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So, why do people stay? In my experience, this is due to a complicated mix of practical and emotional reasoning. There are, of course, practical considerations to keep in mind and more than a quarter (26%) stay together for the children. Money also ties people, with financial concerns shown to keep one in five (20%) of people in their unhappy relationships.

Emotionally, the study picks up on something that I hear regularly; people have been unhappy for so long that it starts to feel normal. In fact, they become so used to their negative feelings that they start to accept and even expect them, lowering their expectations around being happy, and content with their partner.

The other key factor that people refer to as a reason for staying in an unhappy relationship is the way society pathologises the state of being single. The negative connotations that can be associated with being alone seem so unappealing that many would rather be in any relationship, even an unhappy one, than be single.

If any of this sounds familiar, I’d recommend finding some time to re-evaluate your relationship and to question whether it fits your current life goals. If it doesn’t, then it could be of more benefit to you - and your loved ones – to learn how to be happy as a single person. Being alone will no doubt be better in the long run, for your physical and mental health, than being with the wrong person.

"Ultimately, whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s important to take relevant steps to help you feel happy in all aspects of your life"

It’s important to remember that the whole point of a relationship, any relationship, whether it’s a friendship, a work relationship or a life-partner, is that it enhances your life. Not necessarily that it makes it easier but that it adds value to it. If this is not the case for you, then it’s time to reassess and take action. And as far as fear holding you back goes, remember that there are a whole host of benefits to being single: you can live life as a more authentic version of yourself and live on your own terms. Pursue the hobbies you love, take the trips you’ve always dreamed of and spend more time with your family and friends.  

Ultimately, whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s important to take relevant steps to help you feel happy in all aspects of your life. The New Year can be a great time to implement the positive changes that’ll really make a difference and help you feel empowered whatever your relationship status.

A shockingly high number of people would rather be stuck in unhappy relationships than learn to strive on their own.


Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos explores the rise of “singlephobia.

The fear of change is a barrier to a lot of things: trying new experiences, settling for uninspiring jobs and perhaps most insidiously, staying in unhappy relationships. A recent eHarmony study that looked into this found that over a quarter (26%) of Brits regularly feel unhappy in their relationships, and despite this, over half of these (54%) just aren’t prepared to go it alone.

This phenomenon, (what researchers at eHarmony refer to as ‘singlephobia’) is something that I think many people can relate to. It seems we become so comfortable in our discomfort that we fear change.  We worry about what change will bring and fear we won’t be able to cope, causing us to settle for unhealthy relationships and put up with situations that make us unhappy.


The research reveals that there are a range of reasons why people are unhappy in their relationships. These range from feeling ignored by a partner and enduring repeated arguments, to feeling a lack of understanding. What’s particularly worrying, is that one in ten (10%) Brits in unhappy relationships will even admit that they’re not sure that they love their partner – a clear sign that the time has come for some re-evaluation.


Experiencing continued feelings of negativity can, understandably, have a considerable impact on emotional wellbeing. In fact, the research indicates that those who admit to being in an unhappy relationship experience higher levels of stress and are more depressed and anxious overall.

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