In a study of more than 1,000 men and women, ages 18 to 23, researchers found that unhappy romances cause men more emotional grief, including threatening their identity and feelings of self-worth.
Men may be more affected by a breakup because their romantic partners are their primary source of intimacy. Women, however, are more likely to have other close relationships with friends or family members to turn to for support, said the study's author, Robin Simon of Wake Forest University.
Nonmarital relationships are important to a young adult's well-being, Simon said.
"However, the advantages of partner support and disadvantages of partner strain are more closely associated with men's than women's mental health," she wrote.
The study is published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.