Romantic Regrets More Intense Than Work-Related Ones, Study Shows

It's 6 p.m. on Valentine's Day, and you're not yet done with the big project due tomorrow. Your sweetie's waiting for you to come home for dinner. Do you:

A) Leave the office anyway, stopping on the way home to pick up some chocolates, much to the chagrin of your boss.


B) Stay late to finish the project, earning the praise of the higher-ups, much to the chagrin of your partner.

A new study from Northwestern University researchers suggests that if you pick option B, you are more likely to regret it later on.

The study, which will be published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, shows that regrets about love are more intense for people than regrets about work, likely because love-related regrets have to do with the human need to belong.

"Social relationships, we suggest, are the most pivotal component of life regrets. Failed marriages, turbulent romances, and lost time with family may elicit regrets that last a lifetime," study researchers wrote in the study.

To conduct the study, scientists surveyed 500 adults in the U.S. about their biggest regrets. The researchers found that love-related regrets were more likely than work-related regrets to be considered "high-intensity."

"As you are thinking about how to feel good about your life, the thing you will feel most strongly about is protecting and strengthening your personal relationships," study researcher Neal Roese, a marketing professor at Northwestern, told TIME.

Last year, Roese conducted a study also published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science that showed that romantic regret is one of the most common regrets experienced by Americans. That study showed that 44 percent of women and 19 percent of men had romance-related regrets.

However, the study also showed that men had more work-related regrets than women, with 34 percent of men reporting having a work-related regret compared with 27 percent of women.