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Posted January 18, Reviewed by Gary Drevitch. How do you deal with a relationship breakup? Some people throw themselves into work or sports, in an effort to distract themselves from the heartache. Others try to numb the pain with alcohol or drugs. Still others jump right into a rebound relationship, trying to move on. And then there are those who seek out social support, spending more time with family and friends. Their overall indicate that the strategies you use to recover from a breakup may depend on your gender.
First, the researchers found that the men were much more likely than the women to think positively about their ex.
In particular, the men still clung to the hope that they might get back with their former lovers. Meanwhile, the women tended to make a clean break from the relationship by focusing on the negative qualities of their exes and dismissing their positive aspects.
Athenstaedt and colleagues maintained that this finding makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. That is, men maximize their reproductive fitness by engaging in multiple short-term relationships, whereas women do so by forming a long-term relationship with a man who will contribute to childrearing. From this perspective, men should hold on to the notion that their former girlfriend is still a potential partner, even while searching for alternatives on the mating market.
In contrast, women should have little desire to return to a relationship that failed to meet their long-term needs.
Second, the researchers found gender differences in the types of coping mechanisms people use after a breakup. Furthermore, men were more likely than women to jump into a rebound relationship, even when the long-term prospects were not good. In contrast, women Thinking about ex to seek out social and emotional support from friends and family.
They also gave themselves time to heal before making themselves open to the possibility of a new relationship. From a social network perspective, this finding makes perfect sense: Women usually have more friends and stronger emotional ties with them than men do. Also, women are accustomed to sharing their emotions and concerns with other women, both as talkers and as listeners. Men, in contrast, tend to lead more solitary lives and to have more competitive relationships with other men. So when a relationship breaks up, they may lose the one person they felt comfortable opening up to.
Third, these studies show that men and women differ in the way they perceive the cause of relationship breakups. This clear-cut explanation for the demise of the relationship helps women make a clean break so that they can move on with their lives. However, men often claim they have no idea why a relationship broke up.
Without a clear perception of what caused the breakup, men have a harder time moving on. Prior research has shown that men fare worse than women after a breakup. The current study sheds light on the reason for this. Women make use of their extended social networks to garner the emotional support they need. For the most part, men and women do move on Thinking about ex their lives after a romantic breakup. But the interim period from the end of the relationship to securely settling in with the next can be difficult for many people.
This certainly is a healthy frame of mind for nurturing a new relationship. At the same time, ruminating over your romantic past could be keeping you from moving on. Instead, making a clean break with your ex and seeking out emotional support from your social network are two important steps you can take to heal yourself after the end of a relationship. Athenstaedt, U. Men view their ex-partners more favorably than women do. S ocial Psychology and Personality Science.
Advance online publication. DOI: David Ludden Ph. Talking Apes. References Athenstaedt, U. About the Author. David Ludden, Ph. Online: Facebook. Read Next.
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