These Are The Reasons People Stay In Relationships They're Not Sure About

by Candice Jalili
Stocksy/Rob and Julia Campbell

I hate the implication that, in order to be in a relationship, you have to be completely sure about the relationship at all times. We're all human. Having doubts is perfectly OK. In fact, I would go so far as to say being totally sure of your relationship (especially a long-term one) throughout the entirety of it is a little naive. I think it's safe to say that no matter how in love we are, the vast majority of us have wondered at one point or another, "Should I stay in my relationship?"

A new study finally delved deeper into what goes through people's minds when they're trying to decide whether or not they should stay in their relationships. The study's lead author, Samantha Joel, told Science Daily, "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."

The researchers sought to look into more of what goes through a person's head when they're deciding whether or not they should stay in a specific relationship. To conduct their study, researchers had three different samples of people take the same anonymous survey, in which they asked respondents (including some who were in the midst of deciding whether or not they should break up) open-ended questions about reasons for wanting to stay and reasons for wanting to leave their relationships.

Once they had their list of reasons, researchers then created a questionnaire that they passed out to people who were unsure in their long-term (together for an average of two years) and married relationships (together for an average of nine years). And for the most part, the reasons for leaving were similar for both groups.

When it came to reasons for actually going through with the breakup, the most common reported reasons for wanting to leave were "issues with a partner's personality, breach of trust, and partner withdrawal," according to Science Daily.

The reasons for staying in a relationship, on the other hand, were also generally the same between the two groups. In general, people in long-term relationships had more positive reasons for wanting to stay. For example, they wanted to stay because of aspects of their partner's personality that they liked, the emotional intimacy they felt with their partner, or the genuine enjoyment of their relationship.

On the flip side, the reasons for wanting to stay in a married relationship were a little more depressing. Married people reportedly chose to stay in their relationships for the following reasons: "investment into the relationship, family responsibilities, fear of uncertainty, and logistical barriers."

At the end of the day, breaking up is complicated. Almost half of the participants in the study agreed that they had reasons to stay and reasons to leave when it came to their relationships. And simply put, this study really put into perspective just how complicated breakups can really be.

From an outsider point of view, it's easy to think of breakups as black and white. But, as anyone who's ever been in a real relationship will tell you, everything gets more complicated when you fall in love. "Humans fall in love for a reason," Joel told Science Daily. "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."

So, if you're feeling torn about whether or not you should stay in your relationship, just rest assured, you're not alone.

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