Making Sense and Moving On: The Potential for Individual and Interpersonal Growth Following Emerging Adult Breakups


This study assessed the key aspects of romantic relationship dissolution in emerging adulthood as predictors of future mental health and romantic qualities. It utilized a longitudinal, multiinformant, multimethod study of 160 participants with their romantic partners and close friends followed from ages 20–25, with a breakup assessed at age 22. Having control over initiating a breakup at age 22 predicted relative increases in peer-rated internalizing symptoms and autonomy-undermining interactions with a new partner at ages 23–25. Having a greater understanding of the reasons for a breakup predicted lower self-reported internalizing symptoms and relative decreases in partner-reported romantic conflict as well as relative increases in selfreported relationship satisfaction and peer-rated intimate relationship competence at ages 23–25. Predictions remained after accounting for numerous potential confounds including age 20–22 baseline relationship quality, social competence, internalizing symptoms, and gender. Implications for understanding links between breakup characteristics on emerging adult psychological and relationship functioning are discussed.