Reasons that people consider when thinking about leaving a relationship

Staying in an unhealthy relationship has hazardous consequences to one’s health, but departing from a toxic union is never easy. Scientists from the Universities of Utah and Toronto offer insights into what makes deliberations to leave or stay so perplexing.

Leave or stay? What comes into equation

The study concentrated on what people consider pros and cons when weighting options of leaving or staying in a relationship.

In the first stage researchers asked people who were in relationships, including a group of test subjects who were considering breaking up, to come up with certain reasons to either stay or go. The participants were providing reasons in their own words, which were then grouped together. Altogether, 23 reasons to leave and 27 motives to stay were listed.

These reasons were used as the base for the questionnaire, which was given to another group of people who were pondering over leaving a serious relationship. Couples who took part in stage two were married on average for 9 years or dating for 2 years.

The following factors emerged as the most important in deliberations.

To stay:

  • Investment
  • Emotional intimacy
  • Sense of obligation

To leave:

  • Breach of trust
  • Partner withdrawal
  • Partner’s personality

Dating vs. marriage

Both the couples who were dating and married put forward similar motives in favor of breaking up, Science Daily reported.

But there was a difference in reasons to continue.

  • The ones who were dating quoted their partner’s likable personality, emotional intimacy or enjoyment of the couplehood as reasons not to break up.
  • Pairs who were married pointed to the investment into the marriage, fear of uncertainly and complex logistics of leaving, and family responsibilities as reasons to stay.

One in two participants said they had strong enough reasons for both remaining in the union and breaking up, which obviously made it hard to make a decision.

“They felt really torn,” the co-author of the research Samantha Joel said. “The longer you’ve been in a relationship, the harder it seems to be.”

Joel also pointed out that people often throw “out of the window” their ideas about deal breakers in a person they want to be with, which they had, once they have met someone they like.

“From an evolutionary prospective, for our ancestors finding a partner may have been more important than finding the right partner.” This is why, she concluded, getting into a relationship may be much easier than getting out of one.

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The longer you are in a marriage, the more difficult it is to leave. Sometimes I think that there people stay in relationships only because of kids as it’s too hard to start over on your own. Also life expectancy is much longer now. People used to live only until mid thirties and it was not too long time ago. In Russia average life expectancy 100 years ago was 33 years for a woman. Now we live 80+ years, no wonders relationships are different.


I belive that the most importatn reason for break ups is a breach of trust. The most terrible thing you can do is to betray a person who trusts you (cheat or hide some secrets). I wish more could understand that you should immediately leave your partner, if he or she does something like this. Things will only get worse and worse, if you forgive it once.


Leaving someone you’ve been living with for many years is never easy. Sometimes people (unfortunately, mostly women) stay in a toxic relationship which destroys their personality and well-being just because they depend on their partner.


My wife left me after 12 years, and 20 years of knowing her……suffice to say, I REALLY loved her, and it still kills me to this day. The deceit and the lying REALLY hurt, all because she wanted to run, dressed up as the latest Disney character.


“From an evolutionary prospective, for our ancestors finding a partner may have been more important than finding the right partner.” This is why, she concluded, getting into a relationship may be much easier than getting out of one.
Yes,it’s an instinctive thing.
I think that for woman it’s a lot harder, in ancient times leaving of a man would mean death for woman because he was a breadwinner and in modern life this instinct in a fear form remains unconsciously

Alena, Read modern anthropologists. In primitive societies that still exist today it is mostly women that provide for the tribe. Gathering of food is a more reliable way than hunting. Men are useful for fights with other tribes mostly. So, no, an ancient woman would not die if a man left her. Her tribe would feed her and the child, plus she would find another man easily (how easy it is for a woman of any age to find a sexual partner? In ancient times people lived on average up to 20, so she would be fertile and valuable). There… Read more »