Breakups are hard, but apparently they’re worse for women. According to a new study published in The Journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, women are more negatively impacted by breakups than men. And, they experience more emotional and physical pain after a split. It seems obvious considering women are naturally the more emotional sex. Following a breakup, women reported more depression, fear and anxiety. Meanwhile, men reported feeling numbness, loss of focus and anger.
While breakups may be more difficult for women, we’re the ones who actually recover more fully than men, leaving us in better shape for the next relationship. This is because women deal with the emotions. Men never fully recover. They just sort of ‘move on’ to someone else.
“Most women, broadly speaking, seem to be hit hard and fast by a breakup, but are less self-destructive, utilize more social support, and recover faster and more fully,” says Craig Morris, anthropologist and lead author of the study. “Women hit a moment when they realize, “it’s really over, it’s time to move on. Men, on the other hand, seem to react badly and in some sort of self-destructive/angry fashion often combined with depression. This can last for months or years.”
From an evolutionary biology perspective, scientists say that women have more to lose—reproduction and child rearing—by being with the wrong person and thus it hurts more when the relationship ends. This theory makes the case that men can exit a relationship with little effect on their future reproductive success. Women cannot.
Yes, breakups suck for everyone. But they should be painful. Having knowledge of how hurtful a breakup can be, helps us to be more selective in choosing the right partner and doing all we can to avoid a painful split later on.
“I’d say about 10 percent of people are destroyed by breakups and 10 percent could care less. The big middle, 80 percent, are how most folks live—they have at least one breakup in their lives that affects them strongly and they can recall it in great (painful) detail throughout their lives,” adds Morris.
As renowned anthropologist, Helen Fisher, suggests: maybe our ancestors evolved brain links that cause us to hate the ones we love, to help jilted lovers get over someone and start again with someone else.
-Ashley M. Papa