Published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, the first phase of the study, involved recruiting people who were in the midst of trying to decide whether to break up or not — to participate in an anonymous survey. The survey yielded a list of 27 different reasons for wanting to stay in a relationship and 23 reasons for wanting to leave. The stay/leave factors were then converted into a questionnaire that was given to another group of people who were trying to decide whether to end a relationship.
At the top of the stay list:
– Emotional intimacy
– A sense of obligation
At the top of the leave list:
– Issues with a partner’s personality
– Breach of trust
– Partner withdrawal
Individuals in both dating and married situations gave similar reasons for wanting to leave a relationship. However, there were significant differences in why they wanted to stay. Participants who were in a dating relationship said they were considering staying based on more positive reasons such as aspects of their partner’s personality that they like, emotional intimacy and enjoyment of the relationship. Those who were married gave more constraint reasons for staying such as investment into the relationship, family responsibilities, fear of uncertainty and logistical barriers.