Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, breaking up is never easy. And while you might think that all heartbreak is made equal, it turns out that it’s not – and there’s one way of ending things that is particularly painful.
As reported by Her.ie, a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin from Cornell University looked into which methods of rejection affect us the most. They focused on two types – rejection when there is another individual involved, and rejection without a third party.
There were 600 participants and four experiments to determine which was the most painful. The first experiment paired men with two women who were working with researchers without the male’s knowledge. One of the women was told to solve a puzzle with the help of one partner, and she either picked the other woman to help, or decided to work it out herself.
Another saw how people in larger groups reacted when discussing how they had been rejected in different situations in the past.
The results showed that we feel worse when someone else is picked over us, as opposed to when nobody is chosen.
The study reads: ‘For those who are rejected, one important difference is whether they are rejected for someone else (comparative rejection) or no one at all (non-comparative rejection).
‘Our results show that comparative rejections feel worse than non-comparative rejections and that this may be because such rejections lead to an increased sense of exclusion and decreased belonging.’