Breakdown of relationships


HideShow resource information

Reasons for breakdown

Duck 1999 Lack of skills Lack of stimulation Maintenance difficulties: long distance reln Pre-existing doom: granny marries toyboy Mechanical failure: just can’t live together Sudden death: immediate end

1 of 15

Risk factors for breakups

Young couples Lower socio-economic groups Lower educational levels Different demographic backgrounds Lots of previous sexual partners Parents getting divorced when you are young

2 of 15

Rollie & Duck’s (2006) model of relationship break


This is a stage model It describes the stages which people go through when they realise that they are unhappy in their relationship And outlines how they terminate the relationship It begins with one partner realising that they are not happy This could be for a number of reasons (eg. inequity, boredom, communication problems, infidelity)

3 of 15

Intrapsychic processes

The focus of the person’s attention during this stage of breakdown is inward They think a great deal about the relationship and what they are dissatisfied with For some people this involves rumination The person considers the costs of ending the relationship, and the possible rewards This includes thinking about possible alternative partners This phase is accompanied by social withdrawal Nothing is said to the partner at this stage although hints and indirect communication (ie. lack of interest in sex) may convey dissatisfaction At this point some people will end the relationship without discussing or saying what they are unhappy about

4 of 15

Dyadic processes

In this phase the dissatisfied person confronts their partner and explains why they are unhappy The couple discuss their feelings and discuss the future There may be some uncertainty at this point Discussions can be quite angry with hostility and resentment communicated The couple reassess their goals and the various options, and review their commitment At this stage the relationship can be saved if it is re-negotiated The partners involve other people (eg. friends, family, colleagues) either for advice or support The relationship may be terminated at this point

5 of 15

Social processes


At this stage most of the dissatisfied partner’s close social network are made aware of the situation, either that the relationship has been dissolved or that it is in trouble This continues to be for advice and support Some of this can be helpful, for example where friends and family suggest talking and trying to work things out  It can also be unhelpful if friends and family take sides, criticise and lay blame, and this can speed up the dissolution of the relationship One or both of the partners may start to denigrate the other to others

6 of 15

Grave dressing processes

 At this stage both partners start to justify their actions, and their dissatisfaction

They attempt to put themselves forward in a positive light without making the initial attraction, and decision to form a relationship, seem illogical Sometimes this involve a reinterpretation of the partner’s characteristics and qualities Both partners reflect on what happened, who was to blame, and decide on how they wish to view and communicate the reasons for the breakup to other people Different people may be given different versions of what happened in an attempt to gain sympathy and support, and to save face The partners may suggest that they are pleased that the relationship is over, and that they have moved on, before they actually have .

7 of 15

Resurrection processes


At this stage both partners start to prepare themselves for new relationships They may redefine themselves They may also build on the mistakes that have been made in the previous relationship They may also review the sort of relationship they want in the future Partners attempt to re-establish their own individual sense of identity and self- esteem

8 of 15

Evaluation and commentary on research


Cultural bias in the theory Would arranged marriages go through this process? Gender differences in reasons and speed? Individual differences in reasons and speed? Ideas can be used in couple counselling Research is socially sensitive and subject to biases so may not have high validity or reliability Ethics of talking to someone going through a breakup Do all relationships go through the same stages when breaking up?

9 of 15

Research limited by a number of issues Do people change their behaviour because they are being watched, or asked to reflect on their relationship? Data may be gathered retrospectively Model is descriptive rather than explanatory so important to consider reasons for breakdown Is an alternative to economic explanations for breakup

10 of 15

Research support

Tashiro & Frazier 2003 undergraduate students surveyed and reported going through some of these stages.

11 of 15


Duck's model views breakdown as a process that goes through a number of stages. This is a more realistic view of relationships It gives insight into possible effective techniques to repairing the relationship depending upon the phase. E.g. in the intrapsychic phase the partner could try and focus on the positives rather than the negatives. It allows problems to be indentified at intervention to occur – at the social stage

12 of 15


Weaknesses It focuses on the processes involved after the relationship has ended – doesn’t identify why the relationship broke down. He doesn’t mention the impact or experience a person may go through as a result of their relationship breakdown

13 of 15

Lee’s 1984 model of relationship dissolution

Also a stage model Studied 112 romantic breakups Stage 1: Dissatisfaction. One partner becomes dissatisfied. Stage 2: Exposure. Tells the other Stage 3: Negotiation. They talk Stage 4: Resolution. Try to resolve Stage 5: termination. Give up

14 of 15

Lee suggested

Not all relationships go through all stages Stages 2 & 3 most exhausting Could go from dissatisfaction to termination of you walk out Longer the process, more upsetting it is

15 of 15



This helped me a lot 

Thankyou :D

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Relationships resources »