Study shows that breakups are more painful in men than for women because they are more emotionally invested with their relationships than the women.

  • A new study by top psychologists has proven that the old stereotype that men are “less emotionally invested” in relationships is not true. 
  • Study of relationship support looked at data from more than 184,000 people
  • Men were more likely than women to talk about heartache.

The age-old stereotype of men being ‘less emotionally invested in relationships’ than women isn’t true, according to a new study by leading psychologists.

Men in heterosexual relationships  feel more pain than women following a break-up and are also more likely to discuss heartbreak, Lancaster University researchers found. 

The international study of of online relationship support looked at data of more than 184,000 people and found that men tend to experience emotional pain more than women when their relationship takes a turn for the worse.

The study – the first-ever ‘big data’ analysis of relationship problems –  began as an attempt to create a map of the most common relationship problems experienced by people outside of clinical and counselling settings.   

Researchers analysed the demographic and psychological characteristics using ‘natural language processing methods’ after users  posted their relationship problems to an anonymous online forum.  

The age-old stereotype of men being 'less emotionally invested in relationships' than women isn't true, according to a new study by leading psychologists (stock image)

A new study by leading psychologists has proven that the old stereotype of men being less emotionally invested in relationships than women is incorrect. (stock image).

From there, academics were able to statistically determine the most common themes that came up across each post, creating a ‘map’ of  relationship problems. 

Results showed that communication problems were the most common problem, with almost one in five people mentioning difficulty talking about problems and one in eight mentioning trust problems in their relationships.  

‘Notably, the fact that the heartache theme was more commonly discussed by men emphasises how men are at least as emotionally affected by relationship problems as women,’ Charlotte Entwistle, lead author of the study said in a statement.

‘Most of what we know about relationship problems comes from studies of people in couples therapy, which includes a rather specific subset of people — people who have the time, money, and motive to work on their relationship problems.

 ‘We wanted to understand not only what relationship problems are most commonly experienced by the general public, but who experiences which problems more.’

Researchers also found that men are more likely to seek out relationship help online than women.

Dr Ryan Boyd was the lead researcher. He said: “Traditionally, women are more inclined to identify problems in relationships, consider therapy, or seek therapy than are men. 

“When you remove the stigmas associated with men seeking help and sharing their emotions they will find that they are just as invested in helping women through difficult times in their relationships.

You can remove the social stigmas against men seeking help and sharing their emotions. However, they are just as interested in helping women through difficult times in their relationships. 

The data revealed unexpected patterns that were previously unknown, including key gender differences regarding which themes were most popular.

Dr Boyd said that while conducting the study, he realized that there was an opportunity to test a lot of common ideas regarding gender differences in relationships.

“For example, is it true that men are less emotionally invested in relationships than their female counterparts, or are they simply stigmatized for sharing their feelings?

Analyses revealed that people often talk about the emotional pain that is caused by their problems in relationships, rather than the actual problems. The most common theme was “heartache” and included words such as regret, breakups and cry. 

Dr Boyd stated that “One of the most important aspects that we’re seeing is that we can create an incredibly accurate picture about relationship problems that everyday persons face based solely on what people have to say online.” 

“This gives us hope that we can use help seeking behaviour to better understand all kinds of social and psychological problems, in a way we simply cannot with traditional research methods.”

The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships published the study and its results.