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New IU study: 'How' often is more important than 'why' when describing breakups
Date:4/23/2013

acebook and then to phone."

Her results differ from other ethnographic research done elsewhere, such as in Japan and Britain, where the story often focuses on justifying why the relationship had to end. Character was the emphasis overseas, not the method.

"The American undergraduates I interviewed were not discussing their breakups in terms of the right balance of dependence, or even the kind of people who might break up," Gershon added.

"The closest an interviewee came to describing herself as a particular type of person was a woman who decided not to show anyone else the text breakup message her ex had sent her. Even this example shows that U.S. undergraduates were using the 'how' of the breakup as the narrative frame to explore what an end of the relationship might mean for them."

In many cases, the young people Gershon interviewed were looking for validation that it had been a bad breakup and the medium was crucial evidence.

In the paper, Gershon cited one example of a breakup done through a text message. "Rebecca" wanted to talk on the phone with her former boyfriend to have what she considered a "proper ending to the relationship."

"As in most of the narratives I collected, the 'how' of the breakup was the central focus of Rebecca's story," Gershon said. "This 'how' stood in for other questions that haunted Rebecca as well -- namely why her ex-boyfriend decided to break off the relationship.

"Rebecca and others did not focus on the 'why' of the breakup or the 'who' of the breakup, although this course would come up in the narratives as secondary themes," she said. "By focusing on the 'how,' she was able to avoid these often unanswerable questions -- unanswerable questions like why the breakup had happened in the first place and who really was to blame."


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Contact: George Vlahakis
vlahakis@iu.edu
812-855-0846
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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