Relationships aren't easy to walk away from, even when you know in your gut that it's not going to work out. Even if friends hint that staying is a waste of time, you settle because the thought of walking away from something you've put years into breaks your heart.
It's only later -- after things inevitably fall apart -- that you recognize the myriad reasons you should have left sooner.
It's pattern we were reminded of Thursday, when a young woman uncertain about her relationship asked folks on Reddit's TwoXChromosomes board if they had ever stayed in a relationship that was past its expiration date -- and if so, to share why they stayed.
Below, five standout responses.
1. He stayed because didn't want his kids growing up in a "broken" family.
"I married the wrong person because we had two daughters together. I stayed with her in spite of our incompatibility because I came from a broken family and didn't want to put my girls through what I went through. We ended up walking away from each other and right now the only company I have is a kitten on my lap that can't seem to pee in the litter box. I do miss my girls a lot during the gaps, but ultimately I'm happier as a person. You have to trust yourself. Don't ever be afraid or hesitant to want and seek what you feel you deserve. That's not selfish."
2. She stayed because she thought her boyfriend would eventually change.
"I just broke up with my boyfriend of 3.5 years two weeks ago and honestly I should have done it sooner. Why did I stay so long? In my case, I think we liked enough about each other to survive together but we both kept hoping the other person would eventually change to be exactly the person we wanted them to be. Of course that was never going to happen. When I realized that marrying him could be the biggest mistake of my life, I knew I had to end it. The prospect of [ending things] feels terrible, because it's not like you were never happy together and it's also not like you're wholly unhappy now. It's more that you keep waiting for things to get better, but it never does. In the end, I think ending my relationship was the best choice for both of us, even if he didn't see it that way. You can't make someone change -- that has to come from them."
3. She stayed because she believed her S.O was someone he wasn't.
"I stayed with a boyfriend because I wanted to believe he was someone he wasn't. I had known him as a casual friend for over a year. When we became a couple, the warning signs that he wasn't the person I believed he was became more frequent and more obvious. I recognized the signs, but I went against my instincts and stuck with him a little longer, which was a huge mistake. He showed himself to be this monstrous person. It made me feel physically sick to be around him. The bottom line is, even if you think all is well, don't ignore the warning signs. You may not want to hurt him by leaving or pass judgement on him -- but if you feel something isn't right, it's better to be safe than sorry. I felt so incredibly relieved and free after I left him."
4. He stayed because he felt like he wasn't worthy of finding someone better.
"I've been in a situation a few times where I didn't leave even though I knew I should have. I've talked to numerous friends who've been in the same position, too and there were some common factors in all of our relationships. Person A usually has self-confidence issues. You don't know your self-worth so you don't think you should stand up for something better. (This was me about 5 years ago). You feel like your current partner is the best person you can find. You think you couldn't possibly do any better so you stick it through."
5. She stayed because he gave her just enough attention to keep her hanging on.
"When I was with him everything was good but when we were not together he would barely communicate with me. For instance, he refused to answer my texts and I wasn't texting him a lot. Eventually, you have to go with your gut. If things don't change, you need to make a decision. I decided to leave that last relationship and now I'm in a much better relationship."