Here is what would have helped move me forward, something that seems more rare than unicorns themselves: unicorn research.
I’d expected that relationship experts would have gobs of years-long, scientifically blessed research on topics that really matter when you’re struggling to figure out what to do, right? Because when you go unicorn hunting, investing a lot of time and energy, you have to think you have a reasonable shot at catching this creature.
But try to find very basic, non-anecdotal unicorn info: How many unicorns are there out there, for example? How many unicorns return and then gallop off again in 10 years? What are the costs of unicorn maintenance? And do they look ugly up close?
It does matter — I based my entire chump quest around a few unicorn stories and suspect many do. And isn’t the whole Reconciliation Industrial Complex based on the idea that reconciliation is possible and a reasonable goal? If so, Iets see what that means.
If you’re speaking to RIC professionals, ask for big long-term studies and numbers and data. And ask for data that reflects followup, not just the temporary patches that seem to characterize “success stories.” (Success stories are so hard to resist!)
Long Ago Chumped But Haven’t Forgotten
Dear Long Ago,
Well, you could ask me the same thing. Where are all your long-term studies and numbers? How do we know Chump Lady isn’t one anecdotal Gain a Life story? Where’s the research?
Oh hang on, here it is:
Intrasexual Mate Competition and Breakups: Who Really Wins?
Craig Eric Morris, Melanie L. Beaussart, Chris Reiber, and Linda S. Krajewski.
I wrote about it here “Science Vindicates Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life”
Psychologists asked over 5,000 women chumps about their relationship break-ups. Turns out the chumps fixed their pickers, learned from the experience, and had better future relationships. They also experienced more personal growth outside their relationships.
And karma bonus — the Other Woman who “won” the cheater? They turn out to be the losers.
The study, led by Dr Craig Morris, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University in New York in conjunction with University College London, explored the experience of 5,705 women in 96 countries — and is the largest study ever on relationship dissolution.
The largest study ever on relationship dissolution. EV-AH. Gee, I’m surprised more RIC professionals aren’t citing it.
I could point you to my blog numbers (millions) which would be a nice data set on how that reconciliation thing is working for a lot of people. And your mythical researcher wouldn’t have to stop at me, they could visit the other infidelity boards and do a head-count of how many chumps there are.
I’m not a researcher, but I would love it if more professionals would turn their attentions towards this subject. I suspect they don’t for the reasons I wrote about the other day in The Silent Chumps — We. Don’t. Talk. About. This.
Which leaves the field open for wishful thinking and charlatans who would like to sell you $399 Affair Proof Your Marriage toolkits. And also probably scores of well-meaning therapists who think they are helping, and assume it All Worked Out when that couple leaves therapy.
I’d expected that relationship experts would have gobs of years-long, scientifically blessed research on topics that really matter when you’re struggling to figure out what to do, right?
Well, it’s not Consumer Reports. And if it were, that partner you bought would be a one-star lemon. The better analogy would be the Maytag repairman. Can this lousy appliance I invested in be fixed?
(How about you try a new brand of person?)
Because when you go unicorn hunting, investing a lot of time and energy, you have to think you have a reasonable shot at catching this creature.
Well, that’s the sticky wicket. People want to think themselves exceptional. But I do think research would help, like the warning labels they put on cigarettes. WARNING: Reconciliation has been linked to Bad Outcomes. Or on those RIC toolkits: WARNING: This product contains bullshit.
Could research really save chumps? I’m all for the informed decision and the longitudinal study, but when it comes down to it, there’s only one data set that matters — yours. Is this an acceptable relationship to YOU?
Everything else is measuring cheater potential and skein untangling. Okay, 13,457 cheaters have Changed For The Better in Columbus, Ohio. Do you want to risk your one precious life? You control your Gain a Life much more than you control their Gain a Clue.
Let’s hope science finds a cure. Until then I’m sticking with the success story of left a cheater, gained a life.
This column ran previously. If you’ve got some longitudinal studies, post links in the comments.