A study at Wake Forest University of more than 1000 unmarried young adults ages 18-23 has found that the emotional roller coaster of romance has an even greater effect on the mental health of men than of women. “Surprisingly, we found young men are more reactive to the quality of ongoing relationships,” said sociology prof Robin Simon, who found that men experience both greater stress when things are rocky and greater “emotional benefits” when things are rocking.
“Surprising?” Maybe, but only against strong, silent stereotype. For one thing (as Simon notes), men are more likely to rely on their galpals as their primary source of intimacy; gals, meanwhile, have their own galpals.
Simon also notes that (paraphrase) “strain in a current romantic relationship may also be associated with poor emotional well-being because it threatens young men’s identity and feelings of self-worth.” While men are more affected by the quality of an existing relationship, women are more affected by whether they’re in a relationship or not. From a summary: “So, young women are more likely to experience depression when the relationship ends or benefit more by simply being in a relationship.”
2. Chicken vs. egg/nature vs. nurture? These results might do away with some stereotypes, but to what degree are the findings caused by stereotypes — or at least cultural assumptions, proclivities, etc. — to begin with? That is:
(a) women are “supposed” to be the emotional CEOs of relationships; are young men not raised with the same tools to manage them?
(b) Women, arguably more than men, get the message that they’re “supposed” to be in a relationship, no matter what; this, at least as much as internal factors, could explain why the study found breakups leaving women more bereft. (This also explains a lot of this.)
All of the above speaks to BG’s emphatically co-ed mission. Even though men represent 5o% of the partners in straight relationships, romance is — still — usually considered WomensStuff ™. That’s dumb. Men — obviously — have questions, not to mention feelings. Let’s work all this stuff out together, according to what we need, not what we’re “supposed” to want or have. K?