Romantic relationship dissolution and health outcomes



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The purpose of this study was to test the prospective association between perceived social support and mental and physical health outcomes following a romantic breakup. Additionally, I tested whether an individual’s dependence on his or her partner prior to their relationships’ termination moderated the degree to which perceived social support buffered individuals from negative health outcomes following romantic relationship dissolution. I drew on an extant dataset that included 97 individuals who experienced a romantic breakup at some point during the study’s 9-month duration. All participants completed baseline measures of mental and physical health as well as perceived social support during the first six months of their romantic relationships. They also completed measures of romantic relationship dependence every two weeks up until reporting their relationship’s termination. Upon breakup, participants completed assessments of mental and physical health. Consistent with the limited research documenting a prospective link between perceived social support and mental health (and study hypothesis), social support and relationship dependence interacted to predict mental health following a breakup (controlling for baseline mental health, sex, and breakup initiator status). Results are discussed in the context of the broader social support literature and a framework for future studies on this topic is provided.