Deciding the Future of Your Relationship

Love is a decision. It feels like there could be millions of reasons someone would decide to maintain or end a relationship. To learn more about what people actually consider psychology researchers Samantha Joel, Geoff Macdonald, and Elizabeth Page-Gould asked over 400 individuals who were questioning their own relationship: What are some reasons someone might give for wanting to stay with or leave their partner?

According to Psychology Today people came up with 27 broad reasons for staying. These focused on things such as attraction, physical, and emotional intimacy, and support. People didn't want to lose the invested time and they were fearful of being alone. Pluses such as the desirable aspects of their partner's personality and how much fun they had together were considered. They also factored in practical issues, including potential family disruption in financial implications.

There were about 23 general reasons to leave. These reasons included many of the same themes as reasons to stay, but focused to the negative side. People focused on things like their partners problematic personality, acts of deception or cheating, emotional distance, lack of support, and insufficient emotional or physical intimacy.

How do individuals factor these themes into real-life decisions of whether to stay or go? Researchers did a follow-up study with over 200 people who were contemplating breaking up or divorce. Half of these participants reported feeling, on balance, more inclined to stay in the troubled relationship. Staying often takes less effort. Those same people simultaneously had an above average inclination to leave. People were motivated to stay with their partner at the same time they to end things. This is very common.

Relationships are complicated, and no one knows for sure what the future holds. It's hard to decide what the best decision is if you're thinking about whether to stay or leave. The best relationships have their problems while the worst still have their virtues. Maybe knowing what others consider important factors could help you make your own decision.

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