Breakup Statistics: How Long do Relationships last, What Breaks Them Up, and Much more

By Benjamin Jorgensen / May 21, 2014

This is by far the most comprehensive mapping of breakups ever made.

In this survey dataset there are over 1,320,000 data points from 13,866 respondents available. It is by far the largest breakup statistics ever made.

Please get in contact to get the full dataset – available for SPSS, Stata, R, & SAS.

You may use material from this report and dataset as long as you refer to this original report. For special requests, the full dataset, or questions, please email lead researcher Benjamin Jorgensen at benjamin@bedbible.com

Key breakup statistics

  • 70% of straight couples break up in the first year of their relationship.
  • 64% of Americans have gone through the breakup of a long-term relationship.
  • 41.9% of long distance relationships break up (comparable to 41.2% of marriages).
  • 58% of Americans say breakups are messy.
  • 88% of Americans believe it is always necessary to break up with someone in person.
  • 94.3% of all couples that get together break up at some point.
  • 59% of people remain Facebook friends with their ex.
  • 71% of people say they tend to think about an ex too much (74% of women, 67% of men)
  • If a couple have been together more than 10 years there is only a 14.9% chance they break up.
  • Breakups happen more often at Christmas and Valentines day.
  • 36 % of married people say that their attachment to their ex interferes with their marriage.
  • 65% of U.S. college students had broken up and then gotten back together again.
  • 37% of couples living together, and 23% of married couples have broken up and then gotten back together again
  • 10-17% of married couples separated and then got back together again, and about 40% of separated married couples attempted a reconciliation.
  • Married couples that reunite after divorce have a 72% chance of staying together for life.
  • 44% of young adults aged 17 to 24, reported breaking up and getting back together again, with 53% admitting to having sex with an ex.

How many couples break up, and don’t get back together

This first shows the overall data on break ups and how many relationships actually and in

How many couples break up, and don’t get back together%
Total94.3%
: Long term relationship63.9%
: Long distance relationships41.9%
: Marriages41.2%

Breakups become less likely with time

The below table shows the likelihood of a relationship breaking down tabulated by years the couple has been together. So, in the first year there is a 70% chance that the couple breakup after establishing themselves as a couple (short term dating is excluded).

Years togetherStraight, unmarriedSame-sex, unmarriedStraight, marriedSame-sex, marriage-like
170%76%5%
252%61%5%
334%42%5%
428%28%5%
520%21%5%
618%18%5%9%
717%15%5%8%
816%12%5%7%
915%10%4%7%
1015%10%4%6%
1114%9%4%6%
1214%8%4%5%
1313%8%4%5%
1412%7%4%5%
1512%7%4%4%
1612%6%4%4%
1711%6%4%4%
1811%6%4%4%
1911%5%4%3%
2010%5%3%3%
2110%5%3%3%
2210%5%3%3%
2310%5%3%3%
2410%5%3%2%
2510%5%3%2%
2610%5%3%2%
2711%5%3%2%
2811%5%3%2%
2912%5%2%2%
3012%5%2%2%
3112%5%2%2%
3212%5%2%2%
3312%5%2%1%
3413%6%2%1%
3513%6%2%1%
3614%2%1%
3714%1%1%
3814%1%1%
3915%1%1%
4015%1%1%

Average length of relationship before a breakup happens

In total the data shows that the average relationship lasts 2 years and 9 months.

When asking different age groups, however, the numbers are completely different.

Total18-3435-5455+
Average length  of relationship (before breakup)2 years and 9 months3 months4 years and 2 months11 years and 10 months

How are breakups – messy and dramatic, or casual and civic?

When respondents are asked about the former breakups they tend to agree that they are messy and dramatic rather than casual and civic.

The data also shows that the older the respondents the more messy and dramatic respondents believe them to have been.

Breakups tend to be …Total18-3435-5455+
… messy and dramatic58.2%52.1%60.4%63.0%
… casual and civic24.7%29.2%27.9%19.9%
… don’t know16.1%19.7%11.7%17.1%

Who breaks up most – men or women?

Who ends the relationshipWomenMen
I have broken up a relationship76%62%
I have never broken up a relationship17%33%
A former partner broke up with me67%30%
I have never been broken up with30%12%

How have you been broken up with?

How have you been broken up with?Total18-3435-5455+
In person57%41%62%66%
Phone call29%27%37%24%
Text17%34%15%3%
Letter10%9%11%9%
Email8%12%9%3%

When are breakups more likely to happen

If we dig into the dataset and look at some correlations we find that breakups are more likely to happen at certain times, on certain days, and during specific seasons and changes in the relationship.

  • Breakups are more likely to happen on a few special days
    • Valentines day
    • April fool’s day
    • Christmas day (and the two weeks leading up to it)
  • We also found that breakups happened more often on mondays compared to any other day of the week.
  • Some seasons also sparked more breakups that others
    • During the summer holiday a relatively higher proportion of couples break up.
    • During spring breakups also seemed to be on the rise.
  • Long distance relationships would seem like an obvious thing leading to a breakup, but the data actually shows that couples are more likely to break up after reuniting.

Why do breakups happen?

Through our data we were able to compile a ranked list of the top reasons respondents gave for their past breakups:

  1. When your partner starts flaunting flaws more often
  2. After intense feelings of love faints that otherwise supress activity in the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking
  3. Idolization meets reality, typical in long term relationships
  4. When reality and everyday tasks set in
  5. Communication starts lacking
  6. Lack of understanding of partners wants and needs
  7. Realizing your partner is not as generous as you used to think
  8. Pre-set limits for how long the relationship was ‘meant’ to last
  9. Lack of self-love and happiness with own person
  10. Lack of physical attraction and intimacy
  11. Money issues

What happens after a break up?

Cut all contactRemained in contact
Total37%40%
18-2954%28%
30-4436%43%
45-6432%40%
65+31%45%

Is staying in contact more beneficial or harmful

As a second step in understanding the dynamics of post-breakup relationships and getting through it respondents were asked to judge if they believed staying in contact was more beneficial or harmful for getting over the breakup.

Was staying in contact was more benificial or harmful?%
Much more benificial to stay in contact3%
somewhat more benificial to stay in contact14%
Does not help nor hurt to stay in contact28%
Somewhat more harmful to stay in contact20%
Much more harmful to stay in contact18%

The ex – thinking about them after a breakup

Respondents were also asked to think about an ex, and answer yes if they agreed with the following questions:

I think too much about my ex% that said yes
Total71%
: Singles81%
: In relationship72%
: Married60%

Most likely ways to respond to ending a relationship

Respondents were told to imagine future breakups and choose all options/reactions that they would likely have in that scenario.

How would you respond to a relationship ending?% choose this option
Delete my ex’s contact in my phone23%
Delete all photos from social media that include both my ex and me25%
Get rid of all presents my ex has given me11%
Update my relationship status on social media25%
Have a “rebound” or fling with someone else11%
Start online dating11%
Unfollow my ex on social media25%
Return possessions of theirs you have44%
Change account passwords that they may have access to45%
None of the above15%
Not sure12%

Images of your ex after a breakup

What respondents were asked more in depth about was the relationship to images of their ex.

Have you looked at images of your ex after a break up?%
No14%
Yes86%
Yes, multiple times25%
Yes, also while in new relationship/marriage14%

Hooking up with your ex after a breakup

Respondents also admitted to having sex with an ex after a breakup.

Have you had sex with your ex after breaking up?
No66%
Yes34%
Yes, Multiple times20%

Breakup etiquette

  • 88% of Americans believe it is always necessary to break up with someone in person.