- How Men Deal With a Broken Heart (You May Be Surprised)
- How He Became Broken 3 Ways Men Never Fully Recover From Heartbreak
- He forever uses caution.
- He misses important events.
- He seems void of emotion.
- How Men Deal with Breakups, and Why They Get It Wrong
- The Science of Men’s Behaviour after a Break-Up
- (Actually Useful) Breakup Advice for Men
- What to Do after a Breakup for Guys
- Men break up longer, women break up harder?
- Here’s what the studies say:
- If we’re emotionally stronger, why does the breakup seem to hurt us more?
- Oh, so moving on isn’t always what it seems?
- But really, we all need to look out for rebound relationships.
- Got it. But what’s the bottom line here?
- Why breakups are harder for men: ‘More women than men are initiators of breakups’
- Dealing with the split
- Why do we experience feelings of loss after breakup?
- What are the typical emotions experienced?
- Recovering from relationship loss
- Men Tend to Struggle With Breakup Regret More Than Women
- Why does breakup hit guys later
- It comes as a slow pain
- They do not share
- They have smaller networks
- They have a coping strategy
- It depends on the investment made
- Women deal with breakups differently than men, says science
- The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved.
- The Truth Of How Guys Deal With Breakups
How Men Deal With a Broken Heart (You May Be Surprised)
Surprisingly, men deal with breakups very similarly to how women deal with breakups. Heartbreak hurts deeply.
Methods for dealing with that hurt are also very similar:
– They get depressed
– They binge-eat
– They throw themselves into the gym
– They vent to their friends
– They throw themselves into their work
These are (paraphrased) responses to what men and women say they do after they get their heart broken, based on research done by a large dating website. Why are these so similar? Men and women both have egos to protect, standards to temporarily relax, and times to direct their consciousness into. And that is because men and women are more similar in daily life now than they have been in the past.
Where things begin to change, unsurprisingly, is that men claim to:
– Have more “hook ups”
– Have more rebound relationships
– Do more binge drinking or drug use
This is a step backwards into old ‘single life’ habits, which may at first seem comfortable, but often reveal something surprising.
Men experience heartbreak longer than women
Several studies on breakup behavior have shown that men stay devastated much longer than women do after a breakup. Since females have the vital genetic role of raising offspring, they figure out how to move on because they have to. Males, however, despite their coping mechanisms of ‘just moving on’, actually suffer the loss of a woman they loved on a spiritual, psychological and emotional level. They have to re-enter the competitive find-a-mate pool, which for men is very competitive. It’s an entirely different way of living than having a settled-in life, and men don’t relish going back to that.
Why might that be? That comes back around to one of the big differences between men and women: communication. When a man goes to his pack of friends to tell them about his breakup, they will rally around him and offer solutions to try to fix the problem – a process that doesn’t last long because men move on to the next thing to fix pretty quickly. When women turn to their pack of friends, they can expect deeper, longer and more sincere emotional support.
So if it bothers you that your ex isn’t troubled by your breakup, don’t let it. It’s an act: smoke and mirrors. He is more likely hiding a deep, long-lasting hurt that he is ill-equipped to get out of.
Tags: breakup, men, move on
How He Became Broken 3 Ways Men Never Fully Recover From Heartbreak
Our generation has become accustomed to the idea that we will marry and start a family much later than our parents did.
If you live in a big city or have an unconventional job (i.e., anything artistic or one that requires you to travel a lot), that timeline often gets pushed back even further.
It doesn’t mean we don’t have relationships.
However, since taking the ultimate plunge of marriage doesn’t register on the radar as quickly or as easily, it often means those relationships just don’t stand the test of time.
So, you break up. You have to start the emotional cycle all over again with a different person.
The older you get, the more people you add to the list. More promises get broken, more hearts get shattered and more baggage piles on.
Since our parents married young, they didn’t have to experience so many adult relationships not working out.
They may be unhappy or disappointed with who or what they chose, but they don’t know what multiple losses feels like.
It does something to you. It changes you.
It makes you a bit harder and more cynical.
In my opinion, this toll weighs heavier on men than it does on women.
Women don’t hurt any less than men, but our hearts are generally more open. We are naturally more vulnerable, so it’s often easier for us to start over once we have healed.
Men, on the other hand, take these losses like deaths they never fully recover from.
They can move on, but a piece of their heart is always missing. If you add multiple loves over the course of multiple years, they can become broken men.
They are shells of the people they once were.
A broken man is just a person who can’t trust as easily, can’t give as much and can’t open his heart as fully anymore, no matter how badly he wants to.
I have dated a lot of these broken men. I see a similar pattern.
Most are in their mid-to-late 30s or older, and are finally ready to settle down.
Most want healthy, long-term relationships.
But they end up making their partners so unhappy with their inability to really love, they can’t reach the end goal.
He forever uses caution.
One of the most prominent features of a broken man is the ability to take everything at a glacial pace.
Going slow when it comes to relationships is always a solid choice, but when it’s been 10 months and he still refers to you as “the girl I’m dating,” it starts to become tiresome.
The broken man wants to go slow because he’s been burned so many times in the past. He wants to be sure he doesn’t make the same mistakes and have regrets later.
We all get it. We want to make sure it’s real before we jump into the deep end too.
But at a certain point in life, women don’t want to casually date forever. We have a biological clock that ticks aggressively.
We would never want to rush into anything or marry someone who isn’t right for us, but at a certain point, we need to know if we’re wasting our time or not.
I’m not just talking about marriage and children.
Broken men are slow to make anything about the relationship official.
Meeting the family, moving in together, celebrating holidays, going on trips, showing investment in the future — all of these things count.
They can’t seem to get over their fear and resistance, and they can’t give the new person a new beginning.
He misses important events.
Broken men have already been through several holidays, birthdays and special occasions with girls in the past.
So when it comes time to treat you like you’re special, they completely drop the ball. It does a good bit of damage, leaving the current love feeling confused and unappreciated.
Guys in general don’t really get all worked up about special occasions, but they make an effort because they know it will make the girl happy.
But if a broken man was not appreciated in the past, he will stop the gifts altogether in his future.
When these men are confronted with disappointment by their girlfriends, they really have no explanation for their actions.
This leads to a vicious cycle, as the girlfriend does not want to do anything special anymore either.
It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.
He seems void of emotion.
I dated a broken man once.
I now lovingly refer to him as the “old, emotionless robot.”
Broken men are a strange, complicated breed. They will go through the motions of wanting to be in a relationship, but without any zest or enthusiasm.
They are careful with their affection, and they only get mushy when they’re really pushed or possibly drunk.
This strong poker face causes the girlfriend to doubt the entire relationship. She questions whether he’s into her at all, let alone sees a future with her.
This leads to a lot of tearful conversations, like “Where is this going?” and “What do you want?”
These conversations rarely end well.
The man starts pulling away.
“Do I really want this?” he will ask himself.
He will struggle with his true feelings and with letting someone in.
It’s a really sad state of affairs.
We all know how this story with the broken man ends.
The girl gives everything she has until she’s at her breaking point, and she leaves the broken man.
The broken man is in absolute shambles. He knows he has lost something valuable to him, and it is solely his fault.
He will try and get the girl back, but she will have moved on. She knows she can find someone who will love her better.
I hope all the broken men out there find a way to release their pasts before it’s too late.
Otherwise, they will be eternal bachelors. They will miss the boat of opportunity when there is still a chance.
Maybe the last loss will be the wake-up call. Maybe they will settle.
Whatever the case may be, I hope they all find happiness eventually.
It’s no secret that men deal with pain, especially emotional pain, in the opposite way of how women do. This leads women to think that men are incapable of feeling pain, but this is just far from the truth. The difference is mainly linked to the “Holding the Steering Wheel Myth”; men have the urge to be always in control. And since emotions are an uncontrollable field, showing pain is perceived as an act of weakness. Needless to say, that this perception disparity is translated into different reactions while dealing with emotional pain. So here are 8 ways men deal with heartbreak that don’t deny their ability of feeling pain:
Guys would rather not talk about it at all
Unlike women, men don’t spill out every single detail about a painful situation to their mates, no matter how close they are. Guys will just skip the “awkward emotional part” talk and they will focus on maintaining their strong image in front of their guy friends. This stems from the fact that women are better than guys at expressing their feelings; they are willing to spend hours and hours talking through things, analysing them and digging deep to actually figure something out. And not to mention the social stereotypes that men never cry, whatsoever!
The obligation to get over it
Due to never talking about their emotions and pushing bad feelings in the background, men feel the obligation that they need to move on way too fast, without taking the convenient amount of time to heal. This is interpreted in having rebound relationships after breakups. It’s a normal inclination to try to find someone else to replace the loss, even if they’re sure they are not over their exes. It’s a “fake it till you make it” strategy. Moreover, the feeling of being desired does good to a man’s ego, especially if he was not the one ending the relationship.
The emotional lag thing
You know how after a breakup, the female partner breaks down right away whereas the guy holds it together and seems great dealing with it, that’s probably due to the emotional lag. According to a study by Binghamton University of New York, guys don’t feel as devastated as women in the first stages of breakups; it takes them more time to realize the loss. So after women go through all the stages of being miserable and managing to process it, guys experience the downs when women are finally about to move on. That explains why men try to contact their exes just in time they are over them.
They feel anger instead of depression
Due to the holding back, never admitting and faking being normal, men feel anger instead of depression and anxiety after heartbreaks. That’s why in order to tease their exes, they sometimes tend to do something stupid that their ex-partners didn’t approve. It’s like paying them back for how they made them feel. We can say that the childish side takes over in that stage; you hurt me, I hurt you.
And cry it all out when no one is looking
Not talking about it doesn’t mean that they don’t experience emotional break-downs! Believe it or not, many guys lose it and burst into tears after breakups, but only behind closed doors when they are alone and nobody’s watching. Nothing wrong in tearing up over a lost love, that’s the most painful feeling anyone can experience. But unfortunately, most men feel that they have to wear a strong face and act as if they don’t care enough to shed a tear.
Men’s heads always win the battle
The main difference between men and women is that women are mostly emotional creatures, while men are more rational. So in the post-breakup stages, the more emotional partner always tends to overthink and overanalyze the situation with all the “What ifs” and “What could’ve happened”, while the rational partner starts to wander “What’s Next?” This doesn’t mean that men do not care enough, or weren’t really in love. It only means that their heads always win the battle against their hearts; they start to search for logical reasonable ways to minimize their loss.
After ending a romantic relationship, a guy would cut off every channel of contact with his ex. Yes they will delete, if not block, their exes from every social media account they have, delete their chats, messages, pictures and everything that can remind them of the pain they are experiencing. As cold as it sounds, this is their technique to get over it and regain their emotional sanity. They don’t want to be reminded of their loss, not even through social media. It’s going to be like the relationship never existed.
A burst of productivity
In order to keep their minds off, guys will use their energy after a breakup in order to be as productive as ever. Maybe going to the gym, having another job or going to that Spanish class he always wanted to take; this will make them feel good about themselves by redirecting their energy to the tasks they’ve been procrastinating about. That’s a good way to cope in the short run, but swamping themselves with activities only to cover the pain can lead to disaster later on.
In the end, it is important to admit that men and women have very distinctive natures, physically and emotionally. When it comes to heartbreaks, there is no question that both parties experience severe pain, but it’s every man on his own. So never underestimate someone else’s pain and know how to respect the strategies they adopt to overcome it.
How Men Deal with Breakups, and Why They Get It Wrong
While the internet is awash with break up advice for women, there’s very little information out there on how men deal with breakups. For the most part, it seems men are left to figure it out for themselves. Therefore, in an effort to aid all the sobbing ex-boyfriends of the world, let’s pull on our lab coats and have a rummage around inside the average male head!
The Science of Men’s Behaviour after a Break-Up
In heterosexual relationships, the foremost study into the differences in how each gender deals with heartbreak comes from researchers at Binghamton University, who pried open the personal lives of 6,000 participants across 96 countries by asking them to rate the emotional pain of their last break up. On a scale where 0 was painless and 10 was unbearable, on average, women ranked emotional pain at 6.84, while men reported a slightly lower average of 6.58.
The twist comes, however, when looking at the break up on a longer timescale. While women are hit harder initially, the study also found that they recover more fully, rising from the ashes of their old relationship like a phoenix (albeit one with a fresh hairdo, an updated profile picture and a new subscription to yoga classes). Conversely, when it comes to how men deal with breakups, the study found that guys never truly experience this type of recovery, instead simply carrying on with their lives.
There are several reasons why women tend to sail into the sunset post break up while men wallow in their underwear for months on end.
Several studies into men’s behaviour after a break up have found that a married man is encouraged by his wife to partake in healthier behaviours, such as quitting smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol he consumes. Post relationship, a man is likely to slide (or nosedive) back into old bad habits, partly in an effort to ‘rediscover’ his old single self, and in part to numb the negative feelings that naturally arise in the wake of a split.
Beyond giving his liver a good kicking, a newly single man will also suffer from the loss of his spiritual ‘home’ – his partner. Whereas women tend to have large, complex social support networks within which they can share their grief, men’s friendship networks are, on average, much smaller and less intimate. In a study that asked participants who they would turn to first if they were feeling depressed, 71% of men chose their wives, while only 39% of women chose their husbands as their go-to confidant.
As the stereotype of masculinity in today’s society dictates that men be aggressive, self-reliant, and conservative emotionally, males are discouraged from opening up to one another from a young age, and naturally, this has a dire effect on how men deal with breakups. Consequently, their partners soon take the role of listener-in-chief, the one on whom all the man’s worries, hopes and fears are heaped. When a woman leaves her partner, often she unknowingly takes his entire emotional support system along with her.
Read Our Survey About Men and Emotions: 95% of women answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘do you think women prefer men who are open with their emotions?’, only 84% of men answered the same way.
(Actually Useful) Breakup Advice for Men
As you may have surmised by now, the majority of research points towards men being generally dreadful when it comes to handling breakups. So, then, the million dollar question: what’s a lovelorn man to do? Fortunately for you, dear reader, the answer is right before your eyes. In short, do the opposite of everything detailed in the above paragraphs. But where to begin? After a lifetime of ingesting maladaptive coping strategies, is it possible to get back on track? (Don’t worry, it definitely is.)
For many men, the first instinct in a break up is self-destruction – to pirouette back into the past, filling free time with unhealthy habits and cheap alcohol to numb the pain. Hint: don’t do that. Alcohol is a depressant. Exercise, however, is the opposite – it increases blood flow to the brain, releases endorphins, and boosts production of serotonin, which is largely responsible for our day to day happiness.
Instead of spending the sudden stack of empty hours you’ve acquired moping around in sweatpants and scowling out at the world through cracks in drawn curtains, use your new free time to improve yourself, or get back into a hobby you’ve lost touch with. If you’re searching to reconnect with the old ‘you’, you’re much more likely to find the answer in your favourite pastimes than at the bottom of a glass.
What to Do after a Breakup for Guys
Next, it’s time to fill that girlfriend-shaped void in your support system. The answer here (although tempting) isn’t necessarily to rebound and cling to the next potential partner who throws a sympathetic smile your way. Instead, swallow all that silly masculine fear of appearing weak, and open up. Whether it’s a cathartic vent over a drink with friends, or a teary phone call to your parents, opening up is the first step towards making a full recovery.
Your old support system was one person which, while a lovely enough notion, is impractical for functioning healthily – imagine trying to build a cathedral using only one pillar. A problem shared is a problem halved, so keep sharing, and eventually, though it may not be possible to imagine it in this moment, you’ll feel your old self again – and not just that, but you’ll be more well grounded and secure than ever before.
If you’re still feeling glum, here’s one last nugget of advice from 19th-century wordsmith Kahlil Gibran:
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
And once you’ve made your recovery, and emerged blinking into the sunlight of a new day? Well, maybe it’s time to join Elite Singles!
My last big breakup was almost three years ago. It was horrible (we never spoke again), and I grieved in a big way. I vented to my friends constantly, I wrote—and I cried, like, a lot. Meanwhile, my ex-boyfriend had a new girlfriend within six weeks and another one right after her. (Yes, I kept tabs on his social media for much longer than I should have.) I marveled at how quickly he seemed to have moved on from this thing that felt so big to me.
I had to find out once and for all: Is the romantic stereotype true? Do guys really get over breakups faster than women?
I’d heard so many stories similar to mine before—female friends feeling crushed that their ex-boyfriends had moved on at warp speed, apparently feeling little to no emotional backlash from the split, as they hopped straight back onto the single scene completely unscarred. At least, that’s how it looked from the outside.
Turns out, like pretty much everything about relationships, breaking up for men is actually more complicated.
Men break up longer, women break up harder?
I asked my friend and mentor Bobbie Thomas what she thought about all this—she’s an accomplished working woman in a happy marriage and is raising a 2-year-old son in the heart of Manhattan, which in my mind means she is very wise. She put it like this: “Women break up harder, but men break up longer.”
What she means, is that in general, women will heavily emote, talk with their friends and spend time analyzing the relationship in order to gain closure or perspective in hindsight. This process is difficult, but usually leads to emotional clarity and an openness to a new relationship—a light at the end of the tunnel.
Men (again, in general), on the other hand, will typically bury their feelings and “move on” by making a deliberate effort to start dating again immediately. This means they procrastinate processing what happened, and as a result, their feelings come back to haunt them again and again in later relationships.
Here’s what the studies say:
This just isn’t Bobbie’s theory. There’s actually real science to back this up.
After surveying more than five thousand people from ninety-six different countries, a study from Binghamton University found out that after a breakup, men tend to engage in more “destructive” behaviors. The lead of the study, Craig Morris, put it like this:
“Men report more feelings of anger and engage in more self-destructive behaviors than women. Women, in comparison, frequently feel more depressed and participate in more social, affiliative behaviors than men. Women’s behaviors could be argued to be more constructive strategies as a result of their tendency to preserve the relationship, whereas men choose destructive strategies for maintaining their own self-esteem.”
Morris also notes that the intense self-reflection and major hits to our self-esteem that women tend to experience after a breakup can be beneficial. In 2011, he and his team conducted a campus-based study that found women “were almost always able to identify a silver lining of increased personal awareness and greater perceptivity regarding future relationships.” Even more encouraging? This coping mechanism “helps women recover more fully and emerge emotionally stronger than men.”
If we’re emotionally stronger, why does the breakup seem to hurt us more?
Here’s the part where the traditional stereotypes about men and women and romance seem to really manifest themselves as true. Women are taught to be comfortable with their emotions and to express them openly. So we do. We cry, we share our sorrows, we go to therapy, we do all kinds of things to actively “feel our feelings” and then try to feel better. Our suffering is pretty much on display for all to see.
On the other hand men, who are brought up with a traditionally masculine approach to emotions, are taught to, you know, man up. That means retaining your independence, never asking for help and always appearing strong and in control. That’s why you see guys engaging in the destructive behavior mentioned above, has nothing to do with emotional processing: drinking and partying, burying themselves in work, sleeping around or dating a new woman right away. (Putting a series of band-aids on a bullet wound, if you will.)
I asked Emily Holmes Hahn, the founder of LastFirst matchmaking about this. She more or less echoed the study’s findings. “Men get over breakups differently than women, but certainly not faster,” she said. “Both sexes experience the same degree of grief, anger, hurt, or whatever emotion the breakup has caused. Men, however, will often go to great lengths to mask these feelings, in an attempt to seem more (stereotypically) masculine, while women generally like to share their raw emotions with friends and family, and often take significant time off from dating in order to heal.”
Oh, so moving on isn’t always what it seems?
Usually not. Another relationship expert quoted in Psychology Today, Dr. Scott Carol, said that men tend to adopt a “fake it til you make it” attitude, which means repressing those grieving feelings and basically doing whatever it takes to take their mind off the pain. Why? Because the end of a relationship is a mark of failure. What’s more, the mourning they experience is more about that—the utter failure of it all—than the loss of an actual person. (Ugh.) This detachment is why guys are so much more prone to, you guessed it . . . the rebound relationship.
But really, we all need to look out for rebound relationships.
Holmes Hahn says, “Actively pursuing a rebound fling is the quintessential ‘guy’ thing to do immediately post-breakup, but women are definitely inclined to this quick-fix maneuver as well. As much as a man fresh out of a relationship will physically enjoy the feeling of being with someone different, the rebound girlfriend is even more important to him psychologically, as she helps him signal to the world and to himself that “I’m okay!,” “I’m strong,” and “I didn’t let my feelings get the best of me or slow me down!”
In other words? “I am not a failure.” Holmes Hahn went on to dish out a bit of advice to me, which is to stay away from guys on the rebound, no matter how much I like him or how aggressively he might pursue. (Could have used this advice a while ago, Emily!) If we really like him, she says we should try just being friends for a while—and see if any sustaining relationship could blossom once he’s had time to heal.
One of the most important things to keep in mind (that I have a really hard time remembering) is that men are not less emotional than women, but often, they are not as well equipped to handle their feelings as women. Like Holmes Hahn said, a big breakup will absolutely hit you both with feelings of grief and anger. You just might not see his—and you certainly won’t often see it on his Instagram (so stop stalking already).
Just keep in mind that while you’re spending hours venting, over-thinking, and batting self-doubt… you’re healing! Meanwhile, if he keeps on relationship hopping, or transforms into a workaholic, he might never truly and fully move on from what you guys had. (So don’t be too surprised if you get that out-of-the-blue text months or years later.)
One final note that may make you feel better… Or worse? A study from 2011 found that the most effective way for both men and women to get over a relationship is to date someone new. But not in a rebound kind of way. So when you’re ready—truly ready—getting back out there will probably be the most healing thing you can do for yourself.
(Just be sure to ask yourself these six questions first!)
It’s a misconception that women get super connected to the people they sleep with but that men never do that “needy” emotional thing. In truth, sex releases bonding chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin into female and male brains, and it’s vasopressin that helps a man bond with you. For an animal-kingdom example, consider the usually monogamous male prairie vole, a cute little mouselike creature. Larry and his colleagues discovered that without the vasopressin effect, the vole would turn into a promiscuous cad. No vasopressin effect, no monogamy. When a human male is under the influence of vasopressin, as all are during sex, he forms a bond with you that’s kind of like an animal claiming a home; your scent, your eye color, even your apartment all become cues that make him crave you. Another animal example: If you give a male hamster a shot of vasopressin to the brain, he’ll run around peeing like crazy to mark territory—that’s his place, nobody else’s. Release a guy’s vasopressin by having sex with him, and he’ll unconsciously start to view you as the territory he’s bonded to. You don’t have to like it, but this is where much of that famous male possessiveness comes from.
Your brain thinks your boyfriend is your baby.
I know that headline sounds nuts, but hear me out! When a mother gives birth, the cervical and vaginal stimulation immediately releases oxytocin in her brain, which contributes to feelings of reward and motivation. This phenomenon is one of the things that helps a new mother see her baby—whom others might regard as a pooping snot factory—as the most precious thing ever. But get this: When a man and woman have sex, the stimulation activates much of the same circuitry. Just as a new mother associates her pleasurable emotions with her baby’s face, this circuit prompts a woman having sex to look at the man, register his face as trustworthy, and associate that specific face with the pleasure she’s feeling. In fact, studies have shown that when women look at pictures of their romantic partners and pictures of their children, the brain patterns actually overlap. We believe this is why women tend to nurture their lovers while men tend to protect theirs.
Size really does matter.
Scientists used to think—and some still do—that the only job a penis had was to deliver sperm. But why, then, has it evolved to be so much longer than necessary? (The average erect non-porn-star penis is about five inches, but it only takes a two-and-a-half-inch one to get you pregnant.) We believe it’s because the human penis is also built to trigger that release of oxytocin in a woman through cervical stimulation. Does that mean that average (and larger-than-average) guys could have more luck getting women to fall in love with them faster? Well, a large penis isn’t required in order to have a strong connection with someone—but yes, we think it could help!
Love is an addiction (but sex isn’t).
No doubt you’ve heard a lot about sex addiction lately, thanks to guys like Russell Brand and David Duchovny, but I believe that phenomenon is more likely a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (which is a whole different story!). Love, on the other hand, is an addiction. Passion fades over time because the brain’s reward system physically changes in the same way it does for a heroin addict: Its receptors for dopamine, a neurochemical that triggers euphoria, are altered, and in place of the rush, you feel more of a need. You must have your partner just to avoid feeling miserable. Even though being with him or her produces less pleasure than at the beginning, being without him or her produces a feeling of loss. Sigh.
Why breakups are harder for men: ‘More women than men are initiators of breakups’
“For me this period has been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street,” Pitt told the GQ reporter at one point – a self-flagellating confession suggesting that, more than six months on, he is still coming to terms with, and slightly numbed by, the end of his 12-year relationship with Jolie.
While he’s not the first A-lister to speak candidly about heartbreak, men typically don’t fall over themselves to tell everyone about their own suffering in the aftermath of a break-up. One of the few to do so was Ryan Phillippe, who divorced from Reese Witherspoon after eight years in 2007.
A year later, he admitted that the split was “the darkest, saddest place I had ever been. It was a struggle – there were a good four or five months of not being able to get out of bed. It was the worst time in my life.” His frankness didn’t seem to do him any favours in Hollywood, however, as his career slumped in the subsequent years.
“When your marriage breaks-up or your long-term relationship comes to an end you see it as a failure,” says Joe Wallace who separated with his partner after 10 years – including one year of marriage. “It takes a long time for your self-esteem to come back up.
“It affects men’s health,” adds Wallace, who is now involved in Families, a support group for family members who have suffered a painful separation based in Limerick. “Even before they get caught up in the legal side of things… Men are very slow to offload (their problems) and that is one of the main issues.”
The caricature of the socially and emotionally isolated male has become so embedded that it often works against men coming out of a relationship. They are assumed to be unable to cope. Thus, a court, when determining issues such as child custody, may conclude that they are in over their heads.
“When the relationship breaks down men need a certain amount of guidance as to what happens next,” says relationship mediator Sharon Morrissey, who says the “stereotypical view that men can’t multi-task” has come to be regarded as universally applicable rather than specific to certain individuals.
“Men are very practical when you give them that guidance. They will go and do what needs to be done. Nonetheless, in appearing to put a fence around his feelings, Pitt has revealed himself to be somewhat of an Everydude. Any man who feels they’ve been on the wrong ending of a romantic pummelling will recognise Pitt’s coping mechanisms – the brooding, the solitude, the insistence that, ‘yes, really, they’re okay’.
“Women have wider social structure,” says Wallace. “They would be out (in the world) more than men. Men tend to work and then come home – obviously women work a lot more nowadays but it’s still true that men tend to go from work to home.”
That men often struggle to process a serious break-up is hardly a controversial claim. The idea has taken root that, emotionally, we often react badly to major life upheavals. Moreover, our methods for dealing with changed circumstances are not always helpful. Going to the pub was named the best way to “get over” a split according to a 2015 survey by Men’s Health magazine while one third of those polled said the jilted party should feign indifference.
Women, by contrast, are typically more comfortable finding a shoulder to cry on and letting it all out. Yet at the same time, they will often have fewer illusions about the state of a relationship and are more willing to endure short-term pain in the knowledge that it’s for the best over the longer course.
“Studies show that more women than men are the initiators of marriage break up today,” says Elaine Hanlon (above), a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Dublin.
“In order for a woman, and particularly a mother, to make the choice to break up the family unit, there is usually a long decision period. Many women I work with have taken years to leave unhappy marriages so by the time they do so they have worked through a certain amount of the pain, anger and hurt. Men’s expectations of a marriage are often not as high as women’s and they are happy to keep plodding along.”
Women are often less dependent on their significant other for emotional support – they typically have a wider circle of friends and will confide to family in a way most men wouldn’t countenance. Men, however, frequently look to their relationships to fulfil their emotional needs.
“Women tend to have a variety of emotional outlets and their main focus of conversation often tends to be about relationships,” says Hanlon. “In more casual conversations they may discuss work relationships or talk about relationships with their children or friends, and in more close girlfriend relationships, women tend to talk openly about their intimate relationships.
“Men, on the other hand are more emotionally dependent on their female partners… Studies have shown that men move into new relationships quicker than women and this may be one of the reasons why. It’s not necessarily that the man has ‘got over’ the relationship but more that he needs support to do so.”
What are men to do? Clearly there’s no quick fix. You won’t get very far telling Brad to pull back the curtains and embrace every morning as a new opportunity. But for many men there is a danger that a brief spell of mourning can metastasise into ongoing loneliness. A first step would be a recognition that both sexes suffer. The only real difference is the way in which they express their pain.
“Males grew up with the ‘men don’t cry’ attitude and while men may deal with things differently, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same pain and the same hurt as women,” says Hanlon. “So for generations, men have learnt to suppress this pain and hurt and ‘be a man’ which doesn’t allow much space for vulnerability.”
Dealing with the split
* Don’t try to numb the pain with booze
In times of stress, many men seek relief at the bottom of a glass. But overindulgence can cause you to suppress feelings that are best dealt with.
* Talk about it
Your friends won’t jump out the nearest window if you open up about your feelings. Even if they don’t have much advice to offer beyond the standard dude-isms, just having them as a sounding board can help.
This brings us back to the earlier warning about alcohol, which can inhibit your sleep cycle. At times of stress, prioritise a good night’s sleep.
* Don’t be a virtual stalker
Your relationship is over and you need to accept that – which means not stalking them on social media. It may help to erase their phone number too.
* Stay busy
As well as focusing attention on your work, make time for exercise and pursue that hobby you never had room in your life for previously.
Despite populist writings that love lasts forever, the divorce statistics across various countries tell us that anywhere between one in 25 to two in three marriages end. If these statistics were to take into account the number of nonmarital long-term relationships that end, then the statistics would be much higher.
Most of us experience a relationship breakup at some point in our lives. For some of us, the experience may be most profound when we lose our first love. This is largely because our first loves are our first experience at learning what romantic love is, how to navigate the joys and challenges of love and what it’s like to experience relationship loss.
For some, the loss of a first love is also the first time the physical and psychological symptoms of grief and loss are experienced.
A romantic relationship that has spanned a considerable time (decades in some cases) also provokes intense feelings of loss, even when people knew their relationship was problematic. They may have found their relationship dissatisfying and view their former partner as insensitive, selfish, argumentative – even unloving – and still mourn the loss of it.
Read more: The science of romance – can we predict a breakup?
Why do we experience feelings of loss after breakup?
During the adult years, our romantic partners hold a special significance – a significance that was once held by our parents or parent-like figures. Our romantic partners become the primary people we turn to for love, comfort, and security.
Above anyone else, we turn to our partners for care and support in times of threat and distress. We also turn to them for validation and to share in our success during times of joy and achievement.
Our partner replaces our parents as our main source of support and comfort. Going through a breakup without that support is difficult. aj garcia unsplash, CC BY
The loss of the most significant person in our life causes us to experience distress, and in the early stages of relationship loss, this distress compounds. This is because our natural reaction when our partner isn’t physically or psychologically present to meet our needs is to “up” the distress. This increase in distress occurs for two reasons:
we feel more vulnerable when our partner is not there to meet our needs
increasing our distress can alert our partner that we need their support
This is why breaking up is so hard: the key person in life that helps you deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly, is not there to help you deal with this highly distressing loss.
Read more: The deadly truth about loneliness
What are the typical emotions experienced?
The so called “normative” emotional response to relationship loss depends on whether you are doing the breaking up, or, your partner is breaking up with you.
Breaking up with a long-term romantic partner is not something a person undertakes lightly. We generally only consider relationship breakup as a viable option if:
our partner is consistently not meeting our needs
we experience a relationship betrayal to the point trust cannot be restored
stressors, challenges, and social disapproval outside the relationship are so chronic and intense the relationship breaks down to the point it cannot be revived.
The person doing the breaking up will often experience relief, mixed with feelings of guilt (because of the hurt they’re inflicting on their partner), anxiety (over how the breakup will be received) and sadness (especially if they still have love and fondness for their partner).
For the person whose partner is breaking up with them, the emotions experienced often relate to the three phases of loss people undergo.
In the first phase, a person protests the breakup and tries to re-establish closeness with their partner. In this phase, the dominant emotion experienced is one of anger, but the threat of loss brings about distress emotions such as panic and anxiety. These feelings of “separation protest” can sometimes be so strong that a person works very hard to get back with their partner.
But if the relationship is truly at an end, then engaging in this kind of behaviour only makes it harder (and longer) to recover from the relationship loss. These powerful feelings that sit behind separation protest are why, even in toxic relationships, a person may wish to reunite with their partner.
In the second phase, a person comes to the realisation that getting back together is not possible, and so, feelings of sadness dominate alongside feelings of lethargy and hopelessness.
In the third phase, a person comes to terms with, and accepts, the loss. Time and energy is then devoted to other life tasks and goals (which can include seeking out a new partner).
A question often asked when it comes to relationship breakups is “how long should I feel like this?”
The experience of relationship loss is a very individual experience, and there’s great variability in how long it can take for people to recover from the loss.
People’s circumstances can also complicate recovery. A relationship that ended (on good or bad terms), but still involves seeing one’s former partner (say, because they work at the same organisation or share custody of their children) can increase the process of recovery, and make it more challenging. This is because seeing one’s partner may reactivate feelings of hurt, anger or sadness, especially if a person didn’t want the relationship to end.
If you’re not functioning on a daily basis you should seek help. davidcohen unsplash, CC BY
We also know aspects of people’s personality can impact on their ability to recover from loss. People who experience insecurity about themselves and their relationships find it harder to deal with and recover from feelings of anger and sadness than people who feel secure within themselves and their relationships.
In general, people tend to work through the various stages of loss to reach the recovery phase from anywhere between one month to six months after the relationship has ended.
Read more: Stalking your ex on Facebook is creepy … and bad for you
Recovering from relationship loss
People who recover from relationship loss tend not to defend against the emotions they are experiencing. That is, they try not to suppress or ignore their feelings, and in doing so, they give themselves the opportunity to process their emotions and to make sense of them. Some studies have suggested writing about the loss, much like journalling, can also help with recovery from relationship loss.
On the other hand, brooding over these emotions, not accepting the relationship loss, and talking about the breakup with people who only increase your feelings of sadness and anger by reinforcing these negative feelings or further highlighting all you have lost, are not particularly constructive ways of dealing with the breakup.
Seeking support from friends and family is important, but not only do people require emotional comfort, they also require encouragement that they can get through it, and reassurance that what they are experiencing is normal – and will pass.
If a person is truly having a hard time dealing with the loss – they are in a constant state of sadness, feel chronically depressed, are unable to function on a daily basis – then seeking professional help from a counsellor or psychologist is highly advisable. Some people might just need a bit of extra help in learning how to process their emotions to reach recovery.
Relationship breakups are never easy, and most of us will experience the pain of loss at some point in life. While the experience is painful and challenging, it can be a time where we learn a lot about ourselves, experience profound personal growth, and gain a greater appreciation of the kind of relationship we truly want.
Read more: Dealing with love, romance and rejection on Valentine’s Day
Men Tend to Struggle With Breakup Regret More Than Women
This article originally appeared on VICE US
Whenever Jane’s ex-boyfriend posts on Facebook—showing photos of his adorable family and the gleaming white smile that hasn’t changed since high school—she feels a twist in her gut, like she’s glimpsing a better life she could’ve had.
They’re both in their early 40s. He has a wife, a child, stepchildren, and a settled domestic life. Jane (a pseudonym) is a single mom with one daughter and not a spare moment. “I’m working; I’m going to school,” she says. “I don’t even have time to get coffee with someone. When I think about him, I feel lost.” They grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and dated for four years. He was a football player, wholesome, capable, and committed to his family. “They had a spaghetti dinner every Sunday night,” Jane remembers. “He knew how to cook. He could change his own oil. He did every DIY thing.”
He got a scholarship to a prestigious university in another state, but she convinced him to go to a school near the one where she planned to study, so they could stay together. Jane had a longtime crush on a close friend’s brother and when he became single, she left the handy, good-looking football player to be with him. She admits it was a youthful, impulsive decision.
After that, Jane’s romantic life played out like a series of sad songs: Her boyfriend died young of Hodgkin lymphoma. She tried to get back together with her ex, but he had moved on to someone new—and was somewhat sour she’d dumped him. She married twice, at 23 and 31. Both marriages ended in divorce.
“All the things I haven’t had in a relationship, I think I could have had with him,” Jane says. “We clicked in ways that I haven’t clicked with anyone else. I think we’d have a garden, a home, kids.” She pictures their life together down to household chores—which they’d split evenly—and thinks about him roughly every other day, or whenever he pops up on Facebook.
Regret over relationships that went south is more intense and common than other forms of regret, according to psychologists. “Most have had multiple relationships by age 30,” says Craig Eric Morris, an anthropologist at Binghamton University who has studied grief over relationship dissolution. On average, one of those relationships “was severe enough that it had an effect on their ability to go on with their lives. Everyone has had one that was really bad.”
In one of Morris’ studies, more than 90 percent of respondents reported both emotional trauma—such as anger, depression, and anxiety—and physical distress like nausea, insomnia and weight loss over a breakup. In a study that included older participants, he found long-term wistfulness over sunken romances was not rare, but mainly a phenomenon among men.
Morris’ research shows that the partner who initiated the breakup feels less grief than the one who got dumped, but both often feel sorrow and regret at the way the relationship unfolded, often on different timelines. “The person who initiates the breakdown gets a head start,” Morris says, and may be silently grieving the relationship during what both will look back on as their final days together.
Relationships are the focus of deep regret more often than other life struggles, according to a 2011 study, mainly from researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They asked a representative sample of Americans about their most salient regret. More named one pertaining to romance (19 percent), than related to any other arena of life, including family (17 percent), education (14 percent), career (14 percent), and finance (10 percent).
Amy Summerville is the head of the Miami University’s Regret Lab, a study unit for thoughts of “what might have been” and their effects. These what-if’s are known in psychological literature as “counter-factional thinking.” “That’s when you think things could have been better the directions things could have taken and the factors related to that,” Summerville says.
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She says breakups have three earmarks of regrets that are deeply felt and often ruminated over. Firstly, people tend to brew on losses of social standing and acceptance, from broken friendships to job losses. “Individuals tend to regret anything that will be a threat to that sense of belonging,” Summerville says. Romantic partnerships are a key source for that basic psycho-social need.
Secondly, people, naturally, are more prone to regret circumstances over which they had some control. Freak accidents or the results of the behavior of others tend not to generate as much remorse as one’s own actions and inactions. In a relationship, partners make and commit to a long series of decisions. “e have a lot of agency and control,” Summerville says. And there are consequences to those choices, up to the breakdown and termination of the relationship. That makes actions in a romantic relationship more regret-worthy than similar behavior patterns in a family relationship. “My brother is not going to stop being my brother because of a way I acted,” Summerville adds.
Lastly, people more often lament misgivings related to reoccurring themes and struggles, Summerville says. You might regret being a brat and source of worry to your parents as a teenager, but that regret is muted once you’re an adult and have moved on to a different type of relationship to them and to new, more mature habits. But for most people, a love life is a continuing effort—either to find a partner or hang onto and be happy with their current one. When you hit a rough patch, you might be tempted to trace your circumstances back to “the one that got away”—or an idealized version of that person.
Combine the three factors—social belonging, agency/control, and ongoing struggle—and you have a hotbed for remorseful thought. In 2015, Morris and his collaborator Emily Roman, from University College London, published a large study of adults of all ages—with a population-representative percentage of gay men and women—and their response to post-relationship grief. It was meant to overcome a shortcoming common to breakup research; scholars often survey college students, that low-hanging fruit of academia. This survey involved 5,705 participants in 96 countries with a median age of 27.
Once again, emotional and psychosomatic pain was universal immediately after the breakup. But when the researchers discussed the healing process and long-term impact with participants, there was marketed difference between genders. Women tended to reflect and move on. “Women reported they spoke with friends and family and clergy,” Morris says. “Many will say, ‘It was a long time ago’ and, ‘Here’s what I learned from it.’”
He adds, “Women never say, ‘That was the greatest guy of my life I’ve never made peace with it.” Morris says he is speaking in generalities. (He evidently never spoke to Jane—or the singer Adele.) But women tended to move past regret, eventually and then completely.
When the researchers spoke to men, they tended to be much more regretful and they didn’t use the same language as women. “Not one guy said, ‘I’m over it. I’m a better person for it,’” Morris says. They speculated and often mentioned a past partner as the best they ever had or the point where they should have stopped their romantic search—had everything gone well.
Some of the tales were extreme: One man lost his partner to another guy in a love triangle. He told Morris he had frequent dreams that he was being swallowed by a black shadow and speculated it was a subconscious representation of his romantic rival, come to consume the rest of him, having already obtained his proverbial better half.
An older British man admitted he thought of his high school sweetheart daily, even though he was married to another woman and they had adult children. He admitted he fantasized about her reentering his life and leaving his family to be with her again.
Morris speculates that because men have traditionally been expected to initiate relationships and their ability to hold onto a female partner has been tied to other capacities, as a breadwinner and a person of social standing, the loss hurts more and is seen as more significant. “It’s magnified when it has so many social significances,” he says.
This is another reason the men he surveyed were eager to enter rebound relationships, he thinks. It’s a quick return to social status. Even after observing so much pain from relationships, Morris says he thinks most people successfully overcome their breakups—even the ones that hold onto some regret. The British man who thought of his teenage-era girlfriend? Morris says he was generally happy and this thought didn’t cause him distress. It was actually a pleasant daydream.
Keith Markman, an Ohio University associate psychology professor who specializes in counter-factional thinking, says there is a distinction between it and rumination, angry thoughts that “intrude on people’s minds.” For romantic regret, people tend to have rosy, nostalgic thoughts that can be part of a healthy view of love. “People tend to have faux regret after the relationship happens,” Markman says. “Their tone tends to be wistful, sentimental. They have a distant feeling of longing and nostalgia. It can be very functional.”
In addition to helping people not repeat the same mistakes in new relationships, romantic regret has the positive role of acting as a reminder of what a relationship can offer, he says. Breakups themselves are “pretty rotten for everyone,” Morris says, but they are so common “we must have some way to come through them. If we didn’t there just wouldn’t be so many relationships among people.”
The fact that people don’t stop dating by 30—at which point nearly everyone has gone through some psyche-ravaging, heart-mauling, Morrissey song-evoking breakup—is proof to him that relationship regret, however salient, is usually somehow overcome.
Why does breakup hit guys later
A couple of years back, my dear friend had a very bad breakup. She invested four years into this relationship and was devastated after knowing that her better half did not care much. Actually, nobody had cheated in the relationship, the breakup was a result of too much of fights and doubts in between them. Though my friend was keen on sorting out the matter, he wasn’t.
The guy just wanted to move on in life. He was just fed up with all the fights and the issues that were going on between them. He did not want anyone to bother his peace of mind and just broke up.
Though, he did not get into another one. But he also was not ready to mingle back with her. Girls and relationships had just become bugging to him. I mean how come, how can one realize after four years that all these are a mess. The girl went awry, she just wanted to kill herself but was staying back just because she loved her parents.
She tried to pull herself together by hook or by crook and failed every time. The guy was just so addictive to her and why not their relationship was very strong and close indeed. What really instigated to me is the fact that girl was extremely hurt and saddened by the fact that she had broken up but the guy was enjoying his life to the fullest as if nothing had happened.
Also see Breakup status and quotes from here.
If you are also confused about this fact then scroll below to find out some logical reasons behind this.
It comes as a slow pain
Girls are hit by the sorrowful event right there and then. They cry out, share their issues with their friends and put every second thing out of their hearts. But guys, they won’t feel the absence right there and them. The slow pain will slowly take over their emotions and then everyone stand by.
Girls will chit and chat with their girlfriends and let them know how she is feeling so as to receive some emotional support but boys they will not sit around with their buddies to share their sorrows and this is the fact that all the emotions will sink in and he will then start missing the attention and love from that very person.
They have smaller networks
Unlike women, men have smaller emotional support networks. They just don’t connect with anyone and everyone out there. If they are attached to someone so badly, they are definitely going to feel the hurt and are going to miss the ego boost after some time.
They have a coping strategy
They are probably unable to deal with a grief and sadness the breakup brings with them so they just try not to deal with it. They will just block the person and go on and that is not because they don’t care. It happens because they don’t want to melt in and deal with it.
It depends on the investment made
If the guy was truly loyal in the relationship and was as much in love with you as you were then it will be harder for him to get over it but his feelings will take a longer amount of time to sink in. If the guy only cared for the fling and was not very serious then he won’t be bothered even afterward.
Women deal with breakups differently than men, says science
Happy Friday—wanna discuss romantic rejection? We thought so. OK, but seriously, you may have always observed that men and women handle heartbreak differently but now we’ve got science backing it up! Yay science!
So, the smarties over at Binghamton University and University College London recently conducted a study to see if the emotional and physical responses to a breakup up differed by gender. And they found some pretty interesting stuff. The big takeaway: Women are hurt more by breakups. . . but they also bounce back better.
How is this possible? Evolution, my dear friends.
“Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man,” Craig Morris, lead author on the study said in a press release. “A brief romantic encounter could lead to nine months of pregnancy followed by many years of lactation for an ancestral woman, while the man may have ‘left the scene’ literally minutes after the encounter, with no further biological investment. It is this ‘risk’ of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate. Hence, the loss of a relationship with a high-quality mate ‘hurts’ more for a woman.”
That hurt, however, doesn’t feel as prolonged as it does for men. “The man will likely feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time as it ‘sinks in’ that he must ‘start competing’ all over again to replace what he has lost — or worse still, come to the realization that the loss is irreplaceable,” Morris explained.
The study involved 5,705 people from 96 countries. Each participant was asked to rate their worst breakup pain—both physical and emotional—on a scale of zero to ten. Women reported higher rates of pain (4.21 versus men’s 3.75.) But researchers found that men were less likely to recover from the breakup in the long-term, instead simply “moving on” rather than completely bouncing back.
And that’s not all we learned from the study. Here are some other takeaways:
-Of the 5,705 men and women surveyed (from over 96 different countries, mind you), 75% of them reported that they’d been through a breakup…and 75% of them reported experiencing multiple breakups. Takeaway: you’re not alone!
-Both sexes averaged a 7 out of 10 (on a pain-scale of none to unbearable) when describing the intensity of their breakup.
-“Lack of communication” was the most popular reason given for the breakup. So…start talkin’ to your lovers, folks.
-Women showed higher “fear” emotions when it came to the act of splitting
-But! More often than not, women were reported as the initiators of the breakup.
So, as a female myself I’m noticing that while we may take things to heart a little more, we are also the ones assessing our lives and happiness and taking action. So, I’d say all in all it is worth it. Right? RIGHT? Right.
5 things you shouldn’t do after a breakup
- By Lyndsay Rush
The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved.
God & Man
In public, strong girls look like they’re completely over their ex. They laugh and smile like they don’t have a care in the world, like they’re living their best life.
But behind closed doors, strong girls still cry. They text their friends about how much they miss being in a relationship. They daydream about what would have happened if things turned out differently, if they were still happily in love.
The breakup hurts them, silently destroys them — but only for a short time. Because they don’t let one failed relationship ruin their entire life.
Strong girls realize that their ex was only part of their happiness.
They realize that when he left, he didn’t take everything. They still have their friends, their family, their hobbies, their work. They still have so much to be proud of, so why should they spend months crying over him?
Sure, they will watch romantic comedies and eat ice cream, like everybody else. They will cut their hair and have rebounds relationships. They will do all of the cliché things that girls do after breakups — but then they’ll become themselves again.
After they go through that period of pain, they’ll get back up and they’ll get their shit together. They’ll wipe away their tears and they’ll face the world head-on.
Of course, there will be setbacks along the way. There will be times when their insecurities haunt them. There will be times when they see an old picture or relive a memory and start missing him all over again.
But they will always be strong enough to move past their sadness. They will always find a way to reach inner peace.
Because they don’t need a man in order to feel fulfilled. They’re happy being single, because they realize that they are enough. That they can give themselves the same amount of love that any boy would.
So if they have to spend the next few years with a single status, that’s fine. But if they find someone else to date sooner rather than later, that’s fine, too.
Strong girls aren’t afraid to love again, even though they were hurt badly in the past. They might put a barrier around their heart, but they’ll take it down for the right person. They’ll open themselves up to love, even though it’s scary. Even though their last breakup almost tore them to shreds.
Remember, strong girls might look like they don’t give a crap about their ex, but they do. They still social media stalk him to see if he’s moved on yet and still dread the thought of running into him on a bad hair day.
Strong girls suffer from breakups, just like everybody else.
But they are able to come out from a bad situation as an even better woman, because they know that their happiness isn’t in the hands of a man. It’s in their own hands.
So, single or not, they’re going to keep smiling. They’re going to keep being badass.
The Truth Of How Guys Deal With Breakups
I must start by telling you how deeply I admire and respect you. In a world where men walk all over women, you give us hope. I don’t know if you’ll ever read my email, or if you’ll even have the time to help. But I hope you do. I am 25 years old and had never been in a relationship. Its not that i’ve never had the opportunity, I just always had high standards. And I was determined to marry someone the complete opposite of my father. My parents were two people that should’ve never gotten married. My father was the ultimate playboy and my mother thought she could change him with children. I never grew up with a stable father figure, so its safe to say the most important man in my life had let me down. I wasn’t jumping into anything.
I met this one guy when I was 24. He was also 24, in his first year of law school and I was applying to law school. I never saw him as anything but a friend but that changed quickly the more time we spent together. From March till April we talked every day. We met three times and I thought maybe, just maybe he’s different. He was the first man I had ever talked to with the intention of pursuing a relationship. The first guy I ever went on a date with. The first guy I gave my phone number to. Due to my religious background, I wanted my first relationship to be my last. He was from the same cultural and religious background as myself. After our third date he was entering the reading period. Which is his finals for law school. I didn’t hear from him for a month. No call, no text, no nothing. I let a month go by and after his finals decided to message him.
I told him I hope he valued my time because I valued his and asked what he wanted out of this. He never answered my questions and turned the tables around and asked me the same question. After I expressed how much I admired and respected him and wanted things to possibly continue, he said that wasn’t what he was looking for and he’s sorry if he lead me on. I replied back with, I wish you well in law school, and left it at that. I didn’t contact him, tried not to think about him and went on with my life.
Three weeks later he messages me and asked if i’ve had a good summer. I message back stating i did and hoped he did as well. But I replied in a way where it was not only direct but I didn’t allow the conversation to continue. He read the message and didn’t reply back. Couple days later he sends me snaps. A snapchat of a basketball hoop. A snapchat of a door, a snapchat of the sunset. I was extremely confused but never replied back to any of these. But the more he would snap me, the more my feelings for him would resurface. So I sent him a snap a couple of weeks later of me and a basketball player that he loved. I had run into him at the Santa Monica pier in LA when I was visiting. He replied back instantly and and asked if we could grab coffee. I agreed.
Erin, I was scared but hopeful. I wanted it to work out. I hadn’t seen him in 3 months. So we met in August, He asked me what I wanted out of this relationship and I told him exactly what I wanted. I said if i’m going to be talking to someone, in about a year I want to be engaged and in about two years I want to be married. Keep in mind at this time we were both 24, but we are muslim and this is very common for muslims to get married around this age. He agreed to everything. I also told him I won’t sleep with him until i’m married due to my religious beliefs. He agreed although he was far more experienced. I also asked him why he messaged me again, because he ended things so strongly and seemed like he didn’t want anything to do with me. He said that I came into his life during a time when he was questioning a lot. And I was a good influence on him. He also said he visited a friends house over the summer and his spouse reminded him of me. And he didn’t want to let me walk out of his life. After that we started dating and in the beginning I was always skeptical. My parents never had the best relationship so I never really knew what a healthy relationship looked like. But I wanted to have one, and I wanted to have one with him.
I compromised on a lot of my boxes. He didn’t have any of them checked. The only two he had, was that he was educated and he was of the same cultural background as I was. Maybe that should’ve been my first sign, but I thought not every one is perfect. And I saw good in him, so I wanted to stand by that. As our relationship continued, he would get upset that his friends were messaging me because they liked me. All of which I had no control over. I wouldn’t even open their messages, but he was upset that they couldn’t know we were together. Being in the family and culture I was raised in, we as women cannot come out and embrace relationships as easily as men can. Men are born with a certain type of privilege that women aren’t born with. I cried a lot throughout the relationship. I knew he wasn’t ready for a lot of the things that I wanted and that I was ready for. The topic of not being physical came up more frequently towards the end of our relationship. But it wasn’t something I was going to comprise on. I made a promise to myself that I would only do that with my husband. He would also often tell me that, he liked it that he had something that everyone else wanted. And he would constantly praise me for the fact that he would be my first in everything. Of course after marriage. I would constantly tell him, if this isn’t what he wanted to let me know and I would walk away. He would always reassure me by telling me this isn’t what he wanted in the beginning but he wants it because its with me. I always opened communication and told him from the beginning that I wouldn’t do anything unless I was married but he would make me feel bad about it. I don’t know if that was his intentions or not but when he would talk about how hard it was for him not to be physical I felt so guilty.
I was his support system and I wasn’t getting any myself. But I loved him and I knew he was stressed with law school so I tried to be as supportive and as patient as I could have been. I’m not going to paint myself to be this perfect person when I’m not. I’m sure somewhere I was at fault, but its hard when the person you love continues to hurt you.
We started in August and October came around. My sisters are two of the closest people in my life. I love them with all my heart and they are very protective. I wanted them to meet him. They met him and hated him. After they met him they said he didn’t love me. They said he loved the idea of me. How I would fit in his family. How I would fit in his plans for the future. How I was something that everyone wanted but couldn’t have. They asked him why he wanted to be with me and he didn’t give the best answer. He said, she asks me about how my day is going. she’s nice and driven. She’s pursing higher education. My sisters said these were all generic answers. They said he liked the way I looked. I was arm candy for him. As they said that I couldn’t help but think, he would always compliment me on my looks. Telling me your so hot or beautiful. To me outer beauty means nothing, its the inner beauty that counts. He also wasn’t drop dead gorgeous, but I fell in love with him. There was good in him. I had seen it.
After that we both needed a couple of days apart, my sisters weren’t the easiest on him and I’m the first to acknowledge that. But he stayed with me. Despite his brothers telling him to leave me, that I was complicated and other girls were easier to be with, he stayed. And I loved him more for that. As time passed, things just got more difficult. We would argue about the future and how my parents were pressing us to get engaged. In my culture, when you get engaged, it basically allows you to date publicly. He told his mother that he wanted to get engaged. My father said if he didn’t get engaged to me, I wouldn’t be able to see him again. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t pushed him but I was being pushed myself. He did as I asked and told his mother. His mother was against our relationship the moment she found out.
She said that I would distract him, that there were a million girls like me, so he should leave me. She said this all while never meeting me. I wish I had the opportunity to meet her and prove her wrong. To show her that I loved her son as much as she did, if not more. That I wanted his well being and success more than my own. As time went on things began to get harder. I could see him slipping away. He was always scared of getting engaged and the responsibilities that it came with. But I always kept asking him from the first moment we started dating if this is not what you want thats okay, just let me know and ill go. And he would always reassure me that this isn’t what he wanted to begin with but he wanted it now cause it was with me. That was another mistake I made. I choose to believe his words rather than his actions.
He would also tell me things like, lie about your age and your height and don’t cut your hair. He would want me to lie about those things to his mom, if ever I were to meet her. And it just made me fee like I wasn’t good enough. We got into a fight over me going to a dinner gather with friends, there was a man there that had been interested in marrying me. I called him and told him afterwards that this individual was there. He called me sneaky and back ended and because I didn’t call him right away. He said I should have told him he was going to be there. I had informed him that I wasn’t aware he was there and we didn’t even talk. But when I began to get emotional and cry he told me to stop playing the victim.
It was the end of January, things were really hard at this point and the roles had switched. In the beginning of the relationship, he was reassuring me and my feelings and now I was doing that to him. I felt as though i was holding him with both arms because I didn’t want to let go. I loved him at this point more than I loved myself, more than he unfortunately loved me. Yet again another mistake on my part. We broke up, he said he was really stressed out and he wasn’t ready for this. That his priority was law school and passing the bar. He said I was going to distract him from passing the bar. That he would end up hating me if we got engaged. All I wanted to do was support him. It broke me when he was telling me all this but I let him empty out his chest. Than I told him I understood and asked him to leave, but he wouldn’t. I could see he was going back and fourth on his own decision. Than he said lets give it till march. Let me introduce you to my mom and see where that goes. If she likes you than we’ll take it from there. I asked him let me go if this is not what he wanted. I said I’d thank him one day for it, but he said no. He said, how could I let someone like you go, when you love me so purely and innocently.
A week before we officially broke up, the topic of us not being physical came up again. He told me I wouldn’t understand how hard it was for him. That he’s so stressed out and being physical after class would relax him. I kept telling him i’m sorry but I can’t do anything until i’m married. We were together for one more week before we officially broke up the 2nd of February 2019. That last phone call broke me, I wanted to scream and yell but I remained silent. I wanted him to say but, we can work this out. Lets give it one more shot and he didn’t. I said i’ll wait for you and he said I don’t want you waiting. I said I don’t need an engagement party he said you deserve to have one. He was pulling every reason not to be with me while I was trying to find every reason for him to stay. He was telling me “You know you’re so hot” and I was sitting there thinking is that really what he’s telling me right now. He said he’ll always love me and I didn’t believe anything that came out of his mouth anymore. He said i’m the perfect girl its just the wrong time. I don’t doubt that you’d made me happy and your loyal.
My whole family told me to leave him, they begged me to leave him and I didn’t, I stood by him. My friends told me he wasn’t good for me and I stood by him and defended him. I told them that they didn’t know him. And yet when things got difficult and his mom was against us, he didn’t do the same. He’s made me feel so low and no longer worthy. I have so much anxiety and I can’t stop crying. I can’t talk to any of my family members because they don’t understand why its so hard for me. They keep telling me not to waste my tears but its easier said than done. My father also talked to me after things ended. He told me the reason why he mentioned we both get engaged is because he knew he would never do it. My father said that my partner had reminded him of his younger self. If he loved you, really loved you the way you loved him, he would find a reason to stay. He wouldn’t leave so easily.
Erin my question for you is did he ever love me? If you love someone even a little bit you stick by them even when things are hard. He hurt me a lot throughout our relationship. And it wasn’t all him, sometimes I hurt myself. Even my therapist said he was manipulative, but I don’t know why, I loved him. I still defend him to others. Does he even regret it? or is he even sad about breaking up with me? He seems like he was unaffected on the phone when he was ending things. Will he regret it? Will he even try to reach out? Will he ever reach out? After we broke up, I deactivated all my social media. I went on a no contact phase. His birthday was a week after we broke up but I didn’t even message him happy birthday. I wanted to show him that I respect his decision and will not be needy. I also told him when we break up he’ll regret letting me walk out of his life. He told me that he won’t regret anything. I just want to know if he will regret it? or If he’ll reach out? He came back once after the first time, he reached out three weeks after. And its been officially a month and a couple of days since we broke up and I haven’t heard from him at all. He also unfollowed me on snapchat. And when he did that I couldn’t help but cry and my friends encouraged me to unfollow him on Instagram and Facebook. I didn’t want to do it but they suggested it would be the healthiest option.
I know I shouldn’t care but I’m so heart broken. How did I not see these signs. They don’t lie when they say love is blind. I know I deserve better. When it ended, my shoulders felt light, but my heart began to ache in a way it never had before. Maybe I wanted it to work because I wanted that happy ending my parents never got. Erin if you can give me any advice and keep this as private as possible I would really appreciate it.
I don’t even know if you’ll even get this message but I just needed to ask advice from someone whom i’ve respected for a while.
Thank you for even reading this far and allowing me to get my feelings out throughout email. I hope to hear from you soon.