If there was ever any doubt that time spent worrying doesn’t help much of anything, there’s new scientific research to back it up. According to new research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, thinking and worrying about breaking up with your partner actually increases the likelihood of it happening.
For the study, researchers out of Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Italy manipulated some study participants’ perception of the idea that their relationship could end by giving them statistics about how likely relationships are to fail, and gave them false feedback about the chances of their current relationship ending.
Afterward, the participants were asked how committed they felt to their relationship. When participants felt there was either a high or low risk of breakup, they were likely to have weaker feelings of romance and commitment toward their partner. When no mention was made about their relationship ending, however, feelings of commitment stayed strong.
“This shows that, when faced with a ‘too high’ risk of ending the relationship, participants clearly reduced the intensity of their positive feelings towards the romantic partner,” said researcher Simona Sciara. Co-researcher Giuseppe Pantaleo added that when considering mental health, it’s important for professionals to take the role of this perceived risk into account. “Reduced relationship commitment, for instance, leads to dissolution considerations and, thereby, to actual relationship breakup. Relationship breakup, in turn, plays a critical role in the onset of depression, psychological distress, and reduced life satisfaction,” he explained.