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Women and Men: Whose More Likely to Initiate a Break Up?

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Until recently, studies had only been done on the breaks-ups of heterosexual married couples, and it had been found that the leading gender who initiated these break-ups were female.

But studies on non-marital heterosexual relationships are showing that the break-ups of non-marital relationships are in fact, gender neutral.  Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, conducted an analysis that relies on data from the 2009-2015 waves of the nationally representative How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey. He considers 2,262 adults, ages 19 to 94, who had opposite sex partners in 2009. By 2015, 371 of these people had broken up or gotten divorced.

As part of his analysis, Rosenfeld found that women initiated 69 percent of all divorces, compared to 31 percent for men. In contrast, there was not a statistically significant difference between the percentage of breakups initiated by unmarried women and men, regardless of whether they had been cohabitating with their partners. Since the 1940’s, women have been the dominant initiator of divorce. It is thought that this is because women are more sensitive to relationship problems than men.

With the feminist population growing every day, in America, it is said that many women are feeling oppressed in their marriage. Marriage has remained a steadily traditional institution, in which the man goes to work, and doesn’t have many duties around the house, or with his children. The woman’s job is to tend to such duties, and many women are feeling that this is unfair, and that both partners should have an equal share of all responsibilities. This is why many researchers believe that the break-ups of marriages are being led by women.

In a non-marital relationship, the stigma of marriage and the division or responsibilities can be altered to fit the lifestyle of the people in the relationship, without being an issue. This leads the relationship to exist outside the expectations of marriage, and take on a more modern approach, which is why the break-ups of said relationships are more gender neutral.

Read More:
Women more likely than men to initiate divorces, but not non-marital breakups — ScienceDaily. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Women and Men: Whose More Likely to Initiate a Break Up?

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). Women and Men: Whose More Likely to Initiate a Break Up?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Oct 2015
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