Men like their women dumped, study says
Jennifer Aniston, left, is joined by then-husband Brad Pitt as she arrives at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday, Sept. 22, 2002, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kim D. Johnson)
Published Saturday, January 1, 2011 8:56PM EST
You've just met the perfect woman/man. They're sweet but sexy, make you laugh until you fall over, and have baby blue eyes that make you think of bad poetry about the ocean. But they were dumped in their last relationship -- so is it buyer beware?
A new study has a surprising answer to the question, saying how you react to your paramour's previous relationship depends on your gender. Men's rating of a woman improved when they found out she had been dumped, while women prefer men who initiated their previous breakup, a study published in Evolutionary Psychology says.
The elegantly named "Rejection Hurts: The Effect of Being Dumped on Subsequent Mating Efforts" study notes dumping can be seen as similar to selling a car. The seller has a lot of information about the car, but it's the fact that they are selling that may be the most important.
Study author Christine Stanik of the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan said the difference in findings by gender was unexpected.
"Women found men more desirable if they found they had rejected their last partner, but the opposite was true for men," she said in an interview. "Initially, I was expecting that everyone would like the person who rejected their last partner more because it's an indication perhaps that the person is of high status (or) is willing to risk breaking up with someone to find a relationship that is more suitable for them."
Stanik says the study did not find why men were more willing to date spurned women, but she had a few thoughts to offer.
"One thing I can speculate is that a man initiating a breakup might be keeping up with the idea of dominance that is inherent in gender roles but when a woman does that . . . men might find that woman too picky, too high maintenance," she said.
Men, basically, see a woman who ended her last relationship as more likely to do the same to them.
But women, according to the study, see much more positives coming out of dating someone who initiated their most recent breakup.
Michelle, a "nearly 30-something" from Montreal says she prefers to date men who initiated their last breakup because it's a sign they are not hung up on their ex.
"Because they've taken more time to think about the breakup, they may be less emotionally attached than if their partner broke up with them," the marketing and communications manager said.
"You always may wonder if they're still thinking about that other person, wishing they were still together."
Not surprisingly, the study also found that the disclosure of how the previous breakup occurred had a larger impact on someone looking for a long-term partner verses a short-term sexual fling.
"If a man is thinking about just having a sexual relationship with a woman, finding out she rejected her last partner didn't matter," Stanik said.
Both men and women were put off by a failure of their prospective partner to disclose the events surrounding the ending of their previous relationship, although women were more turned off than men.
Adam, a 29-year-old business owner in Calgary, says he thinks it's important to "have a bit of feel" for what happened in a new girlfriend's previous relationship.
"I think it's important you discuss that kind of stuff. I think it gives you a better feel for the person, you know where they came from," he said. "You learn what they learned from their last relationship."
The study consisted of 198 participants from the University of Michigan. Participants responded to the attractiveness of fictional online dating ads on the scale of one to nine, first based on trivial data and then after learning their response to the query "My last relationship ended because …"
The study did not include data from homosexual relationships.