How do guys handle breakups? Do they handle them better or worse than women? Are there different strategies and reactions to the oh-so-common broken heart?
The Big Myth: Who Cares?
Western culture, aided by John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis and Jon Hamm, has portrayed the masculine ideal as being invulnerable to emotional distress from breakups. They break up with their significant others and go on to save the world, at most dealing with their emotional distress by consuming alcohol and brooding alone late at night. While this is a viable strategy for men and women, it doesn't mean men don't care. The fact is that breakups have an effect on a person directly in relation to how deeply and how long they were involved. This goes for men or women. However, due to the stereotypes, men don't have as many ways to express that grief, to find a way to get closure from a relationship. The following are some of the less-than-healthy strategies men can use to "get over" a relationship.
- Distraction - Going to a lot of sporting events, starting a new hobby, or spending all their time engrossed in a new video game is a way to not think about the relationship that just ended. The problem with this is that since men don't deal with the emotions, they simply lurk in the subconscious and the relationship is never really moved to the past so the healing never happens.
- Overwork - Some men will suddenly devote all of their attention to their job, spending long hours of overtime, or even starting an extra job. The goal is to become so exhausted that they can't have any free time to actually deal with the breakup - and it seems to be a positive thing, because they are fulfilling their prescribed role as a hard-working man. Unfortunately, overwork is just as much as distraction as any of the items mentioned in number one above. At some point, everyone needs to take a break, a vacation, or a holiday - because those feelings are still there from the breakup.
- Jump Right Back In - Then there are the guys who think they have to prove just how unaffected they are by immediately jumping back into the dating pool. This is possibly the most destructive way that guys handle breakups - because not only are they not dealing with their own emotions, they are dragging another person into the emotional mess that they've not dealt with. It's known as the "rebound" effect, and while it is well known, there are always women who think they are the exception, that even though the guy just broke up recently, they can heal him.
Of course, women just as easily use all of these breakup reactions - the fact is that everybody needs to find a way to deal with the emotions that come from a broken relationship.
How Do Guys Handle Breakups Well
The answer is one word: closure. And the way to get closure is to allow yourself to grieve. Grieving does not mean pouting, brooding, or throwing things - at least, not for very long. It may involve all of those to some extent. Part of the reason people avoid dealing with emotions is because they fear that they will last forever - and the fact is, they don't if people allow themselves to feel the emotions and work through them. Possible ways that men and women can work through feelings of a breakup are:
- Conversations with friends
- Meditation and reflection
- Listening to music
There are many websites and articles on how to get over a breakup as well. Many books have been written on the subject, and even just reading some breakup poems can help men or women understand that they are not alone, and not only have other people had this experience, but they've gotten over it, too. That is the first step for guy and gals to find their own healing path.