Women write about why they hung on so long

A few months ago I asked readers to send me stories of their relationships — in particular, pairings that weren’t meant to be — in order to figure out why we stay in these relationships, and, more importantly, how to untangle ourselves from them.

Here are but three of the many I’ve received:

• One woman wrote me about a relationship that started in high school. Her boyfriend was insecure and accused her of cheating.


She subsequently dropped her friends and spent all her time with him, unwittingly giving him control. She allowed it, thinking it was young love.

It took someone else’s “Dear Abby” letter for her to realize he was mentally and emotionally abusing her. She went into denial. Shortly thereafter, she heard he was having an affair with her sister. She blamed the sister.

Knowing things were wrong, she married this same man and had two children in five years.

After the second, she suffered postpartum depression and thoughts of that long-ago affair (seven years had passed) haunted her.

Another three years passed, another child arrived, and she became acutely aware that her husband was once again cheating.

It took five years of dating, then 10 years of marriage, for this woman to gain the strength to walk away from a relationship she knew wasn’t healthy from the beginning.

Why? According to her: Low self-esteem, immaturity, wanting to fit in, the need to feel love, and insecurity.

Thankfully, she’s managed to remove herself from this unhappy relationship and is moving forward with her life, with help and support from family and friends.

• Another woman wrote me in desperation: For the past four years she’s been dating a man who nobody likes.

Not her teenagers, her closest friends or her family. In fact, according to her, even his family has told her to leave him.

The only reason she can think of to stay with him is the fear that she will never find love anywhere else. What she doesn’t seem to realize is that she hasn’t found love with him.

• And still another young woman wrote to me of her first relationship, a college romance that started in an online chat room.

Four months of Internet “dating” and then a face-to-face, and they were almost immediately in bed and moving in together.

Unfortunately, as the days progressed, she learned many unsavory things about her guy, which he hadn’t shared online. But once he was in her room, and in her bed, she found it difficult to extricate herself from the relationship.

What she found most difficult, though, was admitting the first man she had chosen turned out to be a bad choice.

As simple as it sounds, we all make mistakes. The sooner we can correct them, the better off we’ll be.

But oftentimes, people get caught up in their errors and think they can fix the problem — even if the problem is an ill-fitting mate.


Lisi Tesher is a much travelled freelance writer who has studied art history, photography, languages and pop culture. She is also a constant and fascinated student of relationships, maintaining contact with a worldwide network.

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