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The tears, the anger, the tub of ice cream – it’s the classic picture of a woman going through a break-up.
Scientists believe that women actually suffer more emotionally than men when a relationship comes to an end. But the good news is that they bounce back much faster.
After being dumped, women are more likely to be angry, anxious and far more likely to put on weight than men, researchers found. But they are also ‘less destructive’ and turn to friends and family for support, which helps them to move on.
Men never actually reach this point and just ‘make peace’ with being single again, even though it leaves resentment that can linger for years.
The US researchers said the difference was due to biology, with women having ‘more to lose’ by being with the wrong person – especially if they are hoping to have a family – but recovering better as they are more open with their feelings.
The scientists surveyed 5,705 people in 96 countries, including the UK, and asked them to rank the pain of a break-up on a scale of zero to ten, with zero being no effect and ten unbearable.
Women averaged 6.84 when it came to emotional anguish compared to 6.58 for men. They also suffered more physically, with an average of 4.21 versus men’s 3.75.
On top of that, women reported more anger, anxiety and fear, though men felt more depressed and lost focus. Women were more likely to panic, suffer insomnia and turn to comfort food, being significantly more likely to put on weight than men.
Craig Morris, a professor of anthropology at Binghamton University in New York and lead author of the study, said women overcame their problems by relying on their social support network.
He said that although men may ‘make peace’ with the situation they don’t express a definite ‘I’m over that’ sentiment as clearly as women.
Professor Morris, whose findings were published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, described the typical male reaction as ‘self-destructive’.
He said: ‘This can last for months or years. Then they just sort of “move on”, usually via another relationship.’