According to a new study set to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people consider how leaving the relationship will affect their partner and whether they need the relationship to continue.
"The more dependent people believed their partner was on the relationship, the less likely they were to initiate a breakup," says lead author Samantha Joel, an assistant professor at Western University in Ontario, Canada.
Previous research suggests that people will opt to stay in relationships if they are afraid they won't find someone else or someone of similar quality. Meanwhile, love hopefuls will decide to end the unsatisfying romance if they think the effort they're putting in isn't worth it.
These considerations are all fuelled by the interest of the individual. Now new findings suggest that decisions may be more selfless than first thought.
"When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a break up," continues Joel.
"This is true even for people who weren't really committed to the relationship themselves or who were personally unsatisfied with the relationship. Generally, we don't want to hurt our partners and we care about what they want.
"One thing we don't know is how accurate people's perceptions are. It could be the person is overestimating how committed the other partner is and how painful the break up would be."
However, being selfless in love could be huge risk, noes Joel. If things improve, it would be considered the right decision. However, if they don't, you won't get your time back.
"Who wants a partner who doesn't really want to be in the relationship?" Joel adds.