197 The Breakup Experience

Based on research by Morris, C. E., Reiber, C., & Roman, E. (2015) by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Do most individuals experience a failed relationship before forming a lifelong partnership? Do men and women experience break ups differently?

Psychology researchers evaluated the experience of breaking off a romance. Through an online survey, over 5,700 people, average age 27, from 96 countries (mostly US) described their breakups and rated their emotional and physical pain of a breakup from one to 10.

Romantic relationships appear to be a universal human experience. Three fourths of the participants reported experiencing a breakup and 75% of those individuals reported multiple relationship endings. Men’s and women’s responses differed slightly.. While emotional pain was reported as more severe than physical, women expressed slightly higher levels of both than men did. Researchers noted that women initiated breakups slightly more frequently, and that in this sample for both sexes, lack of communication (rather than infidelity or distance) was the most prevalent cause for ending the relationship.

While breakups may be an inevitable part of life, fostering better communication may foster better relationships. Talk to your partner openly about your feelings, sexual concerns and desires. Discuss your wants, needs, and expectations with one another.


Morris, C. E., Reiber, C., & Roman, E. (2015). Quantitative sex differences in response to the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9(4), 270.

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