We are never getting back together… like ever! Characteristics of breakups among young adults

Robyn Young, BA (Psyc)

The breakup of a romantic relationship is typically a very distressing and life-changing event. This is more common in young adults, and many of them would say that a breakup is the worst event of this stage in their lives. Breakups can escalate depression, anxiety, substance abuse, as well as suicidality in young adults.

Most research looks at adults’ experiences of divorce – not young people’s breakups. We studied breakups in the past year among over 200 18 – 25 year olds.

·         Many (42%) expected their relationship to last a lifetime, while in reality, the largest
percentage (41%) of relationships only lasted a few months to under one year 

·         Peak times for breakups? The start of a school year (September) or at the start of a new calendar year (January)

·         Over half of participants reported this current breakup to be the most intense, however the longer the relationship, the more intense the breakup

·         Expecting the relationship to last longer à more severe breakup

·         No differences in reports by gender or by sexual orientation

Breakups are stressful for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other differences. It is an issue that health professionals and even loved ones (friends and family) of young adults continuously report this to be a significant issue for these people. Therefore, keeping the above information in mind, it is important for keeping things in perspective. It will get better!


See: Belu, C. F., Lee, B. H., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016). It hurts to let you go: Characteristics of romantic relationships, breakups and the aftermath. Journal of Relationship Research.