"Where do I go from here?" A grounded theory of distress, change, and personal growth following the dissolution of non-marital romantic relationships

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As the average age of first marriage increases, young adults may experience more non-marital breakups. Previous non-marital breakup research has focused on distress and negative outcomes, but has rarely examined the positive consequences or personal growth aspects of the experience. In this study, I explored the changes that undergraduate university students reported experiencing as a result of a non-marital breakup and how those changes arose. A qualitative grounded theory methodology, as outlined by Strauss and Corbin (1998), was used. Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with students who had recently experienced a non-marital breakup. From these interviews, I constructed a grounded theoretical model of change and personal growth following non-marital breakups, containing three interrelated phases: Experiencing a loss, pulling apart, and moving beyond. In this model, I assert that students may experience stress-related growth after a breakup and provide an explanation for these changes. Implications for counselling are also discussed.

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Faculty of Education - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)