Betty Draper: Why Doesn't She Leave Don Sooner?

This question has been circling around discussion for quite some time now. All of the lonely nights when Don should’ve come home and eaten dinner with his family, he instead was having multiple affairs. He was never working late at the office, like he so often told his wife. The funny thing is, Betty knew what Don was truly doing the whole time. As viewers, we would see the looks that Betty gave Don when he would come in late hours of the night, but Don didn’t see them.  Betty is keeping all of her frustration towards Don’s unfaithfulness bottled up inside and it is driving her mad.

Why does she do this? She does it for two reasons. One reason is because of her children. She and Don have two children together who are too young to grasp the concept of why their parents don’t live together anymore. She needs to stay with Don for their children’s sake, and she doesn’t want to mess up their “perfect little lives” which is living the American dream - husband, wife, children, dog and a beautiful house. She also stays with Don because she doesn’t want to be judged by her friends.

Betty is looked at as the ideal wife in her circle of friends. She cooks, cleans, and takes care of the kids while her husband is off working and making all of the money. To them, Betty has no real issues because Betty never discusses her real problems with them. Her friends come to her with their problems because they know that she has all of the answers and can help, but Betty doesn’t practice what she preaches. She goes to see her psychiatrist, and at the end of season 1, she finally tells her shrink that she knows Don is cheating. For her, she must keep this image of the “perfect woman” but deep down she has many insecurities and issues. Don never puts his family first, but she continuously supports Don and “fakes the funk," meaning, she plays dumb but really knows the truth. How long will she keep this up? What will cause her to actually leave Don and move on? Something’s got to give and her leaving before Don got home in the last episode of Season 1 may be an indication of her making a step in the right direction.


  1. I think the writer brings up a prevalent point in the first series as to why Betty does not decide to leave Don sooner. Don severly abuses his relationship with his wife and Betty chooses not to take immediate action becuase she does not want to be ostrasized by her community like Helen Bishop. I agree with the author that Betty also does not wish to leave Don becuase she believes she should not feel unhappy because she is living the American Dream with a beatiful house, children and an affluent, handsome husband. I agree with the writer that Betty cannot put up with Don for much longer and I do think that she will snap and take control of her life soon enough.

  2. FYI there are spoilers in this comment...

    I agree with writer to a degree on this topic. While the children are an important reason why Betty does not leave Don sooner I think the main reason is Betty's desire to maintain the image of perfection. In season one we see Betty as the perfect '50s style housewife: she is always dressed to perfection, has dinner on the table, and maintains the social calendar. As the series progresses we see that this idea of perfection is beginning to become outdated. With the influence of Helen Bishop and other single women it is clear that the idea of the perfect family is fading away. While Betty does care for her children, it is obvious that by the way she treats them that this is not the real reason she remains with Don. She remains with him for the comfort and security of a husband. This idea of her need for security is proven in season three (spoiler alert) where as soon as she decides to leave Don she takes up with another man, Henry Francis, and marries him right away. Despite the fact that her children don't even know this man, she still marries him right away. This idea is further proven with (more spoilers) when she refuses to move out of the Don's house despite being married to Henry in season four. Betty claims she remains there because she wants the kids to be comfortable but in reality Sally hates living in the house and wishes to move out. It's Betty that wants the comfort of the house, not her kids.

  3. Lets keep in mind, that Betty only realized that Don was cheating on her when Francine told her about Carl. When she told the shrink, that was her way of confronting Don. When she finds out about his affair with Bobbie, she kicks him out of the house and has her own one night stand. She only takes him back when she realizes she is pregnant.but after that, she doesn't seem to have any suspicions. She even feels bad when she has her affair with Henry. Whats sad is that if Don wasn't lying to Betty about his identity, he wouldn't be cheating on her. Every time he cheats, it's usually when he wants to escape being Don Draper. It's not because he doesn't love Betty. He just can't connect with her like he does w2ith those other women.

  4. This blog post brings up a lot of issues in the Draper marriage. I believe that Betty doesn’t leave Don sooner because she feels like she would be lost without him. Betty spends her day cleaning a house that she shares with Don, takes care of the children that she has with Don, and cooks a meal for the children and Don. Betty doesn’t go anywhere without Don’s permission and lives off an income that Don makes. She is attached to Don in more ways than one, which makes it more difficult to walk away from the marriage. Without Don, Betty would lose the perfect American lifestyle that she has; she would lose perfection. All Betty’s friends are envious of the life that Betty has, but they do not know the truth. I believe as time goes on, Betty will realize that her happiness will never be regained unless she leaves Don. This will be the moment where Betty realizes that she has to lose all she has in order to build what she wants in life.