Straight From His Mouth: Do Men Really Handle Heartache Worse Than Women?

26 comments
December 17, 2012 ‐ By Dr. J

 

 

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

One of the things that I’ll always hang my hat on is that women are always much more equipped to deal with heartache than men. Most men are in a position where they’ll never have to experience being turned down or dumped, that’s typically a woman’s cross to bear. With the many tragic stories that have hit our news feed recently, we asked ourselves if men are really dealing with anger or do they suppress their feelings only to have them surface at an inopportune time.

Here’s what’s really going on in our community: most men will never have to experience the heartache that will make them better for society and teach them to react better to disappointment. Thus what happens is that men react horribly to the event. They will scream, they will act irrationally, or they will not know what to do and be drawn to acting out of the norm. Women grow up, they meet a guy they like, they express interest and the guy says, “Nah not really.” They learn at a young age to deal with rejection, but men, we don’t. The defense mechanism for most men is dismissal and not understanding or coping.

For men, we have to understand this flaw in our development and begin to grow. We’ve got to realize that we can’t act out when things are not going our way. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. I, personally, had to learn to communicate anger and to be able to tell those people who have disappointed me that I was upset. Men aren’t put in a position where they are accepted enough to say to a woman, “You’ve hurt me and it’s not okay.” To say that, you’ll likely be looked at as a lesser man. To be quite frank, as men, we’ve got to just get over that.

There’s three things that men can do, and three that women can do to aide in the process of helping men to cope better.

For men:

  1. Stop thinking that expressing your feelings is a sign of weakness. It’s holding you back when you think that way and it pushes you back further to the times of cavemen rather than forward to the current 21st Century man. Heck if Obama can cry on TV then we can surely open up to our loved ones.
  2. Learn how to effectively communicate. Most men are manipulative in the way they communicate. They will choose silence over a conversation, or choose to teach a lesson rather than simply tell someone what they did and how it needs to improve in the future.
  3. Refuse to interact with people who you can’t open up to. THIS, took me a long time to realize and was critical for me. I would deal with people who I couldn’t open up to because I feared they may attack me or dismiss me. When we get dismissed early on, sometimes it leads to us not wanting to speak up later. If you make sure that not only you are committed to healthy communication but the other person is too, you’ll find things will go a lot smoother.

For women:

  1. Create a safe space for men to open up to you. Everything isn’t a battle, everything isn’t a competition, and learn that discourse and arguments are not the same thing. A lot of us have gotten so used to thinking that arguing can be good for a relationship that we neglect to understand that discourse is a healthy disagreement, not an argument.
  2. Ask your man what’s going on. You shouldn’t have to babysit a man, he should be man enough to step up and speak for himself, right? Yeah, you’re right, but that’s just not the reality that we’re living in today. You’ll likely need to pry a little to make him speak up. You don’t have to instigate, but you can ask maybe once or twice more than you usually would, “hey what’s going on?”
  3. Proactively communicate yourselves. Proactively communicating is thinking about how you communicate and its effect on others around you. It’s a little different than the safe space. The safe space just means you won’t snap at him when he comes to you wanting to talk. Proactively communicating means that before you say something you’ve thought about what’s the likely outcome of the situation. Kicking a man when he’s down is not going to make him open up to you.

We’ve got to do better. Men and women are in this together. Men have some things they just have to get over and women have to create opportunities for us to do better. One of my favorite quotes is, “If we’re going to be here, then let’s be here.” That means a lot. It means that no matter how we got here or how crazy our circumstance, we’re here and we’ve got to figure out where we go from here. We’re looking forward to a day when men and women both are able to deal with heartache in a healthy manner. We’re looking for a day when men will feel comfortable enough speaking up about being broken or disappointed. We’re not there today, but we can soon end up there if we work together.

Dr. J is a writer for the men’s blog Single Black Male. Dr. J’s inspiration and motivation for writing comes from a desire to provide real and honest advice to all. His approach is no nonsense and rarely sugarcoated.  Follow him on twitter @DrJayJack.

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  • Mia

    What I don’t get is why do men act so hard after a break up. When I see my ex in passing he never speaks and acts like he is angry even though the break up was the result of something he did! Lol I don’t speak to him either I just think his behavior is silly.

  • OSHH

    I don’t agree with most of this article, matter fact its a wee bit a$$ backwards.
    The premise of the article is actually correct, men have a harder time with heartbreak, reason really being is the processing of emotion. Women may deal with heartbreak a bit better because we are better at emoting, can cry and vent with an emotional support system etc. Men on the other hand, typically do not emote as freely hence the harder time.

    The rejection aspect in this article didn’t make sense to me and must speak to this new younger generation, because I was always of the belief that men actually deal with rejection better because men do most of the approaching and are seasoned at it, aim high and be ready for some levels of rejection, brush it off and try their hand with the next woman. I feel for the younger folks I really do.

    • UmmYeahOk

      Ok so I wasn’t the only one a little puzzled about the rejection bit. It’s been my experience and my observance that men usually approach women from the time they are young. They try to holler at a girl, she’s not interested 15 minutes later they’re trying to holler at another one. They get used to rejection at a very early age.

      • Nope

        Yeah I was thinking the same thing. Girls and women rarely put themselves in a position to be directly and flat out rejected. Boys and men do, therefore are used to rejection and deal with it much better in general.

        • Miss Anonymous

          Tell it to the guys who say “ayo shawtii! ayo yo, yo,” *me ignoring it* “f you ugly bougie burnt b” when I dont answer their game spitting.

          • OSHH

            Well that is the behavior of a boy, a little boy who didn’t get what he wanted.

            Too much of that out here, a grown up ought know that you are not going to get everything you want in life, and acts accordingly when things don’t go their way, instead of acting out like a child. Sometimes not getting what you think you want is a blessing!

          • Nope

            Most girls or women won’t even approach/initiate things in the first place.

      • OSHH

        So it wasn’t just me then LOL

    • http://twitter.com/DrJayJack Dr. Jaxson

      The only problem with what you’re saying is this… men get rejected a lot, but they don’t deal with it. A man approaches a woman and she rejects him, “Eff that [insert some derogatory term for women].” Men also like to travel in packs, when they get rejected they immediately brush it off as being funny or a joke. Man comes home and his old lady is leaving him, “She ain’t sh*t.”

      The point is men are being rejected but they don’t ever deal with that rejection in any healthy manner. I think I said in my last article, I had a rough break up one time. I spent a few months acting like a maniac because my feelings were hurt. I don’t think that qualifies as dealing with it.

      • MLS2698

        What did you do, the acting like a maniac part?

      • OSHH

        See you are mixing up concepts, a break up is a break up not rejection because at point you were with them folks, had access etc. Rejection is flat out turning you down upon approach, to deny entry LOL pun intended

        You acted out like a maniac because you did not process your hurt feelings, anger, disappointment etc= emotions, over the break up in healthy manner. If you reread my original comment I said men don’t handle heartbreak well because they don’t allow themselves to process the emotions in a healthy manner.

    • Kaori

      I don’t think men handle rejection better considering the things they have done in the face of rejection.

    • Me

      Yes, me too..I disagreed instantly with this article..men experience rejection from a young age but I think deal with heartbreak harder…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.f.vorhees Jason Fangz Vorhees

    Of course women handle it better. They are trained from birth to view all men as dogs, liars and heartbreakers. Having this information drilled in you over the years gives women the ability to shed a tear and move on fairly quickly. Women have “he could leave me at anytime” set in the back of their brain. They are always prepared. Men on the other hand …well we have these egos that no woman would leave us or cheat on us so when it does happen its devastating. What makes it even worse is when we are acting in a manner thats considered being “a good man” and she cheats or leaves that makes it 100 times worse. But eh, its life and it will never change.

    • Miss Anonymous

      I agree especially when she leaves you. My ex he still calls and is waiting for me to dump my current. He also always says “we were soo good together what happend?”, I stare blindly on the other end and say “you cheated on me while I went with my parents and sister that I hadnt seen in a year to disney world because I couldnt spend time with you that week”. His reply is telling me that it shouldnt count against him because he told me and then comes the I really loved you and just because I sex other girls doesnt mean I wont be good to you. Uh huh, yeah sure honey because If I was to sleep with a guy while we was together you wouldnt call me all types of b’s and h’s and drop me like a bad habit.

      • MLS2698

        Change your number.

    • UmmYeahOK

      I don’t agree with the “shed a tear and move on fairly quickly” part because how long a woman takes to “get over” a man is largely a function of the length and strength of the relationship. However, I do agree that we have a “he could leave me at anytime” mindset as a result of at least a few failed relationships. I’m not saying it’s healthy, but it’s true.

      • OSHH

        Right because broken hearts can last for years and the leave me at anytime mindset is a consequence.

    • Kaori

      I must say that I have never been ‘trained’ to believe that ‘all men are dogs, liars, and heartbreakers.’

      • http://www.facebook.com/jason.f.vorhees Jason Fangz Vorhees

        you dont need to have it thrown in your face. It subliminally sinks in from watching tv, hearing it from women that are around such as friends and family etc.

        • Kaori

          Even then that message has never been ‘trained’ to me.

        • Kaori

          Even then that message has never been ‘trained’ to me.

        • Kaori

          Even then that message has never been ‘trained’ to me.

      • MLS2698

        True. I could give a damn about a man leaving me ( like I can’t get another), but they need to take care of their children financially and emotionally. Sometimes I think men ignore their children to intentionally hurt their ex; men know that women feel for their children.

    • MLS2698

      I won’t say we are trained, but I saw plenty of men walk out on their children’s lives when I was growing up, so, we know it can happen. I didn’t name my son after his father because I didn’t want to be using a person’s name that may not be around; we were married for 17 years. Plus I liked the name Brian since I was six, and I named MY baby.

  • C’mon son

    I agree that both men and women need to do better when it comes to growth, communicating, and relationships in general. “Most men will never have to experience the heartache that will make them better for society and teach them to react better to disappointment.” I especially agree with that point. However, as you said, women, from an early age are already dealing with rejection from men, and having to learn how to cope throughout their lives, so there needs to be more responsiblity taken by men to create their own opportunities to do better.

No thanks