Relationship Dynamics Among Unmarried Couples: Findings from a Study of Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs
Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services (STREAMS) Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
- Communication challenges were one of the most commonly reported reasons for relationship dissolution. A substantial proportion of respondents also reported the relationship ended because of cheating or infidelity and abuse or violence. When asked to assign fault for the end of the relationship, less than half of respondents pointed to their partner’s behavior only.
- Most respondents felt good that the relationship ended; these respondents were also more likely to report that the relationship ended for reasons that indicated an unhealthy relationship.
- Overall, respondents in different types of unmarried relationships reported similar reasons for relationship dissolution; however, where they assigned fault for the relationship dissolution differed. Compared to respondents in other types of relationships, those in a steady relationship at baseline were more likely to report that neither the partner nor respondent was directly at fault. In addition, respondents who were in a steady relationship were less likely to fault their partner only, compared to engaged respondents.
- Respondents who had a child with their partner were more likely to report that the relationship ended because of abuse or violence, drug or alcohol use, financial reasons, or because the respondent or their partner was not a good parent or role model.
This report describes the findings from an analysis of relationship dissolution among unmarried adults in a variety of relationship circumstances who were part of the STREAMS evaluation. It describes how many participants in the STREAMS evaluation experienced a relationship dissolution and the characteristics of those participants. It also describes the reasons they reported for the relationship dissolution, whether respondents perceived that the end of the relationship was a positive outcome, and how the reasons for relationship dissolution and the perception of the end of the relationship as a positive outcome differed for unmarried adults in different circumstances. The report also describes the study methods and implications for HMRE programming and research.
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