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Almost one in five people have been forced to stay in a romantic relationship long after they were desperate to leave - because they couldn't afford to cut and run. Two fifths of them stayed in the relationship for more than a year because they couldn't afford to split up, and an incredible 24% were forced to stay for three years.

So why is money making people stay in bad relationships?

The research was carried out by the Debt Advisory Centre, who say that more than 9.5 million people have been stuck in relationships for financial reasons.

Why?

They found that those most likely to be stuck in this situation were aged between 25 and 34 - with almost a third of this group admitting it. This may be because people in this age bracket often buy property together, or make joint financial decisions such as one of them working while the other gives up work to have a child. These sorts of financial entanglements are virtually impossible to sever without losing the home the couple shares and making substantial changes to the lifestyles of both partners.

London has the highest proportion of couples admitting they have stayed together for the finances – and little else. More than a third of respondents in the capital revealed they have remained in a relationship for just this reason in the past, compared to just one in 10 people in the West Midlands.

Debt Advisory Centre's Ian Williams said: "It's shocking to hear that so many people feel forced to stay in a relationship for longer than they want to because of their finances, but it's perhaps not that surprising. It's tough to end the bonds we create in a relationship, and financial ties can often be the hardest to break. Joint debts, mortgages or rent and childcare costs all play a part in people choosing to stay in a relationship when love breaks down, if they think they'd be unable to afford these costs alone."

What can you do?

Williams isn't trying to downplay the financial problems that can result in the event of a split. He says that at the Debt Advisory Centre last year, 12% of people seeking debt help did so as a result of a relationship break-up. There's no denying the financial stress of trying to set up in a home on your own - possibly while trying to find a way to care for your children while also earning enough to keep the family clothed and fed.

However, money is not a good reason to stay in a relationship which is damaging to either of the couple. In many cases, there are solutions which can enable people to move on. He advises anyone in this position who is feeling overwhelmed to get help with their debts as soon as possible, to help them work out ways they can adapt their life to fit their new circumstances and get through the tough times