Men take breakups harder than women

New love : Why do men rush into new partnerships faster than women?

Great euphoria on the phone. “Melanie, lightning struck me!” Heinz Brennecke is on the move. For his granddaughter, this comes as a surprise. The 72-year-old buried his wife just a few months ago - after more than 50 years of marriage.

And now? Grandpa is freshly in love. In Anni. It sparked in the Duisburg cemetery. Anni also comes there regularly to water the flowers on her husband's grave, who died a few years earlier.

Heinz ’family cannot really share his euphoria about the cemetery romance. Of course you are happy that your grandfather is in good spirits that he does not only eat in the "American Embassy", as he calls McDonald’s. But the new love came a little very quickly.

In men, lightning seems to strike quite suddenly more often after the end of a relationship. Bestselling author Sebastian Fitzek, 48, made headlines with it in December. The separation from his wife, with whom he was together for eleven years and has three children, was just four months ago when he fell head over heels in love on the ICE from Berlin to Leipzig, a 72-minute journey. His new girlfriend is a personnel officer at Deutsche Bahn and 16 years younger than him. As the "Bunte" knows, the two are inseparable.

The “new love happiness” of celebrities like Helmut Schmidt or Reinhold Messner was also reported in detail. How quickly can you be ready for a new partner again when a decades-long relationship ends, be it due to a death or a breakup? What is the rate of decline of love? And what do the women do? In the opposite role distribution one seems to hear this kind of story less often.

A survey by the dating platform Elitepartner confirms this impression: According to this, every fourth man feels open to a new relationship after just four weeks. Women take significantly more time. According to the survey, it takes on average almost 15 months before they are ready for a bond again. Where does this discrepancy come from?

Women cope better with breakups

Call the Swiss psychologist Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello. For her book “When love is no longer young” she researched what divorce after a long marriage means for women and men and how they deal with it. Her central insight: For both of them it is a decisive, critical life event: “It is a basic human need to have a home and to be emotionally firmly anchored. Everyone longs for a deep connection with one person. ”Over time, couples have developed a strong“ we ”identity. In the years together, you establish routines and roles that make it difficult to develop a lifestyle that is independent of the partner.

Perrig-Chiello's investigation has also shown that the majority of those affected cope well with the separation in the long term - women generally better than men. On the one hand, women help their closer social network: If the partnership breaks, they can fall back on significantly more close relationships that give them stability. In addition, they are often the ones who ended a long-term partnership, so they had dealt with the separation longer than their partners. Likewise, they often wanted to seek help in advance, while their husbands tended to refuse. When the women finally ended the relationship, the partners are often deeply shaken.

It was the same with Norbert Menge, a 52-year-old entrepreneur from near Freiburg. After 13 years together, his wife told him in summer 2008 that she was no longer happy. Quantity, who, like Hans, Melanie and Anni, actually has a different name, was perplexed: The relationship was harmonious, family life was intact, they had a big house and no financial worries. “And our intimate life was fine too.” Just a few months later, his wife moved away from the house they shared, taking the children, then nine and twelve years old, with her. "That pulled the rug out from under my feet," says Menge. He racked his brains about what it could have been. He doesn't really know until today.

Men suffer more from loneliness

The offense of having been abandoned affects men more, says Perrig-Chiello. This is also related to the traditional role models: "A man will not leave."

Men, explains the psychologist, are more likely than women to rush into a new relationship in order to repair their self-esteem and fill the vacuum that the end of the old relationship is leaving behind. After a breakup, they suffered more from loneliness than women, felt both emotionally alone because they lacked an intimate relationship and socially because it was usually their wives who had maintained contact with relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Men therefore more often only end a relationship when they have already found a new partner. In the study, 50 percent of men said they had given up their old relationship for a new one. Only 30 percent of the women said that.

The Berlin therapist Tina Steckling, who specializes in relationship problems, lovesickness and separation pain in her practice “Soulmates”, experiences that men still find it difficult to show weakness and talk about emotional injuries. “The James Bond ideal is still in people's heads to this day,” she says. That means: a real man knows no pain. Feeling one's own vulnerability feels threatening. Many would not have learned to integrate feelings of weakness into their strong male self-image. Precisely because their self-esteem has been so severely affected by a breakup, some men would try to get back to dating as quickly as possible. That is their type of coping behavior.

Heinz was also not a man of big words, says his granddaughter. She remembers her late grandfather as a pragmatic man, a craftsman who would not have allowed himself excessive emotionality. When something hurt, it was no longer discussed.

Separation as an emancipatory act

In her consultations, Steckling notices that consciousness is slowly changing, at least among her clientele in Reuterkiez: big city, cosmopolitan, more on this side of the 50th. In her case, even more men asked for an appointment than women. "Many of my clients realize that they are still stuck in the old patterns, but would like to overcome them." Wanted to deal more intensively with their feelings. To do this, they found an expert, very pragmatically.

Many women, on the other hand, know the psychologist Perrig-Chiello, experience separation as an “emancipatory act” and appreciate the new independence. Precisely because in their first marriage they would often have thrown household, children and the social life of the family, they now wanted to concentrate on themselves and not fall into a comparable role again.

In any case, Norbert Menge is happily married again today. “But the first year was hell.” About a year after the breakup, he met his new wife through a dating site where a friend had registered him. From the first phone call he was fascinated by her voice - and at the third meeting he fell in love. Some time later she and her son from her first marriage moved in with him.

Men also date "down", women do not

The number of men who remarry after a divorce is higher than that of women: In the survey, five years after the marriage ended, three quarters of men between the ages of 40 and 60 were remarried, but only about every second woman. The discrepancy is even greater at the age of 60 and over: one in two men is in a new relationship, with women only one in four.

However, this is likely not only to do with a lower level of interest in making new commitments, but also with the fact that women in their mid-40s have a hard time finding a partner on dating sites. It is well known that men also data “downwards” in a figurative sense, that they definitely choose partners who have a lower standard of living or less education than they do.

Women, on the other hand, are looking for at least as well-educated and well-situated partners. If they can't find such a partner, they'd rather stay alone.

Anni was also six years younger than Heinz. The two knew each other from before: when their spouses were still alive, they played rummy together every now and then. When the ticket office gave it, they all went away together for the weekend. These meetings were years ago when Heinz and Anni met again in the cemetery. Heinz's wife was no longer fit enough for it in the last years of her life. "With Anni by his side, grandpa really blossomed," says his granddaughter. The two of them travel a lot together, preferably to the “Kurlaub” in the Czech Republic or to the North Sea. They would have had more than ten wonderful years together.

In 2016, they both died within 24 hours. Heinz suffered a heart attack on the autobahn while he was on his way back from visiting Anni, who had been hospitalized a few days earlier. When he came through the door that day, she was being taken to the emergency room. Heinz couldn't cope with the fact that things were so bad for his Anni. This time the lightning hit him right in the heart. A few hours later, Anni was also dead.

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