By Lindsay Dodgson
Breakups inevitably happen. No matter how much time and effort we invest in a relationship, there’s no guarantee it will last forever.
But there’s no point in fretting about it. In fact, according to a new study, obsessively worrying about whether you and your partner are going to make it could actually doom your relationship.
The research, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, sought to find out if the fear of a relationship ending could cause a break up.
A group of 104 participants were asked about themselves and the state of their relationships. Then, the researchers from Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Italy manipulated some of them to believe their relationships could end.
The scientists crafted people’s perceptions by giving them statistics about how likely relationships are to fail, and giving them false feedback about their own relationship’s chances.
Afterwards, the participants were asked how committed they were to their relationship, and how they felt towards their partner.
Participants reported having more intense romantic feelings and levels of commitment if no mention of their relationship ending was made. Their levels of romance and commitment decreased when they heard they could be at a high risk for a break up.
“This shows that, when faced with a ‘too high’ risk of ending the relationship, participants clearly reduced the intensity of their positive feelings towards the romantic partner,” said Simona Sciara, a psychologist at the university and one of the authors of the study.
In other words, if someone thinks their relationship is at a high risk, they are more likely to pull away to protect themselves. That in turn increases the odds things won’t work out.
Strangely, levels of romance and commitment also decreased when participants were told they had a low risk of breaking up. Telling them they had a moderate chance of a break up, however, made participants feel more committed to their relationship.
Giuseppe Pantaleo, psychologist and the other author of the study, said it is important for healthcare professionals to be aware of how the perceived risks of break ups can affect people. After all, research has shown how a broken heart can cause as much long-term damage as a heart attack.
“Relationship breakup… plays a critical role in the onset of depression, psychological distress, and reduced life satisfaction,” he said.
Originally published at www.businessinsider.com