Knowing whether to stay in or leave a romantic relationship is often an agonizing and worrying experience and that uncertainty can have negative consequences for health and well-being. A new study offers insights into what people are deliberating about and what makes the decision so difficult.
This study could help therapists work with couples and stimulate further research into the decision-making process.
The study was led by U psychology professor Samantha Joel and was published in the journal ‘Social Psychology and Personality Science’.
“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,” said Joel.
In the first phase of the study, the researchers recruited three samples of people including people who were in the midst of trying to decide whether to break up or not to participate in an anonymous survey.
Participants were asked open-ended questions about their specific reasons for both wanting to stay and leave a relationship. That yielded a list of 27 different reasons for wanting to stay in a relationship and 23 reasons for wanting to leave.