Who am i without you? the influence of romantic breakup on the self-concept

Erica B. Slotter, Wendi L. Gardner, Eli J. Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Romantic relationships alter the selves of the individuals within them. Partners develop shared friends and activities and even overlapping self-concepts. This intertwining of selves may leave individuals' self-concepts vulnerable to change if the relationship ends. The current research examines several different types of self-concept change that could occur after a breakup and their relation to emotional distress. Across three studies, using varied methodologies, the authors examined change in both the content (Study 1a and 1b) and the structure of the self-concept, specifically, reduced self-concept clarity (Studies 1 through 3). As predicted, individuals experienced self-concept content change and reduced self-concept clarity post-breakup. Additionally, reduced clarity uniquely predicted post-breakup emotional distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Breakup
  • Emotional distress
  • Romantic relationships
  • Self-concept clarity
  • Self/identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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