Breakups Before Marriage: The End of 103 Affairs


C. T. Hill, Department of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.


Factors that predicted breakups before marriage, investigated as part of a two-year study of dating relationships among college students, included unequal involvement in the relationship (as suggested by exchange theory) and discrepant age, educational aspirations, intelligence, and physical attractiveness (as suggested by filtering models). The timing of breakups was highly related to the school calendar, pointing to the importance of external factors in structuring breakups. The desire to break up was seldom mutual; women were more likely than men to perceive problems in premarital relationships and somewhat more likely to be the ones to precipitate the breakups. Findings are discussed in terms of their relevance for the process of mate selection and their implications for marital breakup. (“The best divorce is the one you get before you get married.”)