Why Men Stay in Passionless Relationships

Why do men stay in bad relationships? This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. By “Bad,” I mean relationships that are dead, passionless, dysfunctional, and/or melancholy. I have a few male friends in particular who have been in committed relationships (dating not married) for a couple years, yet they constantly vent about their seeming obligation to “stick it out” or their fear of reentering the dating world. Nowadays, dating and relationships are considerably more complicated than ever before because of the amount of options the Internet and social media has given us access to. We are constantly looking for the next best thing that’ll capture our attention. However, this isn’t the purpose of this post. The key purpose of this post is about understanding why certain men remain tied down to partners they are no longer in love with. I am not targeting this post towards men who are married and have families, that’s obviously much more complicated. Marriage obviously has its ups and downs and I am certainly not qualified to speak on that topic. My opinions are directed towards those who checkmark single on their tax forms. As a single young woman I personally wouldn’t want a guy to continue dating me after he fell out of love but felt too guilty to breakup with me. And I’m very confident that other women would agree with this opinion.

What led me to writing this was my curiosity of why men in particular would rather settle for an inadequate relationship rather than to be single and open to something or someone else that could make them truly happy. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who secretly desires a breakup or is unsure they want to be with you? One of the best parts of being in a relationship is building a future together, not constantly thinking about how you’re unhappy, unfulfilled, or just straight up confused about it.

First, we must uncover why men stay in these not necessarily loveless relationships, but passionless relationships. Next, we will uncover how this is actually not validating their partner, but rather hurting their partner because they feel the distance and strain on the relationship. 

Let’s face it, breaking up with someone is hard, no matter the length of the relationship. However, there are times when breaking up is the best decision for both parties. Love isn’t always equal, but if one partner is not “in love” anymore, then, in my opinion, the relationship should end. It may be painful to end a relationship, but in the end it allows both partners to find a balanced loving relationship. There’s nothing selfish about breaking up with someone you are no longer in love with; it may feel bad, but it is certainly not wrong.

Relationships are often less than truthful. Sometimes we just continue to live a lie because we don’t want to face the harsh truth of the situation. The most common reason I’ve observed for remaining in loveless relationships is the guilt of hurting someone. By loveless I do not necessarily mean no longer loving that person as a person, but no longer being romantically in love with that person. These feelings of guilt are normal and show that you are compassionate. However, your desire to protect your partner can keep you living a lie. The amount of time you waste prolonging a relationship you’re no longer passionate about just leads to more emotional turmoil for your partner.

I get that the first six months of any relationship is viewed as the “honeymoon period.” But when that’s over that doesn’t mean you fall out of romantic love with that person, it just means that you’re dealing with the everyday ins and outs of life. There is a difference between being in a relationship where you and your partner are growing together and you can envision a future together versus always questioning if this is the right individual for you and lacking the ability to imagine a life with that person. Time invested into a relationship is not a valid excuse for staying with someone; that’s just settling; that’s being scared to explore other opportunities life has in store for you. Sometimes I think our generation lacks self-confidence and doesn’t believe we can get or deserve anything better. Let’s be realistic, not all of our needs can be met even in the most fulfilling relationship. However, most of our needs should be met. The important question to ask yourself is, “What are some of the primary needs that I need met in this relationship?” If the most important ones aren’t being met then it’s time to end the relationship. This goes two ways; you should be meeting their needs as well.

I believe another common fear of breaking up is the fear of being alone. Solitude scares people especially if they are used to always having someone in their life. Sometimes being alone is a good thing and is vital for personal growth. We must risk change in the hope of something greater, rather than being complacent in our unhappiness. Don’t let the anxiety that comes with change keep you from leaving the relationship when you know it’s time.

I’m not trying to be sexist, but men tend to think about sex a little more often *cough cough* than women do. According to a study completed at Ohio State University men think about sex more than women do. While the average man doesn’t ponder a roll in the hay every few seconds, researchers found that men think about doing the dirty on average 18 times a day compared to women who think about sex 10 times a day. The fear of missing out on consistent sex scares some men. Studies show that men in relationships compared to single men sleeping with multiple partners have more sex. Once again, this should not be an excuse for remaining in an unfulfilling relationship.

I see it this way: when you are in a relationship with someone, but not really present in it, you are wasting your partner’s time. In fact, you’re actually being quite selfish. That person deserves someone that thinks they are the be-all, end-all, not someone who thinks of them as one option of many. The right thing to do is to allow that person to move on, process their emotions, and know that the right person is out there for them. Stop wasting your partner’s time, especially if they are looking for marriage and a family. Too often people hold on to the hope that their feelings will change, possibly with counseling, and the romantic love will be found again in the relationship. This is wishful thinking and normally not the case.

I’m certainly not an expert in the relationship department but these are just some of my thoughts from my recent experiences and observations. I’ve broken my share of hearts and have also had my heart broken, and what I can say from experience is its always better to end it when its over rather than dragging it out. That just leads to more pain. Even though we may go through these challenging times and sometimes need solitude to recoup, it’s all about personal growth and becoming the person you are meant to become. When the relationship is fading, you owe your partner honesty and respect; you don’t owe them continued devotion to a dying relationship in your heart and mind. So don’t let inertia or fear keep you from moving on.


  • Rob

    This is very well put together. Id rather be single and stick it out looking for the right person than trap myself just to be moderately happy.

  • Jason Teston

    I do agree with what you say bri. Honesty always a good thing and being up front with some one as well. I think the same goes with friendships as well. I have had a friendship with some one for a very long time in Australia . I know i never want to kill or hurt our relationship an at times I was in that mode of not letting her go. but now i am happy we talk when we can and our friendship is thriewing . So if i ever get the point where i stalkerist like behavior do tell me and i will do my best to stop. do enjoy your sharks game bri!!!

  • Afmaster

    You really hit the nail on the head with this very thoughtful and insightful blog entry. It really spoke to my own experience. So thank you!

  • Dakota Cook

    Another great article, keep it up!

  • Anonymous

    Two other areas that I’m curious to get your feedback on:
    1) Since men tend to focus on the physical relationship more than women, what happens when a man with a strong sex drive ends up in a relationship with a woman with a low sex drive? Breaking up because of “sex” seems to be like such a petty thing and he will definitely be judged for breaking up because of this.
    2) When two partners have so much history together (i.e., dated for a long time, families do joint holiday events, the gf is the maid of honor in your moms wedding) it becomes more about what is best for the family; especially when the reason for breaking up is sex.

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