We tend to look at people who stay in relationships past their expiration date with judgment. We wonder why they just “can’t let go,” and find ourselves impatient with their constant complaining about a situation they refuse to leave.
But according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there could be more reason for staying beyond self interest. On the contrary, people may decide to remain in a relationship for the benefit of their partner.
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“The more dependent people believed their partner was on the relationship, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup,” said Samantha Joel, lead author. Joel, who was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah explains.
It seems in some cases, empathy can be the fuel behind a dying relationship.
“When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a break up,” Joel said. “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.”
Even though the gesture to stay may come off as kind and merciful, prolonging the inevitable can ultimately prove to delay the life progress of both partners.
“Who wants a partner who doesn’t really want to be in the relationship?” Joel said of the research results.
While there could be psychological reasons for staying in the cases of domestic and emotional abuse victims (partners could need therapy to find the mental strength to leave or an exit plan to help you leave the situation safely), beyond those extraordinary circumstances, if the reason is purely out of guilt, the sooner you cut your losses, the better.
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