Why That Boy Who Broke Your Heart May Have Done More Damage Than You Thought…

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  • A new study shows that having a bad relationship when you're young can seriously affect a woman's mental health.

    Having a bad relationship when you’re young can seriously affect a woman’s mental health, according to a new study.

    ‘Caught in a Bad Romance: Adolescent Romantic Relationships and Mental Health’, conducted by sociologist Brian Soller at the University of New Mexico, used data from its study of more than 5,300 high school students to examine the mental health consequences disappointing relationships can have on young men and women.

    This is what you need to know:

    Girls can be seriously damaged when a relationship doesn’t live up to expectations.

    ‘I found that girls’ risk of severe depression, thoughts of suicide, and suicide attempt increase the more their relationships diverge from what they imagined.’

    But boys are less bothered.

    ‘I [Brian Soller] found no evidence that romantic relationship inauthenticity – which captures the extent to which relationships unfold in ways that are inconsistent with how adolescents think or feel they should – contributes to poor mental health among boys.’

    It’s because girls use romantic relationships to define themselves.

    ‘Romantic relationships are particularly important components of girls’ identities and are, therefore, strongly related to how they feel about themselves – good or bad. As a result, relationships that diverge from what girls envision for themselves are especially damaging to their emotional well-being.’

    But this isn’t the case for boys.

    ‘Boys may be more likely to build their identities around sports or other extracurricular activities, so this could be why they are not affected by relationship inauthenticity.’

    We must teach young women to value themselves.

    ‘Helping girls build their identities around things other than romantic relationships may mitigate the effects of relationship inauthenticity on their mental health.’

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