London: They may look stronger and braver than women, but men suffer the most when a relationship is rocky, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the Wake Forest University in the US found that the pangs of broken-heart have a greater effect on the mental health of young men than the fair sex -- contradicting the stereotypical image of stoic men who are unaffected by what happens in their relationships.
While women are more likely to display their depression to friends, men are more likely to store up their feelings - with negative health effects including making them more likely to drink alcohol, the researchers found.
Prof Robin Simon, who led the study, admitted she was shocked that the results overturned the widespread assumption that women are more vulnerable to the emotional rollercoaster of relationships.
"Surprisingly, we found young men are more reactive to the quality of ongoing relationships," she was quoted as saying by a news daily.
That means men`s mental health is more affected by the harmful stress of a rocky relationship, she said.
The study, based on a survey of 1,000 unmarried 18- to 23-year-olds in Florida, also found that men get greater motional benefits from the positive aspects of an ongoing romance.
The findings could be down to the fact that young men often have few people in whom they confide -- apart from their romantic partner. Whereas women are more likely to have close
relationships with family and friends, she said.
Strain in a relationship could also be linked to poor emotional well-being because it threatens young men`s sense of identity and feelings of self-worth.
Another factor, Prof Simon said, was that men and women express emotional distress in different ways.
"Women express emotional distress with depression, while men express emotional distress with substance problems."
The researchers also found that while young men are more affected by the quality of a current relationship, young women are more emotionally affected by whether or not they are in a relationship.
The study, which was part of a long-term probe into mental health and the transition to adulthood, appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.