Science Proves Breaking Up Really Is Hard to Do

But women tend to recover faster than men.

Photo by Larry Washburn / Getty Images

While a break up might feel bad right now (cue the ice cream), research confirms what your girlfriends have been telling you all along: it’s not going to feel like this forever. Perhaps surprisingly, though, he might not ever get over it.

While break ups are initially more painful for women, the results of a study from Binghamton University suggest men are more likely to feel the lasting effects. Researchers asked 5,705 people around the world to rate both the emotional and physical pain associated with a break up from one (no pain) to 10 (unbearable). The results, published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, showed women felt more emotional pain (an average of 6.84 compared to 6.58) and physical pain (4.21 compared to 3.75) than men right after a break up.

As the initial heartbreak fades, women move on and become emotionally stronger. Women are generally more invested in relationships and, therefore, lose more when investing time in the wrong person, says study author Craig Morris. But because they’ve lost more, they’re more likely to apply what they’ve learned from their partner’s shortcomings when looking for a better mate. A man, on the other hand, is more likely to lament over what he’s lost as he rejoins the dating pool and learns that replacing his ex isn’t easy.

"People lose jobs, students withdraw from classes, and individuals can initiate extremely self-destructive behavior patterns following a breakup," Morris said in a statement. "With better understanding of this emotional and physical response to a breakup—Post Relationship Grief—we can perhaps develop a way to mitigate its effects in already high-risk individuals."