Women have more to lose by dating the wrong person but after a break-up, they are the ones who recover more fully that men as the time heals the wounds, an interesting study has revealed.
As men have evolved to compete for the romantic attention of women, the loss of a high-quality mate for a man may not "hurt" women as much at previously thought, said researchers from New York-based Binghamton University.
The man will likely feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time.
"The feeling 'sinks in' that he must 'start competing' all over again to replace what he has lost -- or worse still, come to the realisation that the loss is irreplaceable," explained Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author on the study.
Women, however, experience more emotional pain following a breakup but they also more fully recover.
To reach this conclusion, the team from Binghamton University and University College London asked 5,705 participants in 96 countries to rate the emotional and physical pain of a break-up.
They found that women tend to be more negatively affected by breakups, reporting higher levels of both physical and emotional pain.
While break-ups hit women the hardest emotionally and physically, women tend to recover more fully and come out emotionally stronger.
Men, on the other hand, never full recovered -- they simply moved on.
According to Morris, the differences boil down to biology.
"Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man," Morris noted in a paper appeared in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.
"It is the 'risk' of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate. Hence, the loss of a relationship with a high-quality mate 'hurts' more for a woman," the authors contended.
The break-ups are important because most of us will experience an average of three by age 30, with at least one affecting us strongly enough that it decreases our quality of life for weeks or months.
"People lose jobs, students withdraw from classes, and individuals can initiate extremely self-destructive behaviour patterns following a break-up," he said.
With better understanding of this emotional and physical response to a breakup, we can perhaps develop a way to mitigate its effects in already high-risk individuals, the study concluded.