LOVE STINKS

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So you finally found Mr. Right. At least you thought you had, until his bad habits and meddling mother convinced you otherwise. Don't fret; you're not alone. In an age when nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, and stories of high school sweethearts living happily ever after are few and far between, breakups are a simple fact of life. So rather than bow to pressure from Cupid and run a story on cooing couples, American Demographics opted to focus on the less romantic side of relationships: breaking up.

One-third (35 percent) of Americans today say they have been through a breakup at least once in the past 10 years, according to this month's exclusive survey, conducted by eNation, a service of Schaumburg, Ill.-based research firm Market Facts. To help us get the real story behind America's failed relationships, Market Facts polled a nationally representative sample of 3,000 adults via the Internet. The survey was conducted between November 14 and December 3, 2002.

The young are, in fact, restless. As you might expect, since young people are more likely to be dating, they're also more likely to have experienced a recent heartbreak. Americans under age 35 are twice as likely as those between 35 and 54, and nearly five times as likely as those 55 and older, to have split with a significant other in the past decade. In fact, 59 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 say they have recently experienced a breakup, compared with 31 percent of those between 35 and 54 and just 12 percent of those 55 and older.

So who's breaking all the hearts? Although half of women (51 percent) say they initiated their most recent split, interestingly, only 32 percent of men say their partner dumped them. Perhaps on Earth as well as on Mars, guys just interpret things differently. According to the survey, 29 percent of men say that they were the one who called it quits; an additional 38 percent say their most recent breakup was “mutually agreed upon� by both parties. Only 28 percent of women report that their most recent break was mutual.

Infidelity is the No. 1 reason cited by women when asked about the cause of their most recent breakup. In fact, almost a third of women (30 percent) who have recently had their hearts broken blame an extracurricular affair. While almost as many men (28 percent) say their last relationship ended because of an indiscretion, the No. 1 reason guys say they split with their last partner was that they simply “grew apart� (40 percent, versus 29 percent of women who say the same).

Of course, in most cases there isn't just one reason a romantic relationship goes south. We asked respondents to list as many reasons as applied for their last breakup, and commitment problems (23 percent of men, 27 percent of women) and lack of passion (23 percent of men, 17 percent of women) were near the top of the list. Women are also likely to say that physical or emotional abuse was a reason why their last relationship ended. In fact, 1 in 4 women says abuse was a factor in their most recent breakup, compared with just 10 percent of men.

Regardless of the causes of a split, saying goodbye to a special someone is rarely easy. But life does go on. For many Americans, the road to recovery includes a call to a loved one and a trip to the video store. Forty-three percent of Americans who have been through a recent breakup say they called friends or family afterward, and 29 percent say they rented movies or watched a lot of TV (multiple answers were allowed). Of course, when the sulking gets old, there are always more fun ways to mend a broken heart. According to the survey, 36 percent of adults get over an ex by dating someone new, and 22 percent drown their sorrows in a bottle of beer — or wine, gin or vodka. One in seven respondents (15 percent) says they go shopping for a dose of retail therapy, and another 10 percent go on a vacation. Sometimes saying goodbye is much easier to do from a place far, far away.

LET'S KEEP IN TOUCH

Men and women, rich and poor, young and old are all equally likely — or unlikely — to keep in touch with an ex.

DO YOU TYPICALLY KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR EX(ES)?

Yes 35%
No 66%
Due to rounding, numbers exceed 100 percent.
Source: American Demographics/Market Facts

GET OVER IT

When recovering from a breakup, men are significantly more likely than women to cope by dating someone new or getting drunk, while women find cleaning, shopping and writing in a journal to be therapeutic.

TOP 10 DIVERSIONS MEN AND WOMEN TYPICALLY CHOOSE AFTER A BREAKUP:

MEN PERCENT WOMEN PERCENT
1. Date someone else 42% 1. Call friends or family 54%
2. Call friends or family 31% 2. Rent movies watch TV 32%
3. Rent movies/watch TV 26% 3. Date someone else 31%
4. Drink or get drunk 26% 4. Clean home, apartment or car 30%
5. Sleep more than usual 22% 5. Sleep more than usual 28%
6. Eat less than usual 18% 6. Go shopping 23%
7. Sleep less than usual 17% 7. Sleep less than usual 22%
8. Exercise 13% 8. Eat more than usual 21%
9. Eat more than usual 13% 9. Write in a journal 18%
10. Go on a trip 12% 10. Drink or get drunk 18%
Source: American Demographics/Market Facts
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