It officially takes men longer to get over a breakup

Research shows that women check out of relationships quicker because they have more to lose (Picture: Getty Images)

Most of us have experienced a break up – whether you’ve been dating for six months or you’ve been married for 10 years.

The initial honeymoon period fizzles and life unfolds, often putting a strain on your relationship and ultimately it comes to an end.

But, who takes longer to get over the loss of that relationship? Men, apparently. And that’s not just our opinion – there’s proof.

As sex expert Dr Limor Gottleib explains to, ‘In a relationship, responsibilities pile up, and individual pursuits take precedence.

‘The once-vibrant connection begins to fade, both emotionally and physically.’

Women tend to emotionally sign out of relationships when their efforts aren’t reciprocated, making men scramble to save the relationship when they leave (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)

When this distance between two people in a heterosexual relationship begins to widen, Limor says it’s the women who often take the initiative to reignite the spark, wanting more quality time and meaningful conversations.

‘Their repeated efforts are often met with indifference or neglect from their partners, and so frustration mounts and can result in resentment and, ultimately, contempt,’ Limor continues.

‘Feeling unheard and unfulfilled, many women start contemplating an exit strategy. Whether it’s waiting until the children leave home or seeking solace in a new relationship, the decision is made quietly, and suffering takes place in silence.’

The disconnect is where men typically take a woman’s silence as contentment rather than resentment, and they believe that all is well.

‘It’s only when the bombshell of divorce is dropped that reality hits hard. Shocked and devastated, husbands scramble to salvage what’s left of their marriages, realising that it’s often too late,’ Limor says.

‘The truth is, by the time the announcement is made, the emotional disconnect has already taken its toll. For many women, the damage is irreversible, and despite the newfound desperation of their partners, the decision to part ways has been long in the making.’

This pattern isn’t just apparent in Limor’s work as a sex therapist, it’s apparent in scientific research too.

Research shows that women take longer to fall in love than men and experience a greater impact from relationships compared to men, investing more emotional labour into them such as communication, empathy and nurturing.

When these efforts are not reciprocated or taken for granted, it can make women frustrated and disillusioned.

This means women report falling out of love more frequently and initiating breakups at a higher rate than men, according to Limor.

In 2019, ONS statistics showed that 62% of divorces among heterosexual couples in the England and Wales were initiated by women.

‘Additionally, women are more likely to list multiple reasons for a breakup, which suggests that they are more vigilant regarding relationship compatibility,’ she tells Metro.

Men tend to enter into rebound relationships rather than emotionally processing the breakup (Picture: Getty Images)

‘This is in line with the evolutionary “parental investment theory”, whereby women have higher costs associated with poor partner choices, which leads them to be more selective in partner selection.

‘Conversely, men are found to experience more despair post-breakup.’

Limor does acknowledge that a woman who loses a relationship with a ‘high quality partner’ – one who meets her needs and reciprocates effort – may be more hurt in that case.

‘However, this will motivate to heal post-breakup and research shows that indeed women tend to experience greater personal growth after relationship loss, and will therefore properly recover sooner,’ Limor explains.

‘In contrast, men, who have evolved to compete for the attention of women, may initially only feel sexual frustration as they realise the need to compete again for a new mate.’

The biological desire for a new mate is what makes men likely to pursue a rebound relationship, rather than taking time to heal from the emotional loss of that coupling.

In a study of 201 participants, men were found to be more likely to enter rebound relationships in the aftermath of a relational termination because of lower levels of social support and more emotional attachment to an ex-partner.

To women, this may look like men are moving on quickly and suggest they didn’t care as much for what they had, even if that isn’t the case.

Limor explains that this results in men feeling the ‘loss deeply over time’ and means they may not ‘fully recover in the long run’.

Yes, both men and women experience relationship dissatisfaction, and it’s not to say that men aren’t in relationships where their needs aren’t being met – it’s a two way street – but, in short, women experience it more profoundly.

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