There is a common perception that women are able to move on from breakups faster than men. This belief stems from several observations and assumptions:
- Women often appear less emotionally affected after a breakup and more eager to move on.
- Women tend to have an easier time finding new romantic partners compared to men.
- Women are more likely to initiate breakups, so they have already mourned the relationship’s end before it officially ends.
- Women utilize stronger social support systems that help them heal.
However, the notion that women consistently move on quicker than men may be an oversimplification. Getting over a breakup and moving forward is a complex emotional process that varies significantly between individuals. There are several factors that influence how quickly one can healthily move on post-breakup, regardless of gender.
Why it may seem like women move on faster
There are some valid reasons why women can appear to move on more quickly than men after a breakup:
Women are more likely to initiate breakups
Research indicates that women initiate 70-75% of all divorces and at least 50% of non-marital breakups. When women are the ones to end the relationship, they’ve already had time to grieve the loss of the relationship before it officially ends. By the time she breaks up with her partner, she has likely already checked out emotionally. This head start can make it seem like she moves on faster afterward.
Women’s broader social support systems
Studies show that women generally have more extensive social circles than men and are more likely to confide in friends and family about emotional issues or relationship problems. Having strong support makes coping with a breakup easier. Women’s tendency to utilize this support can accelerate their healing versus men who isolate themselves.
Dating app disparities
Women often have an easier time finding new romantic interests, especially via dating apps. Surveys of dating app users show that women receive substantially more messages and matches compared to heterosexual men. The abundance of new dating options makes moving forward simpler.
Societal gender norms can encourage women to appear “over it,” even if heartbroken. Expressions of grief or sadness may be viewed as “dramatic” for women, while such emotions are more accepted for men. Women may subdue emotions to adhere to these norms.
Why men may struggle to move on
While women tend to have advantages that can facilitate moving forward post-breakup, men also face challenges:
Loss of emotional support
Men’s support systems tend to focus less on emotional needs. Loss of a girlfriend often means losing the person they confided in most. Without an equivalent replacement, men can feel they have no emotional support, making coping difficult.
Men frequently see romantic partners as part of their identity – “we” versus “I.” Loss of a relationship can feel like loss of self. Rebuilding identity alone can prolong the moving on process.
Social expectations about grief
Societally, men face pressure to conceal deep heartbreak or vulnerability. Being told to “man up” discourages processing breakup grief fully, delaying recovery.
Brain chemistry may contribute to longer-lasting heartbreak in men. Men’s testosterone levels lower and cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise after a breakup, potentially extending pangs of grief.
Dating app difficulties
As noted, men have a harder time acquiring dates via apps post-breakup. Less abundance of new relationship opportunities can hinder moving forward.
Other factors impacting moving on
While gender differences can play a role, other individual and situational factors influence moving on after a breakup, regardless of gender:
Who initiated the breakup
As referenced, the partner who initiates separation usually experiences less severe grief in the long run.
Reason for separation
Amicable splits are easier to process than betrayals or abandonment. Breakups due to circumstantial reasons like long distance are often less painful.
Seriousness of relationship
Longer, more serious relationships take longer to recover from. The more intertwined lives were, the harder uncoupling becomes.
Individuals with anxious or fearful attachment struggle more with breakups versus secure and avoidant attachments.
Pre-existing mental health
Those already struggling with conditions like depression or anxiety have amplified difficulty coping.
Strong social support accelerates healing for all genders. Those lacking close friends/family may suffer more extended grief.
Individuals with low self-esteem often struggle more with loss of a partner. Those who rely heavily on relationships for self-worth can feel especially destabilized.
Younger individuals tend to recover more quickly potentially due to fewer co-dependencies accumulated over shorter relationships.
Healthy coping skills like journaling, exercise, mindfulness, and therapy help individuals move forward constructively after a breakup. Unhealthy coping can extend the healing process.
Studies comparing getting over breakups by gender
While gender discrepancies in moving on have been observed in small studies, research results are mixed overall:
|Study||Findings on Gender Differences|
|Perilloux & Buss, 2008||Women recovered faster from breakups involving short-term (casual) partners. No major gender differences found in getting over long-term relationships.|
|Choo et al., 1996||Women showed fewer signs of distress post-breakup. However, women more open to reconciling, suggesting residual attachment.|
|Hill et al., 1976||Men showed markedly more physical and psychological symptoms of grief initially after a breakup. But gender differences disappeared by 8 weeks post-breakup.|
These studies reveal that while women may have some advantages facilitating recovery shortly after a breakup, men are not far behind by a couple months post-split. This aligns with the notion that women tend to initiate breakups more, so have a head start processing the loss. But once the relationship has officially ended, grieving processes become more similar despite gender.
Healthy ways to move on from a breakup
Regardless of whether you’re male or female, heartbreak hurts. Here are constructive tips to help anyone move forward healthily after a breakup:
- Let yourself grieve – Acknowledge your feelings of loss and give yourself time to work through them.
- Lean on loved ones – Seek out close friends and family for comfort and support.
- Remove reminders – Hide mementos and remove your ex from social media to avoid constant painful reminders.
- Rediscover yourself – Reconnect with old hobbies or try new activities just for you.
- Change up routines – Establish new routines and make new memories without your ex.
- Be kind to yourself – Eat well, get moving, and make sure you get plenty of rest.
- List your ex’s flaws – Remind yourself of dealbreakers and incompatibilities.
- Visualize your new path – Envision your vibrant future without this partner.
- Date cautiously – If you feel ready, dip your toe into dating but avoid serious commitments right away.
- Consider counseling – If you struggle with acute grief or depression, see a therapist for support.
The end of an intimate relationship is always difficult. But taking proactive, healthy steps allows us to pick up the pieces and move forward with time.
The idea that women universally move on faster than men following breakups is not entirely accurate. Many factors influence one’s ability to work through heartbreak in a healthy way and progress after a split.
While women may look detached or date readily post-breakup, they often still feel the loss just as intensely as men. Societal expectations and more robust support systems can facilitate women appearing “over it” more quickly. However, given time to process the breakup once it’s definitive, recovery tends to even out across genders. Individual differences in attachment, coping skills, age, and pre-existing mental health have a stronger influence on healing than gender alone.
With compassionate self-care, strong social support, and therapeutic assistance if needed, both men and women can healthily grieve the end of a relationship and eventually regain happiness again. Though the road to recovery may diverge initially, most find their way to an even emotional footing eventually.