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Dangerous Liaisons

Are Your Divorced Friends Bad For Your Marriage?

We already know we're lemming-like creatures when it comes to finding people attractive. If you can believe it, our impressionability extends even deeper than liking someone who's popular: Research shows we also are more likely to divorce if our friends and family have done so. In other words, divorce is contagious.

James H. Fowler, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, conducted a study researching the infectious spread of divorce and whether or not friends, family members and peers influence the likelihood of divorce in fellow couples. The results are nothing short of amazing, if not slightly depressing as well.

According to Fowler's study, if you have a divorced friend, the chance that you will get divorced as well increases by 147 percent. On the other hand, if you remain friends with happily married couples, your marriage is less likely to be in any kind of danger. ...Read More

Unhappily, divorce may also run in the family. If, for instance, a sibling gets divorced, you are 22 percent more likely to end up divorced yourself. In Fowler's own words, "You get a virus and you're more likely to spread the symptoms to someone else. This is not just true for a virus. This is true for a lot of social behaviors."

As with any study, these results don't equate to cold, hard fact. Fowler's research is based entirely on the personal accounts of 5,000 people, though his conclusions are backed by marriage counselors who have personally witnessed the domino effect divorce can have on couples.

So the question becomes: What should couples with divorced friends and siblings do? Take extra precaution not to fall into groupthink based on their experiences? Avoid them altogether? No word yet on a divorce vaccine.

  • Your friends' relationships may influence your own.

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Dangerous Liaisons
Are Your Divorced Friends Bad For Your Marriage?
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