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Breakups more painful for women than men, but men never recover

By Daniel Woods     Aug 11, 2015 in Lifestyle
Research led by an evolutionary psychologist claims that women feel the pain of a breakup, emotionally and physically, more then men. But men's wounds never fully heal.
A group of researchers from Binghamton University and University College London have collaborated to investigate the differences, if indeed there are any, between the way women and men react to the break up of romantic relationships.
Most of us will experience an average of three breakups by age 30, with at least one affecting us to the extent that it substantially decreases quality of life for weeks or months.
The rather unromantic, clinically titled study “Quantitative Sex Differences In Response To The Dissolution Of A Romantic Relationship” was published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, and reported results that many will find controversial.
Morris et al. questioned 5,705 participants across 96 countries to quantify the emotional and physical pain of a breakup, by rating it on a scale of one to 10.
The answers given indicated that women had stronger experiences of both physical and emotional pain.
The female sample averaged a rating of 6.84 out of 10 on the scale of emotional pain, compared to a male average rating of 6.58, albeit this a fractional difference of just 0.26.
On the experience of physical pain, a difference was more marked with females averaging 4.21 and males averaging 3.75.
Craig Morris lead author of the study, applied evolutionary concepts to explain the apparent distinctions his sample produced, between male and female post relationship grief.
According to Morris, the difference can be explained by biology, and evolutionary incentives.
Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man. women have more to lose by dating the wrong person. 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.
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.
A somewhat contentious conclusion, the extent to which such ‘ancestral’ and primitive behaviours — that are historical by definition, and not contemporary — are relevant in the modern world is questionable.
There are also significant factors that could have distorted participant’s answers, meaning they may have not been entirely truthful.
Traditional expectations of masculinity and an inherent sense of bravado place great emphasis on downplaying emotions. The consequence of this may be much more conservative, less forthcoming disclosure about feelings.
Not only that there is also considerable variance in concepts of masculinity and femininity between different countries and cultures that could shape and distort participant answers.
Morris did add one caveat though to the research findings that gave females the upper hand when it comes to breakups — women were more likely to recover fully and emerge emotionally stronger from the experience, whereas men never fully recover, they just move on.
The loss of a high-quality mate for a man may not "hurt" as much at first but:
the man will likely feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time as it 'sinks in' that he must 'start competing' all over again to replace what he has lost -- or worse still, come to the realization that the loss is irreplaceable.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
More about Relationships, Romance, breakups, Evolution, Masculinity
 
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