Student examines failed romances

By By Jaime Winston

By Jaime Winston

Chris Fagundes is interested in all aspects of romantic relationships, especially when they end.

Fagundes, a graduate research assistant in the psychology department, is leading a study to examine the emotional trauma people experience following a breakup.

“It’s a huge transition in one’s life, such a painful transition,” he said. “The more literature I read about it, I found it’s one of the leading causes of teenage suicide. It can lead to a lot of poor mental health outcomes.”

Fagundes came up with the idea for the project during the Fall Semester of last year. Research started in the spring and now Fagundes examines the last participants to complete the study.

He wanted to conduct the study because it hadn’t been done before, he said. Fagundes discovered there are a lot of studies on coping with death or other types of losses, but not breakups.

U students who have experienced breakups were easy to find for the study, he said.

“College students are in a tumultuous time period where they are experiencing breakups all the time,” Fagundes said. “One really nice thing about this school compared to other schools is people are in very mature relationships. We have a high population of people here who are actually married, which is pretty unusual compared to most college settings.”

Fagundes said that people in the study, whose ages range from 18 to 30, have handled breakups in two different ways. Some ponder about the breakup, while others use distraction techniques to take their minds off of it. Going into the study, Fagundes assumed that people who used distraction techniques would be worse off because they might be repressing their frustration, he said.

“But those who use them are usually better off,” he said.

People who are anxious in relationships have a more difficult time with breakups than those who are not. In addition, people who avoided their partner during a relationship have a difficult time coping during the breakup. The only people who seem to be OK with a breakup are those who were completely secure with themselves during the relationship, Fagundes said.

Though the preliminary results haven’t shown any differences among male and female participants, other studies have shown that males usually are more emotionally distressed by a breakup, he said.

Susan Weiler, a senior in the psychology department, who set up appointments with the study’s participants, said that it has “been interesting to see that people who are broken up tend to be more scatter-brained and the people in relationships tend to be more on time.”

Fagundes’s advice for surviving a breakup is to not think about it often.

“Go out with friends and do other things,” he said. “It seems to work really well. So, if you have friends going through it, get them out doing other things and not just talking about the breakup.”

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