Study: Love is the leading source of regret among Americans

All those romantic comedies were telling you the truth, apparently: a recent study from the Kellogg School of Management and the University of Illinois has found that adult Americans have more regrets concerning love than any other parts of their lives. As you can see in the chart, 18.1% of adults considered romance to be their strongest source of regret, with family, education, and career also making strong showings.

So what fascinating insights on regret did the study reveal? Basically, you will always be full of regrets, no matter what:

“We found that one’s life circumstances, such as accomplishments or shortcomings, inject considerable fuel into the fires of regret,” [Professor Neal] Roese said. “Although regret is painful, it is an essential component of the human experience.”

How uplifting. But self, it should be noted, was the last on the list of regretted things. So even if you're pissed that you never got up the courage to ask Lizzy to the homecoming dance, at least you probably feel pretty good about yourself. (Ha, sorry, that's actually not guaranteed at all by the results of this study, I just didn't want this post to be a total downer.)

Commentarium (5 Comments)

Mar 28 11 - 10:04am

I regret falling in love with someone with bipolar.

Mar 28 11 - 11:30am

this actually makes very little sense to me. If romantic regret is the highest, but self regret is the lowest, doesn't that just mean we're all blaming the other person for messing it all up?

Mar 28 11 - 11:49am

The chart actually just represents what respondents picked as their largest source of regret, kindaawk. For all we know, everyone could have put "self" in the number two slot. (Which would be depressing, wouldn't it?)

Mar 28 11 - 4:16pm

Yeah, I immediately read that to mean that people regret who they have chosen as a romantic partner. Then, I read the positive spin about it meaning regret over not going after a love, and it feels whimsical and more bittersweet, instead of the respondents angrily checking off "love" and muttering under their breath about their spouse. Because that is just my biggest fear... marrying my boyfriend and staring at him over a pancake breakfast 30 years from now and feeling like his chewing is ruining my life.

Mar 30 11 - 3:27pm
Quizzical mama

The study's findings reminds me of what I've found in my research comparing attitudes to love and sex among Americans and Scandinavians. Basically, the inflated principle of love for life in the US puts more pressure on relationships and this is making women in particular feel more vulnerable and concerned about whether or not their partner really cares about her. I write more about this in an essay I'm working on based on a talk I gave it: