Forbes is Offering Relationship Advice for People Who Want to Improve Their Love Lives. It’s an Unusual Take
I tend not to read business magazines. I usually trust that they know what they’re talking about, but I don’t find them especially interesting or comprehensible. Therefore, I know that 1) Forbes has a rich list, which is not infallible, and 2) they identified Kylie Jenner as a billionaire when actually she wasn’t. Perhaps Forbes doesn’t have the best record. Nevertheless, when they decided to inform us of “mindset traps” which keep people in unhealthy relationships, I decided to take a look. I am positive they should have stuck with finances.
Stand by your man
Forbes started off by writing about the “sunk cost fallacy”, which is where someone believes that they should stick with something unrewarding because they’ve already invested so much time in it. This is applicable to many types of relationships, not just romantic ones. We all know people who’ve been stuck in unhappy relationships for years because, well, they’ve always been together.
It happened to a friend of mine who’d been with the same guy for nearly a decade. He cheated on her constantly and she was, unsurprisingly, perpetually miserable, but explained that she’d been with him for so long they’d “work through it”. They didn’t. They broke up. Now, she’s engaged to a sweet guy and has a baby and her smile lights up the room.
Does Forbes know how love works?
Of course, Forbes took a very clinical approach and spoke about studies done and the availability of “better options”. Here is a direct quote: “A vital first step would be to assess the costs and benefits directly”. I personally believe that a dozen poets would die from reading those words. What about love? Appreciation? Affection? The way they do a Donald Duck impression and it makes you howl with laughter? How they comfort you when you’re anxious? Additionally, what does it say about the person you’re assessing if you look at them as an expense? If you’re a man, and your partner has just had a baby, chances are she looks rough and isn’t bringing in any money, but that doesn’t mean you have to find a “better option”.
Why would you stay with a person you love?
Forbes went on to discuss “preference for the familiar”. The idea is that people like what they know, and dislike change. This all seems pretty plausible. They cite a study from Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin where participants were asked about their partner, and if they’d consider dating someone more attractive. Apparently, people would rather stay with their existing significant other! It’s not really surprising, for a number of reasons. Firstly, why would you end a happy relationship for a chance with someone else, who might not like you or think they’re too attractive for you? Also, attractiveness is subjective: I might think Chris Hemsworth is the hottest man alive, and others might prefer Idris Elba or Simu Liu or Adam Scott or Lance Bass from NSYNC.
Finally, they asked people if they prefer more gorgeous people in front of their existing partners. If I was sitting next to my boyfriend and someone came over and implied that I could “do better”, I’d tell them to fuck off. I don’t want to hurt his ego or damage his self-esteem, and he’s my type, and I think he’s beautiful.
Finally, Forbes explained “regret-aversion”. The business/financial politics really show in this term– it sounds like something which might be used to describe Brexit. Apparently, regret-aversion is when someone avoids ending a relationship because it’s going to cause a lot of hurt, guilt and upset, and instead they stay with a partner who makes them depressed because they want things to improve. I would say this needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
Sometimes, people struggle to communicate with their partners and need some time to figure things out, so their relationship and behaviours can improve. Counselling is often useful. In other instances, such as my aforementioned friend, it’s better to make a decision, have a clean break and, perhaps, meet someone new. I think most people have broken up with a partner and then regretted it, and all the heartache which ensues, so I see why people put off dumping their significant others. Sure, don’t stay in an unhappy relationship! Or do, and find a way to make it happy!
People can be stuck in negative relationships. It’s heartbreaking, really, that we only have a few short years on the planet and we spend them having bad sex with people we don’t really like. There’s often a commitment, like marriage and kids, behind that decision. We feel bound to someone, and that complicates things. Sometimes we don’t want to deal with reality. My advice is this: if you’re unhappy or unhealthy, make a change. Avoiding the issue won’t solve it. Oh, a more attractive partner won’t necessarily make you laugh.