
I think this can be true in certain circumstances, like if your parents were abusive, you may have lower expectations for what a loving relationship is or even feel that bad treatment is normal on some level. But I have not found that to be true in any way with the type of women I treat in my practice.
All of the women in my practice that are staying in low-quality relationships are gorgeous, smart, extremely successful women who are held in high esteem in the community. They are strong women who don’t take anything from other people in their lives and have clawed their way to the success that they are experiencing today. But, they are not that way in their relationship.
Reasons you might be staying
I think it’s important to say that you probably didn’t know you were getting into an unhealthy relationship. You are certainly smarter than that. You found yourself in one over time. These are the reasons why you may be staying:
1. Strong women give their best in all aspects of their lives- including their relationships.
They are used to working hard and it pays off. They don’t like to fail and they often create a story that ending this relationship is a failure. It isn’t. It could be a win, but if your story is a failure, then you’re going to keep fighting. And you are expecting the ROI (Return on investment) into the relationship. You get caught into the “throwing good money after bad money” trap. You have invested so much that you don’t want to “lose” your investment and you perceive that the alternative is not as beneficial to you as your current state.
Working hard is familiar to you. You feel constantly challenged by this relationship and that feels normal. Also, If your first experience with love in the world, wasn’t that stable, you may seek out a similar experience subconsciously in your relationships.
Basically, high-performance women can put up with more and take it longer and this is where your strength betrays you. You become compassionate to a fault. You make excuses for his behavior or feel that you can understand it or fix it. You become a savior instead of saving yourself.