Do you also know a couple that obviously is not really happy anymore or does not seem to fit together and is still together? Some people also know it from their own experience and have already held on to a relationship, even though it has not (more) fulfilled it. In some cases, it’s just a dry spell that can be “weaned away” and gives the relationship a new lease of life, but often it’s hopeless and one stays, even though one should actually go. The reasons for this are different, sometimes you just do not want to leave the other one alone in a certain situation and stay later because you just do not know how to go. Or the idea of simply leaving the common apartment and everything that you have built up together seems too difficult and too expensive. So why stay in this case, even though a breakup would be better? Scientists now got to the bottom of this question and found out something interesting and frightening at the same time.
In the survey of 1000 study participants, four groups were formed, who should each imagine a different scenario of an unhappy relationship. Group 1 was therefore unhappily married for 10 years, while Group 2 was in the same situation for a year. Group 3 had bought a house with the partner and the last group was in a situation where they had already seriously tried to save the marriage.
Surprising and frightening at the same time, were the results of the subsequent survey, in which the scientists wanted to know whether the participants would stay in the relationship or would end it. 35% of the participants would stay in the marriage, which has existed for 10 years, as well as in the relationship in which they bought a common house. On the other hand, 25% of those who had been in a one-year marriage would split up.
The scientists explain this decision with the “Sunk Costs Effect”, which describes that one holds on to something, because it has already taken up a lot of time, effort and money. The investment would have been “pointless” and therefore one would have to face the failure and this kind of loss in addition to the separation. Of course, having a happy relationship has nothing to do with that, but explains the behavior of these couples. This means that these couples do not want to risk an uncertain new beginning and the associated possible changes in the social environment, although they are aware that they are not happy.