Everyone knows that one couple who shouldn’t be together anymore. The ones who are always fighting and don’t seem to enjoy each other’s company in the slightest.
But it’s not just these people who should break up. Sometimes, people are stuck in unhappy relationships for reasons that are less clear.
According to a new study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there could be an unexpected reason for this: altruism.
It’s a myth that a good relationship is going to be easy. Every couple is going to have their ups and downs, and it takes compromise, conversations, and trust to get to a place where the relationship is going to last. But if it gets to a point where the bad is outweighing the good, it would make sense to cut your losses and leave — and yet some people just don’t do this.
One possible reason is a fear of being alone. After all, if you’ve put so much time and effort into a relationship, you’re invested in the outcome. It may feel too overwhelming and impossible to start all over again, especially if it’s been years since you dated someone new.
But according to the new study, a person’s decision to stay may actually come from a less selfish place.
“When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a breakup,” lead researcher Samantha Joel told MedicalNewsToday.
“This is true even for people who weren’t really committed to the relationship themselves or who were personally unsatisfied with the relationship… Generally, we don’t want to hurt our partners and we care about what they want.”
Essentially, if you see someone committing to the relationship, it can make you feel like it could be worth saving. The unhappy partner might want to give the relationship a second chance because the happy partner is clearly still invested.
But this could be all in your head, and you may just be overestimating how painful the breakup would actually be, Joel added.
“One thing we don’t know is how accurate people’s perceptions are,” she said.
Breakups are often compared to ripping off a plaster. They’re an inevitable part of life, and most people will experience at least one heartbreak as a result. Whether it’s quick or slow, a breakup will hurt.
Whether you think someone is putting effort into the relationship or not, the best course of action is to talk to each other. And if you can’t do that, you know you’ve got a serious problem.
For your best chances of finding someone who’s right for you, don’t rush into something too quickly, learn plenty of information about your partner before you decide to settle down with them, and change things up if you keep repeating the mistakes of the past. It’s not a foolproof formula, but it beats getting ghosted over and over again.
Originally published at www.businessinsider.com
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