Love can envelope you in a fifth of a second as we learned from a Syracuse University study "The Neuroimaging of Love" in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. So often you meet someone and each of you thinks you have been touched by the same star. For a long while, you are walking on air. Then suddenly the euphoria subsides. It can be for a myriad of reasons ranging from internal stress to outside factors. In terms of outside factors, relationship harmony took a dive during this past election season continues to do so.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 6,426 people, taken from Dec. 27 to Jan. 18, [released in February] shows "the number of respondents who argued with family and friends over politics jumped 6 percentage points from a pre-election poll at the height of the campaign in October, up to 39 percent from 33 percent." (Reuters Relationship Poll.)
Even after you fall from Cloud Nine and slip into feelings of annoyance, impatience, and anger you might still have a chance at saving your relationship. If you let negative feelings simmer into hate it may be too late for making up. However, breaking up is hard to do. Here are seven thoughts to keep in mind during a relationship struggle.
Half of all marriages still end in divorce
Despite the number of trips to the altar over the past 10 years, the divorce rate has remained consistent. Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce according to recent figures from the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC:
- Number of marriages: 2,140, 272 (49 reporting States and D.C.); that is, 6.9 per 1,000 total population
- Number of divorces: 813,862 (45 reporting States and D.C.); that is 3.2 per 1,000 total population
Be aware that when unmarried couples break-up, it is still distressful
Even couples in a committed relationship, who are not married, can experience heartbreak when their relationship ends. In the Journal of Family Psychology, a report focused on those in unmarried relationships: “Breaking Up is Hard to do: The Impact of Unmarried Relationship Dissolution on Mental Health and Life Satisfaction.”
This study was the first to examine the impact of unmarried relationship break-up on psychological distress and life satisfaction using a within-subjects design. Among unmarried 18 to 35 year olds (N = 1295), 36.5 percent had one or more break-ups over a 20-month period. Experiencing a break-up was associated with an increase in psychological distress and a decline in life satisfaction (from pre- to post-dissolution). Breaking up is Hard to Do
Try to save your relationship with calm discussion
If you feel that your relationship is in trouble and you would like to be able to save it:, here are some thoughts to consider.
Follow a process so that you can recover and be accepting
If it looks as if reconciliation is out of the question, you might find yourself crying uncontrollably or falling into depression. You can find yourself on a positive path by trying the following:
Be wary of asking friends for advice
Sometimes we feel the need to talk with all of our friends—poll them even—to ask for advice. But keep in mind that advice oftentimes comes in three wrappers and each carries an inherent danger.
In the case of love advice, it takes a bit of confidence and clear thinking to sort out advice that is valid from advice that is self-serving. The first love advice rule is to consider the source! Doing so will spare you the anxiety of wondering if you are making a thoughtful decision.
If you are doing the breaking up, end with dignity and move on
If you are the one saying, "good bye" trust your breaking up instincts. In a completely rational way ask yourself, “If he was breaking up with me, what are the words that I would want to hear?" And extend the same kindness even if you have been betrayed.
Look ahead to love again
Take a chance on rebound love
In fact new research indicates that perhaps rebound love might be more helpful than harmful, as had been previously thought. We have often read that the rebound relationships rarely last. Shimek and Bello (2014) tell us that after a serious romantic relationship ends, “some individuals employ and find relief in superficial or noncommittal rebound relationships, which act as a means for coping with the loss of the previous relationship and the severed emotional attachment to an ex-partner. . . .”
However, going into a rebound relationship may not necessarily indicate superficiality. Before doing so it is advisable to sift through and resolve issues from the previous relationship, access the factors leading up to a breakup, and acknowledge the positive aspects shared.
Brumbaugh and Farley (2015) determined from two studies that there may be some benefit in rebound love:
“Analyses indicated that people in new relationships were more confident in their desirability and had more resolution over their ex-partner. Among those in new relationships, the speed with which they began their relationship was associated with greater psychological and relational health. Overall, these findings suggest that rebound relationships may be more beneficial than typically believed.”
In essence, rebound love may be just what the doctor ordered. Keep yourself open to infatuation and love at first sight. And if it is too soon for another love relationship, be open to the friendly hug of someone who is warm and loving.
Copyright 2017 Rita Watson
Brumbaugh, C.C. and Fraley, R.C., Too fast, too soon? (2014) An empirical investigation into rebound relationships," The Journal of Social Relationships.
Lewandowski, G. (2009). Promoting positive emotions following relationship dissolution through writing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 21-31
Shimek, C. and Bello. R. (2014) Coping with Break-Ups: Rebound Relationships and Gender Socialization, Social Sciences, Special Edition.