Break-ups are more painful for MEN because they are more ’emotionally invested’ in relationships than women, study finds
- Age-old stereotype of men being ‘less emotionally invested in relationships’ than women is not true, according to new study from leading psychologists
- Relationship support survey looked at data from more than 184,000 people
- The theme of heartbreak was discussed more often by men than by women
According to a new study by leading psychologists, the age-old stereotype that men are “less emotionally involved in relationships” than women is not true.
Men in heterosexual relationships feel more pain than women after a breakup and are also more likely to discuss heartbreak, researchers at Lancaster University found.
The international survey of online relationship support looked at data from more than 184,000 people and found that men experience more emotional pain than women when their relationship deteriorates.
The study – the first-ever “big data” analysis of relationship problems – began as an attempt to map the most common relationship problems people experience outside of clinical and counseling settings.
Researchers analyzed demographic and psychological characteristics using “natural language processing methods” after users posted their relationship issues on an anonymous online forum.
The age-old stereotype of men being ‘less emotionally invested in relationships’ than women is not true, according to a new study by leading psychologists (stock image)
From there, academics were able to statistically determine the most common themes that emerged in each post, creating a “map” of relationship problems.
The results showed that communication problems are the most frequently cited problem, with nearly one in five people reporting difficulties discussing issues and one in eight reporting trust issues in their relationships.
“In particular, the fact that the topic of heartbreak has been discussed more often by men highlights how men are at least as emotionally affected by relationship problems as women are,” said Charlotte Entwistle, the study’s lead author in a statement.
“Most of what we know about relationship problems comes from studies of people in couples therapy, which involve a fairly specific subset of people: people who have the time, money and motive to work on their relationship problems.
“We wanted to understand not only which relationship problems are most experienced by the general public, but also who experiences which problems more.”
Researchers also found that men were more likely to seek relationship help than women in online settings.
dr. Ryan Boyd, lead researcher, added: ‘Traditionally, women are more likely to identify relationship problems, consider therapy and seek therapy than men.
“However, if you remove the traditional social stigmas placed on men for seeking help and sharing their emotions, they seem just as invested in working through difficult spots in their relationships as women.”
However, if you remove the traditional social stigmas against men who seek help and share their emotions, they seem just as invested in getting through difficult moments in their relationships as women.”
The data also revealed rather unexpected patterns, including key gender differences in which themes were most commonly used.
“As we conducted the research, we realized that this was an important opportunity to test many common ideas about gender differences in relationships,” said Dr Boyd.
“For example, are men really less emotionally involved in relationships than women, or are men just stigmatized because they share their feelings?”
Analyzes found that the most common theme mentioned by people talking about their relationship problems was about the emotional pain caused by the problems, not the problems themselves. The most common theme was “heartache” and consisted of words such as regret, breakup, crying and heartbroken.
“One of the most important things we see here is that we can create an incredibly accurate picture of relationship problems that ordinary people face, based purely on what people are saying online,” says Dr Boyd.
“This gives us serious hope that we can use help-seeking behaviors to better understand all kinds of social and psychological problems, and in a way that we just can’t do with traditional research methods.”
The study and results were published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.