Breakups are never black and white, but according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, most people are surprisingly ambivalent right before a breakup and have almost equal reasons for wanting to stay and wanting to go.
The most common reason for wanting to break up? Attachment anxiety, or the anxiety associated with being rejected or let down. Other common reasons 447 study volunteers surveyed cited included emotional distance, a power imbalance, or violation of an expectation (cheating, for example).
The study participants cited the same reasons for wanting to leave across the board regardless of marital status, but interestingly enough, reasons for wanting to stay varied based on whether people were married or dating. Married people wanted to stay out of obligation, family responsibilities, and fear of uncertainty, whereas people who were dating were reluctant to let go because they enjoyed aspects of their partner's personality or enjoyed the emotional closeness.
While attachment anxiety may have led to the largest number of breakups in this study, there's no question that relationship endings are nuanced—and the fact that most people have mixed feelings about their breakups is proof of that.
Want to read more stories about love? Read up on the most awkward first dates wellness leaders have ever gone on.
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Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist and former Senior Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen where she analyzed new research on human behavior, looked at the intersection of wellness and women's empowerment, and took deep dives into the latest sex and relationship trends. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis. She has written for HuffPost, Glamour, and NBC News, among others, and is a certified yoga instructor.