How Reddit Posts Could Predict A Future Breakup

Can a social media platform like Reddit actually predict if your relationship is ready for a respite? A new study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the language used for up to three months prior to a breakup could be predictive of such a thing. Lead study author, doctoral student Sarah Seraj of the University of Texas, said personal pronouns such as "I" and "me" surged three months before the breakups (per CNN). 

The two-year study consisted of over 1 million posts of 6,803 Reddit users in the subreddit forum, r/BreakUps thread, and used a text processing program to study their language patterns pre- and post-break up. Not only did the study find the personal pronoun change, but also found a decrease in analytical thinking across other Reddit threads. Seraj also reports an increase in words like "think" and "should," which are processing words often used when posed with a dilemma.

Thinking about the break up before it happens

According to the research, Seraj told ScienceDaily, "It seems that even before people are aware that a breakup is going to happen, it starts to affect their lives." The language patterns not only changed prior to the break up but remained so for six months after in various Reddit forums. The study did not find a significant difference in the user being on either end of the breakup, as the language changed three months prior for both parties, respectively.

To further support this study, the research group analyzed their data with those going through an emotionally challenging time, such as divorce, and found similar language patterns. Professor of Psychology at Monmouth University Gary Lewandowski Jr. tells CNN, "There are signs you've already started to disengage from your partner weeks ahead of the time when you actually end the relationship." He goes on to say that this study, which he did not have a hand in, proves that people spend a lot of time contemplating their relationship status.