This is the selfless reason why so many people stay in unhappy relationships

Anya Meyerowitz
·2-min read
Photo credit: Frederic Cirou
Photo credit: Frederic Cirou

From Red Online

There are lots of reasons why people might stay in unhappy relationships — children, financial struggles and confidence, to name a few — and, during this past year, we can probably add 'due to lockdown' to the list.

And though each person has their own reasons for staying, the most common is actually all to do with our altruistic natures.

According to research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people don’t just think about their own wants and needs when deciding whether to stay with their partner, but rather those of their other halves.

Samantha Joel, the lead author on the study, explains that people found it harder to leave relationships when they perceived their partner as being reliant on them.

'The more dependent people believed their partner was on a relationship, the less likely they were to initiate a break-up,' she says. ' When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a break up.

'This is true even for people who weren’t really committed to the relationship themselves, or who were personally unsatisfied with the relationship.'

Though this might not sound like groundbreaking information, this confirms that most people don’t just think about themselves when figuring out whether to leave a partner.

And it's perhaps unsurprising after spending large chunks of our relationships thinking about our our significant other and compromising on our own needs.

The problem is though, our assessment of how devastated our partner will be if we end the relationship may not be entirely correct.

'One thing we don’t know is how accurate people’s perceptions are,' Joel continues. 'It could be the person is overestimating how committed the other partner is and how painful the break-up would be.'

Yes, on the plus side this means we are all kind, empathetic people (well done us), it still isn't reason enough to stay somewhere that is making you unhappy.

Staying in a relationship to spare someone else's feelings is not a long-term solution, as it's likely that they will pick up on something being different and this could cause them to feel unsafe or paranoid over time.

Plus, put yourself in their shoes, would you really want to be with someone who didn't want to be with you?

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