How many times have you had a friend in a relationship that everyone knows isn’t working, but they stay with them because of “the history we have together”?
It doesn’t matter that they’ve spent the last year of their relationship unhappy, they don’t want to end it because of all the effort they’ve put in up until that point. That’s where they’re making a mistake, even if they don’t realize it.
A Tale As Old As Time
Pretty much everyone at one time or another has kept something for longer than they should have because it was expensive, or stayed in a relationship (not necessarily a romantic one) past its expiry date because they’d known the person a long time. It’s such a common thing that there’s actually a name for it!
Sunk Cost Fallacy
The sunk cost fallacy is when someone continues a behavior, continues in a relationship, or continues down a certain path because they’ve invested something into it, whether that be time, money, or effort.
You Feel Obligated
It might not be beneficial to you anymore, but you feel an obligation to stick with it because you don’t want to be a quitter or you don’t want to waste money. You’re determined to wear that jacket a certain number of times because you spent all that money, or you want to have the most fun ever on your vacation because the flight was expensive.
The Obligation Looks A Little Different For Relationships
When it comes to the sunk cost fallacy and your relationship, it’s probably not going to be about an actual amount of money. Rather, that cost is the time you’ve spent with someone, the moves you made with them, the dog you share, and the fears you’ve shared.
There’s Actual Science Behind This Theory
In a study done at the University of Minho in Portugal, research on more than 900 people revealed that people were inclined to stay in a relationship for 294 days past its expiry if they’d been with their partner for over a decade. That’s nearly an extra year of their life that they stayed because they felt like they’d committed too much time and effort to walk away.
Blind Loyalty Doesn’t Help Anyone, Though
Being loyal to someone is what’s expected of you in a relationship, but being blindly loyal to the point where you’re overlooking the actual issues doesn’t help you or your partner. You might not even be blind to what you’re doing, but you’re still choosing to do it because you don’t want to deal with the alternative.
There’s A Reason You’re Supposed To Learn From History
We all know that history is doomed to repeat itself, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let it. Learn from your mistakes in the past and acknowledge that not all history has to be a part of the future.
You Know Your Friends Are Going To Judge You
They’re not actually judging you, but they are probably going to have something to say about the fact that you’re choosing to stay with someone or get back together with someone after you’ve spent weeks or months talking about how your relationship isn’t working for you.
Remember: Your Friends Want What’s Best For You
Even if you don’t want to hear it in the moment, there’s a reason you chose to talk to someone else about the problems you’re having. Some part of you needed to hear from someone else and get the validation you need to leave a relationship that isn’t working for you—and probably hasn’t been for a while.
“I Don’t Want To Have To Be Single Again”
You should never be staying in a relationship simply because you don’t want to not be in one. You should want to stay in your relationship and be with the person you’re dating beyond just not wanting to be alone.
In Fact, That’s Probably Your Reason To End It
If it comes to the point in your relationship where your biggest motivation for staying is that you don’t want to have to be single or be alone, that’s not the right reason. Sure, if you can’t imagine being single or being without your boyfriend, then that’s good, but just generally wanting to be in a relationship regardless of who it’s with? That’s not good.
How Do You Know For Sure?
There might not be a moment where you have 100% clarity about the decision you’re making. It’d be nice if the clouds would part and some fairy godmother came down to tell you exactly what you should do with your relationship, but sadly, that’s not going to happen.
You Dream About A New Relationship
On the opposite end of “I don’t want to be single,” you could be feeling like you’re interested in being in a new relationship or seeing what someone else could offer you. You might not have literal dreams about a new relationship, but if you were happy in your current one, you wouldn’t spend that much time thinking about the what-ifs or what-could-be’s.
It Doesn’t Feel Like You’re Moving Forward
A relationship is a partnership. You should want your partner to succeed and move forward, and they should want the same for you. When you’re in a relationship for a long time, it’s easy to get comfortable and come to a bit of a standstill.
You’re No Longer Making Excuses For Him
You were willing to overlook a lot at the beginning of the relationship, but now you’re not sure you can. Once you find that you can’t accept his excuses or you’re not willing to tolerate behaviors she has, you know it’s time to move on.
You Don’t Have To Feel Guilty About It
You might find yourself feeling guilty about making the decision to move on from a relationship that isn’t working, especially if your partner isn’t expecting it. In the long run, though, it’s much worse for both of you to stay with a person if one of you is unhappy, and it will eventually lead to both of you being unhappy.
It Doesn’t Mean You Wasted Your Time
No relationship can ever be written off as a waste of time. Don’t diminish the happy memories you have from the time you were together or let how you’re currently feeling overshadow that. You grew as a person, you were happy, now you’re going to find happiness elsewhere.
Does The Bad Really Outweigh The Good?
We’re not suggesting that you throw away a long relationship at the first sign of trouble, though. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. You have to be willing to take a good look at the relationship, the role you’ve played in your issues, and see if you can move past them or work through them.
In The End, It’s About Your Happiness
It would make it easier on you if your partner had become some sort of hideous, horrible person, but it’s probably not going to be that easy. When it comes down to it, though, it’s about your own happiness.
You Have To Be Your Own Priority
Being in a relationship means you have another person to care about, to love, to worry about, to work with, but you also still have to prioritize yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been together for 5 minutes, 5 months, or 5 years; you’re not required to fix something that’s broken, and sometimes you can’t.