The Sunk Cost Fallacy
Have you ever heard of the Sunk Cost Fallacy? It is an interesting economic theory that can easily be applied to dating and relationships.
Often, women will stay in a relationship because they don’t want to feel that the time they have already spent with someone is a waste. To better explain the theory, I am going to use Wikipedia’s example of how the sunk-cost fallacy can be applied to everyday living.
In the case of a movie ticket that has already been purchased, the ticket-buyer can choose between the following two end results if he realizes that he doesn’t like the movie:
1. Having paid the price of the ticket and having suffered watching a movie that he does not want to see, or;
2. Having paid the price of the ticket and having used the time to do something more fun.
In either case, the ticket-buyer has paid the price of the ticket so that part of the decision no longer affects the future. If the ticket-buyer regrets buying the ticket, the current decision should be based on whether he wants to see the movie at all, regardless of the price, just as if he were to go to a free movie. The economist will suggest that, since the second option involves suffering in only one way (spent money), while the first involves suffering in two (spent money plus wasted time), option two is obviously preferable.
By applying this to relationship dynamics, it becomes apparent that using the length of the relationship to justify staying together is simply irrational. You’ve already invested the time, so why invest even more time if you are not happy?
For some reason, it seems that a lot of women think that the only way to determine a “successful” relationship is to measure the length of the relationship. Let’s stop using this as a metric. Why not start thinking about whether or not you learned something about yourself or the type of partner you want?
One of my favorite bloggers, David McRaney, has written even further on the subject of the sunk cost fallacy on his blog, You Are Not So Smart. I highly recommend his blog if you are interested in challenging yourself to think about things in a more rational manner.