What becomes of the brokenhearted: an investigation of psychological distress in university students following a romantic relationship break-up

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of New Brunswick


University students frequently engage in relationships with a romantic partner. These relationships often end after one to two years (Stanley, Rhoades & Fincham, 2011), leaving many students in distress following the dissolution. Several factors have been thought to influence the degree of distress, including the two that were the focus of this study: the quality of the relationship, and the gender of the individual who experiences the break-up. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to test three hypotheses in a sample of 141 undergraduate students from Atlantic Canada: (a) experiencing a recent romantic relationship break-up is significantly associated with mental health levels, (b) this relationship is moderated by gender, and (c) this relationship is mediated by the perceived quality of the former relationship. None of the hypotheses were supported. Furthermore, exploratory post-hoc analyses failed to find significant direct effects of gender or relationship quality on mental health. Limitations of sample size and a less than desirable measure of mental health were thought to influence the results.