Unfortunately, every romantic relationship does not end happily ever after. For a myriad of reasons, after people get married the romantic love they feel towards their partners often decreases.1 As a result, those relationships could end in divorce.
To better understand how the experience of divorce affects how individuals’ think about relationships, researchers conducted a series of in-depth interviews with divorced men and women aged 21 to 63.2 The interviews focused on how divorcees interpreted their experiences and used them to redefine how they approached intimacy in their (new) post-divorce relationships. Analysis of the interviews indicated a primary theme of post-divorce relationships was the view of intimacy based on equal friendship, respect for individual differences, and each person having a sense of self-sufficiency.
Specifically, individuals should maintain a sense of independence in terms of their interests and activities, personal goals, and finances. For these post-divorce unions, rather than embracing the idea of “two becoming one,” the new perspective focused more on a collaboration between two individuals with ample respect for both individuals’ identities. In addition, participants expressed a desire to have better conflict resolution, more expressive communication in their relationships, and participation in more shared activities.
Participants largely based these perspectives or goals for current and future relationships on perceptions of what their previous relationships lacked as well as what was responsible for the prior marital relationship ending. Overall, the analysis of the interviews revealed a common perspective of viewing divorce as a catalyst for reinterpretation of relationships that provides a new context for future relationships to thrive.
The analysis also indicated that although people had different levels of optimism about their ability to find new relationships, the process of purposefully analyzing the previous relationship allowed most to find new romantic relationship partners following their divorce. For those who are ready to get back out there and start dating, sites like Mature Dating specialize in helping singles over 40 find the match that is right for them.
1Sprecher, S., & Regan, P. (1998). Passionate and companionate love in courting and young married couples. Sociological Inquiry, 68, 163-185.
2Schneller, D. P., & Arditti, J. A. (2004). After the breakup: Interpreting divorce and rethinking intimacy. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 42(1-2), 1-37. doi:10.1300/J087v42n01_01
Dr. Gary Lewandowski – Science of Relationships articles | Website
Dr. Lewandowski’s research explores the self’s role in romantic relationships focusing on attraction, relationship initiation, love, infidelity, relationship maintenance, and break-up. Recognized as one of the Princeton Review’s Top 300 Professors, he has also authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences.