For some reason painful breakups, heartbreaks and heartaches are associated more with women than men. But men experience pain after a break up too. Their initial reactions are pretty much the same as those of women. They vent to their friends, work out too much, become workaholics and binge eat.
Where the Scrips Change
The scripts of the life of a man and a woman after a break up begin to change a week or two after the end of the relationship. Men who have had to deal with a broken heart admit that they have more ‘hook ups’, are more likely to get into rebound relationships, and are very likely to get into frequent binge drinking or drug use. The reasons behind these findings boil down to one of the most fundamental differences between men and women: communication and control. To illustrate, let’s assume that Jerry and Annabelle who had been dating for two years, just broke up.
When Annabelle meets up with her girlfriends, she vents about the whole breakup, tells them how much she misses Jerry, and cries her heart out. Her friends listen to her and try to comfort her as much as they can. The following day, Anabelle calls her mom and goes through the exact same venting and crying process with her. Mom listens for as long as she needs to and also has some comforting, encouraging words for her daughter. She does not realize it, but all the talking and crying was extremely therapeutic.
When Jerry calls up his best friend and tells him about the breakup, the friend invites him out for a drink at the pub with the rest of the gang. As far as the boys are concerned, their friend has a problem and they must fix it. The problem is that Jerry is feeling low and he no longer has a girlfriend. Their solution is to buy him more beer and encourage him to replace Anabelle as soon as possible. They encourage him to walk up to the cat the next table to get her number and willingly set up a few blind dates for him for next week. At the end of the day, Jerry never gets to talk about how he is feeling and, therefore, never really heals from the hurt of the breakup.
This explains several studies which have shown that men actually stay devastated for much longer than women do after a breakup. A woman’s friends offer deep, longer-lasting emotional support whereas a man’s friends see his heartache as a problem which must be fixed – and ‘fix’ it, they do.
Healing Tactics for a Man with a Broken Heart
Getting up, dusting yourself off and moving on after a failed relationship is by no definition an easy process. That said, it does not mean that you should let the situation take whatever course it will and wait, longingly, for the day when your ex is not the first thing that pops into your mind in the morning. Allow yourself space and time to process it all and work through your feelings then begin to take action. Take conscious, deliberate steps to drive the healing process. Here are a few things you should do (or not do) to assure you of proper healing as well as speed up the process.
1. Take Time To Grieve – Then Move on
Recovering from a broken relationship is a lot like recovering from an illness. You must allow yourself some time to be down. Give yourself time to process what had happened, time to really listen to yourself and acknowledge the pain.
It does not make you any less of a man because you take some time to grieve. Let no one make you feel that you are soft because you have chosen to take time to mourn the ‘death’ of your love. It is actually a crucial part of the healing process.
How long should you grieve? Well, there is no rule. It really depends on you. If you were in the relationship for many years, it would probably take longer than someone else who was in a relationship for just a couple of months. It also depends on your personality. Some people are just better at letting go than others.
Here is the punchline: You cannot grieve forever. At some point, you must pick yourself up and go on with your life. Do all the things you ordinarily do. If you and your ex had mutual friends and spent all your free time together, then you make new friends. Just move on.
2. Idleness Will Kill You
Whatever you do, always keep yourself busy. It is amazing how many self-destructive, negative thoughts will pop into your mind in just one hour of idle time. You certainly do not need that!
Many people choose to bury their heads in work to keep themselves fully occupied while others take to the gym and acquire a new hobby. It is really up to you. Being busy leaves you with no time to think about her and no time to wallow in self-pity.
If you can, keep yourself occupied by learning a new skill. Take up dance classes, art classes or learn a language. Why not do something to develop yourself as you heal?
3. Talk To Yourself
It might sound crazy but it works wonders. When you are alone in a room and your ex’s face just won’t get out of your mind, walk up to the mirror and have a conversation with yourself.
- Tell the guy in the mirror why he is better off without her.
- Give him a list of all the great things about him and remind him that he is an attractive, loveable individual – which was why she was attracted to him in the first place.
- Convince him that the breakup is her loss and not his.
- Raise your voice and yell at him to get the point across if you have to!
You see where we are going here. Sometimes you have to fill your mind with self-flattering thoughts and positivity to empower yourself. Again, it sounds silly but it works. You will start to believe it. Find a comforting phrase that stands out for you such as ‘You are stronger than this’ or ‘ it is not the end of the world’ and keep repeating it to yourself. You will be surprised at how much better you will feel afterwards.
4. Avoid Unnecessary Contact
For the first couple of months after a breakup, you are superman and she is kryptonite. Make every effort to avoid meeting her. Restrain yourself from calling her, do not show up at her doorstep at 2 am (or at any time) and avoid her favorite restaurant.
Keep away from any place that you are likely to meet her. Some people may argue that this is, in some way, allowing her to control your life but it is actually for the benefit of your healing – which is the ultimate objective here.
Living in the digital age, social media can make healing from a breakup more difficult if you do not control yourself. Refrain from checking her latest posts on Facebook and do not give in to the temptation to check her latest posts on Instagram.
In the case of a divorce where there are children involved, total avoidance may not be possible because you will probably have to come up with a co-parenting plan. But if there are no children in the picture, cutting contact with your ex for some time helps to break the romantic attachment and leaves you feeling in control of yourself and your emotions.
5. Work out
Immediately after a breakup, you probably want to curl up on the couch in your dimly lit living room and watch series for days. The last thing you feel like doing is exercise – but it is, in fact, the best thing you could do for yourself.
When you are feeling exceptionally low, put on your running shoes and take a good long run. There is scientific proof that you will feel better. Exercise produces endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and will immediately make you feel happier. The great thing about exercising is that it lifts your spirits and does not give you that sudden low, which artificial mood enhancers like alcohol and drugs do.
Alternatively, go to the gym and let yourself sweat it out there. Hit the treadmill then lift some weights. Let your stress out on the punching bag. No one has to know you are pretending that the bag is the guy she cheated on you with.
6. Establish a Support System
There may be a little voice in your head telling you that men should not talk about their feelings. That little voice is wrong. When you feel like talking to someone, do so. Pick up the phone, call your sister, and tell her just how much it hurts. Call up your best friend and vent for as long as he or she is willing to listen about how disappointed and lost you feel because you were sure she was the one.
There is something amazingly therapeutic about verbally expressing your feelings. It will always leave you feeling lighter and somewhat stronger. This is essentially what you need because it alleviates the pain and makes you feel powerful enough to face another day.
Everyone struggles with heartaches after a breakup, even men. Unfortunately, men often struggle more because they are unable to express their feelings well enough to pave the way for proper and complete healing. If you are dealing with this kind of pain, do not be too hard on yourself. Recognize that you are an emotional being just like any other and there is nothing wrong in taking some time to grieve. These are just a few ways to help you heal. Remember, the bottom line is that you cannot be down forever. When the time is right, get up, move right on along, and do not look back.