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.
Check out Bustle's 'Save The Date' and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
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.
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.
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.
We always think we can change people.
For some people, the fear of being single is too big.
It's nice to be able to rely on someone, but independence in a relationship is so important too.
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.
Comfort was the bottom line for a lot of people.
And some folks just can't deal with change.
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.
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.
The constant fighting just isn't cool.
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.
One-sided relationships just can't last.
15. Social Consequences
Parental and friend disapproval can hit hard.
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.