The average age at first marriage in the United States is 27 years old for women and almost 30 for men. Europe isn’t much different either, with some areas such as Scandinavia reporting a median of over 30 years old for the event in question. To get a sense of how much the attitudes towards marriage have shifted, in the 1950s U.S., the median age at first marriage was 20 for women and 23 for men, and it only began to increase slowly from the 1980s onwards. However, it was not until the last several years that people stopped feeling compelled to marry in their early 20s in the States.
What this extended intro on numbers comes to show is a noteworthy picture of how we got to envision love. The fact of the matter is that by marrying later, people are now embarking in a string of relationships before finding a partner they choose to tie the knot with. There is a certain cycle of love that in most cases inevitably entails a breakup stage. To a great extent, the breakup stage is the most difficult part of a relationship, perhaps only with only some exceptionally bad relationships. So what ways do people find to explain and cope with a breakup? We gathered a few information to help you understand breakups better.
The dumper, the dumpee, and the consensus stories
One Chicago University sociologist, Jan Doering, looked at how people who had just been through breakups talked about the strategies they used to talk about ending their relationships. He found that people use one of three options to speak about their breakup. The first, and arguably most interesting narrative is that of the dumper’s. The dumper is strongly inclined to tone down the impact of the breakup. They generally tend to minimize both their and their partner’s personal responsibility in the relationship’s demise by blaming it on a more obscure external force such as: “we were growing apart.” This seems particularly true for those whose relationships ended after the dumper having cheated. In other words, the dumper avoids thinking of themselves as the one who set the breakup into motion as such, even in cases where the dumpee had a different idea about breaking up. The dumpees on the other hand, tend to minimize or deny the impact of their relationships’ end by understating how much hurt they got in the aftermath. There are also couples who are speaking about their breakups in a no-one’s-fault fashion by arguing it was bound to happen, without placing themselves in either of the dumper’s or the dumpee’s role. A common type of consensus story is that where the partners say they don’t remember precisely how they came to call it quits, but instead at some point they decided it just wasn’t working anymore. Bottom line, when talking about the terms in which a relationship ended, most of the time we are prone to describe the situation as rationally as possible.
The Emotional Turmoil: why missing a loved one feels just like withdrawal
These are all strategies that people abide by to cope with the demise of their relationships, and tend to have a rational tone. But there is also a more messy part of coping with having to end a relationship. An anthropologist at Rutgers University, Helen Fisher, studied people’s emotional reactions to breakups and found that there are very strong similarities between people who had just exited a love story and drug users going through withdrawal. Although this statement may seem extreme, apparently the same centers in the brain that are activated by social rejection, are also responsive in the event of physical pain. The good news is, however, that there are ways to circumvent heartbreak, and they range from the easiest solutions like digging in that pint of ice-cream, to the more elaborate ones, like taking up a hobby (since double chocolate chips ice-cream can only take one so far).
If you find yourself in the role of the dumper, be sure to do it with style and consideration, rather than just being blunt about it. First of all make sure to not burden your soon-to-be ex with the responsibility for the whole failure of your relationship. It takes two to tango, you know, and that goes for both the wonderful moments you shared, and for the reasons it didn’t work out between the two of you. Then, perhaps the most important thing to remember, don’t do it over chat or phone. Find a time to meet face-to-face and discuss your exit strategy. That will help your now ex-partner not to feel worthless and betrayed, or at least not to such a great extent as they would if you broke up with them over text or blame it all on them.
And finally, if you’re the one who just took the hit by having to hear that your partner wants to go their own way, by all means, don’t despair. It’s hard not to feel abandoned, and the weeks (months, maybe) following a bad breakup can be particularly difficult. As we said before, it’s a scientifically proven fact that having to go day by day without a person who you’ve had a strong connection with is similar with withdrawal from drugs. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. Don’t get carried away by the thought that you lost your soulmate. You are surely right to suffer after losing touch with a great person you loved dearly for a while, but that doesn’t mean that was your one in a million shot. There are many people out there, and sure, it takes a lot of time and effort to find one for a long-time commitment, but love comes in many forms. Put on your smile, find a hobby, take your time to get yourself together and then let the adventure begin again. And if you’re not feeling completely ready to start flirting casually with strangers at the bar, don’t forget there is another way. Go ahead and make a profile on a dating site, and start looking for someone great for you to spend time with. With over 60% of young folks in the U.S. now using dating sites, we can only say you’re in for a treat!