The “sunk cost fallacy” is an effect when people stick with something because they’ve already invested so much which makes it harder for them to let go
There are many reasons people stay in relationships that are no good for them.
Many churches are strict on God’s standards on divorce and therefore do not encourage it. No matter how toxic it gets churches advocate patience, endurance, counseling and prayers, citing the Biblical injunction that “What God has put together, no man should put asunder.” It simply means
that marriage is a holy thing, and humans should not break apart a marriage.
In Africa, a major reason women, in particular, remain in toxic relationships is to protect their children from poor treatment by the women who may replace them. So they stay on to give their kids all the care they need until they are old enough.
Fear of being single
Generally, the reason may be the fear of being single. Researchers have found out that the fear of being single is one of the strongest predictors of settling for less in a relationship. Both men and women experience the fear of being single, they say.
READ ALSO: Church counsels couples, singles on marriage
According to them, people who are very anxious about their relationships are particularly worried about being rejected.
“As a result, they can put a lot of effort into a bad relationship. While the effort increases their investment in the relationship, they are still left feeling dissatisfied. This means the relationship has little chance of being a happy one in the long-term.”
Dr Stephanie Spielmann, who led the study, said: “Those with stronger fears about being single are willing to settle for less in their relationships.
“Sometimes they stay in relationships they aren’t happy in, and sometimes they want to date people who aren’t very good for them.
“Now we understand that people’s anxieties about being single seem to play a key role in these types of unhealthy relationship behaviors.”
The study showed that people who were very anxious about their relationship were low in trust but also very dependent.
However, people who acted in an avoidant way wanted to remain independent.
Professor Geoff MacDonald, study co-author, said:
“In our results we see men and women having similar concerns about being single, which lead
to similar coping behaviors, contradicting the idea that only women struggle with a fear of being single.
“Loneliness is a painful experience for both men and women, so it’s not surprising that the fear of being single seems not to discriminate on the basis of gender.”
Sunk Cost Theory
Researchers from a university in Portugal have the reason some people hold on to failing relationships it could have to do with something called the “sunk cost fallacy.”
According to researchers, the “sunk cost fallacy” is an effect when people tend to stick with something because they’ve already invested so much time, money and/or energy, which makes it harder for them to let go – despite it not being the best decision.
The studies showed that people were more likely to stay in a relationship when money and effort were invested, but not time.
In another experiment, they found that people who were in the 10-year relationship stuck around for an average of 294 days longer than those who were in the year-long relationship.
“Together, both experiments confirmed the initial hypothesis that investments in terms of time, efforts and money make individuals more prone to stay and invest in a relationship in which they are unhappy,” added the researchers.
What to do in a toxic relationship
Boutique matchmaker and dating coach Shannon Tebb is reported to have said says that a relationship can go sour for many reasons – personal struggles, mental health or loss of love, for example.
But if couples and individuals want to either work at the relationship or make it out alive, communication and honesty is what will help heal the situation.
READ ALSO: Why people stay in toxic RELATIONSHIPS
“It depends on how disconnected the couple is,” says Tebb. “Sometimes when one person is more disconnected than the other it’s hard to get that back.”
If couples want to make it work, Tebb suggests going to a relationship or sex therapist to help you through the issues and help clear the lines of communication.
It has been found that small acts of kindness are one of the simplest ways to improve a relationship, psychological research finds.
Making a cup of coffee, being respectful, showing affection and being forgiving are easy ways to demonstrate generosity.
Partners who are generous to each other are less likely to argue, to divide housework fairly and to be more committed to each other.
Finally, in many cases prayers and self attitudinal change, rather than changing ourselves work.
How toxic marriage of two PhD holders was saved
This example from Pastor Enoch Adeboye is very instructive as it is interesting. He recalls: “A certain sister persistently asked me to pray for her and her husband, especially for the salvation of his soul, claiming he was devilish and evil.
I said, “Alright, do you want your husband saved?”
She said, “Yes.”
“Will you take my advice? I asked.
She said, “That is why I came to you.”
Then I told her, “When you get home today, set the table, hold a bowl of water in your hand, kneel down and say, ‘My Lord, food is ready’.”
“Never! Why? He is a senior lecturer, I am a senior lecturer. He has his PhD, I have my PhD,” she said.
I said, “Ah, that is the problem, there are two masters in the home.”
”What do you mean?” she asked.
“Just try what I have told you to do. There will be no need for further prayers.”
“Okay, because I came to you for counselling, I will do what you say,” she said. “But you don’t know this man, he is a devil.”
“Go and deal with the devil the way I have asked you to do it.” When she got home, she did what I told her.
Her husband looked at her and aid, “Did somebody give you a charm and instruct you on how to present it? This charm is not going to work.”
But then the woman continued the practice and within one week, her husband said, “Where did you learn this?”
She said, “At the fellowship.”
“I will follow you there and hear what they are teaching you,” he said.