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What’s the “divorce flu” all about?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Divorce

Is the “divorce bug,” somewhat like the flu, actually contagious? According to research, it might be.

While the decision to divorce is always deeply personal, couples can be influenced by all kinds of things within their spheres of experience. As it turns out, watching a friend go through a divorce could trigger your own.

How much can someone else’s divorce affect your odds of a split?

If someone in your friend group gets a divorce, you’re 75% more likely to find yourself going through the same thing very soon. Shockingly enough, however, you don’t have to even have to have direct contact with someone for their divorce to affect you. If a friend of someone in your friend group gets a divorce, your odds of a split go up 33%.

Researchers, sociologists and others theorize that there are some very specific reasons behind this remarkable phenomenon:

  • Commiseration: When you spend a lot of time emotionally supporting your friend through a divorce, it is natural to empathize with them. In the process, you may start to think about your own relationship challenges and areas of your marriage that aren’t satisfying.
  • Normalization: If you’re the first person in your social group to get a divorce, you may feel like the odd person out. When somebody has already taken on that burden, it can create an environment where divorce seems like a more acceptable choice.
  • Comparison: Right after a divorce, it’s not uncommon for someone to experience the sense of joy and a renewed purpose in life that comes from regaining their freedom and ending the constant emotional drain of their marriage. When you see how happy they are, it can make you more keenly aware of areas of your life that are unfulfilling.

A divorce in your social circle, no matter how peripheral, can make you look harder at your own relationship. If your marriage is happy and healthy, someone else’s divorce may provoke a few discussions with your spouse about how to make sure that you never go down that road. If your marriage is stagnating or struggling, however, you could soon find yourself seeking legal guidance.