If you’ve ever been unsure about whether to leave a relationship, or have witnessed a friend spend years in an unhappy partnership without making that final break, then you’ll know deciding to split can be a long and drawn-out process.
Now, a team of scientists from the University of Utah has sought to pinpoint the factors that determine whether we stay or go, Stylist reports.
And, based on the results, it looks like the main reasons for leaving are the same, whether you are married or not…
‘Most of the research on breakups has been predictive, trying to predict whether a couple stays together or not, but we don’t know much about the decision process — what are the specific relationship pros and cons that people are weighing out,’ explained lead researcher Samantha Joel in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.
To discover the key factors involved in deciding to break up or stay together, the team asked anonymous volunteers open-ended questions about relationships, from which they identified 23 reasons why we end things and 27 factors that make us stay.
The top three things that make us leave? Issues with a partner’s personality, a breach of trust and a partner’s withdrawal.
However, when it came to deciding whether to remain in a relationship, things differed between those who were married and those who weren’t.
Couples who were dating (for an average of two years) listed more positive reasons for staying with their partner, including emotional intimacy and their other half’s personality.
Those who were married, meanwhile, were, err, a little more practical…
The key reasons to stay committed were a sense of investment, family responsibilities and a fear of uncertainty. Hmm, who said romance was dead, ey?
The team concluded that getting out of a relationship is much harder than getting into one in the first place.
‘Breaking up can be a really difficult decision,’ said Joel. ‘You can look at a relationship from outside and say “you have some really unsolvable problems, you should break up”, but from the inside that is a really difficult thing to do and the longer you’ve been in a relationship, the harder it seems to be.’
She added: ‘Humans fall in love for a reason. From an evolutionary perspective, for our ancestors finding a partner may have been more important than finding the right partner. It might be easier to get into relationships than to get back out of them.’