Okay ladies, real talk here. Many of us have been in the unfortunate situation of breaking up with a guy, only to find that he has moved on within about 30 seconds, while you’re still at home, in your PJs, living mainly on a diet of wine and ice cream. In all of my years I can’t even count the amount of times one of my girlfriends has come to me, heartbroken and confused as to why their ex has managed to move on so damn quickly. Seriously, what is up with that?
According to a study conducted by Binghamton University, there is actually a scientific reason that men are able to move on faster than women – because women feel the pain of breakups more acutely. Surveying 5,705 participants from 96 countries, researchers asked both males and females to rate their post-breakup pain on a scale of one (none) to 10 (unbearable). The research found that women tend to be affected by breakups, both physically and emotionally, with women averaging 6.84 in terms of emotional anguish versus 6.58 in men. In terms of physical pain, women averaged 4.21 versus men’s 3.75.
While the study showed that women take breakups much harder than men, researchers also concluded that the pain that women feel after a breakup works to help them fully recover, while many men simply never deal with what has happened – they instead just move on and never come to terms with their loss.
According to Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author on the study, the reasons for the differences in post-breakup experiences for women and men mainly boil down to biology. “Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than men,” Morris said. “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. 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.”
Morris also says that it may take longer for men to process a breakup, however they are likely to feel the pain of a breakup over a prolonged period of time. “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 realisation that the loss is irreplaceable,” Morris concluded.