Is My Relationship Over? Fearing It Will End Can Make A Breakup More Likely, Science Says
In a world where you can go on about a million amazing first dates without ever hearing from the person again, it's natural to worry about things not working out in a potential relationship. In a perfect world, that fear would magically go away the minute you entered a healthy long-term relationship. But of course, the world is not perfect. For a lot of people, the next thought after "yay, I'm in a relationship!" is pretty much "is my relationship over?" Of course, it's natural to fear things not working out, but a new study suggests that it may be healthier to reel in some of your fears. Why? Well, the study found that the fear of getting dumped can sometimes result in you actually getting dumped. Comforting, I know.
In the study, the researchers surveyed the participants about some basic information regarding their relationships with their partner. After the participants submitted those initial responses, it was time to make things interesting. The researchers basically started getting in the participants' heads about the possibility of a breakup on the horizon. How did they do this? Well, the researchers either showed participants breakup statistics, or they lied to the participants about how likely it was that their romantic relationships would end. I mean, if you're in a relationship, imagine some scientist telling you that, statistically speaking, your relationship is probably going to end. I don't know about you, but THAT WOULD GET TO ME.
Then, it was time to get to the bottom of it: Can these seeds of doubt actually change the fate of your relationship? In order to find out, the researchers then probed the participants about how committed they were to their partners.
It turns out that once the seeds of doubt had been planted, they sprouted — big time. Once people got the potential idea of their relationships failing in their heads, their faith in their relationships started to waver, as the researchers found that there was a decrease in how committed people reported being to their relationships after the possibility of a breakup was introduced. On the flip side, romantic feelings were higher when researchers only primed participants with a moderate risk of their relationship ending, and of course, commitment was at its highest when the participants weren't told anything about a potential breakup.
"This shows that, when faced with a 'too high' risk of ending the relationship, participants clearly reduced the intensity of their positive feelings towards the romantic partner," said Simona Sciara, one of the study's authors. And what happens when your feelings toward your bae lessen? Well, you might just break up. "Reduced relationship commitment, for instance, leads to dissolution considerations and, thereby, to actual relationship breakup," Sciara continued.
To put this into non-scientific terms, the minute the possibility of a breakup gets in your head, you might start to lose faith in your relationship, and thus, you may not feel as strongly about making sure it keeps going.
So, yeah, while this all might seem a little terrifying, let me offer you a piece of reassurance for when these doubts start swirling around in your head (and clearly, risk ruining your relationship): Yes, your relationship might end, but all relationships have the possibility of ending. That being said, it hasn't ended yet. So if you're enjoying your relationship, why not continue putting as much effort as you can into what you have with your partner right now, so your relationship can continue being the best it can be?
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