real life

When relationship breakups are contagious.

A recent study conducted in America has concluded that divorce is contagious.  According to a CNN Report

Divorce is contagious in social networks, a new study says. The idea is based on the theory of social contagion, or the spread of behaviour or emotion through a group. In this case, the heated feelings and actions of one person’s divorce can be transferred like a virus, causing others to divorce, according to the study.

Not only can the risk of divorce spread from one couple to their friends or family, it can also affect relationships at least two degrees of separation away from the original couple splitting up.

In an article in The Daily Mail Katie Agnew writes in part


An epidemic of separation spread through my circle of friends, infecting my marriage, too.

It all started with my friend Sarah three years ago, telling me over coffee that she’d left her husband of six years.

I hadn’t seen the split coming. Yes, there were tensions  –  he was away on business a lot, she’d given up her high-flying job to be a full-time mum  –  but nothing unusual.

The group that Sarah and I spent most time with were all in our 30s, with two or three children each, having met either when we were pregnant or shortly after having our first babies.

..We loved our children very much, but as ex-career women who’d worked in London in the media or the City, we were all pretty frustrated.

I remember my favourite phrase was that my life had turned into ‘Groundhog Day’. As I changed nappies, washed clothes and made meal after unappreciated meal, I had a voice constantly in my head asking: ‘Is this it?’

But divorce had never crossed my mind. And then suddenly there was Sarah telling me that she was getting a divorce.

She looked lifted, positive, hopeful. And even though I knew that divorce was tragic and devastating  –  especially for the children  –  I admit I felt a tiny little prick of envy. Sarah wasn’t living through Groundhog Day any more. She’d jumped off the hamster wheel.

A few weeks later Marianne, 39, confessed that she, too, had separated from her husband of 12 years, who had already moved into a rented flat.

If a couple in a social circle separates, it sends ripples through the entire group. The dynamic of your world changes and everyone begins to feel unsettled.

Read the full post here


Have you ever experienced this phenomena in your group of friends?  Do you think that it would be easier to leave your relationship if your friends were regaining their single status?


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