Does Getting Dumped Increase A Woman's Chance Of Finding Love?

General News
  • Contributed by:
  • Views: 1,624

When you hear the word "breakup," what runs through your mind?

Heartache? Depression? Crying? Two weeks spent in pajamas eating nothing but Ben & Jerry's?

That probably sounds familiar to most of you, but the findings of a new study indicate that we might need to rethink our approach to breaking up. The study, called "Rejection Hurts: The Effect of Being Dumped on Subsequent Mating Efforts," suggests that the "damsel in distress" ideal is alive and well in modern culture. Researchers Christine Stanik, Robert Kurzban, and Phoebe Ellsworth tested their hypothesis that discovering that a potential date was rejected by their last partner would have a negative effect on a person's desire to pursue a relationship with them, and found that their results supported the hypothesis.

Exploring further, Stanik, Kurzban, and Ellsworth tested the effects of a potential date having rejected their last partner on the mind of a prospective new partner. This scenario, in contrast to the first experiment, produced interesting differences between men and women. Women who rejected their last partners were rated lower by men, while men who rejected their last partners were rated higher by women.

The study was conducted by asking 198 participants (102 women, 96 men) to log on to a fictional online dating site and rank the fake profiles based on how much they'd like to date the people featured in them. Most of the information contained in the profiles was unimportant (like "Blue is my favorite color" and "If I had to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be pistachio ice cream"), but one piece of information was crucial: "My last relationship ended because..." Every profile contained one of three possible answers:

  • No response.
  • I dumped my last partner.
  • I was dumped by my last partner.

The results, as explained already, showed a difference of opinion between men and women. "The sex difference is that women found a man more attractive after learning he had dumped his last partner," says Stanik, "however, men found a woman less attractive after finding out the same information." Refusing to answer the question also lost a person points.

What explains this difference of opinion?

Stanik, who earned her Ph.D in 2009 from the University of Michigan, speculates that "a man's willingness to end an ongoing relationship in hopes of finding someone better might be interpreted by women as a sign of status." In other words, a man who has the guts to initiate a breakup might appear strong-willed, decisive, confidant, and courageous - all qualities that are very attractive. These men might also appear to have higher standards than other men, and therefore the women they subsequently date receive an ego-boost from being involved with them.

Traditional gender roles might also be at play in this scenario. Men are not expected to discuss being dumped by a girlfriend, and therefore doing so is perceived as a sign of weakness, whereas, in the words of Stanik, "a man taking a dominant role in his romantic relationships may be seen as more consistent with traditional gender roles." A dominant woman flies in the face of traditional gender ideals, and therefore faces more resistance than a dominant man. Women who initiate breakups might also been seen as picky, uptight, or demanding.

In 2011, are we really that old fashioned? Maybe. Or maybe, according to psychiatrist Christos Ballas, the reason men gravitate towards jilted women is might simpler: "It's not that she seems more aggressive, which is the way the scientists make it sound. It's, 'My chances are better with the girl who doesn't dump guys.'"