Home Featured The Princess and the Frog: Why We Stay in Bad Relationships

The Princess and the Frog: Why We Stay in Bad Relationships


sad black couple

Last week, @MrImJustSayin shared an interesting post by another writer about why women stay in bad relationships. Although tailored towards women, I think the ingenious analogy used in the post can be applied to why both men and women stay in bad relationships. Bad relationships they often know, and aren’t afraid to share with others, are bad. So, why won’t these people just leave?

The Parable of the Boiled Frog

But, before we get to that… Just last month I claimed Men Can’t Lead Women on Forever. I still believe this is true, and I also feel the same applies to women “leading” on men. Additionally, Pops had a similarly themed write-up in his post, 4 Reasons Why Being Comfortable Can Be A Horrible Thing For Your Relationship. “Do what’s best for you” seems like such a simple mantra, so why do so many people fail to practice it in real life? Why would anyone in their right mind allow someone to lead them to their own detriment or allow themselves to remain in a relationship until it crumbles under the weight of it’s own misery?

The post referenced above cites the “boiled frog” syndrome as the culprit. The author suggest – and I agree – that it’s actually more difficult for us to leave a slowly decaying relationship than it is for us to leave a relationship after an abrupt change for the worse. For example, if you’re in an abusive relationship, it is likely increasingly difficult for you to leave if the person slowly increases their abuse instead of suddenly changing their habits. For instance, if the physical abuse begins with yelling, then a shove is not that much greater than the yelling you’ve become use to. Once you’ve gotten use to showing, then perhaps an open hand slap isn’t exponentially worse than the “new normal” you’ve already become accosted to, yet it is far worse than the “good” relationship you were originally a part of. As you can see, because these changes are not exponentially worse or different than what you’re used to, it’s a lot easier for us to justify remaining in an unhealthy existence; whereas if you were in a loving relationship that suddenly erupted in violence, a jarring change, then it might be easier for you to leave immediately.

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The same can be extended to unfaithful relationships. Why do people who otherwise make perfectly logical life-decisions remain with significant others that are consistent cheaters? Using the same analogy, it is likely because once you’ve caught your significant other straying through text, then catching them straying in physical form is not that much different (mental versus physical cheating). Once you’ve accepted they’re unfaithful once, then finding out they’ve been unfaithful two, three, or infinity more times is not much different than your normal expectations. In fact, you might come to accept the times when they’re unfaithful as the rule and their faithfulness as the exception – something you should now be grateful for because it’s different than what you’ve come to expect.

I know this sounds unhealthy; that’s because it is. Yet, it’s something people do every day. Unfortunately, the reach of this syndrome doesn’t end with just our relationships. It extends to family, friends, work, and more. We align our expectations with our relative realities because it’s easier to accept things are broken than take the necessary – and often difficult – steps to fix the problem, especially if the problem involves fixing ourselves or our decision-making. Further, the longer we stay in a bad situation, the harder it is for us to recall a time when life was better and absent of the current chaos we’ve somehow managed to normalize in order to cope.

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At this time, I’d like to share an excerpt from the original piece that inspired this write-up.

So as these women saunter in their labyrinths of love, they meet “Jerks of all trades” who completely confuse their well-beings and identities and unconsciously teach them how they should be treated.

They accept these behaviours in hopes of things changing (by a strike of lightening from the heavens that will turn the leopard’s spots into stripes) and going back to the sweet honeymoon phase of being pursued and wanted again.

These women are so great, filled with potential and wit. Their hands are full of gold and purpose. They are beautiful. But they risk nemesis by inviting such rejection, complacency, abuse into their hearts.

It’s scarring. These women are our mothers, aunts, neighbours and friends, culturally taught to withstand all adversity at the sake of their distant families.  What a curse!

And so the example of the frog is brought up.

“If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately scramble out. However, if you put the frog in a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat, the frog will become groggier and groggier, until it is unable to climb out the pot. Although there is nothing restraining it, the frog will sit there and boil. Why? Because the frog’s internal apparatus for sensing threats to survival is geared to sudden changes in the environment-not slow, incremental changes.”

The signs are always there.

Check out the full story at [Women24.com]

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Have you ever found yourself, a friend, or family member remaining in a bad situation because it was only incrementally worse than the previous (already bad) situation? How did you or they escape the situation? What advice did you receive or would you offer someone to escape this situation?


  1. Honestly , everyone has their limits , when you finally get tired of being sick and tired you will change things. It’s like Tina Turner in ” what’s love got to do with it” movie. One day she just realized it was over , she was at her lowest point.

    Have I been there … Yes ( not physically abused or anything like that ) but I’ve been with a jerk. Sometimes people stay because of pride. As a woman you feel like you have to make things work out , and if they don’t you feel like you failed. Also insecurities . I notices a lot of young girls have this ride or die mentality when it comes to relationships . Like they think their suppose to go through a bunch of non-sense then everything will be cool , I call it baby boy syndrome ( we’ve all seen that movie). Sometimes as a woman you just don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like, so you stay where you think love will be.

    Getting out of the situation is a process. It takes a while ,even after physically leaving the person , you still have to deal with all the mistakes you’ve made, forgive yourself and move forward.

    1. As far as advice I would give. Idk off back. I know my mother told me ” Smilez , I think you deserve better but if that’s what you want to put up with, it’s your choice “. The blunt honesty woke me up, finally .

  2. I know a guy I was talking to who complained about his ex chick. Just that she wasn't a good women, she was etc etc etc, but then he followed up with the fact that she dumped him. I asked him if she never dumped him, would they still be together and he said yes. He wasn't enamored with her, or was in love with her, he would have been okay just being there. He was just accustomed to being in the relationship and as bad as it got, he was just going to sit there and endure it. Not saying I agree but, I can draw the parallels between this story and his.
    My recent post Say what? Why her kindness was latin for wanting a relationship

  3. I've had experience with guys who put their hands on me, who had substance abuse problems, who had fidelity issues, who didn't commit or really have much to offer period. I stayed a bit too long in each scenario, but I always had a wake up call and was the one who severed ties. My mom says "you know when enough is enough", and you do.

  4. I recognize when it's over. Sometimes, I stay too long, but I've never had any extreme situations like abuse, rabid infidelity, or even disrespect. I can agree with the boiling frog theory though.

    I have what you would call a weening process. Most times, the man doesn't know that he's about to be broken up with or that he's been friend zoned. It just happens. I ask for what I want once, maybe twice. After that, if the behavior doesn't change, I assume he doesn't want to change it and I move on.

    I usually do the breaking up because men will never leave. If you put up with what they dish out, why should they?
    My recent post What Women Want

  5. Regardless of a situation being bad or good, people are often just complacent. It's hard when you are comfortable to get out of a relationship, and honestly I think people like it. You would have to right? Or they like it to some extent at least and that's why we stay….

  6. I think a lot of women get in and stay in bad relationships is perhaps they may not feel whole or feel they'd rather be miserable and with someone then be lonely. And in some cases they didn't have a strong father presence in the house so they don't know what an upstanding man is and should treat them. I think with men is because maybe the pu$$y is good and they don't want to give it up even though she may be a real (expletive). it also boils down to self esteem or lack thereof, if you don't feel good about yourself, you'll be with anyone just because you feel needed.
    My recent post It Aint About You: How Couples Can Be Better Parents After The Break Up

  7. I seldom comment, but I browsed a few of the responses oon this
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