New US research has revealed a perhaps surprising reason why people stay in unhappy relationships, finding that some stay not for their own needs but because they take into account the feelings of their partner.
Carried out by researchers at the University of Utah along with Wayne State University and the University of Toronto, Canada, the study set out to test the theory that people make stay or leave decisions prosocially, meaning taking into consideration their romantic partner’s feelings can stop them from ending their relationship.
In the first study of two studies, the researchers tracked 1,348 participants in romantic relationships over a 10-week period. In the second, they followed 500 participants contemplating a breakup over a two-month period.
The findings, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed that in both studies the more dependent people believed their partner was on the relationship, the less likely they were to break up with them.
“When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a breakup,” said lead author Samantha Joel.