Breakups are always hard. Regardless of who you are, who was at fault or how badly the relationship ended, the aftermath is tough to deal with. Usually, the full severity of the breakup is driven by how long the relationship lasted and how in love with the other person you were.
Contrary to popular belief, men take breakups just as hard as women. As I wrote about in my post “Are Women Really More Emotional than Men?”; guys may try hard to hide their hurt but it is still very much there.
Its true that some relationships are easier to get over than others. If a guy is with someone for a short period of time, say less than a year and he wasn’t in love, moving on may not really be that challenging. However, if he was in love,
the breakup can feel like someone has physically removed a part of his heart.
Immediately after the breakup he feels incomplete. Almost as if he cannot function without the missing piece that used to be a part of him.
He has to force himself to get up in the morning and go to work. Normal everyday activities can seem like major chores. Being motivated to do anything other than wonder what went wrong in the relationship can be extremely difficult.
Delay of Pain
With some breakups there is a latency period before the hurt really sets in. During this time he may feel ok about the breakup and possibly relieved.
This is especially true if the relationship was filled with fighting and constant misunderstandings. It may feel nice to not have to worry about how every statement he makes will be taken or how his action, or lack thereof, will be scrutinized.
During this latency period he can do what he wants with whomever he wants without anyone else’s permission. However, this period is usually short lived and he eventually starts to feel the pain of not having someone familiar in his life.
Dating is a challenge because everyone he meets he compares to his ex. The lack of familiarity makes other people feel so foreign and distant. He wants the same sort of connection he once had.
The Emotional Roller Coaster
Emotions are one of those human traits that can work in your favor when good things happen or can make your day really suck. During a breakup men don’t know up from down. This is the period I like to call the emotional roller coaster.
One day he feels fine, even good. He thinks he can handle anything and feels like
he didn’t really need that “problem-causing woman” in his life anyway.
The next day he feels like his world is falling apart and that the only person who can help him pull it back together is that amazing woman he is no longer with.
The thing that sucks the most about these emotions is he has very little control over them, if any. They come and go like the wind without warning. This emotional tug of war can go on for months.
On the days that he misses her, he only thinks about what he loved about her and the good parts of the relationship. On the days he is cursing her name, he can only remember the things she did that were terrible and he couldn’t stand.
This back and forth goes on until he eventually settles somewhere in the middle. Clearly there were things about his ex that he loved and other things that he couldn’t stand. So, this middle ground is where he is able to accept that both sides existed within the same person and the relationship wasn’t all good or all bad.
Back and Forth
During this emotionally fragile time the idea of getting back together enters his mind about once every 5 to 10 minutes. He wonders if he should call her or text her and if she is feeling the same way he is?
He thinks, maybe he can find a way to accidentally run into her so they end up talking. If they do run into each other and start talking maybe they will get back together and things will be different. All these thoughts run through his mind.
One of the hardest things for him to deal with during this period of trying to move on are all the things around him that remind him of his ex. The coffee shop the two of them walked to every weekend. Restaurants and bars where they spent many evenings together. Even listening to certain songs or watching familiar movies and TV shows can be unbearable now because of the memories they stir up.
Another hard thing to deal with are all the opinions about how he should handle his breakup that flood in. Family, friends, co-workers, maybe even the mailman all have opinions about what went wrong and how he should proceed. Solicited and unsolicited advice is by no measure in short supply.
Avoiding Each Other
An interaction with his ex after a breakup can be quite uncomfortable so he might prefer to avoid the situation if possible. He doesn’t know what she has been doing or how she feels. Is she angry or sad? Has she completely moved on and found someone better than him? Will they be able to have a peaceful encounter? What does he do if they meet and she breaks down in tears or ignores him and acts completely indifferent toward him?
All these thoughts go through his head. Since he doesn’t know the answer to any of these questions, let alone how seeing her again will make him feel, he usually prefers to avoid the encounter all together. This of course is much easier if they don’t have mutual friends.
If they do have mutual friends, the friends are placed in the awkward position of choosing who gets to come to which gathering since he and his ex cannot be in the same room together. If one person gets picked the other will feel slighted and so on.
Trying to Move Forward
Moving on from a breakup can be really hard. He tries to do everything he can to not think about how much he misses his ex. He hasn’t been on the prowl for a while so it can be hard to get used to being back on the dating scene.
He becomes a master at setting up online dating profiles.
His Tinder swiping thumb becomes the strongest muscle in his body from all the swipes right and left.
Spending time out at places he might meet a reasonable replacement to fill the enormous hole in his heart left by the departure of his ex become his new pastime.
He will chip away at moving forward more and more until he is able to shed himself of his desire to be with his ex. He will work on regaining that part of himself that he gave up while in the relationship and figure out what he will do in the next relationship so hopefully things turn out differently. The wounds are usually deep but he is optimistic that with time they will heal and he will be able to move past this relationship better equipped to handle the next.