Romantic Relationship Breakup

Practically everyone has experienced a romantic relationship loss during their dating years, and many people go on to experience loss in a more significant intimate relationship or marriage later in life.  Significant personal distress occurs when we experience a valued relationship breakup.  In fact many people report that relationship breakup, even while dating, is one of the most difficult experiences in their life.   Moreover relationship loss is a significant trigger for major depression.   Recently I teamed up with department colleague Dr. Lucia O’Sullivan, Canada Research Chair in Adolescent Health and Social Relations.  Together we are engaged in a series of studies on the role of dating relationship breakup in precipitating distress, depression and suicidality in young adults.  Ultimately our goal is to determine whether difficulty adjusting to dating breakup might predict a history of future depressive episodes in response to intimate relationship difficulties.  Our studies are examining a number of specific questions about relationship loss such as:

  1. what is the nature of the personal distress experienced after a dating breakup,
  2. what makes some people more vulnerable to breakup distress than others,
  3. what is the best way to cope with a serious dating breakup,
  4. do some people actually experience personal growth after a dating breakup,
  5. what is the rate of clinical depression and heightened suicide potential after a romantic relationship breakup,
  6. how can we prevent a spiral into depression and despair after a dating breakup?