If you and your significant other are sound of mind, a break-up is never easy. Nor is the decision behind it.

New research, however, sheds light on exactly why people are making the split, and what convinces them to stay. And the most interesting part: it all depends on whether you’re married.

The University of Utah quizzed people on the cusp of a break-up about their motivations, and why they wanted to call it a day.

For both married and dating couples, the reasons to stay put were emotional intimacy, investment and a feeling of obligation, while the sex and financial benefits trailed the pack.

But the researchers found that there was a big difference between couples who were dating, and those who were married when it came to their decision-making.

Those who were dating based decisions on positive reasons, such as their partner’s personality, or the good parts of the relationship. But those who were married considered other reasons such as investment in the relationship, family commitments and fear of uncertainty.

Lead researcher, Samantha Joel, said: “What was most interesting to me was how ambivalent people felt about their relationships. They felt really torn.

“Breaking up can be a really difficult decision. You can look at a relationship from outside and say ‘you have some really unsolvable problems, you should break up’ but from the inside, that is a really difficult thing to do.” Which, to anybody unfortunate enough to have survived a break-up, knows all too well.