Many people in Georgia likely know someone who has gotten a divorce. If you don’t know someone directly, you may know of someone — a friend of a friend for example — who has. While you may not think that person’s divorce has anything to do with you, researchers from three universities found that it just might.

In fact, simply having an acquaintance who went through a marital split can increase your chance of divorce by more than 30 percent. If you have a divorced friend, the chance of your marriage coming to an end rises by 75 percent. Through this data, researchers have essentially found that divorce is contagious.

While the results of the study don’t necessarily apply to everyone, the findings are similar to other studies that have shown how aspects of people’s lives are influenced by their friends. Researchers said social connectedness to a divorced person was a greater influencer than geographical closeness.

Although it appears that knowing a divorced person could affect your own marriage, the opposite could also be true. Those who find ways to help friends strengthen their marriages may strengthen their own in the process.

For now, researchers hope they can use the results of the study to better understand the reasons behind the divorce rate in the United States. Close to half of all marriages in this country do not last more than 15 years, and researchers are interested in learning whether this phenomenon was created by each individual divorce or by a greater social problem.

Source: The Atlantic, “Divorce Can Be Contagious,” Alexander Abad-Santos, Oct. 21, 2013