A recent study published in the journal Nature suggests that the first kiss is not always the best time to end a relationship.
“If you end a long-term relationship early on, it is often because you are not fully committed to each other,” says lead author Dr. David G. Steinberg, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Harvard University.
“Your body is really not fully responding to what you are doing with each other, so it is easier to fall in love than to remain in a relationship.”
Steinberg and his colleagues analyzed data from more than 1,400 adults in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston to find out how quickly the participants had started to get engaged and how long they were engaged before they broke up.
In the study, they compared people who were engaged and those who had broken up within a year to see which was more likely to cause them to break up: a new partner, or an old one.
“A lot of couples break up, but there is a lot of uncertainty about the long-run consequences of the break-up,” Steinberg says.
“Our study is very clear that it is the breakup that is the biggest predictor of divorce.”
If the first breakup is early in the relationship, then the relationship is much more likely, Steinberg explains.
And the longer the break up lasts, the more likely it is that you will have children, too.
“There are lots of women who end up with children after they break up with a partner,” he says.
And while he notes that a lot depends on the person who broke up, he says that “a lot of people end up divorced after their first break up.”
“What is important is that the new partners were not very committed to their partners,” he adds.
“It’s not that they were bad people or bad partners, but they didn’t really have a great relationship.”
For some couples, breaking up with the person they were living with before the break might be easier than for others.
“The people who ended up with kids after their break-ups were not the people who really wanted kids, but their partners were,” Steinback says.
So the break ups might be more of a “one-time” thing, and for some people, they may have to wait until they are in their 20s or 30s before they can have a family.
It may also be worth considering the timing of the relationship break ups.
For example, a new relationship might seem like a great time to break it up because there is plenty of time to get to know each other before it comes to a head, Steinback explains.
But if you’re not going to be able to get along, then it might be best to wait a bit longer.
“You might end up marrying your boyfriend or girlfriend in your 30s or 40s, and then you might not be able have a baby until you are in your 40s or 50s,” Steinburg says.
In other words, the breakups may have little effect on your life in the long run, but if you are a couple that is still in love, then this study may be helpful.
“I think it may be that if you were having a lot more break ups, maybe you should just wait until you’re 50,” he suggests.
“In the long term, it’s good to think about your partner as someone who has not yet come into their own, and maybe that’s a good time to start dating again.”
This article originally appeared on The Next Wires.