Signs of impending breakup: couples use different words


  • Researchers have found that if your partner starts using words like “I” or “we” more than usual, it can be a warning sign of an impending breakup.
  • As people increasingly post about their relationships on Reddit, researchers have unprecedented insight into how breakups unfold in real time.
  • A therapist said that if you have a healthy relationship and feel a change in your partner, it is possible to overcome problems.

If your partner starts making minor changes to their word choice, a breakup could be imminent, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed messages from Reddit users about breaking up, and found that their language changed three months before their breakup and stayed that way for six months after their split.

Regardless of whether a Reddit user initiated the breakup, or was broken up with, people started using words like “I” and “we” before and after they split. The researchers said these words show users were in cognitive thinking mode – searching within and trying to process a relationship – and saw a plunge in analytical thinking.

“The fact that there are language changes before the breakup means that while people may not necessarily see the end of the relationship coming, it is already affecting their lives,” says Sarah Seraj, PhD student in psychology at L ‘ University of Texas at Austin, told Insider.

Kelly Scott, a senior therapist in New York City, found the study fascinating and said it highlights how when people talk about their relationship with others it can reveal things they are feeling subconsciously.

Read more: 10 signs someone is about to break up with you

Social media gave researchers a glimpse into how disruptions are playing out in real time

So far, research on breakups has been difficult to capture, as investigations can be intrusive and memory fades. But as more people start posting information about their relationships to social media in real time, researchers are able to get a raw glimpse into people’s relationships as they go. unfold.

“Ruptures are so essential to the human experience,” Seraj said. “But it can be difficult to study in a real context.” However, social media users leave clues and clues about how they are doing in a relationship.

In this study, researchers analyzed more than one million Reddit posts from 6,803 users one year before and one year after a breakup. They looked at the language in both the breakup conversations and the conversations on other topics.

In addition to seeing that users ‘language changed before and after a breakup, the researchers found that some users’ tongue did not return to normal six months after a breakup because they were telling a breakup story or ruminating on their language. relationship, which can make it more difficult for people to heal, according to Seraj.

In cases where users’ language has not changed for six months or more after the breakup, Seraj said this could be a sign to get professional help or to remind you that breakups take months to resolve. to finish.

What to do if your partner starts using these words

If you start to notice your partner using “I” and “we,” Seraj says it’s not clear if you can change the outcome of the relationship.

But Scott said if you hear these warning signs and are in a healthy relationship, it may be worth resolving the issue by starting a frank conversation or going into couples therapy.

“It’s definitely worth building with another person and trying to fix what’s broken,” Scott said.

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