A recent study entitled "Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone
Else is Doing it Too: Social Network Effects on
in a Longitudinal Sample Followed for 32 Years" by social scientists
at Harvard, Brown, and UC San Diego has found that divorce is "contagious."
In this context, contagious means that if you have a sibling who has undergone
a divorce, you are 22% more likely to divorce. If you have a close friend
who has recently divorced, you are up to 75% more likely to divorce. When
you have multiple friends who divorce, the likelihood that you will divorce
increases by 146%.
The researchers compare divorce in social circles to a virus because it
spreads from one source to another, and then continues to weaken other
marriages in that social network. One divorce can affect other marriages
with two degrees of separation.
Researchers attribute the contagious nature of divorce to the mindset
that a marriage breakup is less shameful or embarrassing when couples
see that their friends have undergone it as well. Similarly, providing
support for friends or family members during a divorce can make you more
likely to divorce because you see that it is survivable, that you will
have support when you need it, and the benefits of divorce.