While women are more likely than men to initiate divorces, new research reveals that women and men are just as likely to end non-marital relationships.
Both genders are equally likely to end unmarried relationships, according to a Stanford study Who wants the Breakup? Gender and Breakup in Heterosexual Couples .
Academics from Stanford University in California claim that the end of unmarried relationships are more gender neutral: men are just as likely to break up with their partners as women. This was true among couples living together and those who did not live together.
The conclusion was reached following a survey of 2,262 adults in heterosexual relationships between 2009 and this year. Researchers found that 69 per cent of divorces were initiated by women.
Before the survey, the researchers expected that the gender ratio of non-marital breakups would follow suit. This was partly because, as study author Michael Rosenfeld explained, women have been “a predominant role in initiating divorces” since the 1940s. He added that his researchers had assumed this was “an essential attribute of heterosexual relationships” but instead it turned out to be exclusive to marriage.
Dr Rosenfeld is a sociology professor at Stanford. He suggested that “marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality”. He said marriage comes with “historical baggage and expectations” of how a couple should behave.
By contrast, he added, non-marital relationships do not have such social pressures. This makes them “more flexible and therefore more adaptable” to gender equality, he said.