Yes, they're crying on the inside.
While ladies are more likely to face a tube of cookie dough and wail in their work cubicles after a breakup, research suggests that a man's health actually suffers more after a relationship sours. Why? Scientists speculate men aren't as intimate with their friends as women, and therefore don't have the support system needed when a relationship tanks.
As published in an issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Robin Simon, Professor of Sociology at North Carolina's Wake Forest University, analyzed the emotions of 1000 young men and women after a split and found that men are more reactive when a relationship dwindles.
For example, a newly single guy may mask his discomfort watching football with a steely exterior, but beneath the surface he may quell the pain with substance abuse, she says. Meanwhile, women huddle together, cry, over analyze, cry some more, do some more analyzing, but, at the end of the day, they do a better job of dealing with the issue.
Professor Simon also speculates a crumbling relationship dents the male ego and causes men to question their self-worth. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for ladies. Simon says a woman's self-image is more damaged by being perpetually single than in a relationship that's perhaps less than perfect.
So we surveyed some guys to find out what they think about this study and to hear how they cope after breaking up. Here's a sampling of what they had to say:
1. It's not a surprise that dudes are more likely to drown relationship pain in booze. While I disagree with parts of the methodology, sample and suppositions of the study that fellas are more likely to get hammered when they hurt is evident. I guess that alcohol and drugs help remove whatever emotional inhibition that nature or nurture has put in front of us regarding communicating feelings. I know some very tough dudes who manage to squeeze in a good cry periodically when they're drinking but never let their sober guard down. — Tom Miller, writer/blogger, @tomfoolerytm
2. When my girlfriend brought up the idea of breaking up — I was devastated. I was a wreck, so I took action and did all I could — lots of pleading — to convince her that we shouldn't part ways. Clearly, it worked — now she's my wife. — Kevin Osgood, video producer
3. Find a rebound as quickly as possible, to not appear to be upset. Guy friends just don't want to hear your tales of woe, so you'd better get over it or else they stop wanting to hang out. So, it was all about postponing the actual dealing with it indefinitely, which just makes it messier because you've dragged someone else [the rebound] into your jam. That's a problem I only recognized as I got older and had been someone else's rebound. My ever-growing base of female friends have ensured a much smoother transition back into the dating pool in recent years. They're going to ask, you're going to delve, you might as well get it over with and unburden yourself. Plus, as a writer, it's easier to unleash my emotions on the world than it may be for the average male. — Brian Fairbanks, writer/blogger, @BrianFair
4. My immediate reaction to a breakup is anger. I need to vent, generally to my younger brother, who never takes my side. It's good to have someone tell me to shut up when I'm hurting, but then I morph into silent man mode and can keep hurt bottled up for months. — Royal Young, freelance writer, @royalyoung
5. I've had three really tough breakups. My first real experience with a breakup was in fifth grade. Amy Solomon dumped me at a dance party (Aaron [best friend and co-founder of HowAboutWe.com] and I used to organize them back in the day), and I did a 10-minute wall sit (an exercise that leads to extreme pain in the thighs). All the boys thought it was hilarious and I got lots of props for not getting sappy. Then in 12th grade, the love of my life broke up with me. I remember saying, "I think I might throw up," and I really felt that way. The last time I got broken up with, I cried some and my girlfriend said, "Oh, you really did love me!" We laughed and pretty soon I felt fine. — Brian Schechter, co-founder of HowAboutWe, @HowAboutWe
For those of us who've wondered if men hurt as much as we do after a split, there we have it.