One minute you're in the most loving relationship of your life and the next minute you feel like someone has just ripped the heart right out of your chest.
A painful image, perhaps. But the image that most people associate with breakups is a woman weeping alone in sorrow. This is what we've seen in numerous movies and TV shows. It turns out this this might not be the most honest image of a breakup.
A recent "Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences" study found that men, not women, are more vulnerable to long-term emotional distress from a breakup.
More than 5,700 individuals from 96 countries participated in the study. It is one of the few studies dealing with the termination of a romantic relationship. Nearly three quarters of the male and female participants experienced a breakup.
Their results concluded that although women do experience more immediate pain from a breakup, they soon recover. For men, the opposite is true. Men start off by just moving on, but lack a full recovery.
"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," said Craig Morris, a research associate at Binghamton University who conducted the study.
Most people experience three breakups by age 30, the study found.
Men in a breakup, who experience low post-relationship grief, move on easier when they possess the necessary traits that attract women. Men in a breakup who lack these traits experience long-lasting post relationship grief. In addition, men with preexisting issues, such as depression and anxiety, experienced stronger emotional issues after the breakup.
Both men and women experience high rates of insomnia following a breakup. Women also experienced more unwanted weight changes.
Who initiated most the breakups — men or women? The answer ...
... is women. They initiated breakups more often than men, according the findings.
Women reported that they initiated the breakup 39 percent of the time versus men at 37 percent. Meanwhile, men reported initiating the breakup 28 percent of the time verses women at 47 percent.
"People lose jobs, students withdraw from classes and individuals can initiate extremely self-destructive behavior patterns following a breakup," Morris told Binghamton University. "With better understanding of this emotional and physical response to a breakup — Post Relationship Grief — we can perhaps develop a way to mitigate its effects in already high-risk individuals."
According to the study, infidelity was NOT the primary cause of the breakups. "Lack of communication" was reported as the top breakup reason.
Cover image via iStock