University Students' Experiences of Nonmarital Breakups: A Grounded Theory

Prior nonmarital breakup research has been focused on negative outcomes, rarely examining the personal growth aspects of this experience. In this study, we used a qualitative grounded theory methodology to explore the changes that university students reported experiencing as a result of a heterosexual nonmarital breakup and how those changes arose. From the participant accounts, we constructed a grounded theoretical model that conceptualizes and explains change and personal growth following nonmarital breakups. In this model, we assert that students may experience stress-related growth after a breakup and we provide a framework for explaining these changes. Implications for counseling are discussed.