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Why do I keep going back to my toxic relationship?

276 Answers
Last Updated: 01/06/2022 at 6:23pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Serene Sarah George, MA in Psychology (Counselling), Diploma in Counselling Skills


Counsellor following person centered therapeutic approach, also drawing from techniques of CBT.

Top Rated Answers
March 16th, 2015 10:02am
I keep going back to my toxic relationship because its comfortable. I know him, I understand him, and he understands me. He tells me its different this time. That he's changed and he'll try harder and it'll be so much better this time around, and because I trust him, I come back, expecting a change. The change never happens though, as the old routine comes back slowly but surely, and soon you're back where you started. So you end it again but he comes right back with the words you hear every time but also believe every time, and you take him back, knowing deep down that it'll come back to you being hurt, but not caring because in those moments he gives you the attention and love you deserve. And thats enough for the time being.
September 24th, 2016 6:34am
Because you are a caring, considerate person, who likes to see the best in everything. You don't like to give up, especially on something you love so dearly. That's okay, because that shows resilience and loyalty, You don't run away when times get tough. The problem is that you're not showing this care and consideration to yourself, and if it's toxic, the other person isn't showing it to you, and possibly towards themselves too. They take your good nature for granted. They feel that you will always be there for them no matter what...until one day, you aren't. It isn't because you don't want to be, because once you love someone, that's it, you can't undo it. Its because you've reached your limit, you've given all that you could and now you're empty, and have little to give. Your tolerance levels waver, and soon it all becomes your fault because you allowed it before, and now you're not allowing it. It confuses them. You're not who they thought you were. They overlook that you have withstood a lot of pain, torture and confusion, all in the name of love for them. They don't quite see what you've gone through to let them live how they're like. In their heads, you chose to do that, so they believe they are not at fault. In your head, that's just how you love. Toxic relationships inhabit a lot of confusion, pain and suffering - more than you should deal with. If it doesn't feel right, cut yourself off. You decide your worth and how you're treated, not someone else. You deserve someone who sees the good traits of you, not someone who sees them as easily manipulated and disposable. You deserve someone who gives you just the right amount of love and care back.
October 2nd, 2016 7:29pm
You may keep going back to your toxic relationship because toxic relationships oftentimes are the ones that feel the most passionate, and you feel like you can't find that passion with someone else.
April 12th, 2017 2:42pm
The lack of answer to that question baffles me completely. I am simply unable to keep my resolve of keeping away and at the same time have no valid reason to go back to the person who has made me an emotional wreck. I am confused at my feelings that oscillates between light headed passionate love to deep hard hatred. I feel he makes my world and then can see him tearing it to bits. Every morning I speak to myself. Show myself how he is harming me. I have stopped growing as a person because I am so busy hating him.but one kind word can dissolve all my resolve and I go back to him to be kicked again. He cheats and lies. He lies to himself too. And believes those lies. I can see all that but am unable to cut myself away. I am helpless.
January 6th, 2017 12:34pm
I don't want to sound harsh in saying this, but you're not confident enough in what you have to offer to realize that you deserve better and move forward, leaving this person and relationship in the past, to risk being alone for a while until you find someone worthy of you. Make a list of the things you offer someone in a relationship. Then make a list of the things you want/need in a relationship. Then list the things this person offers you in a relationship. The things that this person and relationship offer you... do they match the things that you can offer and that you need in a relationship? If not, you need to take some serious time to decide if you are worthy of those things that you want to offer to someone else, and if you deserve those things that you want/need in a relationship. Sometimes, the most amazing thing you can do for yourself is to choose yourself. Yeah, you will feel sad and lonely if you leave this person and this relationship, because it's familiar and, despite your frustrations with it, you have a level of investment in this person and relationship that you don't want to have "wasted". One of the most amazing feelings in the world is to be able to decide that you are the only person who has control over your happiness... not your partner, not your relationship, not your family... just you. If you're in a place that you aren't happy in, then it is YOUR responsibility to advocate for yourself and choose a path that will solely benefit you and your happiness... even if that path seems a little more treacherous at the beginning.
August 3rd, 2015 11:55pm
When we are in a toxic relationship, it eventually becomes comfortable/normal just like any other thing in life that we experience often. This is why breaking away (for good) is very difficult. We go back because at the end of the day, it's the thing we know best. When we give ourselves enough time to decompress from a toxic relationship, only then do we start to understand just how harmful it was. Giving yourself time takes an immense amount of strength though, and it helps to have a good support system around you. Toxic relationships can be overcome!
July 12th, 2016 1:44am
Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, all toxic, yet all addicting. A toxic relationship is as hard to quit as any of the above. Give it time, it won't be easy, but in the end, it's better, healthier, safer. You haven't lost until you've won. Don't give up.
November 11th, 2016 5:19pm
I think there are multiple reasons. For me, it was already a long relationship which I kept feeling still deserves a fair chance, because I did not want all those years to have gone to waste, because it was familiar and there was no one else that close to me. Because I did not think I would ever end up with anyone else. Because I thought everyone has to compromise in relationships, this is where I can compromise. For a long time I thought that I can accept the toxicity of this relationship in my life because I need the good parts it seems to promise.
October 6th, 2016 7:41am
I used to keep going back to my toxic relationship(s) because I didn't like feeling alone, and I think I secretly, and shamefully, liked the drama. It gave me something to feel like I had a purpose to fight for, or against. Sometimes, it was because I genuinely thought that this person was worth fighting through all that for. At times there was also something appealing about a toxic but exciting relationship, while now I just see it as a lesson and experience to grow upon.
February 15th, 2016 12:26pm
You might be co-dependent, a ''people pleaser'', and have learned this pattern early on in life. Remember to meet your own needs first and that you're just as important as everyone else. I know it feels exciting but it's not a healthy way of living. This person is pulling on your strings/emotional wounds, making you react and act in a way that you're used to - a typical pattern that you learned in your childhood. Try to understand what it is you're avoiding and why you find this person interesting.
March 10th, 2017 10:54am
Its because your associating that person with pleasure. everything that we associate with pleasure were gonna keep running back to, what u need to do is, when you find yourself wanting to go back, is STOP that train of thought, and then remind your self the pain that was caused by them. how they hurt you. because when we associtate something with pain were gonna run from it. now were human like i said its just gonna be something that we want to do, go back over and over, but everytime it will get easier, stop that train of though where you associate your ex with pleausre and remind yourself of the pain and hurt that was caused by them. and remember you deserve someone who respects you enough to never lie to your heart.
June 5th, 2015 12:12am
You remember the good times, the moments that you love the most. You need to remember the negative things. Always remember "ex's are ex's for a reason". Never forget that.
November 3rd, 2015 1:57am
because sometimes we want to feel accepted and loved. Sometimes that's all we know about, even if its toxic for us. The need of feeling loved makes people go back, even if it's not in their best interest.
October 2nd, 2016 1:14pm
This might be because even though you know the relationship is toxic, you are still on some level emotionally connected to your partner. You may also think having someone is better than having noone, or that you will never find someone to love you again. Another possibility is that as soon as you break up, you start glorifying your ex/or your relationship, and only remember the good times you had. You may forget about all the negative aspects of the relationship, and think "well it wasnt that bad".
May 1st, 2015 1:34pm
The reason we always tend to go back ,is because we are comfortable and familiar with that person, despite their faults. Human beings look for the comfortable and familiar, we seek out. We like to keep things, "Homeostasis"
September 17th, 2016 9:37pm
Just because the relationship is toxic doesn't mean the feelings you have for that person aren't genuine. It's going to be a tough fight within yourself to be able to stop going back.
July 26th, 2017 4:46pm
There are many reasons that may be pulling you back - from financial support, to maintaining the image of a family for the kids, or perhaps the fear of being along/starting over. Whatever the reason, it is not your fault and you should not feel any weaker or less deserving because you can't seem to break away from something you know is not healthy for you. These are difficult acts that require mental and physical preparation, particularly if you are living together. Over time, couples create a "we" identity - this "we" entity encompasses the quirky traditions, habits, nicknames, inside jokes, and other similar things that are unique to that relationship. The longer a relationship's history, the more defined that "we" entity is, and the thought of losing that and starting from square one is daunting. We tend to justify staying in the relationship on the grounds that it is easier to live with or try to fix the toxic elements than start over with someone new. Or, even worse, we begin to lose our own self-esteem (even in emotionally abuse relationships with no domestic violence) and think that no one else will love us so it is better to settle/deal with the current status. Sometimes we rationalize to ourselves that no relationships are perfect. Whatever the reason, you are allowed to feel afraid or angry for staying, but you mustn't blame yourself. It is not your fault and when you are ready, there are many others who have taken that leap of faith, never looked back, and went on to live the lives they choose not settled for - and you can and will too.
September 6th, 2016 3:24pm
We're creatures of habit. We go back to these people because it’s so easy. They know everything about you and you don’t have to explain some things because they already know.
September 15th, 2016 11:31am
No matter how toxic it was it was once full of love and we gave our everything to it, we are always so optimistic thinking that things would change and love would be like before that we still keep finding love in your toxic relationship!
September 11th, 2016 5:41am
When we are in a toxic relationship, it eventually becomes comfortable/normal just like any other thing in life that we experience often. This is why breaking away (for good) is very difficult. We go back because at the end of the day, it's the thing we know best. When we give ourselves enough time to decompress from a toxic relationship, only then do we start to understand just how harmful it was. Giving yourself time takes an immense amount of strength though, and it helps to have a good support system around you. Toxic relationships can be overcome!
March 16th, 2015 9:21pm
It is often due to the fear of being alone. Many of us can't bear to be alone and out of this fear they hold on to toxic relationships. It is important to see that we can also exist outside of relationships and that we are a valid human being that doesn't need to hold on to situations that aren't doing us any good.
October 14th, 2016 3:28pm
Because you love that person, and that is completely understandable, but your wellbeing comes first.
October 18th, 2017 8:11am
There are several reasons why we continue with a relationship that we know is toxic. Sometimes we are scared to let go, for the fear of being alone. At others, its the deep rooted feeling of being unwanted. So we hang on to these toxic people thinking that it is by there benevolence that we still have someone. And then there are times when we feel like life without them is unimaginable. It is our love for them that keeps our feet rooted. Most of us who cradle toxic relationships like babies to our bosoms, we have some deep rooted insecurities that are yet to be dealt with. For my part, the only way to lessen the damage is to starts finding the value in ones own existence. And if we cant love ourselves like we do others, the least we can do is give ourselves the ACCEPTANCE we deserve.
November 12th, 2016 8:31pm
Familiarity and, unfortunately, low self-esteem or another underlying disorder can be the biggest culprits. As humans we naturally tend to stay with what we know and what we're used to, even if it's toxic. This can lead to feelings that are very conflicting and confusing. Some subconsciously enjoy staying in toxic situations such as relationships to self-harm themselves if they already struggle from such issues like body dysmorphia, depression, low self-esteem, etc. Once you better understand the reasoning behind why something so toxic can also be so alluring, you can take the first step to recognizing it within yourself and subsequently working to fix it and live a life that you deserve.
January 25th, 2017 4:39pm
If we have a history of abuse in our life and our relationships, we will tend to head back to that type of thing. Even if that comfort is in misery, there is comfort because we know what to expect to a degree. Change can be hard to take, for two reasons: The fear of failure; what if I fall and can't get back up? And the fear of success; what if I make it and I can't handle it?
April 12th, 2017 4:36am
When we want our relationships to succeed, we can end up investing so much time and energy into them. This is not a bad thing when both sides are working hard for the same goal. However, in a toxic relationship, this can be one sided. I think that when we're in a toxic relationship, it can be hard to let go because we don't want to feel like this energy has been wasted. We don't want to feel like we have failed. It can also be that the toxicity of the relationship has beaten us down to where we feel like even if we wanted to, we can't break away. I think it's important to remember that we are in control of our lives, and even if a relationship failed, it doesn't not mean we have failed. We can still take away life lessons from it, and learn to let go. If a relationship is toxic beyond our control, and we feel like we can't get out, it's important to know that we can reach out for help. There is no shame in asking for help when we need it.
November 10th, 2016 7:24pm
I found when I kept going back to my toc=xic relationship it was because I had the bad minutes that being alone was wrong and I would rather be unhappy in a relationship than be alone, I then realised I'm independent and I am happy single and free from the toxic relationship
May 5th, 2017 5:14pm
Personally, I have also experienced this and I believe that even when someone is clearly bad for you, you can't help still liking them. Love is strong and it doesn't stop for nothing, it's hard to end the relationship when you can't end the feelings
April 21st, 2017 7:42pm
We all go into this expectation of what we think'll happen, maybe it'll be different this time, maybe It was me. Remember toxic relationships do not help us they bring us down. Put yourself first because you owe that to yourself.
July 29th, 2017 11:35pm
Past relationships bring a measure of certainty and security. It's easy to listen to the charms of an ex-lover, especially if they're very charismatic. You'll want to believe they can change, and things will be better this next time. Though, often, that is just smoke and mirrors. Plus, the chemical high from a relationship is somewhat addictive, so when you hit withdrawal and someone offers you a hit of love... hard to deny it.