I posted this on the main subreddit but thought to repost here for those not on Reddit :)
In light of the posts recently calling out pickmeism and defending/praising bare minimum behaviour, I would like to delve into some thoughts I've had on why women defend obviously bad men (and partners and situations in general). There are two independent but intertwined concepts at play here.
First, let's go into the decision-making logic of resisting moving on from a bad relationship, or from defending a bad relationship. If we look at relationships from a purely "economic" lens, we see that there are time, money and resources being invested. This makes people vulnerable to the sunk cost fallacy. Sunk costs are "costs incurred and cannot be recovered", yet do not contribute to future consequences. Any costs incurred are bygones! Fixating on the past clouds thinking about what will be necessary and important in the future. Some examples of this type of thinking in dating:
"We've been together for 1/3/5/10 years already! I can't break up now". What on earth does the length of time spent in the past getting to a disadvantageous point have to do with the future decision to be better? Feeling as if there's too much history to change is tautological - "we have history because we have... history..." OK. Rationally speaking, leaving would radically change things and open up opportunities for better things!
In FDS speak: "Just because you spent a lot of time making a mistake doesn't mean it's not a mistake."
"I already moved/changed my job/put off Uni for him". Self explanatory why this is a bad idea. Change, STAT!
"We already own a house/apartment/have a dog/own a car together. If I break up he'll walk off with XXX amount". And? Is it not possible to cut losses and recoup rather than sink in more money if partner is an ass? Can you not move out and get an apartment? Can you not take the dog? Can you not get another car or use public transport or a bike for a while? Is your happiness and sanity worth the $XXX DISCOUNT you get by living with him? What is the price you are willing to put on deprioritizing your existence for someone else?
"We have kids together" - that's what alimony and court-decided child support is for. Kids don't want to be around dysfunctional parents. Continuing to subject children to your past mistakes is abuse.
"We have so many common friends, his family loves me, I know no one in this city". Sis, if his friends and family defend him and cut things off with you when you are breaking up cause you're not being treated well, they are NOT your friends or family and never will be. There is only a positive gain here when you go and make your OWN friends and build your own social support system! I literally broke off an engagement and cut off everyone that was bashing me for it.
"I would have to change jobs, move etc. if we break up since we work together in the same city/industry, etc" Then do it! Promotions are possible and job shifts always possible. Again, this doesn't matter.
--------------------------------Second, there is the aspect of ego-defense. If we've established that a relationship is a time/money/resources sink that contributes litte to you, leaving would mean that you have to look in the mirror and admit that you made a very costly mistake. The mind is extraordinarily sensitive to discomfort and will go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify a choice.Some lines of this kind of thinking:
"At least he's not abusive/an addict/a pedophile!" - rock bottom standards here so that you feel like you have any standards at all? Really?
"He's not perfect but he is a good father" - is he really a good father by modeling bad behavior to you, mother of your children?
"He tries really hard to improve" - if you've been together for over 3 months, him "trying really hard" is just the bare minimum so that you don't dump him. If he wanted to... he would have. A long time ago.
"But I love him/but he loves me so much" - what does love even mean anyway if it doesn't mutually benefit you both and you feel frustrated anyway? It's an emotion and response, you can fall in love with a-n-y-o-n-e anyway if your standards are low. Move on and with raised standards.
"Everyone will hate me if we break up" - see above under RESOURCES. Societal shame is a powerful factor that pushes women into staying in shitty relationships. Being a divorcée used to be a mark of shame and no one likes to feel like a villain. Well, it's your life and you're the star so do what you want.
These thoughts are very painful and disillusioning, so it's not surprising many women go through phases of defending shitty relationships.... Which leads to "It's hard to find a good man anyway, I should be grateful for what I have" when he doesn't wash, doesn't treat you to things and experiences, doesn't make you feel loved and desired. So you feel like you're stuck having invested but also can't change cause of future insecurity.
News flash: being single is liberating and is 100000% better than being miserable in a relationship.
It is crucial to examine any relationship for sunk-cost fallacy and ego defense. This is especially important as women in romantic relationships since, statistically speaking, we stand to lose so much and men stand to gain so much. We are more likely to be empathetic and self-sacrificing. Gracefully admitting a mistake and having the fortitude to correct it relies on solid self-worth and introspection.
Before becoming invested in someone, please do vet carefully and think about if it is maximizing your benefits. Ask these questions:
"How is this specific behavior of him benefiting me? How is this specific behavior of him harming me?"
"Would I accept this behavior from a friend/family memeber/boss?"
"Why do I want to downplay this behavior? What am I afraid of if I admit this/tell someone about this?"
If the answers to the questions are NONE - A LOT - NO, then please LEAVE and don't look back. Accept the lost resources as lost but stop throwing more resources.