Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Melanie Laliker

Degree Award Date

Spring 2006


Post-Dissolutional, Phenomena, Breakup Narratives, disengagement strategies, attachment, post-dissolutional relationships, communication, facework, recovery, interviews


Family, Life Course, and Society | Sociology


Romantic relationships are some of the most important relationships in people's lives. They can be a great source of happiness, satisfaction, or even sense of meaning in life. Not all romantic relationships will stand the test of time, however. "The breaking up of a relationship is a phenomenon known to most and dreaded by all. It accounts for some of our most intense and painful social experiences" (Baxter, 1992, p. 233). For many, the breakup is only the beginning of a long process of coping with the pain and learning to let go of their terminated relationship. Since the termination of a romantic relationship is often a significant event for an individual, it is important to study what happens after the relationship has ended in order to understand how a breakup can affect people after the romantic relationship ends.

Seeing as it is likely that most everyone will deal with a breakup in their lifetime, and many will go through the termination process multiple times, breakups are one of the relational experiences that transfer to many different people across the spectrum. The universal nature of the romantic breakup makes it a likely and deserving subject for study. However, research that focuses only on the breakup process that stops at the point of termination is missing a large part of the breakup. A lot can happen after the breakup has occurred - couples may try to be friends, attempts may be made to repair the relationship, and eventually most people learn to cope and move on. Still, with so much happening in the post-dissolutional phase, research in this area is noticeably less than research dealing with relational termination processes. Much can be learned about the post-breakup experience by looking at the breakup narrative, the personal account of how the breakup occurred and what has happened since. The purpose of the study is to analyze breakup narratives and explore possible relationships and trends between disengagement strategies, attachment, post-dissolutional relationships and communication, facework, and recovery.