Ever had a friend tell you that you have to “just get over it” after a tough breakup? Yeah, that would be completely untrue. “There might be a tendency in the public to overestimate the ease at which we should move on from failed relationships,” says Brian Boutwell, Ph.D., the coauthor of a recent study about breakups and an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and associate professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University.
“Some people will be quite good at [splitting], and others will not. As a result, understanding that some people will simply have a naturally harder time getting over a breakup is important. Someone who has a difficult time moving on is not suffering from some type of moral failure—rather, they may simply lack the same capacity that others have to move on to a new relationship.” Here’s what else you need to know about the science behind breakups.
Blame it on nature. Guys are practically programmed to dump you if you cheat on them, as the Saint Louis University study discovered. “Sexual infidelity posses a direct threat to the genetic fitness of a male,” says Boutwell. “In other words, it means he may end up raising a child who is not his own. This would mean that his own genes are not passed along.”
Unlike guys, we don’t have a doubt when it comes to knowing our kids are biologically ours. “However, a father present may have been critical to the safety and prosperity of the mother and her child,” says Boutwell. “Should a male become unwilling—because he fell in love with someone else, potentially—to provide for his offspring, it may be best for the female to move on to someone else.” But this doesn’t mean that women are okay with cheating; it’s just that for them, physical infidelity can be less damaging than the emotional variety since that could lead him leaving his family for another woman.
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There really is a reason jerks are single. “A partner who is unpredictable, cruel, and violent toward a partner and their children is unlikely to represent a safe bet in terms of reproducing and raising children to adulthood,” says Boutwell. Evolutionary scholars have proven that people who are chronically violent are less likely to have kids because they can’t find sexual partners as easily. But you probably didn’t need science to tell you that…
J.Lo sings otherwise, but love does cost a thing. Fighting about financials is the top predictor of divorce, according to a study published in Family Relations journal, beating out spats about sex, in-laws, and kids. And this holds true regardless of debt, income, or net worth. Arguments about money were also typically longer and more intense than other sorts of fights. The study authors believe this could be because financial brawls could reflect on deeper issues in the relationship and people tend to have strong beliefs about the purpose of money.
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Thinking about a recent split all the time might seem like a bad idea, but it can actually help speed up emotional recovery. A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that those who ruminated over their ex ended up having a stronger sense of themselves as a single person.
You aren’t going to “like” this: Excessive Facebook use can seriously damage your relationship. It’s been linked to emotional and physical cheating, breakup, and divorce, according to a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. And the same goes for Twitter, as discovered by research from the University of Missouri-Columbia. The research didn’t examine why social media might be linked to these bad relationship outcomes, but experts speculate that it might be because Facebook and Twitter make it easier for people to cheat and get in touch with old flames.
Ever feel like you can’t get enough of your guy? Research has proven that falling in love has something in common with a drug habit—it’s hard to break. “The regions of the brain which are implicated in feelings of love and attraction are also implicated in addiction to various illegal drugs,” says Boutwell. “This is perhaps not surprising, though, given the strong addictive feelings we feel toward someone when we fall in love with them—or when we’re broken up with and still care for our former partner.” So next time you’re having a hard time getting over a split, give yourself a break—quitting is never easy!