Breakups – The Visual Miscellaneum

Did you know that the most likely day of the year to be broken up with is the first Monday in December? Perhaps some combination of seasonal affect disorder and a case of the Mondays has warped the idea of you meeting their family over the holidays into something horrid. Consequently, Christmas Day is the least likely day of breakups. If you make it through spring cleaning, watch out for April. April fools, we're breaking up! No, really...

Series of infographics exploring the sour end of relationships. I flexed a little data junkie muscle to research and produce these graphics while working with David McCandless on The Visual Miscellanem (Nov 2009). I hope that by making the big picture of how we breakup more clear, we can take comfort in just how special the relationships that last truly are.

This graph measures the frequency of the words "breakup" or "broken up" out of all Facebook status updates on each day. Since it measures frequency, and not total number, it is not affected by the number of updates per day or the growth of Facebook. This information was obtained by the publicly accessible, now defunct, Facebook Lexicon.

Breakup methods

No surprise here, compared to people born before 1975, people born after 1984 are twice as likely to breakup via the digital world, twice as likely to breakup over the phone and far less likely to decide to talk it out over coffee.

This information was collected using the publicly accessible, now defunct, polling app on Facebook, on which the question was asked to single members: "How did you end your last relationship"

Collected from public tweets on Twitter which contained the phrase "We broke up because," it's clear that the reasons we part are quite varied, ranging from serious to bizarre.

All good things must end

Between the Durex global sex survey, Facebook polls and recent US Census, we can get a good sense of why it all comes to an end. There are many opportunities for failure with 3 million first dates every day worldwide.

It turns out that sex is pretty important as 56% of adults claim to be unhappy with their sex life and 22% of married people worldwide have had an extramarital affair. Turkey has the highest rate of affairs with 58% of married people, and Israel the lowest with 7%. Cheating is one of the most popular reasons for breaking up with 25% of women and 18% of men reporting it as the reason for their last relationship's end.

Many find success as 2.5 million per year vow "Till death do we part," albeit nearly half will break that vow. 5.4% of adults, for better or worse die having never married.

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November 2008