Is It Men or Women Who Fall the Hardest After a Break-up?

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Ever since the early 1970s, psychologists have found that men tend to fall in love more quickly and they hold on to a waning affair more so than do women.1   But what happens when there is a break-up?

It was a man, Lord Byron, who wrote, “Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart, ’tis woman’s whole existence.”  Still today, most men and women would agree with this statement. Men seem to be able to do without a loving relationship better than women, who seem to derive their life out of their loving relationships.

Yet psychologists have shown that it is men who cannot live without love. After the break-up of a relationship men feel lonelier, obsessed with what went wrong, and depressed than do women. 2

Whether the relationship lasted only a few years of dating or a long time with marriage, many of the responses seem to be the same.3   Women initially are in emotional pain but they recover more quickly.  Men never fully recover—they simply move on to try a do-over.

Differences between women and men in response to a break-up are related to at least three important factors: (a) who initiates the break-up, (b) the amount of obsessing and insecurity, (c) the degree of social support.4   In longer-term relationships, it is the woman who initiates the break-up 69% of the time.5  Women tend to be more aware than men when a relationship is not satisfying and thus take action, especially if there is the possibility of another relationship that looks like it might be more satisfying.6   Men tend to not be in touch with or express their feeling as much as women.  The feelings men sometimes acknowledge are anger or confusion rather than sadness about the loss.7   Then they either try to ignore the situation or replace the loss but sometimes they find the loss is irreplaceable.  Both genders obsess about what they could have done differently to save the relationship, but men tend to continue obsessing longer than women.8   Maybe this is because the man feels it was his fault that he got dumped.  Yes, both genders need to know the part they played in the relationship not succeeding so that they don’t make the same mistakes the next time around.  But, at some point, one has to stop obsessing and move on.

Moving on, then, is easier when one has a good system of social support, which women tend to have more often than do men.  Men seem to not talk to their friends about their difficulties as much as do women.  Keeping all of one’s thoughts and feelings to oneself then can delay the ability to move on.

References

1.Kanin, E.J., Davidson, D.K.D., Scheck, S.R. (1970). A research note on male-female differentials in the experience of heterosexual love. The Journal of Sex Research, 6,64-72

Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., Peplau, A. (1976). From breakups before marriage:  The end of   103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 1, 147-168.

Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay   together. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

2. Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., Peplau, A. (1976). From breakups before marriage: The end of  103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 1, 147-168.

Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270- 283.

3.Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270-283.

Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay together. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

4.Sweeney, M.M. (2002). Remarriage and the nature of divorce: Does it matter which spouse chose to leave? Journal of Family Issues, 23,3, 410-440.

Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270-283.

Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay together. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

5. Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J. & Falcon, M. (2015). How couples meet and stay together.    Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries.

6.Sweeney, M.M. (2002). Remarriage and the nature of divorce: Does it matter which spouse chose to leave? Journal of Family Issues, 23,3, 410-440.

7.Morris, C.E., Reiber, C., Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9,4, 270-283.

Do Marriages from Meeting Online Last?

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According to a recent study, more than one-third of marriages in America now begin on-line.1   But do these marriages last as long as do marriages that result from off-line meetings?  The answer is a resounding “yes”.  In fact, marriages that began with an on-line meeting were slightly less likely to result in a marital break-up than were marriages resulting from an off-line meeting.  Furthermore, among those who remained married, marital satisfaction was higher in this group.2

  1. Cacioppo, J.T., et. al. (2013) Marital satisfaction and break-ups differ across on-line and off-line meeting venues. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America,110,25, 10135-10140.
  2. Ibid.