Research says people initially feel less in control after breakups

Romantic relationships and perceptions of control are closely related; for instance, research points to a connection between perceptions of control and higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
Research says people initially feel less in control after breakups

WASHINGTON: A new analysis of individuals who experienced various types of relationship loss found that these experiences were connected with several patterns of short- and long-term sense of control following the loss.

These findings were published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Eva Asselmann of the HMU Health and Medical University in Potsdam, Germany, and Jule Specht of the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin, Germany. A greater perceived sense of personal control over one's life has been linked to better health and well-being, according to prior research.

Romantic relationships and perceptions of control are closely related; for instance, research points to a connection between perceptions of control and higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Less is understood, however, about potential connections between changes in perceived control and the end of a relationship.

Asselmann and Specht examined data from three-time points in a multi-decade study of German households to shed new light. In particular, they evaluated changes in perceived control for 1,235 people who experienced separation from their partner, 423 who divorced, and 437 whose partners passed away using yearly questionnaire results from 1994, 1995, and 1996.

According to a statistical analysis of the questionnaire's results, people who experienced separation from their partner generally reported lower levels of perceived control in the first year following the separation, which gradually increased in later years.

Younger people had more control than older people, while women were more likely than men to experience a decline in control after separation. People who lost partners reported an overall rise in perceived control during the first year after the loss, followed by a sustained increase over the year prior to the death.

However, younger people suffered more negative effects from partner death on their sense of control compared to older people. No connections between divorce and the analysis findings. Future studies are encouraged to follow people who have not yet experienced relationship loss and assess how changes in perceived control are affected by a loss. They also demand an investigation into the mechanisms underlying changes in perceived control following a loss.

The writers also said: "Our research suggests that, at least in terms of certain personality traits, people can occasionally grow from stressful experiences. Participants in our study grew more and more convinced that their actions could affect their life and future in the years following the loss of a romantic partner. Because of their experience, they were able to overcome obstacles and live independently, which helped them develop."

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