The Science Behind Staying in Unsatisfying Relationships

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The Science Behind Staying in Unsatisfying Relationships

A findings show that more of unhappy couples choose not to break up with their partners / Photo by Getty Images


Relationships work with the help of compromise, honesty, and a lot of faith in the person’s significant someone. There is no easy way to handle a relationship without having bumps along the way and every committed person would encounter a lot of problems while they are in their relationship, but there will always be a room for them to work things out. However, committed people with low self-esteem are more likely to stay in unhappy relationships. In a study conducted by the University of Waterloo suggested that having a low self-esteem tend not to voice relationship complaints with their partner because they fear rejection.

According to Femina, despite doing their best efforts in making their relationships work, relationships might end up being unhappy and unsatisfied which will lead them to cut the relationship, but surveys show that there are a lot of unhappy couples who choose to stay in that relationship rather than break up with their partner.

As social creatures, relationships are some of the most important aspects of an individual’s life. Both biology and society tell that people are meant to enter into a loving relationship, make it legal, and then perhaps add children to it. According to plenty of scientific studies, people come up with excuses and reasons to stay in those imperfect, often unsatisfying relationships. Moreover, in a recent research conducted by the University of Utah, they stated that people are afraid to leave their partner even though they are unhappy because they care about the welfare and opinion of their partner in the relationship.

“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 of the study. Previous research also shows that the invested time and effort in a relationship could also be one of the causes why people are having a hard time quitting their unhappy relationship. Studies also show that unhappy people in the relationship choose to remain with their partners even though they might end up being feeling alone.


The fear of being lonely makes them stick to their unhappy relationships / Photo by Getty Images


Leaving an Unhappy Relationship, Why Is It So Hard?

In a web post by Fatherly, people are afraid to admit that they made a bad decision in choosing the person they end up with. Daniel Molden, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, stated that the self-confidence is used by the individual to cover what they are going through in their relationship and at least three psychological studies have found correlations between low self-esteem and unsatisfactory relationships. The studies found that while most people attest to having standards, those standards directly mirror how they view themselves. People also believe that they are in a relationship where they deserve even though they are unhappy with it.

Relationship experts also added that people who have a fear of being lonely are much more likely to stay in a relationship that isn’t working or one that is actively making them unhappy. This fear is strong enough to override any other feelings that they may have towards their partner and because of their faith with their partner, they believe that their partners are still capable of changing. Many people stay in unhealthy relationships because they believe that their partner’s flaws will eventually sort themselves out. Often times, the wait isn’t worth the misery. People can do change all the time

People in the relationship are also thinking economically. They think that breaking up could affect their financial stability. This often happens with women for whom their partners are the sole or primary provider of the household. A fear of financial instability in this day and age isn’t altogether unfounded. However, this fear can lead many people into staying in a relationship that has long turned sour.

Psychologist and Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author Daniel Kahneman has investigated how spooked people are about loss. He found out that people are so reluctant to give up what they have, even if what they have isn’t the best thing for them. It is called the “sunk cost fallacy” or the “sunk cost effect.” Psychologists say this occurs when a prior investment in one option leads to a continuous investment in that option, despite not being the best decision.

Unfortunately, there are cases where people are just being used to with their living condition. Most of the people who have an unhappy relationship grew up in abusive households and they are more often inclined to believe that the abuse they go through is normal. This is a contributing factor to why a person will stay in a relationship that is actively harmful to them. They may be unable to recognize what is or isn’t abuse, as the harmful parts of a relationship - jealousy, possessiveness, even violence - have become normalized to them over the years. People who experience this may need help recognizing what a healthy relationship looks like. Being a source of support for someone who has had abuse normalized for them is an important step in helping them leave their partners.




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