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« Self-Reconstruction » After a Separation

Pascal Duret, Muriel Augustini, Marine Luminet

Research Framework: The separation of couples is a common phenomenon today. Far from being a “formality”, this test can, however, have a lasting impact on people.

Objectives: The aim is to identify the different “self-reconstruction” paths (which do not always lead to a new couple) and the factors that favour them.

Methodology: We conducted interviews on 87 people who had lived at least ten years in a relationship and who had been separated for at least two years (to allow time for the “self-reconstruction” process to operate). We conducted three interviews per subject.

Results: The effects of separation differ whether the person left or is the one to leave. The “departing” person reveals that he could not have done otherwise. The “left” person appears to be a victim but, in order to not solely define himself as such, also takes a part of the responsibility.

We were able to identify many paths of “self-reconstruction” which do not all lead to the formation of a new relationship (couple). The relations with colleagues and friends can replace a new partner. Also, a period of solitude can lead to a renunciation of the emotional commitment to love.

Conclusions: Several factors have an impact on the objectives and methods of “self-reconstruction”: the age of the children and custody’s distribution, the ghost of the “ex” when it leads to the search for an identical partner or, on the contrary for the search of the opposite, and the reason for the separation (felt as more or less legitimate).

Contribution: This article provides a better understanding of how the bygone relationship plays in the various paths of “self-reconstruction”.