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

Out a WinnerHere 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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About Isabella

I was never patriotic, so when Independence Day came, the last thing on my mind was to go out and celebrate. I was bored and I was lonely, and though they weren’t my normal crowd, thesse girls were friends and family members who I grew up with. But Diana had her man, Marsha had hers, and my cousin Lisa had her own. I was the only one who was single and my taste was just too high; the kind of men they dated did not appeal to me. I wanted the executive, the entrepreneur. I was 22 and unhappy about my life. I yearned to be in a relationship; I felt I had so much to give a man, and yet I was single. My friends and I waited for cab and I was still second-guessing whether or not I really wanted to go out. While we were waiting, an older looking gentleman driving a blue pick-up truck drove up to us. As he slowed, he said, “Don’t move. I’m coming right back!” He drove off, leaving a trail of his cologne, as he sped away to drop off the construction workers sitting in the back of the truck. Literally moments later, he came back, stopped in front of us, asked us where we were going, and told us to get in. It turns out his name was Keith. After Keith dropped us off, I realized I didn’t want to stay and asked him to take me back to where he picked us up from. He turned, looked at me, and said, “You were the reason why I picked you all up. I wanted to get to know you. So, I’m happy you decided to leave with me.”