Study: Men Suffer More When a Relationship Ends

On the outside they might put on a brave face, hit the pub and talk even more about football. But a study has found that, contrary to popular belief, when a relationship is in trouble it is men who suffer the most. Romantic ups and downs apparently have a greater effect on the mental health of young men than women. While women are more likely to display their depression to friends, men are more likely to store up their feelings – with negative health effects including making them more likely to drink alcohol. Professor Robin Simon, who led the study, admitted she was shocked that the results overturned the widespread assumption that women are more vulnerable to the emotional rollercoaster of relationships.

‘Surprisingly, we found young men are more reactive to the quality of ongoing relationships,’ she said. That means a man’s mental health is more affected by the harmful stress of a rocky relationship. The researchers also found that men get greater emotional benefits from the positive aspects of an ongoing romance. This contradicts the stereotypical image of stoic men who are unaffected by what happens in their relationships. Professor Simon, of Wake Forest University in the U.S., said the findings could be down to the fact that young men often have few people in whom they confide – apart from their romantic partner. Whereas women are more likely to have close relationships with family and friends.

Strain in a relationship could also be linked to poor emotional well-being because it threatens young men’s sense of identity and feelings of self-worth. Another factor was that men and women express emotional distress in different ways. ‘Women express emotional distress with depression, while men express emotional distress with substance problems,’ Professor Simon said. The study, in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, was based on a survey of 1,000 unmarried 18- to 23-year-olds in Florida. It was part of a long-term probe into mental health and the transition to adulthood. The researchers also found that while young men are more affected by the quality of a current relationship, young women are more emotionally affected by whether or not they are in a relationship.

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  1. Apip says

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. Good piece!

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