Is this the end for ‘cuffing season’?
Autumn is traditionally a time for hooking up, when new relationships are formed at a greater rate as singles look for someone to snuggle up under the blanket with ahead of the winter months. But eharmony research suggests that may be changing, with this study, conducted in October 2023, suggesting more than one in five singles were in the middle of a break-up.
According to eharmony’s Dating Diaries report, almost a quarter (22%) of singles were going through a breakup, peaking at 34% among Gen Z.
of UK singles are experiencing a break-up
Furthermore, over half of UK singles said they were not interested in starting a new relationship. Some 55% say they want something casual or are not sure what they’re looking for at all.
When it comes to severing ties, things are complicated, and many couples spend months in on/off relationships. In fact, more than a quarter (31%) of singles knew they wanted to end their most recent relationship within the first month, yet only 24% actually ended their relationship in that time.
of people say they’re looking for something casual, or aren’t sure what they’re looking for
of singles knew they wanted to end their most recent relationship within a month of dating
of these people actually ended their relationship in that time
Reasons are varied and include lack of communication (33%) and growing apart (34%). Nearly 6 in 10 (56%) singles have been cheated on – but nearly a quarter (24%) of singles have had sex with their partner despite finding out they cheated on them.
Reasons given for ending relationships
eharmony relationship expert, Laurel House, said: “Where there has been infidelity, a partner may feel the need to reconcile with their ex to regain a sense of power and control in the relationship. For many, a past relationship offers familiarity and comfort compared to the uncertainty of meeting someone new, which can make it hard to move on.”
The process of breaking up is also far from clear cut, with few Gen Z singles explicitly spelling out the fact their relationship is over. According to the report, the most common types of rejection faced are: “Breadcrumbing” (48%), where flirty cues are sent without a real intention for commitment), not being texted back (44%) and being ghosted (36%).
Most common types of rejection
Laurel adds, “Gen Z is a no-drama generation. They tend to be easy-going and shy away from conflict but in attempting to avoid drama, choose to end relationships in ways that can be confusing for the person on the other end.”
Even after a break-up, the door isn’t always closed, with 58% of single Millennials having sex with an ex after breaking up with them. However, when things are truly over, 22% of Gen Z singles and 26% of Millennials ‘always’ scrub exes from their social media accounts.
of Millenials have sex with an ex after breaking up with them
of Millenial singles scrub their exes from socials once things are truly over
of Gen Z singles do the same, and remove exes from their social media accounts
But what makes an ex? The most commonly accepted definition among all those in relationships is anyone they’ve dated exclusively regardless of how long for (28%) – however nearly a third (32%) of Gen Z in relationships consider anyone they’ve dated for at least a month an ex, regardless of exclusivity.
It means the lines between casual flings and committed love are becoming more blurred, and as a result, more hearts are being shattered by situationships coming to an end. In fact, two-thirds of singles (65%) have had their heart broken from a short-term relationship or situationship, spiking at 76% among Gen Z. 57% of all singles found their situationship heartbreak equally or more painful as a longer, committed relationship.
It’s not all bad news though. While experiencing a breakup is nearly inevitable, three-quarters (78%) of singles have learned that they are ‘more resilient than they thought’ after a breakup. And over half (52%) of singles still believe in the concept of ‘the one’, peaking at 60% of Gen Z.