Why Some Men Stay in a Relationship Without Love (and Should You?)

Relationships overflowing with love are hard, so why would any man endure a relationship devoid of it? To an outsider looking in, it’s a mystifying dilemma because the answer seems so clear: when there’s no love, it’s time to leave.

But to many men, it isn’t that simple. Over my decade plus as a men’s coach, I’ve worked with  dozens of men who remain in loveless relationships for years, and sometimes forever, with women who they stopped loving or who stopped loving them long ago.


It’s a complex and multifaceted question that warrants an answer of equal complexity–an answer that I have been puzzling out for years.

Ultimately, it comes down to men making the long-term sacrifice of their well-being and life satisfaction to avoid momentary discomfort, loneliness, and change.

Is it worth it? No one knows. If you’re like most men in loveless relationships, this isn’t a question you like to face head-on. Today, we face it head on.

In this article, we will unmask the six most common reasons men stay in loveless relationships and help clear up what your next move should be if you’re facing this unfortunate yet startlingly common circumstance.  

A Disclaimer: If you have children, proceed cautiously and understand that certain portions of the article and pieces of advice will not be aimed at your situation.

There is an age-old question: Should I stay in my struggling relationship for the sake of my children?

Research on the topic has had mixed findings, and it is clear that these situations must be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Sometimes, well-meaning parents will endure a souring marriage for the sake of their children, failing to realize that their young ones are hurt more by growing up in a strained household than they would be by a healthy split. 

In other instances, however, parents separate for fear of hurting their children, when it actually would be far more beneficial for the children to have two parents in a tense relationship than to face the struggles of growing up in two homes.

It all depends on the sort of relationship you and your partner share and how easily you can mask your struggles.

If you don’t have children, however, and you’re lingering around in a relationship whose spark you have no interest in relighting, this article will be a valuable read for you.

Most Common Reasons Men Stay in Loveless Relationships

Does the thought of still being with your partner a year from now or getting married bring you joy?

What would your day look like tomorrow if you broke up with your partner today? And furthermore, what scares you about that hypothetical day?

If your partner knew how you felt about them, would they still want to be with you?

Be brutally honest with yourself. Write down the questions and answers if necessary. Don’t let surface-level conclusions be enough. 

If the answer to question #1 is ‘I don’t know,’ don’t stop there. 

Why don’t you know? What parts of your relationship or partner make another year together potentially daunting? What aspects of your relationship give you joy at the prospect of another year?

Men who are satisfied with their lives have one thing in common: they know why they do what they do.

If you want to become a grounded man, start putting ‘whys’ behind the ‘whats’ in your life.

If you aren’t willing to do the deep digging into your psyche and find out why you are currently making the decisions you are making, life will slip through your fingers and leave you lonely and purposeless.

You aren’t satisfied with your relationship and it’s likely been this way for a while. Maybe it’s been this way for months. Maybe for years. Maybe for decades.

Uncovering why you are still in your loveless relationship is the one key that unlocks the door to meaning, life satisfaction, and a better future.

Here are the seven most common reasons men stay in relationships without being in love.

1. Comfort and Familiarity

When you get into a relationship, every aspect of your life becomes influenced by your partner. You take up new hobbies, hang out with different people, and share a living space. 

You get used to waking up next to them, eating with one another, and doing life together.

These habits you build together become a part of your identity as a man, and as a result, your partner becomes part of your identity as a man.

Your love for this person may wane and die out altogether, but their significance in your day to day life does not fade.

You may not love them, you might even resent them, but they are familiar and that is sometimes the only thing that matters to the human mind.

Many men stay in loveless relationships for no reason beyond the comfort and familiarity they provide. They put up with abuse, neglect, and a bottomless well of dissatisfaction to worship at humanity’s ever-present altar: that which we know.

Stockholm Syndrome is a great illustration of this phenomenon. Stockholm Syndrome is the tendency of prisoners, no matter how harsh and dangerous the conditions, to develop psychological dependency and emotional attachment to their captors. 

In numerous instances throughout history, prisoners emerging from violent and abusive captivity will express a bewildering fondness for their abusers, sometimes going so far as defending them and pleading that they not be punished for their malicious actions.

Why? Familiarity. Their captors were all they knew so their humanity became all they saw. In the midst of so much suffering, small acts of kindness or the withholding of abuse seemed like utter benevolence.

Humans are strange beings; we often prefer what we know over what is best for us.

While I’m not suggesting your wife or girlfriend is holding you captive, your addiction to familiarity and ‘what you know’ may be doing just that.

2. Fear of Loneliness

Loveless relationships leave you broken, afraid, insecure, angry, and many other things.

They don’t, however, leave you alone. That is one thing that only a break-up can do, and that is why many men choose to endure rather than end things.

You see, the world of men is caught up in a loneliness epidemic of immense proportions. Men today have…

  • Less sex than men from previous generations
  • Less close friends than men from previous generations
  • More addiction problems than men from previous generations

We are lonely and relationships are sometimes the only things keeping us afloat.

Many men cling to their relationship like a lifeboat amidst the vast and lonely seas of life. They may not get much companionship, laughter, or sex from their relationship, but it keeps them afloat and with something to lean back on in troubled times.

It keeps them from being alone and for men, that is oftentimes what matters.

If your relationship is more about being with someone than being with the precise person you are dating, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.

You’re with “your” person to avoid being alone, not to be with them. Save them the heartbreak, save yourself the time, become a grounded man and get out.

3. Guilt (Often Mistaken for Love)

“It’s just that she hasn’t done anything wrong. She’s a good woman.”

I’ve heard it time and time again from men I’ve worked with. They don’t want to break up because their partner hasn’t done anything wrong.

Listen. Infidelity and murder aren’t the only reasons to leave the one you once loved. People lose interest, grow apart, and move on in life. 

You aren’t obligated to be in the relationship you are in now, but you are obligated to leave if you aren’t feeling it.

Many guys think they are being loving partners by enduring a loveless relationship. In reality, it isn’t love, but guilt that is causing them to linger. Oftentimes, these men crouch and wait for their partner to slip up enough to deserve a break up so their own perfect reputation is preserved.

If your woman is indeed a good woman, don’t break her heart by staying with her despite your lack of interest. 

Do the hard thing and the right thing and break up with her. The sooner you break her heart, the better it is for her and you.

4. Hope for Change

Are you happy with who your partner is now, or are you counting on them to change so you can finally be happy?

If the latter, I have some bad news for you.

Men who put faith in their partner’s potential rather than what they see before them rarely end up content in the long run.

I’ve worked with men who have been hoping for revolutionary changes in their partners for decades.

They spend their days looking for signs of improvement, praying for growth and change, and more often than not, letting resentment accumulate when they aren’t seeing the results they’re looking for.

If you don’t love your partner now, there’s no use hanging around her and hoping you eventually will. 

When a relationship loses its spark, it is usually because of fundamental incompatibilities and lack of mutual love. 

While some aspects of a relationship are repairable and can be revitalized with commitment, effort, and time, when the spark is completely out, clinging to the hope for sudden change is futile.

5. Social Pressures and Expectations

Let’s face it: no one likes break-ups.

Not Mom. Not Grandma and Grandpa. Not your friends who were growing to really like her and were wondering if she was the one.

There are a plethora of outside opinions that play a huge role in a man’s decision to stick in a loveless relationship.

Societal expectations dictate that men should be strong, dependable, and responsible, which can translate into a perceived obligation to maintain a stable home life, regardless of personal happiness.

The stigma of separation can be particularly daunting, with fears of judgment from family, friends, and community. 

Many men worry that ending a relationship will be seen as a failure to uphold their responsibilities, especially if the woman is looked well upon, leading them to prioritize societal acceptance over personal fulfillment.

I’ve worked with dozens of men who, when asked why they are still in their relationship, respond with a shrug of the shoulders and, “Well my family really likes her.”

Your relationship is about you, not your family.

6. Financial or Practical Dependency

Now more than ever, couples are intertwining their lives very early in their relationships.

Prior to the 1990s, religious or not, living under one roof premaritally was generally considered taboo.

Jump forward a few decades, and it seems most couples get an apartment together after only a handful of months of dating.

While I would be slow to cast judgment on this practice altogether, it is clear that many couples are making this decisive step too early. 

As a consequence, couples are getting financially bound before they know if they are ready to be emotionally bound.

This is another major reason why men will stick around in relationships that have lost their spark: they feel they have no choice.

Where would they live? What would they drive? Who’d get the dog? These are all questions I’ve been asked by men I work with.

Look, I’m no red-piller here to tell you to never depend in any way on a woman or to be able to disconnect without any practical drawbacks… But, as a man, you need to maintain enough financial and practical independence where you don’t feel bound to any relationship.

Don’t be that guy who marries a girl because you don’t want to lose your house. It’s not worth it.

Stuck in a Relationship Without Love? What’s Your Next Move

So you’re stuck.

You got into this relationship when everything was rose-colored and spirits were high. Now, months, years, even decades later, the spark has gone out.

Maybe she stopped loving you, maybe you stopped loving her, or maybe both of you just drifted slowly apart. Whatever the case, you’re stuck in a loveless relationship and you don’t know what your next move is.

Well, if the symptoms of your heart fall somewhere in the list of six above and you aren’t interested in rekindling, my advice to you is to get out.

You aren’t doing yourself any favors by hanging around in a relationship when your heart has left, and you certainly aren’t respecting your partner. 

Likely, you are just addicted to the familiarity of the relationship, afraid of being alone, or clinging to the hope of a change of heart that is not coming.

Be a grounded, realistic man and leave. 

If you are struggling to step into your identity as a powerful man, stand up for yourself, and put aside passive behaviors, my team and I may have what you need.

Here at Knowledge for Men, we’re experts in helping men discover their untapped potential and take charge of their lives.

We’ve coached hundreds of men through the trials and tribulations of life and would love to see if you fit into our band of brothers.

If you’re tired of sitting on the sidelines of your own life, watching year after passive year slip through your fingers, and acting like everything’s alright, we’re here to help you turn your life around.

Read that again because the last words are key. We don’t turn your life around, we give you the tools so you can do it. 

It all depends on you.

You choose to change. You choose to bring an end to self-sabotaging patterns. You choose to live the life you’re capable of.

Your move.

The Times Have Changed. This is the Way Forward in 2024.

Here’s how I can help in my new FREE training on becoming a stronger Grounded Man:

1. The new path for men that creates a purpose driven life and doesn’t require you to lose your personal power, put women on a pedestal or sacrifice your goals.

2. Why men consistently settle and ignore the most important areas of life like the quality of their intimate relationships, social life and happiness and how to optimize all three without sacrificing professional growth.

3. The biggest mistake 97% of men make that breeds loneliness, breakups and emasculation that is absolutely reversible with this counter intuitive strategy.