Break-ups Are More Painful for Men

We’ve all been through one or more break-ups, whether it was an amicable parting or a crushing, heart-breaking loss.

However, we’re about to break the stereotype that men handle break-ups better than women. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A recent study in Evolutionary Behavioural Sciences has found that men are actually more vulnerable to long-term distress following a break-up than women.

In a study of around 5,705 participants from 96 countries, it was found that whilst women experience intense pain immediately after a break-up, they get over it pretty quickly. Whereas men, on the other hand, move on quickly but remain damaged for longer. The study worked by asking participants to rate their break-ups from 0-10 (0 being none to 10 being unbreakable) in terms of emotional and physical pain. Women tended to be more negatively affected by break-ups, averaging 6.84 on emotional pain and 4.21 on physical pain, whereas men averaged 6.58 on emotional pain and 3.75 on physical pain.

Craig Morris, lead research associate at Binghamton University said:

“Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man. A brief romantic encounter could lead to nine months of pregnancy followed by many years of lactation for an ancestral woman, while the man may have ‘left the scene’ literally minutes after the encounter, with no further biological investment. It is this ‘risk’ of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate. Hence, the loss of a relationship with a high-quality mate ‘hurts’ more for a woman.”


Other interesting results include the experience of insomnia after a break-up in both men and women and the result that women experience unwanted weight changes following a break-up, but men do not. When it came to who initiated the ending of a relationship, women proved to be the instigators 39% of the time. Going further into the reasons for the break-up, surprisingly infidelity was not the top choice. “Lack of communication” was listed as the top reason for break-ups, by both men and women.

This study titled “Quantitative Sex Differences in Response to the Dissolution of a Romantic Relationship” was published in July 2015 has broken the stereotype that women are more damaged by relationships by proving that it is in fact men who are left distressed in the long-term.

Based on your personal experience, would you agree with these findings?



By Christina L.