A new study reveals how often partners think about breaking up, and it’ll make you question everything

Are you and your significant other doomed, or are these thoughts normal? Here's what the research says

How often does your partner think about breaking up? Pictured: Couple's hands splitting apart with the beach in the background
(Image credit: Future)

As if romance isn't complicated enough, we apparently underestimate how often our partners think about breaking up. 

Considering "expirationships" are on the rise, perhaps this isn't something that should come as a shock. Maybe the "untyping" we're trying this summer isn't going according to plan. Whatever the case might be, it can definitely feel unsettling to play mind-reader and uncover your significant other's innermost thoughts. 

The scientific journal European Journal of Social Psychology (Tan et al., 2023) decided to dig into couples' craniums to see whether or not it was possible to predict when we suspect our other half is thinking about a split. Let's dive in.

How often do partners think about breaking up?

The study tackles "perceived partner dissolution considerations." Per the findings, people tend to have the ability to discern when their partner wants out. What we struggle with is just how often our other half thinks about going in separate directions. 

In an analysis in Psychology Today, Dr. Sebastian Ocklenburg, Ph.D. notes that "people tend to have a bias in seeing the long-term prospects of romantic relationships as more positive than they actually are." 

Well, that's certainly blunt and not-so-easy on the emotions! But don't panic: if you consult the 2013 book, The Normal Bar (available at Amazon), all romantic relationships experience highs and lows—it's expected. Per The Huffington Post, men and women are equally matched when it comes to thoughts about calling it quits: 37% of men compared to 33% of women. Overall, 34% of satisfied couples contemplate splits, compared to 87% of unhappy couples. 

What we're trying to say is that it's not a far-fetched thought for anyone, regardless of one's relationship status. 

An interesting point to note

Though we prefer the study that confirms kissing increases orgasms and the one that says sunshine makes you friskier, one thing we shouldn't disregard is the fact that we can, in a sense, predict things going south. 

If we have the ability to do so, that probably means we have also thought about parting ways, just like our partner has. This is proof that both parties know something is off, so a breakup might not necessarily come as a huge surprise. This sixth sense might just be an indication that it's time to reevaluate and get yourself on the proper path.

The good news

While the mere thought of splitting seems to make the hairs on the back of our necks stand up, our dating experts tend to agree that breaking up with a partner means you're on the proper track to finding what's right for you—and who's right for you. Yes, it's a challenging process, but ultimately, a necessary one. 

The best way to get over a breakup is to be a little selfish (the experts insist!) and put your needs first. That's the way to find an authentic connection. 

"Remember who you are and that endings bring you to new beginnings," dating expert Julia Bekker previously told My Imperfect Life. "There are other people out there for you to explore. Breaking up means they were not the right person for you, and now you can find the person who is."

Don't lose hope! And if you need a little encouragement or advice, we spoke to an intimacy coach about the one thing you need to do when dating this summer. Chin up, you'll be just fine!

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.