Why It Takes Longer For Men To Feel Heartbroken After A Breakup Than Women

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sad guy feeling heartbreak after a breakup
Heartbreak

Think about your most recent breakup and how heartbroken you felt. 

As you solemnly scroll through social media, you catch a glimpse of your ex’s posts and are stunned by how unbothered he seems by the situation. 

This may leave you wondering: why do breakups hit guys later? Do they even feel it at all?

The answer is yes, breakups affect guys. They just happen to deal with breakups differently.

While your grieving process might include posting sad quotes on Instagram or binge-watching “Grey’s Anatomy” in bed with a tub of ice cream, “Breakups can cause men to double down on what makes them feel good,” explains Relationship Coach Keith Dent. “They may indulge more in work, or one of their favorite hobbies to avoid being vulnerable, until they are struck by lightning when the next love of their life walks by.”

So before jumping to the hurtful conclusion that he never cared about you and your relationship, consider the fact that he’s just processing the breakup in his own time. 

Why do men feel heartbreak later than women?

1. He can’t express his emotions. 

It’s possible that your ex’s seemingly happy appearance in the midst of your own emotional turmoil is all just an act. 

“Men, particularly in American society, have been socialized to not express emotions (anger is one exception to that),” Relaxation & Relationship Psychologist David Helfand explains. “Over many years of not expressing, processing, and dealing with emotions, men tend to have more difficulty handling strong emotional experiences. They might try to suppress or just misinterpret their emotional experiences.”

So while it may seem to you like he’s not affected by the breakup, he may really just handle breakups differently. 

But you can bet that the heartbreak will get to him eventually.

RELATED: The 6 Not-So-Pretty (But Totally Normal) Stages Of A Breakup

2. Guys process breakups later. 

While women tend to look for immediate closure and ways to jumpstart the process of moving on after a breakup, men are emotional procrastinators. 

“Men are more likely to be socialized to not show or express emotion so they are handicapped when it comes to understanding [and] processing them,” Helfand says. 

3. He may not understand the permanence of the breakup. 

You likely took your relationship very seriously, and would never joke about breaking up. Whether you initiated the breakup or were the one broken up with, you took it to heart. 

Men, having the immature emotional processing that they do, might not see things the same way. 

“When a relationship isn’t working out, men usually don’t seek a breakup, they seek a distraction if needed,” Clinical Hypnotherapist Keya Murthy explains. “So, when a breakup happens, in their mind they are still emotionally attached to the past relation.”

While you’re convinced the relationship is over for good, he may see it as a “break” or may not even realize that you’re even broken up. 

Ah, to be a man.

RELATED: The Real Reason Guys Rebound So Quickly After A Breakup

4. He’s trying to appear strong to his friends.

As Helfand mentioned, a lot of men are raised to believe they can’t express their emotions (thanks, toxic masculinity). While women usually have the freedom to cry to their friends and show their vulnerability post-breakup, men often aren’t offered the same emotional support system. 

“They have to position to their boys they aren't affected by the breakup and that they will find another woman that's better,” Dent explains.

5. Men are biologically wired to move on faster. 

"Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man," explains Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author on a study researching the difference in heartbreak between men and women. 

"A brief romantic encounter could lead to nine months of pregnancy followed by many years of lactation for an ancestral woman, while the man may have ‘left the scene’ literally minutes after the encounter, with no further biological investment. It is this ‘risk’ of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate. Hence, the loss of a relationship with a high-quality mate ‘hurts’ more for a woman." 

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But don’t be fooled — guys do care after a breakup.

“Guys care a lot after a breakup,” says Keya Murthy. However, it’s likely that immediately after the breakup, he’s more concerned with his hurt ego than the loss of a relationship. “They care who their ex is with. Their biggest care is who has replaced them,” Murthy explains.

Despite what their outward behavior may suggest, you may be surprised to learn that guys actually have a harder time with the pain of a breakup. 

“It takes longer for a man to fully commit, but when he does, he falls hard,” Keith Dent says. 

In fact, some guys fall so hard that they never get over the breakup, like, ever. 

The 2015 study found that while women experience more physical and emotional pain post-breakup than men, they eventually recover. Men, however, just sort of hold on to the breakup for the rest of their lives. 

"The man will likely feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time as it ‘sinks in’ that he must ‘start competing’ all over again to replace what he has lost — or worse still, come to the realization that the loss is irreplaceable," says Morris.

You may be hurting more now, but at least you can take solace in the fact that he’ll still be thinking about you 100 years from now.

RELATED: 5 Sad Ways Men Try To Deal With Heartbreak (And Fail)

Micki Spollen is an editor for YourTango. She also runs the travel blog Where In The World Is My Drink.