Divorce is a synthesis of factors, making it difficult to pinpoint what caused it. So, you try to reassure yourself that you still made the final choice of your own accord. However, a Social Science Research Network (SSRN) study shows that having a divorced friend significantly affects the likelihood that you also become divorced.
SSRN’s findings reveal that the odds of divorce increase by 75% if you have someone in your immediate social circles who has already ended their marriage, extending until your friends’ friends by 33%.
The researchers refer to this phenomenon as “social contagion.” Following the epidemic analogy, it is a behavioral pattern spreading across your social networks. However, the research claims that isolating or staying away from your divorced friends may not be the simple cure. In fact, as much as they can promote divorce in your life, they can also inhibit it.
To better demonstrate the association between your and your divorced friend’s marital status, the study elaborates on “divorce clustering” or how divorce tends to unfold in groups among social networks.
Identifying divorce clustering processes
The SSRN study lists the following attributes to explain the link between your friend’s current divorce and your potential divorce:
- Influence: The weight of your friendship managing to control your decisions
- Homophily: The attraction or tendency to form a bond with your friend as you have similar characteristics
- Confounding: The shared experience of exposure to other issues beyond your personal lives, like the country’s economic standing
The social analysis also explored other possible considerations. For example, even if your friend lives in another state or country, you may still receive the same impact as when you reside next to each other. It concludes that the dominant practices in your social networks hold more power than geographical distance.
Critics argue that the social study needs further discussion. They contend that divorce involves life-altering decisions requiring an extensive evaluation to simply deduce that a person can be that impressionable and allow their situation to mimic their friend’s circumstances.
Taking what resonates
While your friend’s divorce may be unfortunate, it does not necessarily mean you must contemplate being in the same position. Instead, you can take the study as a guide to help them endure as you also learn from their experience. But if you are already in the middle of a divorce, your legal representative can help you process issues and establish other elements that might have triggered the divorce.