50 Reasons Why Couples Stay Together Or Break Up, According To Science


Why do couples stay together? It's a really tricky question — and it changes a lot from relationship to relationship. In fact, new research shows just how many reasons people stay together — and how many they break up for.

Researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada, looked at what drives people in relationships. They found 27 reasons people stay in relationship and almost as many reasons that they leave one. It shows how caught in the middle people can feel when deciding whether or not they should break up.

"Although people had plenty of perfectly valid reasons to leave, they simultaneously had strong reasons for wanting to stay," Samantha Joel, lead author of the study and a Utah psychology professor, tells Bustle. "Not only does this study support the idea that people tend to be deeply ambivalent about stay/leave decisions, but it allows us to see what kinds of specific relationship facets people tend to struggle with."

So if you're stuck in a tricky relationship yourself and not sure what factors to consider— or if you're just curious to see what people take into consideration— here's the whole list. Because the reasons for keeping or breaking the relationship are just as unique as the relationships themselves.

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The Reasons People Stay In Relationships

1. Emotional Intimacy

Those feelings of closeness go a long way.

2. Emotional investment

Sometimes, even if it's wrong, we don't want to feel like we've wasted our time in a relationship.

3. Family Duty

So many people still do it for the kids.

4. Partner's Personality

We love to see the good in people.

5. Enjoyment

Seems like a pretty good reason.

6. Emotional Security

When we feel like we have emotional support, it's really hard to give that up.

7. Physical Intimacy

And we're not just talking sex — we're talking cuddles too, people.

8. Financial Benefits

All about that money, honey.

9. Compatibility

We often feel like there's nobody else out there for us.

10. Concern For Partner

It's important to think about your needs too, though.

11. Optimism

We always think we can change people.

12. Validation

For some people, the fear of being single is too big.

13. Dependence

It's nice to be able to rely on someone, but independence in a relationship is so important too.

14. Attraction

We're all just animals at the end of the day.

15. General Satisfaction

Sometimes it's just feeling like everything is pretty chill, even if it isn't great.

16. Comparison Of Alternatives

Harsh, but true. That thought that there's nobody any better out there.

17. Logistical Barriers

Things like not knowing how to split up stuff or move can sometimes keep people together way past when they should.

18. Fear Of Uncertainity

I've seen this more than once.

19. Social Connections

Things can get awkward during breakups among mutual friends.

20. Comfort

Comfort was the bottom line for a lot of people.

21. Habituation

And some folks just can't deal with change.

22. Companionship

It's nice to connect with someone, but I don't think it's a good enough reason to stay in a crappy relationship.

23. Long-Term Orientation

Just too focused on the big picture.

24. Long-Term Prospects

It just works with how you want your life to look, even if the relationship isn't right itself.

25. Social Pressure

The fear of disapproval is real.

26. Self-Improvement

If we think they're a good influence, that's a factor in staying.

27. Social Status

This is really not a great reason, tbh.

The Reasons People Leave Relationships

1. Partner's Personality

Sometimes, it's just too bad to deal with.

2. Breach Of Trust

It can be too big to get over.

3. Partner Withdrawal

When you need them to really be present.

4. External Forces

Sometimes, life get in the way.

5. Physical Distance

Aka your sex life has totally died.

6. Conflict

The constant fighting just isn't cool.

7. Incompatibility

Lifestyle, opinions, goals — there's a lot to disagree on.

8. Emotional Distance

People really do just fall out of love.

9. Lack Of Validation

We all need to feel appreciated.

10. Lack Of Financial Benefits

Yikes, this one's harsh.

11. Lack Of Enjoyment

But this one seems totally fair.

12. Problems With Long-Term Prospects

When your deal-breakers just don't line up.

13. General Dissatisfaction

You often know when it's not right.

14. Inequity

One-sided relationships just can't last.

15. Social Consequences

Parental and friend disapproval can hit hard.

16. Deal-breakers

Addiction, being controlling, and other behaviors that are simply unacceptable.

17. Loss Of Attraction

It's never easy when the spark goes out.

18. General Frustration

Annoyance can go too far.

19. Too Demanding

And nit-picking can too.

20. An Alternative Partner

Falling in love with someone else is difficult, but it happens.

21. Pursuit Of Other Opportunities

Sometimes you just want to focus on you.

22. Discomfort With Commitment

When you just don't want to be tied down.

23. Hindering Self-Improvement

Partners who are a bad influence often don't last.

24. Violation Of Expectations

When they're just not who you thought they were.

25. Concern For Partner

If you don't want to hold them back, you'll let them go.

As you can see, there are so many reasons you may decide to stay in a relationship — or to leave one. It's a complex web of pros and cons and, at the end of the day, it's just going to be down to you and your individual relationship.