Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at the experience that men go through after a breakup.
I’m assuming that most of the people who are interested in this article are going through a breakup in which their ex boyfriend isn’t really acting like they are bothered at all by it.
There could be a lot going on here so in this article we’re going to talk about the following things,
- The Breakup Stereotype
- Differences In How Men And Women Process Breakups
- How Attachment Styles Can Be Used To Explain Behaviors
- Why Grief Comes Later For Most Men
Let’s get started!
The Breakup Stereotype
In 2016, after operating my business for about 4 years I decided it was time to do a better job of promoting the Ex Boyfriend Recovery brand.
Everything I had read online about search engine optimization talked about this concept of networking and gaining traction that way.
So, seeing as how I had a podcast I decided that I would reach out to some of the players in the industry and invite them to come on to be interviewed.
Most were nice and did come on. I even got some traction from FOX news,
But one experience really stuck out as being educational. Since Ex Boyfriend Recovery doubles as both a platform that helps exes reunite and get over their exes we face some natural headwind.
The Headwind= Why would you even want to get back with an ex?
You see, most people don’t like the idea of reuniting with an ex partner. They’ll argue it’s dangerous and that nothing will change the second time around assuming you do get that person back.
Everyone has this “head canon” on what a breakup is supposed to look like.
- You get broken up with
- You take a few weeks to grieve
- You move on to the next
That’s the stereotype. Yet, that’s the exact opposite of what usually happens in real life after a breakup. Here’s what the real trajectory looks like for most of our clients.
- You get broken up with
- You panic and excessively try to fix the relationship
- That doesn’t work and you panic some more
- You search online excessively for help (you are usually here)
- You try to move on but fall off the wagon a lot
- You start relying on your friends for support but they get annoyed with you
- You get the idea.
Men have it even worse. Our society depicts men as masculine and there’s nothing more “unmasculine” than whining about a breakup which leads to an interesting outcome for most men after a breakup.
As our very own Coach Anna quoted,
Boy and girl meet. Boy tells girl he loves her. There is no one else but her. But then, at some point, boy says, “It’s not you, it’s me. Let’s be friends.” The boy changes his Facebook status to “single” and fills his Instagram feed with photos of himself partying with never-before-seen women. The girl, meanwhile, falls apart and tells her friends how unfair it is that he’s already over the relationship, while she’s busy analyzing every minuscule thing that she might have done wrong, for months, maybe even years. But the boy falls apart, too—he just doesn’t show or tell anyone. It sucks for both boy and girl, just in different ways. And it probably sucks even more for him, but he’ll never tell you, because he’s not allowed to.
Men aren’t often “allowed” to be vulnerable and that plays in to them looking like they aren’t feeling anything after a breakup.
Compared to women, that’s a huge departure.
How Men And Women Handle Breakups Differently
So, the operating assumption I’m putting forth is that most men don’t look like they are feeling anything is because of the masculine stereotype society puts on them.
Research actually backs this up. All one needs to do is simply look at the major differences in how men and women handle breakups.
In 2015 Binghamton University conducted a study that found,
They found that women tend to be more negatively affected by breakups, reporting higher levels of both physical and emotional pain. Women averaged 6.84 in terms of emotional anguish versus 6.58 in men. In terms of physical pain, women averaged 4.21 versus men’s 3.75. While breakups hit women the hardest emotionally and physically, women tend to recover more fully and come out emotionally stronger. Men, on the other hand, never fully recover — they simply move on.
What this seems to suggest is that women are more in touch with their emotions. They aren’t afraid to grieve. Men on the other hand repress and as a result don’t really handle breakups optimally.
This can play into the fact that men aren’t seeming bothered when in fact they are, they just aren’t showing it.
But it isn’t just stereotypes alone that make them repress. It could be something far embedded into their personality that you realize.
Attachment Styles Are Often The Key To Unlock Breakup Behaviors
What immediately struck me when I began researching this topic was how “repressed” behavior reminded me of the avoidant attachment style.
In fact, characteristics of avoidants almost match up with repression to a T.
- Considered lone wolves
- Fiercely protective of their independence
- Not letting anyone close enough to “hurt them”
I’d be willing to wager that a lot of the women who are online searching for information about their exes not “feeling anything” after a breakup are dealing with some type of avoidant ex.
In fact, our internal research sort of backs that up already.
Here’s the thing though. Just because an avoidant doesn’t look like they are bothered by the breakup doesn’t mean they aren’t.
The Relationship Death Wheel Explains All
Out of all of 2022 the relationship death wheel is the thing I’m most proud of creating,
This is essentially the trajectory of every relationship an avoidant will ever have.
But the one part that people seem to miss out on is this section right here,
Think of it like this.
- Your ex, before they began dating you, started at this place where they are desperate for love.
- They find a connection with you and think that they’ve solved it. They experience the honeymoon period
- But that honeymoon period comes to an abrupt end when they find that you aren’t as perfect as they made you out to be.
- They begin fixating on a singular flaw or series of flaws and allow this to ruin their entire experience with you
- They just that thing to leave the relationship. They long for their independence back
- Then they enter a period called “separation elation.”
Now, I’d like to stop here and talk about the separation elation period. This is often where most people believe their ex isn’t feeling anything for them.
They seem happy without them but this was always going to happen.
The avoidant, assuming you are dealing with one, builds up their lack of independence as a huge problem throughout their time with you.
So, when they get that independence back of course they are going to be happy. It’s like going through another mini honeymoon period except instead of with a person it’s with themselves.
And I find that a really interesting phenomenon. In a lot of ways someone with avoidant tendencies lives only for honeymoon periods.
The one they have with you and the one they have with themselves. Back and forth, back and forth. Like a ping pong ball.
But the most tragic thing about the honeymoon period is that it doesn’t last forever. Eventually the shine wears off. That’s true for both the one with you and the one with themselves and that always leads them to a place where they need to seek out their next dopamine hit.
So, when the separation elation period wears off, when they no longer have this honeymoon period with themselves that’s when the breakup hits them full on and at that point they have two choices.
- Repress it
- Deal with it
Guess which option they usually choose?
I don’t think it’s accurate to say that a guy doesn’t feel anything after a breakup. They do, but in most cases they repress it so it looks like they aren’t bothered.
And in a weird way this repression works on a case by case basis but ultimately happiness for them is hard to come by because they don’t give themselves permission to tap into their feminine energies.
Think of it like this.
- Masculine = Repression, assertive, strong, power
- Feminine= Gentle, in touch with emotions, patient
To truly be happy you need both energies. Unfortunately, most men don’t think that and so any time they begin to get emotional they repress that side of themselves.
That’s what’s usually happening here.