Why People Don't End Relationships When They No Longer Work

Forcing things isn't healthy. Why don't people end relationships when they no longer work? Read more about this in our article!
Why People Don't End Relationships When They No Longer Work
Bernardo Peña

Written and verified by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

When it seems that a relationship has come to an end, breaking up seems to be the most logical and correct decision. So why don’t people just end relationships when they’re unhappy? What makes us keep on clinging to something that fizzled and died?

You’ve tried everything, but nothing is the same and it seems like it never will be. However, you just don’t give up.

Many times, we’re unable to make the difficult decision to officially end a relationship that’s pretty much done. It’s even harder when you’ve been in the relationship for a long time and you both shared true love.

Saying goodbye and moving on is the healthiest thing to do. However, we sometimes try to convince ourselves that we’ll fix everything. We also try to learn to live with those problems that didn’t exist at the beginning of the relationship.

Many times, we’re unable to end a relationship that’s pretty much dead. Read on to find out why.

Reasons People Don’t End Relationships When They’re Unhappy

end relationships

Many people around us may also see that it’s time to end the relationship and move on. However, it’s not an easy decision. Why don’t we break up when the relationship no longer works? There are several reasons:

In a damaged relationship, there’s no distinction between the need to break it off or fix it.

Many people don’t end relationships because of several reasons. These include:

  • The fear of the loss and sadness it can cause.
  • A fear of confrontation.
  • The fear of the unknown.
  • Children are involved.
  • The fear of social judgment.
  • Refusal to lose everything that was invested.
  • Guilt because you failed.
  • Lack of self-esteem and fear of loneliness.

All breakups imply a loss and it’s undeniable that they also cause pain. This is due to the realization that we must take a different path. One of our greatest fears is taking risks, because we’ve been following a certain routine for a long time and ending it is difficult.

Sometimes, we stay in relationships due to self-esteem issues.

“I don’t care if he doesn’t love me, I love him and he’ll fall back in love with me someday” is a common thought. Hoping that things may change can even make people develop plans to win their partner back. Those plans reveal a serious lack of self-esteem.

Loss aversion

Psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman established a concept that explains why we don’t end relationships when they no longer work.

It’s “loss aversion”, or a difficulty letting go of any investment. The recurring thought that we’ve invested a lot in the relationship makes it hard for us to give up.

Our social environment is also a factor. People are really concerned about what others will say about them. We’re not only afraid of failing. We’re also afraid of others seeing us fail. Keeping up the facade of a happy and perfect life sometimes paralyzes us.

Another common factor is children. The couple may think that they’ll hurt their kids if they break up. This factor can make sex-less marriages stay together in hostile environments that are ironically not good for kids.

end relationships...Two people in an unhappy relationship.

Signs that it’s over

A relationship doesn’t work when one or both of you lose the motivation to stay together. Although we may have our doubt, there are undeniable signs that your relationship is over.

  • Sex isn’t satisfactory or you don’t have sex at all.
  • There’s no communication.
  • It’s a hostile environment.
  • There’s distrust.
  • There’s a lack of interest.

We all deserve to be happy and these signs show that we’re not and that something has to change. You should see a breakup as an opportunity to learn to walk by yourself.

There are times when our inner voices tell us it’s time to put an end to something.If this is the case, you should let go, forgive if necessary, and move on. If you don’t know how to handle this situation, asking for help is the best thing you can do.

Why do unhappy couples stay together? Why don’t we end relationships when they’re clearly failing?

They do this out of habit, due to fear of loss, due to their social environment… there are endless reasons why people don’t end relationships when they should.

You can try to cover your problems up as if nothing was happening, but closing that chapter of your life is the healthiest thing you can do. It’s not very romantic, but sometimes it’s better to listen to our brains than our hearts.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.