5 Sad Ways Men Try To Deal With Heartbreak

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heartbroken man looking into mirror

How do guys deal with heartbreak? Unfortunately, men aren’t great when it comes to the aftermath of a breakup. In fact, there’s even science to back that up.

Researchers from Binghamton University polled over 5,000 participants in a study that asked them to rate their emotional and physical pain following the end of a romantic relationship. The results showed that women feel pain more intensely immediately following a breakup, but men have a much harder time recovering from heartbreak in the long term.

What does heartbreak feel like for a man?

To quote one of the researchers, “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.”

Why do men take so long to recover from a bad breakup? Probably because they’re doing it wrong.

Not to generalize, but many men aren’t comfortable talking about their emotions with other men, and that kind of peer-to-peer “OMG, I can’t believe it hurts so much” conversations play a big role in getting over losing someone you loved.

So, because men don’t talk, they invent other “manly” ways to cope with the pain of a breakup.

RELATED: 10 Subtle Signs A Man Is Carrying A Broken Heart

Here are five common ways men try to deal with heartbreak — often without much success.

1. They sleep — a lot.

When a man gets his heart broken, it awakens his inner “bear.” No, not a hirsute gay man, even though that might make the breakup a little easier (and a lot more confusing).

What I mean is that, when men are in pain, they like to hibernate. So they sleep all the time. They want to spend as much time unconscious as possible because, when they’re sleeping, they don’t feel any pain.

And who knows? Maybe they’ll fall into a Rip Van Winkle situation where they sleep so long that, one day, they wake up in a whole new world — a world where they can’t remember what broke their heart in the first place. (Not likely.)

RELATED: 5 Ways For Guys To Heal From Heartbreak During A Breakup

2. They play video games all the time.

Video games can be oddly therapeutic for men. Video games give men a world to retreat into, a world where they can try to accomplish things and, if they fail, at the worst, they’ll have to start over at a nearby checkpoint. The game world is a safe space for them.

Now, that can sound odd when you recognize how violent some video games are. You may ask yourself, “Is it healthy that he’s dealing with his breakup by shooting strangers in Call of Duty all day?”

But venting aggression aside, the behaviors that men exhibit with video games tend to remain the same whether they’re playing a first-person shooter or a Super Mario game.

After a devastating breakup, they want to retreat into a world where things make sense, where things have rules. The video game “reality” allows them to access that without having to change out of their pajamas. In their minds, it’s a win-win.

3. They try to get back out there immediately.

This is a coping technique that some men attempt, even though, typically, it’s a bad idea.

But men are taught from an early age that they’re supposed to fix things, they’re always supposed to be moving forward. So, if their previous relationship is un-fixable, the male mindset tells them, “You need to get back out there and try again.”

The problems occur when men attempt to try again way too soon.

On the surface, flirting lessens the pain of heartbreak, but that doesn’t mean that the heartbreak wounds have completely healed yet. This becomes a problem when that flirting escalates to anything more serious.

Suddenly, the hottie who was smiling at him at the bar becomes an inadvertent surrogate for the man’s ex. This can cause the man to lash out at the new fling in strange, unexpected, and unfair ways. It’s just not healthy for anyone.

4. They go to strip clubs.

In the man’s defense, more often than not, his friends end up dragging him to a strip club. But the attempt to heal through a strip-club intervention is a strange mix of #2 and #3 on this list.

A strip club is an alternate reality, like a video game. Women offer access to themselves to the men (in the form of chit-chat and dancing) because it’s a transactional arraignment.

It’s a safe space for men because there are rules. They know what they can or can’t expect from the women. And the way the dancers flirt with them makes the men feel like they’re “getting back out there.”

Of course, none of it is real. At a strip club, everything is artificial (and kind of gross). It has no long-term benefit, it doesn’t make the pain of heartbreak go away any faster.

More than anything, it represents a futile way that men try to force other men to heal — by presenting them with a safe sexual role-play environment that is supposed to boost their friend’s ego and give them more confidence.

Most of the time, it doesn’t work at all and, by the time the heartbroken man pays for his second $25 rum and Coke, he feels worse than he did before he got there.

RELATED: 15 Men Reveal What They Do To Get Over Someone

5. They go silent.

This might be the least healthy way that men deal with breakups.

Sometimes, when a man is hurting, he just retreats from the world. He stops seeing his friends, he stops going out, and he just cuts himself off from everyone else.

One reason this happens is that men don’t often have the friendship infrastructures to help them cope with loss. Women have enough experience with helping friends deal with breakups that they even have their own clichés — eating a gallon of ice cream, drinking wine, dancing around tables while singing into the back of a hairbrush.

But men don’t have much experience (or many role models) when it comes to talking to their close dude friends about pain and heartbreak. So, not knowing what to do, they clam up. They isolate themselves.

And, suddenly, they’re not only dealing with the breakup, but they’re also dealing with a pervasive sense of loneliness, too.

As I mentioned, men like to think that they can “fix” heartbreak or, at the very least, put their heads down and wait out the pain.

Unfortunately, that might explain why men take longer to recover from a breakup than women. They’re avoiding coping with the loss and not allowing themselves to heal.

If you know a guy who’s trying to “man up” his way through his post-breakup sadness, encourage him to talk to his friends, speak honestly, and get out of the house sometimes. (Not to a strip club.)

Remind him that he doesn’t have to endure the pain alone and that things will get better faster if he checks his man pride at the door and accepts the help of others.

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

Elizabeth Ayers-Callahan is a writer focusing on love and relationship issues, and is a frequent contributor to YourTango.