No Good Way for a Woman to End a Relationship

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Sure, everyone knows that being dumped is embarrassing, and a recent study confirms this. What the study also confirms, though, is what scores of women have been complaining about in bars and coffeeshops for decades: women just can't win.

"We tested the hypothesis that impressions of a person as a candidate for a romantic partner would decrease after people learned that the target had been dumped by his or her last partner," explain the Univeristy of Michigan-University of Pennsylvania team, publishing in Evolutionary Psychology. "Results supported this hypothesis and revealed that people quickly change their opinions of potential partners when they receive this information." The effect increases when people are evaluating each other for long-term relationships rather than brief flings. But here's the catch: people also change their opinions of potential partners when the potential partners reveal they were the ones doing the dumping. Women are more attracted to a man who reveals he rejected his last partner. "However, while men's desire to have a sexual relationship with a target was not influenced by her having rejected her last partner, their desire to have a romantic relationship with her decreased significantly."

In plain English? Women think higher of a man for being the one to end his last relationship. Men think less highly of a woman for doing so. And both sexes--to a much greater degree, note the researchers--are less interested in the other upon learning a potential partner was on the receiving end of a rejection.

The researchers don't connect the dots for you, but it's not that hard: whether the woman is dumped or is the one dumping, she loses.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.