The Truth About How Men Handle Heartbreak
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The Truth About How Men Handle Heartbreak

Maybe you're tired of wrestling with anxiety every time your man takes two hours to answer your texts or perhaps you don't trust the week-long disappearing act he pulls every time you have an argument. Or maybe it was something that had a little more bite to it, like that text he accidentally sent you about how he can't wait to tear your behind up again like the night before…even though last night you were working a double.

Either way, it's OVER, and while you're sitting around in your roller set re-enacting Ciara's “I Bet You" dance moves in the mirror while trying not to spill the Pinot you've been sipping, you can only imagine that homeboy is pulling a Meek Mill with his newfound freedom.

With every minute that “Heyy…" text doesn't come through your imagination starts running wild about how dude is really handling the healing process. Is he at the nearest “Shaky Butts" making it rain on a pair of twins “surfboardting" on the pole? Maybe he's in bed with his shady behind co-worker that never liked you while you're crying your heart out over an online shopping cart of Michael Kors' slides. Or just maybe he's fighting back the tears right along with you attempting an off-key version of Boyz II Men's “Doin' Just Fine" with the help of some brown liquor.

When it comes to breaking up, the media is filled with clichéd images of women sobbing over a pint of Rocky Road for weeks before cutting their hair off and doing something dramatic like moving to Tuscany to start a new life. Men, however, can't seem to get over their ex's fast enough before getting on top of someone else. But do men truly handle heartbreak better than women, or does it only appear that way?

A recent study may prove that although it appears men aren't fazed by break ups, the truth is they just handle them differently. Last summer, Binghamton University and University College London teamed up for a study about how men and women compare when it comes to breaking up. Researchers surveyed 5,707 men and women, with an average age of just under 27-years-old, from 96 different countries and discovered that while women experience more emotional extremes in the aftermath, men take longer to recover. So although ex-bae isn't crying into the cookie dough, you can rest assured that somewhere down the line, he's still probably being haunted by the ghosts of girlfriends past. Don't bust out with the “Why you so obsessed with me" just yet, because that may not be a good thing, especially for the next girl.

Researchers determined that instead of processing their feelings and reflecting on the part they played in the relationship's demise, men simply just move on to the next partner. Meaning that if you broke up on Thursday, and he's already dating Crystal by Tuesday, although the rest of his anatomy is probably in it, his heart and head aren't. The study looked at this behavior from an evolutionary perspective and determined that men are more likely to date on the rebound because historically they are used to competing for the attention of women, and it may take them longer to realize what they've lost. Women, however, tend to be choosier about the relationships they enter into in the first place. When it's over they may take the break up harder since they didn't approach it as casually in the first place.

Another surprising find from the study: Women tend to be the dumper more often than the dumpee. This is important because the one who has already given up in his/her head can already begin moving on before the break-up is common knowledge. The Binghamton study revealed that the “dumpee" experiences more relationship grief since they are forced to move on abruptly. In theory, since men have had more practice at getting over it, they are able to do so more quickly.

The way we problem-solve has a lot to do with how we handle the break-up as well:

“The woman often looks at a breakup as a problem to be solved, whereas the logic-oriented man looks at the same breakup as a problem that has already been solved."“For men, the breakup is the end. For women, the breakup is the beginning of a larger psychological dilemma."

It might shed some light on why after a break-up, many women find themselves initiating a new project to conquer: Going to school, starting a business, checking that “trip to Spain" off your bucket list. We need to prove that we can be successful and solve a problem. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as the goal is to improve yourself and not to try and fix the problems of previous relationships vicariously through new projects…and people. Maybe we need to take note from the guys and stop looking at a break-ups as “another relationship I just f--ked up" and more like “that problem I just solved."

In other words, ladies, keep up the good work with the vision boards, inspirational quotes and sun salutations. Reflecting on what you want in a relationship and focusing on ways to improve will only make you a better mate for the next man, instead of wandering around aimlessly cuffing up anything like our male counterparts.

Next time you find yourself playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game with how you could've made things work, take the end of the relationship for exactly what it is: the end of waiting for hours for him to text back, the end of wondering what he's been doing for a week before popping back into your life and the end of a situation that one or more of you is unhappy in.

Meanwhile, I asked a few real life guys to honestly reveal how they've handled heartache in the past. (We will call them Brian, Darrell, and Michael). Take a look at how they handled being told, “to the left, to the left."

How long has it been since your last break up?

Michael: 6 maybe 7 years.

Darrell: October. 2 years ago, maybe a little more.

Brian: 4 years.

Were you the dumper or the dumpee? How did things end (through text, an argument, caught cheating etc.)?

Michael: Dumpee. She moved on to someone else.

Darrell: Dumper. Honestly we discussed how we felt, and where we both were concerning each other at that time, at which point I suggested separation.

Brian: Dumper. I was immature and wasn't ready to live with someone. We ended up arguing over whether to get a dog or not and I felt disrespected because she was determined to do what she wanted and get the damn Yorkie.

What did you do immediately following the break-up? How long did it take you to get over the relationship (or did you ever get over it)?

Michael: Hung out with a close cousin. About a year, but never fully got over it just accepted it for what it was.

Darrell: Pursued friendships I'd developed outside my relationship to see what could happen.

Brian: I moved out the next day. In fact I moved a couple of hours away. When I think of it, the argument was probably about way more than the dog.

Did you do anything in particular to get over it or "heal" (Date someone else, have sex, drink, go to strip club, focus on work/school)? What do you feel was most effective in helping you heal?

Michael: I dated and had sex with a few women but it just didn't feel the same, I guess cause my heart couldn't get there so I focused on work. Work helped a lot cause when I went out with women I would always think of her. So being at work allowed me to bury thoughts of her.

Darrell: After realizing that a close friendship I'd developed wouldn't be able to become anything more, I started looking at the random girls I was dating; their goals, their situations (kids, ex's), what they had going for them (car, living situation, education). I started questioning what the hell was I doing, and what had I done to my relationship to be out here dating from scratch, women that in some cases were starting from scratch (still living with parents, no mode of transportation, not in school).

Brian: S—t, I did all of the above and I feel like they all helped me get through it. Having sex with other women definitely was the only time I completely stopped thinking of her.

How long after the break-up did you have sex again (whether it was with that person or someone else)?

Michael: About 6 months.

Darrell: Couple of weeks.

Brian: A few days later.

How long after the break-up did you enter into a new relationship?

Michael: Never, since I take a long time to open up no one would stay around long enough to see where it goes.

Darrell: About 6/7 months later. Around March/April I got back with the ex.

Brian: A few weeks later. I don't like to be alone. Who honestly wants to be alone? No man really is that hype about being single. If he says he is, he's lying.

Do you think the break-up was your fault, your partner's or no one's fault? If someone was at fault, how so?

Michael: Partially yes, she gave hints of how to keep her, but I was too dumb to realize it. Instead of listening I would rebel, try to out-do others and be disrespectful to her, which turned into arguments that in the end pushed her away into the arms of another man. I thought I needed to be something I wasn't when all I really needed to do was just be me and better myself, which in the end is what she liked about me most. It was how I got her in the first place.

Darrell: Definitely my fault. I was unhappy and I suspected she was, too. All I did was verbalize the inevitable.

Brian: It was both of ours. I was rushing to get over the relationship I had before her. She was rushing to make the relationship more than it was too soon.

Are you still friends/still keep in contact with this person?

Michael: Yes and yes.

Darrell: Yes, we're still together to this day.

Brian: I married her.

Featured image via Tenor




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