Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychological Science



First Reader/Committee Chair

Campbell, Kelly


Romantic relationship dissolution (i.e., a breakup) is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Breakup initiators often encounter a range of emotions (e.g., guilt, depression, anxiety) after leaving their romantic partner. Yet, little is known about how an initiator’s unique motivations for leaving impact their breakup strategies and emotions in the aftermath. The current study examined the association between dissolution motives, breakup strategies, and experienced outcomes in 273 marital and non-marital breakup initiators. As predicted, initiators who left due to approach dissolution motives (e.g., seeking more freedom; draws to leave) experienced greater positive outcomes following a breakup; however, avoidance dissolution motives (e.g., avoiding future conflict; barriers to staying) predicted greater positive outcomes (e.g., relief, sense of control) over and above approach dissolution motives and previously considered variables (e.g., attachment anxiety/avoidance, closeness, relationship satisfaction, and reward/threat sensitivity). Contrary to predictions, approach dissolution motives were related to both direct and indirect breakup strategy use. Avoidance dissolution motives significantly predicted more indirect breakup strategy use and were unrelated to the overall use of direct breakup strategies. These results help elucidate the motivations behind breaking romantic social bonds and move researchers closer to understanding the impact of dissolution considerations on behavior and outcomes above and beyond frequently considered factors such as attachment.

Included in

Psychology Commons