National survey asks who breaks up
with who, and why
by Janet Jacobsen
Recently American Demographics magazine polled a nationally representative
sample of 3000 adults via the Internet to find out what goes on when couples
break up. They found that 59% of those age 18 to 35 had recently experienced
a breakup, compared to 31% for those 35-54 and 12% of folks 55 and older.
While half (51%) of women say they ended the relationship, just 32% of
men say the breakup was the womans idea. Among the guys, 29% say
they were the ones who ended the romance, and 38% say the breakup was
mutual (compared to 28% of women).
Infidelity was at the root of the split, according to 30% of women and
28% of men. It was the most common reason given by women; women also cite
commitment problems (27%), lack of passion (17%), and physical
or emotional abuse (25%). (More than one reason could be given.) Growing
apart was mentioned by 29% of women, but was the most prevalent
cause for men (40%).
Men may ease out of relationships
Why the difference in perception of who is breaking up with who? One reason
may be a technique that some males use in the belief that it allows the
woman to save face. (Women do this too, but in my observation, men use
Having decided that the relationship isnt working (for whatever
reason), the man will begin behaving badly. He calls less,
breaks dates, shows up late, and becomes generally such a lousy boyfriend
that the woman finally ends the relationship. This would explain why he
is more likely than she is to see the breakup as mutual -
he knows they both wanted out, but she doesnt.
Getting over it
The poll also asked what strategies people used to heal their broken hearts.
While women were more likely to use multiple strategies, the top three
approaches were employed by both sexes. The most common choice for men
- date someone else - was third among women. Women were most likely to
call friends or family (second choice among men). Rent movies/watch tv
ranked second for women and third for men.
In the top ten list of strategies, both sexes sleep more or less than
usual, both eat more than usual, and both drink or get drunk. Mens
list also includes eating less than usual, exercise, and going on a trip.
Womens list has cleaning, going shopping, and writing in a journal.
When it came to keeping in touch with an ex, men and women of all ages
took a similar approach - about a third stayed in touch.