Ready to learn about the basic male behaviors you can expect after a breakup. In this in-depth guide, Coach Amor and I are going to answer,
- Why there are 7 stages of grief that men will go through after a breakup
- The 10 most common behaviors men typically engage in after breakups
- How men show their emotions differently than women after a breakup
- Why some men move on quickly after a breakup whereas others struggle to let go.
There aren’t too many areas of the male psyche that Amor and I are going to leave uncovered in this one so buckle up.
There Are Actually 7 Stages Of Grief When It Comes To Breakups
I mean, we’ve all heard of the five stages of grief, right?
Well, according to Suzanne Lachmann Psy.D., there are actually 7 stages to grieving a breakup,
- Desperate for answers
- Initial acceptance
- Redirected Hope
To be honest with you I did a blow by blow of these seven stages last week in this article and in this video,
So if you want understand how those seven stages work then definitely check out those resources (cause lord knows I don’t have the patience to write another 800 words describing the stages again.)
I bring this up though because really the meat of this article is the typical behaviors that men will “show” after a breakup and each of those behaviors fall into one of the seven stages of grief above so I feel like having at least a working knowledge of those seven stages is important.
Thus, do your research ladies (or gents.)
Alright, let’s get to the reason for why you’re actually here.
Here’s How Men Typically Behave After A Breakup
Below is a list of the 10 most common behaviors we have observed men exhibit after a breakup.
- Distract themselves
- Separation Elation
- Social Media Creeping
- Self Destructive Behaviors
- Uptick In Social Media Posts
- Trying To Make You Jealous
- Going Back To The Phantom Ex
- Ask for you back (Bargaining)
- Angry (Lash out)
- Your fault (demonize you)
Let’s start from the top.
Behavior #1: They Distract Themselves
It is common for men to distract themselves, whether they are the ones who ended the relationship or the ones who ended things with you.
Some common examples of post-breakup behavior that I have observed in men include,
- partying excessively
- playing games (both mobile and PlayStation)
- and spending a lot of time with friends.
Interestingly, some men may not post much on social media. Still, when they do, they almost overcorrect as if trying to “prove that they are ok.”
The reality is that they may have spent the whole day playing games or going to a party for only an hour but made it seem like they were out all night.
By focusing on other activities, they try to avoid feeling the pain of the breakup. Still, they may also need to hide their emotions from others
Behavior #2: Separation Elation
God I feel like a broken record.
I swear I have talked about this everywhere on the website but perhaps none more famously than this video and article,
As you probably know by now most of our clients believe that their exes have an avoidant attachment style,
Which means that most of our clients exes probably experience some variation of the following cycle,
This is the relationship death wheel of which there are eight main stages,
- I want someone to love me
- I found someone my troubles are over
- I’m noticing some worrying things
- I’m thinking of leaving
- I’ve decided to leave the relationship
- I’m so happy that I left
- I’m starting to feel kind of lonely
- Why can’t I ever find the right person
It’s really that sixth stage that concerns us here. The whole “I’m so happy that I left” stage.
This is known as “separation elation” or as my favorite avoidant resource, Free To Attach likes to put,
After a relationship ends, people with an avoidant attachment style tend not to show much anxiety or distress, often feeling an initial sense of relief at the relinquishing of obligations and the sense that they are regaining their self-identity, and not tending to initially miss their partner – this is “separation elation” as the pressure to connect is gone.
So, all those times that you are worried about your ex boyfriend looking happy without you, well, it’s real.
But in almost every case it doesn’t last because stages seven and eight of the death wheel are right around the corner.
Behavior #3: Social Media Creeping
Let’s talk stats.
According to the Veronica Lucaks and graduate student who conducted a study on Facebook creeping as part of her Media Studies Masters thesis,
Close to 90% of exes admitted to “facebook creeping”
So yes, your ex will probably be spying on you post breakup. If you want to know how you should be handling that I recommend you check out my social media guide.
But ultimately the question almost always turns to some variation of,
Well, my ex is different, they’d never do this. (Yes, yes they will, the statistics bear it out.)
Or my personal favorite,
Well, my ex isn’t even on social media. (I have heard DIRECTLY from exes in success story interviews that they either used a friend or signed up JUST to spy.)
Behavior #4: Self Destructive Behaviors
I’ve been playing around with Chat GPT lately.
(Don’t worry I’m still writing my own articles.)
But I got curious about it’s ability to find me research to back up my points and it DID. Problem was all the research it “found” was made up.
But the one consistent thing that it would always relate to breakups and men is that they are very prone to exhibiting self destructive behaviors.
See for yourself,
It’s actually pretty accurate.
- Substance abuse
- Reckless behaviors
But the real problem with chat GPT is that it usually spits out generic information (right now at least.) So, allow me to add my own spin to destructive behaviors.
All throughout my life I always wanted a tattoo.
My mom said no.
My dad said no.
My very first girlfriend looked disgusted when I told her I wanted one.
Hell, even my best friend didn’t look all too pleased when I dropped a hint.
Well, during my very first breakup ever to my first girlfriend in my anger and grief I decided THAT was the best time to get a tattoo.
My way of rebelling was to get this tattooed onto my left shoulder,
It means freedom.
Behavior #5: You See An Uptick In Social Media Posts
This one is kind of interesting and it has a direct connection with separation elation.
Basically when a guy is “feeling himself” after a breakup one of the behaviors you’ll notice that he engages in is that he’ll start posting on social media, a lot.
Yes, sometimes they can be posts like this,
But very often they won’t be direct “call outs” about you.
It’ll just be an increase in posting frequency.
Maybe your ex would post once a month on facebook or instagram when you were together but now they are posting almost every day.
The question is why?
I think there are many possible explanations,
They feel lonely
Trying to make you jealous by “winning the breakup”
But for me the most likely reason is that they like the attention from other people.
There has been a lot of research lately,
That finds that receiving likes on social media can activate the brain’s reward center, similar to receiving a monetary reward. However, this effect was stronger for likes received from friends compared to likes from strangers.
Thus, as a way of “self soothing” or making themselves feel better after a breakup by relying on the attention of others.
Behavior #6: They Are Trying To Make You Feel Jealous
I’ve talked a lot on this website of this childish concept that men often fall victim to, winning the breakup.
I mean, they’ve even made entire movies about this concept,
One look at our community is enough to see how many exes can fall victim to this behavior.
But really “winning the breakup” boils down to,
One person looking more successful after a breakup than the other.
As you can probably tell this behavior is correlated to the one above it. Usually exes who are posting on social media a lot are doing so because they want to “win the breakup.”
Which is why I chose to place the two behaviors together.
Behavior #7: Obsessing About The Phantom Ex
Now we get to the crazy stuff.
Alright, if you want a full breakdown of the phantom ex and how that works I suggest you read my article on it or watch this video,
But basically avoidant exes will often fall victim to something called “a phantom ex.”
Officially, the phantom ex is a past partner that you can’t seem to stop thinking about. Instead, you hyper focus on them and romanticize your time together. Even when that time together wasn’t all that great.
But one of the things I’ve noticed that almost no one seems to talk about is how often your ex will start obsessing about their “phantom ex” while they are still with you.
And this is really on brand for avoidants.
For them, the ideal relationship is one where they don’t have to fully commit. One where they can daydream from afar.
And sometimes the pull of this phantom ex is so strong that they find themselves actively trying to re-pursue this person only to lose interest with them when they finally DO get that person
And around and around we go.
Behavior #8: They Try To Ask For You Back
Do you remember when I said that all of these behaviors can be linked to the 7 stages of breakup grief.
Well, this one is firmly linked to “bargaining.”
One admission, this one tends to be rarer but it does happen. In fact, every once in a while during my interviews with success stories you can find that an ex will ask them back during that no contact phase like in Jenny’s situation below,
Essentially she didn’t even have a chance to complete a full no contact rule because he showed up to her porch and basically begged for her back.
I do want it noted though that this is the exception to the rule.
Most exes will NOT do this.
Behavior #9: Anger
Once again pulling from our those stages of grief.
Here’s the interesting thing about anger that no one thinks about. Very often after a breakup it’s easier to hold on to anger for it’s cathartic release.
BUT IT’S A TEMPORARY ONE!
Research suggests that holding on to anger for too long can cause you to go in a cognitive decline as opposed to those who are more likely to forgive.
Basically the following functions become negatively affected,
- Problem Solving
All things you don’t want to decline.
Behavior #10: They Demonize You
They make you the bad guy.
And yes, that’s even including situations where they were the ones to break up with you.
It’s so much easier to blame someone else as apposed to taking ownership yourself for problems you may have created.
This is often why you’ll hear them saying bad things about you behind your back. It’s all a deflection mechanism their ego has in place so they get to remain as the “good guy.”
How Do Men Show Their Emotions Differently Than Women After A Breakup?
I get asked this question all the time and the answer is actually really interesting and has a lot to do with the societal expectations of how men and women are supposed to handle breakups.
According to this research paper from the University of Texas
Women tend to feel more comfort in relying on friends and family after a breakup where men don’t want to give in to the stigma of “needing help after a breakup.” which ultimately means they hold on to the breakup longer.
This is why, over the long term men tend to have a more difficult time “moving on” from breakups as opposed to women.
They feel all this outside pressure from society that they should “have it handled.”
But the “handling it yourself” approach doesn’t really help you process your emotions.
Women have it right. They seek help from others. They talk to others. They process their feelings and this allows them to more fully let go when the time comes.
But then why is it that some men seem to move on quickly after a breakup, while others struggle to let go?
Well, I think attachment styles might play a role in explaining this.
- Anxious exes: Obsess and try to fix. They don’t move on quickly.
- Avoidant exes: Avoid and suppress, initially seeming to let go quickly.
But make no mistake, statistically speaking, men struggle with more long term effects related to breakups than women seem to.