I recently came across the term “sunk cost fallacy” and was shocked at how much it relates to dating and finding love.
The fallacy refers to when someone is reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because of how much they have invested in it. Even when abandoning the strategy altogether will be more beneficial.
This term is used a lot in financial decisions, like investing in a new business or keeping an unproductive employee because of how much was invested in their training. People, and companies, believe that keeping on the same path makes more sense than trying something new.
What most people don’t realize is that admitting something isn’t working and changing course will actually save them more money, and heartache, in the end. Humans don’t usually like to admit when a plan isn’t working, especially when large investments of money are involved.
But enough about finances and let’s get into how this applies to your dating life. This may be affecting you without you even knowing it!
Here’s how the sunk cost fallacy can be hindering your dating life and keep you from love:
The sunk cost fallacy in the dating world refers to when you keep dating the same (wrong for you) person because of how long you’ve been together. You believe that because you’ve invested time in this person that you need to keep the relationship going.
I’ve seen this so many times in friends and clients; they keep dating the wrong person because they believe that time spent together equals a meaningful relationship. Let me be the first to tell you: it doesn’t matter how long you’ve spent with someone if they are completely wrong for you.
I get it though, most people continue relationships because they don’t want to be alone or reenter the dating world. They just assume that they can work out their issues or ignore red flags in hopes that they will change. But the hard truth is this: you can never change who someone authentically is no matter how badly you want to.
This is why so much of my coaching focuses on getting clear on your values before you start dating—coupled with growing your confidence and self-worth so you don’t settle for someone who doesn’t align with your values. Trust me, being upfront about your expectations and desires will save you heartbreak months or years down the line.
So how do you make sure you don’t fall into this sunk cost fallacy? Well, the first thing is to look at your current relationship if you’re in one. Are there big issues that you are currently ignoring in hopes they will change? Are there red flags that you have a sneaking suspicion could be deal breakers?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve dated this person for three months or five years, there are just some issues that won’t ever go away. Issues like whether or not you want kids, financial habits, and conflict resolution. If you can’t come to a happy compromise on any of these, do you think you ever will?
And if you’re new to the dating world or just starting your journey, this fallacy can still sneak up on you. This could look like agreeing to multiple dates with someone you know isn’t right for you. Or it could look like using dating apps when you absolutely can’t stand them but are refusing to try something new.
The secret to not falling victim to this fallacy is by becoming best friends with your intuition. Building a solid relationship with your inner self so you can hear those all-important messages when someone or something isn’t right for you. Curious about how to start hearing your intuition? Well, that’s exactly what I do in my coaching and my writing, so you are in the right place!
One great way to start listening to your intuition is to think back on a time when you got a strong gut feeling. Maybe you got a nudge or just had an inner knowing of what decision to make. How did that feel in your body? What happened next when you did or didn’t follow your gut?
By starting to recognize what intuition feels and sounds like, you will know what signs to look out for when it’s trying to communicate with you. This is hugely important in dating and relationships when your heart and vulnerability are on the line. You becoming your own best friend is the secret tool that will lead you to find meaningful love.
So where to go from here? Well, the first step is for you to take a long look at your current relationship and dating journey. Are you carrying on a relationship that you know isn’t right because of the time invested? Or are you completely avoiding dating because you’ve been single for years and figure it won’t work for you?
Whatever your situation is, it’s time to take a giant leap out of your comfort zone and try something new. Just because you’ve invested time or money into something does not mean you have to stay the course. Maybe it’s a person, a mindset, a fear, or a belief that you’ve held on to for far too long that is keeping you stuck. Whatever it is, it’s time to close that chapter and start anew.
That’s the beautiful thing about being human; every day is an opportunity to start fresh. Your past does not dictate your future. You are meant to grow and evolve. That’s how all nature works; you are no different.
Where do you need to get honest with yourself on your journey to love? Today is the day for a fresh start.