We all know what it’s like. The spark has gone, routine has taken over and you just plain don’t like each other anymore. Yet you stay together.
Even if you’ve been lucky enough to have married your high school sweetheart and are still head over heels in love, you still definitely know some friends who are in that exact boat. And you’re pulling your hair out waiting for them to realise it.
So why do people stick around, listless and unhappy? Is it the fear of change, or is being alone just that bad? A study, published in the journal Current Psychology has looked into it, and they think they’ve found the answer.
The research, which took place at Minho University, Rego, in Portugal, involved nearly 1,000 people and asked them to imagine themselves in a hypothetical, loveless 10-year marriage. Would they stick or split? They were divided into four groups, who were all given slightly different scenarios:
- The first group were just told they were in an unhappy marriage – these were the control subjects.
- The second were told they’d been only married for one year, as opposed to 10.
- The third were told that they’d bought a house together, so they were financially invested in it.
- The final group were told they’d put a lot of effort into trying to save this hypothetical marriage.
The results found that 35 per cent of people who’d put money or effort into the marriage would stay with their spouse, but only 25 per cent of the group that had only been married a year, and the control group said they would remain.
They called this the ‘sunk cost effect’: which is basically if you feel you are going to waste effort or money you put in, you will hang around. Those are things we apparently value more than love and happiness. Pretty depressing, huh?
And people say romance is dead.