love bites

No One Wants to Admit Their Relationship Isn’t Going Anywhere

Photo: Roger Richter/Corbis

People who are in relationships that are going nowhere don’t know, or can’t admit, that their relationships are going nowhere, according to a recent paper in the journal Personal Relationships that sounds a little like the honest perspective you’d expect from your best friend, only with more algorithms.

Researchers followed 232 heterosexual couples over nine months, asking each partner — separately — to estimate once a month, on a scale of 0 to 100 percent, their answers to a pretty big question: What are the chances that you’ll marry this person? After the nine months were over, each individual was asked to try to recall his or her answers over the course of the experiment.

The people in relationships that actually had become increasingly serious, according to their own self-reports, were able to recall their answers with near-perfect accuracy. (Jerks.) People in less-happy relationships, however, were a little fuzzy on the details: They recalled feeling more committed in recent months than they’d actually reported at the time. “If we looked at their history as they reported it to us over the nine-month period, we could see that their chances of marriage were plummeting,” lead author Brian Ogolsky told Psychology Today. “Yet their recollection was that things had been going okay … They didn’t know their trajectory looked this dire, but it’s fair to say they were in denial about the state of their relationship.”

No One Admits They’re in a Dead-End Relationship