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.

The Veiled Truth of Ex-Partner Stalking: Social and Legal Implications

Jeff Forshay

Perceptions of stalking and its realities do not go hand in hand. Ex-partners are much more likely to be guilty of stalking than are stranger, and consequences tend to be more severe.1,2

(James & Farnham, 2003, Rosenfeld & Lewis, 2005, etc.). These findings stand in stark contrast to perceptions of stalking behaviour found by Scott, Lloyd, & Gavin (2010).

Participants in one study were given a vignette in which a girl is being harassed by either a stranger, an acquaintance, or an ex-partner. Participants were asked: “To what extent do you consider the behaviour stalking”, “Do you think police intervention is necessary…” and “To what extent is the victim responsible for encouraging the behaviour”.

·       Compared to stalking by ex-partner & acquaintances, participants were much more likely to label the strangers behaviour as stalking, that police intervention was more necessary, and that the behaviour posed greater risks of harm

·       They also thought that the victim was less responsible for encouraging the stranger’s behaviour

Stalking by ex-partners may be taken less seriously as a whole—even though it’s usually more damaging.

In many western countries anti-stalking laws are quite vague and subjective. They rely heavily on the apparent severity of the situation and assumed intent of the perpetrator

A study of 167 stalking cases in the UK found that almost half (41%) of them were thrown out when the perpetrator was an ex-partner, compared to none when the perpetrator was a stranger.4 (Harris, 2000).

Police officers were also much less likely to even consider bringing up stalking-related charges when ex-partners were involved, labeling them as “domestic issues.”5                

Bottom line:  Ex-partners pose an even greater threat to the well-being of the victim then do strangers, and it is long past time that our societal and judicial attitudes reflect this.


1James, D. V., & Farnham, F. R. (2003). Stalking and serious violence. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 31, 432-439.

2Rosenfeld, B., & Lewis, C. (2005). Assessing violence risk in stalking cases: A regression tree approach. Law and Human Behavior, 29, 343-357.

3Scott, A., Lloyd, R., & Gavin, J. (January 01, 2010). The Influence of Prior Relationship on Perceptions of Stalking in the United Kingdom and Australia. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37, 11, 1185-1194.

4Harris, J. (2000). An evaluation of the use and effectiveness of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (Home Office Research Study 203). London, UK: Home Office.      

5Pathé, M., Mullen, P. E., & Purcell, R. (2000). Same-gender stalking. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 28, 191-197.