I recently talked to a friend frustrated by her ex’s behavior post-breakup. Even though she was handling the relationship’s end quite well, it frustrated her that her ex seemed completely unaffected by what had just occurred. I could understand her frustration; I’ve been there myself! How can someone go on with their life as if nothing happened at all? Are guys affected by breakups like girls are?
There are a lot of factors that play into it, making this topic hard to address. Every relationship is different, and every person has a unique personality and manner in which they process difficult circumstances. So before writing this post, I called in reinforcements: my husband, Josh. Though it’s been a few years since either of us dated, his input helped shed some light on this question. Following are a few points to remember when you wonder if guys care about breakups at all.
For Guys, the Effects Aren’t Always Visible
Guys, Josh said, often process a breakup invisibly. Where a girl might talk to multiple friends, take down photos or change a Facebook status, those might not be a guy’s first steps. He will go on with life as normal to put up a confident, “together” façade. But inside, he’s emotionally processing just like his ex-girlfriend.
The invisible effects of a breakup don’t negate the hard reality that a relationship ended. Apathy and depression are very real for men post-breakup—apathy especially, since a failed relationship can tend to make men feel like failures as a whole. As Josh put it, many men find purpose through their girlfriend. When their girlfriend is gone, they lose direction.
Guys Process Differently
Second, guys process pain differently. Of course individual personality type has bearing on this, but in general, guys will process painful relationships by keeping busy and distracted from the hurt. This is why they may appear as if they don’t care—as if life is going on as normal. That’s how they achieve normalcy.
You may have noticed that guys don’t usually go out for coffee together to talk. Male friendship usually revolves around an activity: video games, shooting or sports. In the same way, guys process breakups through distraction, busyness and routine. It doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by the breakup.
Some Guys Aren’t as Affected Because They Weren’t Invested
Of course, there are some breakups where the guy moves on immediately and truly is NOT as affected as the girl. In these cases, this is a sure sign he wasn’t as invested in the relationship as his girlfriend was. For her sake, it’s better that they’re no longer together! You don’t want to be in a relationship with a guy who isn’t really putting in effort.
Breakups are hard; that’s no joke. But guys do feel them, and godly guys experience the same devastation that girls do. They just handle their emotions differently and process difficulty in a unique way.
While this won’t make your own breakup any easier, it may relieve your mind to know that what you see of your ex’s response might not be the whole story. So give grace and the benefit of the doubt, entrust him to God’s mercy and let this be the beginning of a road to healing.