Predictors of relationship dissolution among same-sex and heterosexual couples

By Kimberly F. Balsam, Esther D. Rothblum and Robert Wickham
March 2018

A new study examining the predictors of relationship termination in same-sex and married heterosexual couples found that male-male couples were the least likely to break up. In addition, women in same-sex relationships were twice as likely as men in same-sex couples and 1.5 times as likely as heterosexual couples to have ended their relationships.

The study, which followed 515 couples in Vermont from 2002 to 2014, identified factors that predicted whether a relationship would end, including the following:

  • For female-female couples,
    • Each added year of relationship length reduced the odds of a breakup by 13%;
    • Each year of age lowered the likelihood of a breakup by 4%;
    • Each year of increase in education reduced the odds by 16%;
    • Each unit of increase in relationship quality reduced the likelihood by 82%.
  • When looking at all couple types together,
    • Each year of relationship length reduced the odds of a breakup by 9%.
    • Each additional year of age lowered the likelihood of a breakup by 2%.
    • Each unit of increase in relationship quality reduced the risk by 61%.
  • There were no differences in dissolution rates between same-sex couples who had legalized their relationship and those who had not.
  • For all groups, lower income and whether or not couples had children did not affect the odds of a relationship ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the press release

Link to published article

To request a copy of the study, please email williamsinstitute@law.ucla.edu.

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