Here’s How Men and Women Differ When a Relationship Fails

Whether the signs are crystal clear, breakups usually come with a whole host of ups and downs. You’re physically exhausted, mentally drained, and can’t seem to get that once perfect lover off your mind. Lover’s quarrels are nothing new, and it’s no surprise each person has his or her own way of dealing with a breakup. Do you feel like a woman scorned? Or are you happy you’ve dodged a bullet and bid adieu to your partner? After all, there are two sides to every story.

Regardless of what sparked the beginning of the end in the first place, men and women often deal with, and react differently to breakups in a myriad of ways. Individual personalities, behaviors, and emotional states all play a role. And despite centuries of assuming men easily shrug off their failed relationships, while women are likely left in emotional turmoil, it turns out, that’s not the case.

Women are more hurt during breakups, but recover more fully

smiling young woman in park

Women typically recover more fully from a broken heart | iStock.com

A study published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences offers some serious evidence in the way of how each sex responds to breakups. The study, called “Quantitative Sex Differences in Response to the Dissolution of a Romantic Relationship,” emerged from Binghamton University and University College London, and lays the claim that although women are more hurt during the initial phase of a breakup, they’re also the ones who are more likely to fully recover.

Four healthy young women jogging

Happy women exercising | iStock.com/LarsZahnerPhotography

In the study, researchers evaluated participants’ emotional and physical responses to a breakup, which they refer to as post-relationship grief (PRG). 5,705 people across 96 countries were surveyed, with an average age of 27. Of these people, 75% had experienced at least one breakup in their lifetime. In the findings, women demonstrated higher levels than men in both their emotional and physical responses. Therefore, women may hurt more deeply than men and respond more acutely when calling it quits after a meaningful relationship.

Furthermore, women were more likely to initiate the breakups, which may be pretty empowering news for women. According to The Huffington Post, “Still, it’s interesting that women tended to not only feel the impact of a breakup more acutely, but they were also the ones who really thought about the state of their relationships and made decisions to change things in their lives for the better.” In turn, women may be more perceptible, and are thus able to fully move on with their lives.

Men may suffer more in the long run

man looking sad

A man’s health may suffer | iStock.com

We’ve established that women tend to take a breakup more harshly than their counterpart in the beginning, but men may end up suffering more overall. According to Psychology Today, the harmful health effects, both physical and emotional, may be stronger for men due to various factors. In terms of marriage and divorce, the article states that wives encourage husbands’ healthy behavior, and when left to their own devices, men may fall into old, unhealthy habits without their partner’s positive influence.

Additionally, men may be more emotionally dependent on their partners than women are on theirs, thus leaving men in a state of little emotional support. The article, which discusses the likelihood that women have social and emotional support systems that extend far beyond their immediate romantic relationships, suggests that men lean more heavily on their mates, and may not be as likely to open up emotionally to their network of peers, friends, and family following a relationship fallout.

Of course, studies only capture the opinions of so many people, so it’s safe to say any breakup has its own set of personal woes, trials, and tribulations. Maybe you identify with the research mentioned here, or perhaps you feel as though it couldn’t be further from the truth of your own personal experiences. Either way, the (totally unbiased) moral of the story is, men toss their emotions to the side, while women more often identify with the advice of “dust yourself off and try again.”