What does Emotional Investment Mean in Psychology?

An asset or item used to generate money or value is referred to as an investment. This asset or good is not meant to be consumed; rather, we acquired it to generate value. In economics, the term emotional investment refers to investing based on emotions such as greed or fear. However, the term has a different meaning in psychology. Let’s have a detailed look at emotional investment from a psychological perspective.

What is Emotional Investment?

Emotional investment refers to investing your time and emotions in the hope of a long-term reward. Emotional investment goes into building, maintaining, and nourishing relationships. Relationships can’t survive or thrive without a lot of emotional investment. Remember that, by definition, every investment comes in the hope of a long-term reward. Like a financial investment, emotional investment also has a chance of going into a sinkhole. If done right, emotional investing can make us happy and more satisfied with our lives.

Why Do We Invest in Relationships?

As human beings, we can’t live alone. We help other people so that they also help us in times of crisis. For this purpose, we build numerous types of relationships. Building a relationship is the perfect example of emotional investment, especially from a psychological point of view.

We put our time, energy, enthusiasm, and emotions into building and maintaining relationships. While investing in relationships doesn’t immediately pay off, we all want to be rewarded in the long run. We want other people to reciprocate the love and affection we have invested into a relationship. If an emotional investment goes right, it’s a win-win situation for both partners. However, like any other investment, emotional investment has a fair chance of disappointing you. In this worst case scenario, you end up exhausting your energy and resources instead of multiplying them. Not only that, you feel deceived and suffer from the psychological consequences of disappointment.

What to Know Before You Make an Emotional Investment

Before you invest your emotions into a relationship, you should ask yourself a few questions.

  • Is the other person worthy of receiving your attention?
  • What if they are sociopaths or psychopaths?
  • Does the other person feel remorse?
  • Does the other person have similar feelings for you?
  • What personality traits do they have?

Before emotionally investing in a relationship, make sure you have answers to the above-mentioned questions.

When to Stay Away from Making Emotional Investments

Investing emotionally in a relationship is easier said than done. Making an emotional investment in a wrong relationship often has horrible consequences. Keep in mind the following things before you invest your time, emotions, and enthusiasm into a relationship.

If the other person doesn’t feel guilt, you should stay away from developing a relationship with them. A study has found that feeling remorse is the key thing that keeps people from deceiving. The study suggests that before trusting people, you should make sure whether they can feel remorse or not. If they don’t, they usually lack empathy.

Investing emotionally with dark personalities (Machiavellians, narcissists, psychopaths) is a dangerous act. These people don’t feel the same way as we do. Some even argue that psychopaths are born without a conscience. If a person has no conscience, they don’t even recognize your efforts. Everything you do for them is destined to be neglected or ridiculed.

Don’t invest your time and emotions into ungrateful people. This hurts you in the end.


High Ranker is a self-taught psychologist and a freelance writer. He graduated in botany and likes to describe himself as a nature lover. He spends most of his time exploring different subjects and navigating existing academic research. He has a profound interest in health sciences and issues related to scientific research. When he's not writing something, you can find him talking to random people, reading a book, or gardening at home.

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