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Couples Divorcing Vicariously Through Movies, Books, and TV

Couples Can Divorce Vicariously Through Pop Culture

Divorce is everywhere these days, from celebrity breakups like Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren to even longtime married Al and Tipper Gore. Group the real-life divorces with the popular TV shows, movies, and books centering on marital breakups — Mad Men and Eat Pray Love are two current biggies — and we've got a full-fledged "divorce porn" epidemic.

A recent New York Times article points out that with the divorce rate actually dropping in the US (at a 30-year low, in fact), couples are getting their divorce kicks vicariously through others, instead of actually breaking up. (This goes against the study that claims divorce is contagious. Maybe it's different when you know the couples personally?)

In the article, best-selling romance novelist Nora Roberts gives her two cents on the phenomenon:

"Love has power, which is one of the reasons we’re interested when it screws up . . . There's much more drama in the conflict. When a relationship is falling apart, the reader or viewer is going to sympathize more with the character that's going through it."

Does watching other people go through divorce discourage you from doing it yourself? Or did you have a different experience?

Join The Conversation
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I feel sad if we're living vicariously through fictional television characters and listening to Nora Roberts. Sigh. Maybe we should all turn the tube off once in awhile and remember that we're real people.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I agree with totygoliguez and vabeachbum. Not only is it expensive to go through a divorce (especially if it's contested -- court fees and attorney fees add up quickly), it's more expensive for two people to live seperately than apart. In Maryland, to be granted a divorce based on a voluntary seperation, the couple needs to be living seperate and apart for one year -- and many people cannot afford to pay rent/ mortgage on their own right now.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
I'm not married so I can't really give much personal insight, though I would like to say, taking relationship advice from Nora Roberts? That woman is an idiot and her entire writing career is a joke. Her idea of a relationship: you meet Mr Perfect, have wildly passionate UNPROTECTED sex with him within a day or two of meeting him, have a minor fall out with him, then he shows up at your door begging forgiveness and you get married and live happily ever after. That's not real life. SUPPORT SAFE SEX AND REALISTIC RELATIONSHIP EXPECTATIONS! BOYCOTT NORA ROBERTS!
chequettex chequettex 7 years
It's also going down because fewer people are actually getting married to begin with, and just living together instead. Or at least they are waiting much longer to get married, and their "lifespan post nuptials" is shorter, giving them less time to divorce.
vabeachbum vabeachbum 7 years
I think its going down because of the expense and the state of the economy. If you have been out of work for a few months and don't have money, you might be taking a second look at your relationship and communicating better to figure out what is not working instead of just saying "oh well, let's just get divorced." I realize the decision to divorce is a complicated and often painful one but I really think the economy has played a factor. One of my friends sold his house, bankrupted his retirement, sold a bunch of his possessions and STILL owed the lawyer money. When it comes to that vs. trying to work things out I think most of us would try to work things out first.
bransugar79 bransugar79 7 years
Maybe the divorce rate is lower because people are taking the time to figure out what they want and what works for them and finding a partner that can meet those needs. I don't really think people are staying together because it's easier to live out their divorce fantasies through pop culture.
Studio16 Studio16 7 years
While it's awesome that the divorce rate is decreasing (I think divorce is really just a temporary fix unless one spouse is being abused or cheated on), I can't decide which is worse: a. That some couples are "divorcing vicariously" b. That some couples are divorcing vicariously through Betty and Don Draper.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I think the economy is playing a big factor on the divorce rate. People don't have the money to pay for a divorce.
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