Data + Design Project

The When and Why of the Breakup (or What Happens When Relationships Go South)

Monday 12.30.2013 , Posted by
David McCandless Breakup Likelihood header

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As the old song says “breaking up is hard to do”… but perhaps a little insight could help us understand why it happens in the first place. Information designers David McCandless and Lee Byron teamed up to create three graphics dedicated to breakup miscellaneum – from what day of the year is the most popular breakup day (the first Monday of December), to the country with the most affairs (we’re looking at you Turkey!).

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McCandless and Byron have sourced their information from 4 vastly different locations: the US Census, Facebook polls, a Durex global sex survey, and Twitter. That should at least cover your friends and family.

Let’s kick this off with their first visualization (below), documenting the yearly trend in breakups by day. You can tell a lot about what’s happening for people, including perhaps their level of stress, just from a quick glance at this mountainous graph. While the stress of meeting your significant other’s family over Christmas might have brought about a breakup, if you actually made it to Christmas day, you’d be at the least likely time of the year for a breakup. Then things start ramping up again, but if you can make it past not-so-funny April Fools day, just watch out for Mondays. Nobody likes Mondays!

David McCandless Breakup Likelihood 1

The data duo follow this up with pie charts documenting how people chose to break up. Making it more interesting, they break this data into two charts, one for people born before 1975 and one for those born after 1984. The cultural shift in methods is striking – it looks like “in person” is getting a bit old fashioned.

David McCandless Breakup Likelihood 2

Everything must come to the end. With over 3 million first dates worldwide every day, there are bound to be a few breakups. This graphic looks at what happens after that first date or hookup – from breaking up because someone isn’t attracted, to ending life having never married. It can be a rough road, but perhaps these graphics will help us all to live and love more consciously.

Click here or the graphic below for a larger view:

David McCandless Breakup Likelihood 3

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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