Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

This is the worst type of break-up, according to science


Break-ups are hard. Rejection is even harder – especially if it’s due to your partner finding someone else.

According to a new study from Cornell University, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, being rejected by someone who flat-out picks someone else over you hurts a lot more than someone who just rejects you.

Looking closely at two types of rejection, scientists conducted four experiments on 600 people. As reported by Time, in the first experiment men were placed into a group with two women who were secretly working with the researchers. One woman was selected to solve a puzzle and given the option of picking a partner to help her. Sometimes she chose the other woman, sometimes she opted to work on her own.

Read more: Rejection letters sent to famous people

The other three experiments tested how people reacted in larger groups. Subjects were then asked to recall times when they’d felt rejected and then imagine being rejected in various scenarios. Every experiment resulted in people feeling more hurt after being rejected in favour of another person.

“This may be because such rejections lead to an increased sense of exclusion and decreased belonging,” the authors of the study concluded.


Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) breaks up with Walter (Bill Pullman) in Sleepless in Seatlle for Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks)

Additionally, when people in the study weren’t given a valid reason as to why they were rejected, they tended to make the assumption it was because of someone else coming into the picture – and then they’d try to find out more information (well, you would, wouldn’t you?).

Overall the study found people felt a lot better when they learned they hadn’t been rejected for another person. The authors of the study believed the reason for this to be because when someone else is introduced into the situation it can feel like a “double rejection”.

Read more: Disney princesses who would have been rejected

While the study related to rejection in general rather than focusing in on romantic relationships, it’s fair to say the results ring true for many situations in life, including love – and if this is how we deal with rejection generally, we’re bound to have the same reactions when it comes to emotional connections.

So while rejection is awful, no matter how it happens, at least one type appears to be easier to bounce back from than the other, eh?

Images: Naomi August / Tristar



How googling your symptoms online could be fuelling ‘cyberchondria’

dad rules daughter viral facebook post.jpg

Dad sets dating rules for his daughters and the internet has responded


Anna Faris explains why Chris Pratt was never her best friend


Instagram has fallen in love with heart-shaped succulents

The millennial houseplant obsession continues

by Helen Brown
25 Sep 2017

How many of our favourite First Dates couples are still together?

Here’s a look at the couples living happily ever after…

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

The sad reason this type of rescue dog is the most overlooked

Open your hearts, people

by Amy Swales
25 Sep 2017

What is diabulimia? The dangerous disorder in need of a spotlight

A lack of awareness means sufferers could be flying under the radar

by Amy Swales
25 Sep 2017

This is how your friends’ bad moods can affect your own mental health

A new study sheds light on how we ‘pick up’ emotions from our friends

by Moya Crockett
25 Sep 2017

Women have a new word for that annoying thing your male colleague does

Forget mansplaining: there's a new word in town

by Helen Brown
25 Sep 2017

Will & Grace fans, Debra Messing's character has changed in a big way

And we’re on board

by Susan Devaney
25 Sep 2017

Instagram creates automatic Facebook post saying “I will rape you”

How to win friends and influence people?

by Moya Crockett
25 Sep 2017

This Netflix horror about ghostly ex revenge is perfect Halloween TV

This looks absolutely terrifying

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

Sign up to our mouth-watering food and drink email

24 Sep 2017