Psychology News – Researchers at Lancaster University revealed that men usually feel more emotional pain after a breakup when compared to women. The results are published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
The researchers used natural language processing methods to analyze entries in an anonymous online platform. They surveyed the demographic and psychological characteristics of over 184,000 participants, as well as the relationship issues they experienced and the online relationship support they sought.
This methodology was employed to look beyond the limited number of people who avail of couple therapy and analyze the general public who commonly experience unaddressed relationship problems.
Using the data, the researchers statistically “mapped” the more common relationship problems faced by the general public. They found that most couples suffered from communication problems and trust issues in their relationships. However, even though most people acknowledged relationship problems, they showed tendencies to highlight the emotional pain caused by the problems rather than address the problems directly.
The results also provided an interesting insight into how gender differences in relationships determined the way people handle emotional pain during breakups. The researchers found both men and women to be equally perceptive in identifying relationship problems. Yet, surprisingly, it was found that men experience more emotional pain than women after failed relationships.
However, the gendered responses diverge more when it comes to therapy. It was seen that women are more open to therapy than men after breakups. Contrastingly, men, who are also heartbroken after a breakup, are more likely to seek relationship support from strangers in online settings than go to traditional therapy.
The researchers inferred that stigma around men’s mental health and cultural notions of masculinity prevent men from sharing their emotions and seeking help, even when they feel the same emotional pain after a breakup as women.
But, the researchers are enthusiastic that studies like this can help identify common relationship problems and aid couples in avoiding the common setbacks to romantic success. This can also raise awareness about men’s mental health, dissolve gendered myths around relationships, and destigmatize help-seeking.
One of the lead researchers, Dr. Ryan Boyd, elaborated, “This gives us serious hope that we can use help-seeking behavior to better understand all types of social and psychological issues, and in a way that we simply cannot do using traditional research methods.”
To Know More You May Relate To
Entwistle, C., Horn, A. B., Meier, T., & Boyd, R. L. (2021). Dirty laundry: The nature and substance of seeking relationship help from strangers online. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(12), 3472–3496. https://doi.org/10.1177/02654075211046635