On the list of differences between men and women, you can now add dealing with a broken heart. A new study has found that the physical and emotional way in which men and women process the end of a relationship, as well as the period of time that they spend grieving, differ from one gender to the other.
Craig Morris, lead researcher and associate professor at the University of Binghamton, gave a statement saying that “This ‘risk’ of higher biological investment, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate”. He went on to explain that this is the reason why women suffer more after losing a relationship with a mate of high-quality.
As for the man in the relationship, he is likely to “feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time” as he realizes that he now has to “start competing all over again to replace what he has lost”.
Professor Morris and his team inform that more than 85 percent (85%) of us are bound to experience a major breakup sooner or later. Most of us experience three (3) of them by the time we turn 30. When the event occurs, we can experience one or more types of emotional distress – anything from mild, short-lived sadness, to major depression and the inability to carry out daily tasks normally.
The men and women that the researchers surveyed were asked to rate the emotional pain they feel after a breakup with a number between one (1) and ten (10). On average, women rated their pain 6.8, while men averaged 6.6.
Physical pain, on the other hand, was much less intense. On average, women rated physical pain (broken heart syndrome) 4.2, while men averaged 3.75.
The researchers explained that they wanted to investigate the previously established notion that there’s a reason why men and women have developed different mating habits (which includes the way they end relationships), and that reason is biological protection.
They said that throughout human history women have been a lot more careful and slow in choosing a mate because they had to look after any children that would potentially result from the relationship, whereas men are likely to have been more liberal, to have seeked out multiple partners and to have gotten less attacked to them. This is why women typically grieve more after loosing a partner.
For their extensive study, Professor Morris and his team surveyed 5.700 people living in 96 different countries. What they found was that post-relationship grief (PRG) was a very different experience not from one gender to the other, but from one person to the other.
After reading the results of the first survey, which was mostly multiple choice, they had to ask subjects to take a second survey where they allowed them to use their own words more.
Professor Morris explained that women clearly get over the breakup at some point. It may take them a while, but sooner or later they will start to talk about it in great detail – about the pain, about the suffering, about the misery – and they will talk about it in the past tense.
Men, however, do not process breakups this way. Professor Morris shared that men never quite get over the experience. They still feel pain, anger and disappointment whenever they talk about it, regardless of how much time has past since the relationship ended. “Most men never use the phrase ‘I got over it’”.
The findings were published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.
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