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Why Do People Stay Together In Crappy Relationships? Three Reasons!

Passion, intimacy, and commitment, “investment model of commitment”, Caryl E. Rusbult, 1 Satisfaction level 2 Comparison with alternatives 3 investment size, battered women, abused women, relationships

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal the three things that explains why people stay together in crappy relationships.

First a quick update: 

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Three reasons why people stay together in crappy relationships

Why do so many couples stay together despite the costs outweighing the rewards?

First, there are 3 measures of every relationship: Passion, intimacy, and commitment.

Passion is the chemical attraction to each other; the lust for each other. Within about 36 months, the often-unsustainable attraction and desire for each other dramatically wanes or dissolves. It is up to the couple to take conscious action to keep the passion alive. Passion without intimacy and commitment equals ‘lovers.’

Intimacy is the  emotional connection – the level of vulnerability, trust and mutual support and disclosure. Explained phonetically intimacy is “into-me-you-see”; “I allow you to see into me.” Intimacy without passion or commitment equals ‘best friends or soul mates.’

Commitment is the conscious choice to either maintain and grow the love for each other or to build a life together. Simply put, commitment is the choice to stay together. Commitment without passion or intimacy equals an ‘agreement or business arrangement.’ Combining passion, intimacy and commitment equals a potentially satisfying and long-lasting romantic relationship and partnership.

If commitment is the choice to stay together – even in crappy relationships, what determines commitment?

The level and extent to which you have become dependent upon the relationship will determine your level of commitment and its hold over you!

The same applies to your relationship with your job!

Caryl E. Rusbult was a professor and chair of the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She developed the “investment model of commitment” in relationships.

She proposed that there are three major factors that maintain and determine commitment in relationships (level of dependency upon the relationship):

1. Satisfaction level

2. Comparison with alternatives

3. Investment size

Satisfaction level is the answer to the question, “Are your most important needs being met?” These might include companionship, intimacy, and sexuality. This refers to the positive aspects of the relationship, the rewards.

Comparison with alternatives is the answer to the question, “Could your most important needs be met outside of this relationship, without this partner?” This refers to the fear of things being worse without the relationship – the loss of current rewards.

For example, do you believe a new romantic relationship would be as good or worse than what you have? If you remained single, could your friends and family meet your most important needs?

Investment size is the answer to the question, “How much have you put into this relationship, and what do you believe you would lose if the relationship ended?” This refers to the loss of investments without the relationship. There can also be a fear of losing what you invested in the relationship in terms of expected outcomes – future goals and dreams.

What have you given to this relationship in the form of time, effort, money, possessions, your trust and inner self by revealing secrets about yourself or other painful or meaningful dreams or experiences, and emotional intimacy? This is known as the intrinsic investment.

What things do you believe you will lose that are important to you – friends, social network, children? One man who divorced his wife lost access to his children.

Many people suffer for a long time following a breakup because they also believe they have now lost the shared memories of good times together. You don’t actually lose the memories, but most people believe they can no longer enjoy those former sweet memories because the relationship is now over.

These are known as the intrinsic investment (friends, children, shared memories, and identity.)

The bigger the investment, the more likely people you are to stay in the relationship (or job!)

Women who have been abused often return to their partners following intense abuse also because of structural dependence; they perceive their alternatives to be worse, and they have invested highly in the relationship.

Caryl Rusbult also identified 5 other behaviors that explains why people stay together in crappy relationships

1. Accommodation – accommodating your partner, not keeping a tally of costs and rewards

2. Willingness to sacrifice – putting your partner’s interests first

3. Forgiveness – forgiving your partner’s minor and major mistakes

4. Positive illusions – being unrealistically positive about your partner’s qualities; seeing your relationship positively while seeing other people’s relationships negatively

5. Ridiculing alternatives – minimizing the advantages of potential alternatives and viewing them in a negative light.

(Source: )

If you need help to exit an unhealthy relationship or to get over a breakup or the past, including pain, resolve it rapidly and easily, and be set free of the pain with my SRTT process. Book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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