Every breakup is a terrible (but unavoidable) experience.
It doesn’t really matter whether the relationship ended on good terms or on bad terms, nor does it make much of a difference if you’re the person calling the shots or the one being dumped.
Breakups are a loss of a connection that inevitably affects both parties.
Contrary to what we might believe, breakups can also be hard on men, and not in ways we usually expect.
We often think guys don’t feel as bad in a breakup because they don’t show any intense emotions about it.
In some cases, they don’t even react to the breakup until a few weeks or months after.
Because men and women have vastly different ways of expressing how they feel, it’s also possible that we misunderstand their breakup habits.
So how exactly do guys behave after a breakup?
Here are 16 things he may do:
1) He goes into hibernation mode alone.
We often associate “hibernation” to animals preparing for the winter. Bears hide in their dens; squirrels store up on nuts before snow begins to fall.
When men undergo a breakup, they tend to self-isolate the same way.
Instead of burrowing in a tree trunk, guys go and stock up on junk food, video games, and movies while figuring out how to deal with their broken heart.
Maybe, like women, they find comfort while they curl up on a couch with some ice cream.
A breakup often leads to depression and low energy so don’t be too surprised if they’re sleeping a lot.
The hibernation tactic is a defense mechanism against the pain.
Unlike women, men also prefer to be alone post-breakup. In between binge-watching and naps, they might take some time for introspection to process what happened.
Maybe they’re wondering what they could have done to fix the relationship before the breakup.
If he’s the one who did the dumping, he could be rethinking his choice.
And if he’s the one who was dumped, he might be wondering if the reasons for breaking up are valid.
In any case, hibernation mode allows them to get their mind off things and take care of themselves.
2) He’s into self-destructive behavior.
This is one of the most enduring myths about breakups.
Men do feel pain in varying levels and degrees after splitting up, especially if they were emotionally invested in the relationship or seriously attached to their partner.
We don’t see this because men are trained to put up a tough exterior, so they don’t allow themselves to grieve their loss properly. They’re afraid of being judged for being too weepy or girly.
Without an outlet for these emotions, it’s not uncommon for self-destructive tendencies to emerge after a breakup.
Excessive drinking, smoking, and other addictions are usually the habits a heartbroken guy would turn to.
A breakup can even worsen an already existing addiction.
In situations where a guy quit substance abuse at the insistence of his ex-partner, he could actually relapse and return to the addiction with a vengeance.
The psychology behind this behavior is that men think self-destructing is a way of getting back at their partner. It’s like a guy wants to show his ex how she ruined his life.
With some men, they even take this idea of revenge to the next level. After a breakup, they feel wronged; their pride is wounded.
However, since it’s not considered manly to cry about it or ask a friend to listen to them, they could lash out at their ex-partner to “protect” themselves.
He may say something cruel to his ex or leak their personal chats, images, and videos. If the situation escalates, he might even stalk or physically harm his ex-partner.
3) He looks for rebound relationships.
Sometimes, when a guy undergoes a breakup, he becomes something of a playboy.
He moves from one casual fling to another and has a string of rebound relationships that don’t last very long.
Although we mostly see this character in film and TV, this guy exists in real life too.
Men tend to go through rebound relationships for various reasons:
- He wants to avoid dealing with his feelings.
- He doesn’t want to be alone.
- He doesn’t feel comfortable with the loss.
- He wants to boost his self-esteem after a rejection.
- He needs to feel desired.
- He wants to prove something to his ex (and to himself).
- He feels the need to “catch up” with missed opportunities.
According to psychology, rebound relationships are a man’s way of recovering his pride after a breakup — especially if he was the one who was dumped.
As fleeting and hollow as these relationships might be, they serve as validation to fill up his self-worth. Having a string of successful rebound conquests reaffirms to a guy that he is good enough; that he is still attractive to women, or that his ex was the real problem.
For men, it’s also a way to save face. Jumping into another relationship “proves” that he didn’t experience any pain and that the breakup wasn’t such a big deal.
As for the unfortunate rebound, she often only serves as a temporary distraction.
Even if the relationship becomes semi-serious, it’s doomed from the start because the guy hasn’t properly processed his feelings about the breakup yet.
Seeking out rebounds and flings can be harmful to men in the long term.
It’s an unhealthy behavior because it lets guys ignore the sting of rejection and leave them unaddressed.
So when his next serious relationship rolls around, the unresolved baggage is brought along too.
What about women who also have rebound relationships?
It’s less common but it happens. Most women are also equipped with the emotional tools they need to work through the negative feelings brought about by the breakup.
Recommended reading: Rebound relationship: 5 signs and what you can do about it
4) He tries to get back together with his ex.
Do men miss their exes after breaking up? Of course they do. They’re human after all.
However, some men have a habit of calling up his ex-partner sometime after the break-up, asking if they can get back together.
They might even go out of their way to perform grand gestures or convince their ex’s friends that he wants to begin the relationship anew.
Men crave intimacy as much as women do.
Even if a guy enjoys the fun, single life, they also like being in a relationship.
Guys like protecting girls they care about and being the person they depend on.
And because their ex is the last person they have a memory of doing all these things with, familiarity draws them back.
It’s entirely possible that he might not actually miss the person; he simply misses being in a relationship — and this is usually the case.
It’s also a problem if a guy never gets over his ex-partner because it impacts his ability to form new romantic connections.
Being stuck in the past prevents men from getting into another long-term and committed relationship, so it’s imperative they learn how to move on.
5) He talks less.
One strange phenomenon that occurs in males after a breakup is that they undergo a robotic state of silence.
As they move through their day, they don’t talk a lot and only react passively to what is going on.
And even though they still keep up with their responsibilities, they don’t really perform them at the same level as before.
They might also neglect to socialize, indulge in hobbies, or take part in events and activities they once found meaningful.
If you ask them what’s up or what they’re thinking of, they might simply reply by saying “nothing”.
This weird behavior can be alarmingly similar to signs of depression, but it isn’t always the case.
Guys say and do nothing because they are using the time to unwind or sort things out. It’s unlikely because they are deeply sad and cannot function.
Rather, it’s more of an emotional shut down until they are ready to face it. In robot terms, it’s like a reboot phase that happens from time to time.
Why does this phenomenon happen?
Well, for one, men aren’t normally good at talking about their emotions in the first place.
They are expected to stay strong so they struggle to manage all their raw feelings. It’s possible that their brains zone out for a little while just so they can cope.
6) He plays the blame game.
Men tend two have one of two negative responses: blaming himself over the breakup or blaming his ex.
The first, self-blame, is less common. The guy replays his mistakes in the relationship and suffers because of it.
He becomes mentally or emotionally unhealthy because he’s taking on everything that went wrong, even if it’s out of his control.
The far more common response is the opposite. Guys pin the blame on their exes and accuse them for being the real reason the relationship ended.
For example, the couple breaks up because the girl caught her boyfriend cheating on her with another girl.
In turn, the guy reverses the situation by saying it’s the girl’s fault for not spending enough time with him or giving him the attention he wants.
This form of gaslighting is incredibly harmful to the exes in question.
Blame is a way of taking false control over the situation.
It’s a cycle of negativity which can become a pattern for a guy’s future relationships because he doesn’t quite learn the lesson that relationships are a two-way street.
If he doesn’t want to take responsibility for his share of failures in the breakup, he’s doomed to encounter the same problems in his next relationship.
7) He distorts the truth.
It can be too painful to admit the real reason behind a breakup, which is probably why guys tend to distort the truth as a post-breakup strategy.
When confiding to his friends about the split, he might say something like:
- “Oh, it was a mutual decision.”
- “She was too needy and clingy.”
- “I didn’t really like her that much.”
- “I was planning on breaking up with her anyways.”
Even if these statements are not necessarily true, guys do this to reinforce a message of being impervious to hurt.
He wants to show people that he is strong, that he is the bigger person.
And deep down, he also wants to use his words as a weapon against his ex; he’s trying to convey that she didn’t mean that much to him.
It’s difficult to talk to other people after breaking up, especially if it was a serious relationship involving family members and mutual friends.
In order to keep face, guys try to avoid the real reason for breaking up.
And maybe, they are also trying to convince themselves that what they’re saying is the truth.
8) He pretends not to care.
Men undergo certain emotions during a breakup, much like women do.
They face feelings of extreme hurt, anger, confusion, failure, sadness, and emotional numbness in no particular order.
Unlike women, they are usually unable to cope with this flurry of emotions. They put on emotional band-aids and “walk away” from the situation, but the memories come back to haunt them.
In order to deflect and ignore these feelings, they fake indifference. This is especially evident when they run into their exes and are forced into a conversation.
Most likely, guys would talk about the breakup in a dull and monotone way, devoid of any feelings.
They hide away their sadness because they think it’s weak or unmanly. Instead of showing how they feel, they try to smile and continue with life as they used to.
This type of male behavior can really be counterproductive because they end up prolonging their pain by hiding it.
The best way for a guy to overcome breakup pain is to allow the feelings to happen.
Rather than spending energy trying to make themselves look and feel better, it’s better to cry or break something or even sleep it off.
It’s natural to feel sucky after a breakup anyways, so men should embrace the healing process.
9) He spends more time with friends.
For many men (and even women), spending time with friends you trust is kind of like going to therapy after a breakup.
Guys particularly enjoy private drinking sessions with male friends because they can unload their feelings, albeit in a drunken way.
Engaging in social activities like this are not always as destructive as it first appears. In fact, spending more time with friends help men:
- Distract themselves from the first few days post breakup, which are the hardest
- Overcome feelings of loneliness and worthlessness
- Help them navigate through their social situation as a newly-single person
- Reconnect with friends they might have neglected over the course of the relationship
- Remind themselves that there are people who do love and care for them
On the other hand, bottling up feelings and avoiding friends can only increase their negative emotions — potentially leading to a mental health issue.
If a guy is talking in-depth about a relationship with his friends, he’s probably on a better path to recovering from heartbreak than most.
10) He dedicates more time to his responsibilities.
You’ve probably already seen a guy bounce back from a breakup like it’s nothing.
He’s suddenly a model employee who spends his weekends with his family or does volunteer work on the side.
He’s suddenly more responsible and proactive, instead of goofy or distracted. It’s a sudden change but it seems to work.
Some men choose to escape into their work, family obligations, or social causes after a breakup. After all, it seems like the more effective, useful, and productive choice.
It’s certainly preferable to a potentially rockier path of excessive drinking, smoking, partying, or sleeping around.
For me, it’s also far easier to work on these projects than to deal with the confusion, loneliness, and other terrifying emotions inside.
However, dedicating more time and energy into responsibilities only work in the short term.
Sooner or later, he will burn out and all the negative emotions will come up to the surface. It’s best if a guy can find balance between distraction and healing.
11) He picks up a new hobby.
It’s an often overlooked behavior, but men do turn to new hobbies as a way to cope with a breakup.
They take the extra time from their newly single life as a chance to catch up to hobbies, activities, or other opportunities they might have sacrificed while they were in a relationship.
Common choices are learning how to cook, play an instrument, or do sports.
Other productive activities include hiking, camping, mountain-climbing and other nature-related, healing hobbies.
Guys try out new hobbies to remind themselves that they don’t really need to be in a relationship to feel fulfilled.
Hobbies are also a fun way to distract themselves while learning new skills.
Aside from hobbies, some guys also choose to travel if his work allows and he has money to spare.
It’s a way to physically distance themselves from their ex-partners and refocus their perspective.
12) He tries out new experiences and lifestyles.
When men undergo a breakup, they like to try their hand at something new. Sometimes, it could be simple changes to their routines and habits.
In other cases, guys venture out to meet new people while volunteering, travelling, or taking fun classes. I
n more extreme cases, they might even experiment with their entire lifestyles and upgrade their homes or personal style.
Dabbling in new experiences allows guys to reconfigure who they are and reconnect with a world that no longer revolves around their ex.
Male behavior changes after facing a painful situation because they don’t express their pain to anyone else. Instead, they opt to let go of other things in their lives and hope something sticks.
13) He tries to erase old memories.
Women are well-known collectors when it comes to relationships. They save anything they feel is meaningful even after a breakup, like letters, cinema tickets, chocolate boxes, and other tokens from the time. On the other hand, guys are the complete opposite. Unless it’s something unique, men are more likely to destroy all mementos soon after a split for the sake of mental relief.
Aside from physical objects, guys also establish a no-contact rule. He avoids being friends with his ex-partner immediately after the breakup.
This includes blocking them on social media, erasing their mobile phone number, and deleting their photos across devices.
Men would also avoid physical spaces that are connected to his ex.
Whether the place holds a significant memory or there is a high chance of running into his ex, guys will not step foot in specific clubs, restaurants, or coffee shops.
All of these strategies help speed up a man’s healing process because he isn’t constantly bombarded with memories of what he just lost.
14) He blocks his ex on social media.
Women tend to make the mistake of thinking that getting blocked by the ex-partner on social media is a petty move, or something that indicates he didn’t care about them at all.
However, decreased social media contact is a preferred method by guys and it’s actually a recommended move.
Blocking an ex-partner on social media is not done out of spite; most men do it because they don’t want to deal with negative emotions.
Checking out their ex-girlfriend’s social media might make them feel sad or even stalkerish, because he would know exactly what his ex is up to.
Staying off social media is really more of a self-preservation tactic against insecure feelings and lousy thoughts.
15) He re-evaluates himself and his relationships.
According to male psychology, men are at their most vulnerable during a breakup period.
They’re feeling rejection, abandonment, and resentment which may become unnoticed changes in their behavior. On the positive side, this period also gives them room for quiet introspection.
Men would reflect on their life, the choices they made, their flaws and virtues, or even what they truly want in a partner.
These existential moments are a good thing because they grow more attuned to who they are.
The experience can also potentially push them in the right direction for the future.
Some guys might also pay attention to the relationships they have with friends and family.
Depending on how they react to the breakup, a guy could cut off contact with unhelpful people and strengthen their bonds with those who are supportive of them.
16) He seeks out self-improvement.
A devastating breakup can be hard on both partners, leaving both people crushed and questioning their worth.
Once the pity party is over, however, some guys take their fresh start as a chance to improve old flaws.
It could be simple changes like working out actively or something more complex, such as pursuing their career goals.
Finding The Good In Everything
Breakups suck — but they don’t always have to be so bad.
Finding a silver lining in the experience can help you grow into a more mature person, ready to tackle future emotional challenges one step at a time.
Recommended reading: How to get your ex boyfriend back…for good! 15 crucial steps to take
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