While women may well be suffering stress more than men, when it comes to broken relationships, men are left out in the cold. Women feel greater emotional anguish after a relationship has ended, the effects in men appear to be longer lasting and sometimes are never fully resolved, according to new research.
Scientists at University College London and Binghamton University have published a new paper that might change the concept of men as unthinking, detached, and emotionally feeble.
"Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man," Craig Morris, a research associate at Binghamton and a lead author of the study said. But while women might feel more pain when a relationship falls apart, men take a longer time to feel the effects.
"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," Morris said.
The study, published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, claims that the emotional differences are essentially an outcome of biology: given the fact that it is the female of the species which bears the children, women have more to lose by investing time and energy into the wrong person, while men are freer to move along.
"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," Morris said.
But men suffer more because of a tendency to link numerous aspects of their broken relationships to primal functions of the brain; when men’s memory flashes back to the thought of a happy time with a previous partner, it triggers “reward” neurons. But when these feelings have no follow up, men can suffer a sinking, panicked feeling over their separation.
Experts claim that the huge emotional response to romantic relationships is because they are intertwined with basic human desires.