I have a friend who is 19, turning 20. She dated a guy for 4 years in high school, after she broke up with him. Not even 4 months later she dated another guy for 1 year and he took her virginity. After this break up, her and I became a thing, we hung out, talked a lot, and eventually had sex and various other intimate moments. She decided she did not want to be in a relationship with me because she needed time for herself, to heal and finally live life being single.

I agreed that she needed time to heal and to find herself…. Well now she’s back with her first ex. She says she feels the need to fix her mistakes. That she can’t keep going on in life thinking she could’ve fixed something. Not even 2 months later she ended it with this guy, and began to say how feels like she needs to be with the other ex of 1 year now, but he has a girlfriend already. Well a month later, she goes right back to the first ex, and now she’s growing into rebellious spirit, as in sneaking out of the house with this guy and staying over his house behind her parents back.

Her relationship with her parents are almost outstanding, she can talk to her dad about anything. They are both very awesome parents, which confuses me because she wasn’t raised this way. With this change in attitude, she says she needs to make decisions that will make her and only her happy….

She doesn’t care who she hurts, or what the outcome of her decisions are, as long as she’s happy. And the reason why she goes back to this guy is because he makes her happy and feels less confused when she’s not with him. She says they’re obviously meant to be if they keep fighting to be with each other, and how it’s hard to move on when she still loves him. Side note: they keep breaking up just to get back together. What does this mean? Is she just afraid to be alone? Why is it hard for her to move on?

A. Two main reasons people stay in unhealthy relationships include low self-esteem and fear of being alone.

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they deserve anyone better. They’re willing to tolerate being treated badly because, in their view, it might be their last, best opportunity to be with someone.

Relatedly, some people have a great fear of being alone. They may become dependent upon a relationship and feel as though they cannot function in life independently. For some people, being with anyone, is better than being with no one at all.

The aforementioned reasons may explain why your friend can’t leave her relationship. As her friend, it’s difficult to watch her engage in a relationship that you perceive as being unhealthy. You see her being hurt and it probably makes you upset.

You may also feel resentful. She may ask for help when things are going badly in the relationship, but then reject it. That can be quite frustrating. If it continues, then you must decide whether or not it’s fruitful for you to continue offering her advice when she rejects it.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If there are additional questions, please don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Trying To Understand The Thought Process of Going Back To A Bad Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/06/trying-to-understand-the-thought-process-of-going-back-to-a-bad-relationship/