How to Come Out a Winner After a Bad May-December Breakup


Here at, we’re always getting questions and comments submitted from readers about their May-December relationships. We’ve heard about plenty of age gap success stories, but we’ve also heard our share of May-December breakup stories—it happens to the best of us.

If you’re going through a May-December breakup, or even if you have in the past, it might seem like the best way to move on is to forget it ever happened and push it to the back of your mind. But as shown by a new study, talking about it can actually help you move on faster.

Researchers focused on participants who had endured a non-marital split within six months before the start of the study. One half of the group was asked to complete just two questionnaires, one at the start and one at the end. The other half participated in a series of methods indicating their emotions and how they were coping, like questionnaires, heart rate measurements, and interviews.

According to the findings, which were published in the academic journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, you’ll have an easier time getting over your May-December breakup if you talk about it. After nine weeks, the participants who partook in the more in-depth tasks demonstrated better overall recovery from their split, because it allowed them to reflect back on their failed relationship and helped them to “build a stronger sense of who they were as single people,” explained one of the researchers.


The whole point of the study was to show that although people become “psychologically intertwined” with one another when they’re in a relationship, focusing on fixing their self-concept after a breakup will improve overall well-being. In other words, reflecting on your relationship over time will not only help you accept the May-December breakup by seeing it from a detached perspective, but it will also give you the opportunity to rebuild your identity, this time as a single person.

While you may not have the unique opportunity of participating in a structured study like this one to openly discuss your May-December breakup, there are other avenues. For instance, weekly entries in a journal can help to make sense of the different emotions you might be experiencing. If this study is any indication, a big part of the recovery process is defining who you are.

Not all relationships are going to be age gap success stories, so if you’ve experienced a recent May-December breakup, consider and remind yourself about who you are, apart from your ex and the relationship. Maybe that means taking up a hobby that you used to love before you got together, or trying something new that excites you.



Nauert, R., “Reflecting on Failed Relationship Helps Recovery,” PsychCentral web site, January 7, 2015;


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