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A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has shed new light on how individuals navigate dealbreakers in relationships. While dealbreakers are typically seen as traits or behaviors that are intolerable and lead to the termination of a relationship, the study suggests that these factors can actually be better understood as “dealbenders.” These dealbenders can give individuals pause, rather than instantly ending a relationship, particularly when faced with multiple dealbenders.

The study highlights three instances where dealbenders can turn into dealbreakers. Firstly, the intention to pursue a short-term or long-term relationship can influence how individuals perceive dealbreakers. Individuals tend to be more critical of potential partners with dealbreakers in a long-term context than a short-term one, as emotional investment tends to be deeper in long-term relationships. Therefore, individuals might undertake a harsher screening process to avoid investing in a partner who is not the right fit.

Secondly, dealbenders can become dealbreakers if persistent, unresolved patterns in a partner’s behavior or traits emerge. Compromising and addressing problematic behavior may work initially, but if there is a reluctance to change and adapt, these unresolved patterns can cause disappointment and distress, leading to frequent conflicts and eroding the relationship.

Lastly, dealbenders can turn into dealbreakers when they jeopardize an individual’s well-being. Emotionally unsatisfying relationships can exacerbate anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem, causing intense emotional pain. If a partner’s behaviors or habits are negatively impacting emotional well-being, it is a clear sign that dealbenders have escalated and demand attention.

Understanding how dealbenders evolve into dealbreakers is crucial for protecting well-being and ensuring a healthy relationship. While compromise is important in relationships, it is equally important to stand firm on non-negotiables that are vital to happiness and well-being. Recognizing when dealbenders have reached a tipping point and are causing significant emotional distress can help individuals make decisions that are in their best interests.

If individuals suspect their relationship is riddled with dealbending behavior, they are encouraged to take the Relationship Satisfaction Scale to determine if professional help may be needed. By addressing dealbenders before they escalate to dealbreakers, individuals can work towards creating and maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

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