The emotional sequelae of nonmarital relationship dissolution: Analysis of change and intraindividual variability over time

David A Sbarra, Robert E. Emery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

91 Scopus citations


This paper examined the emotional sequelae of nonmarital relationship dissolution among 58 young adults. Participants were recruited while in a serious dating relationship, and when it ended, were signaled randomly with beepers for 28 days to complete an emotions diary. Compared to participants in intact dating relationships, dissolution participants reported more emotional volatility, especially immediately following the breakup. Multilevel growth modeling showed a linear decline in love and curvilinear patterns for sadness, anger, and relief. Contact with a former partner slowed the decline for love and sadness, and attachment style and the impact of the breakup predicted the emotional start-points and rate(s) of change over time. The results are discussed in terms of the functional role of postrelationship emotions as well as the importance of understanding patterns of intraindividual variability and differential predictors of emotional change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-232
Number of pages20
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Psychology

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