Wondering if a man or woman is more likely to leave a relationship? The research is pretty clear about whether men or women are more likely to leave a bad relationship first. Data shows that women are more likely to end a bad relationship first, and are the initiators in about 2/3’s of divorces (Braver, Whitley, and Ng 1994).

Let’s explore why women are more likely to leave than men

1) Men are less sensitive to relationship problems than women

Men are less likely to notice or be bothered by relationship problems. That means even if his wife has been trying to drag him to therapy, he might not see a dire need. He may feel like he has most of his basic needs met so he is not as affected by relationship strife. For a woman, who is more sensitive to relationship problems, if conflict gets to a breaking point and she does not see a willing partner, she is more likely to be disturbed and feel the urge to leave. Since he seems to have missed the boat, she is doubtful if he will ever wake up.

2) Men are more emotionally dependent on their partner

Women often have other sources of emotional support such as girlfriends, sisters, or mothers. Men are usually more dependent on their wives. That makes it much harder for men to leave. Even if the relationship is struggling, it’s easier to stay than to leave.


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What Men Want

3) Fear of change

While no one likes change, it may be harder for men. Men like their routines, their stability, and dependability. It’s easier to be in a bad relationship that is familiar than risk the unknown, including the possibility of being alone. Especially in a traditional marriage where the woman may be the homemaker who takes care of the kids, prepares meals, and does laundry. The thought of losing that caregiver is scary for men.

Men usually have a harder time coping after a divorce than women. It makes sense why being in a relationship is healthier for them than being alone. While it is not easy for women, if they initiated it, they may feel it is in their best interest and are relieved to leave the marriage. In truth, leaving a relationship may only provide temporary relief.

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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact info@themarriagerestorationproject.com or