It’s true… a LARGE percentage of the breakup advice out there is geared toward girls. They get Taylor Swift songs, movies like He’s Just Not That Into You, and so much more content that’s designed to pump up a heartbroken lady. But what about guys? They also end up hurt after breakups. What are they supposed to do? We have good news and bad news. At its core, the breakup advice you need is roughly the same, which is great! You have resources. The bad news? No matter who you are, getting over a broken heart is tough. But! You’ve got this. Here’s a game plan.
Dealing With the Feelings
Relationships are hard enough, but when they end… That’s painful. So painful that it’s tempting to try to drown out or avoid those feelings, especially when you’re a guy. You might feel like you want to run from the feelings or stuff them deep down inside you and deny them. You might feel like they’re so strong, they’re crushing you until you can barely breathe, let alone think straight. The key to getting through this phase of your heartbreak is to get control over these feelings, rather than letting them control you. How?
- Feel them. That’s right. Guys are usually used to or taught to put up a tough exterior or act like everything is okay when it’s not. You wouldn’t want to be seen as “weak” or “too emotional,” right? But the reality is, if you run from the feelings or push them down, then they’re not actually gone. They keep coming back, and you’ll have to keep running, which means they’re in control of you. It’s the same if you’re feeling absolutely crushed by them to the point that you can’t get out of bed, you’re skipping school, or you’re relying on alcohol or drugs to get you through the day. You’re not actually processing the pain, but simply giving up control of your life to them. It will be hard, maybe even the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you need to listen to the feelings, write them down, reflect on them, and maybe even let yourself cry–yes, guys are allowed to cry. Give your feelings some attention, so that they don’t insist on crushing you or chasing you. Tell them, “Hey, I hear you, and I’m giving you some time every day, but you can’t have all of my time.”
- Share them. We don’t just hide from our feelings when we’re in pain, do we? We hide from our friends and family, especially if we feel any shame about the heartbreak. Whatever the circumstances of your breakup, shame loves to tag along with pain and say things to you like, “Don’t bother them with your sob story. They’re busy, or they’ll think you’re weak.” Don’t listen! Isolation is a key ingredient in so many mental health problems that even if you don’t know what to say, you’ve got to make sure you’re talking to someone about what you’re going through. Lay all your feelings out there with God, a close friend or trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, or counselor. Knowing that you’re not alone, and naming the feelings aloud, can strip the feelings of some of their power. If you’re not sure who you can talk to, reach out to us at TheHopeLine. We can connect you with great resources, and our Hope Coaches are great at listening.
- Give them time. Feelings are powerful, and they’re not going anywhere after just one day of reading breakup advice or talking to a friend. Be patient with yourself. Do the work of healing every day, and eventually, you’ll have a day when you realize you don’t feel heartbroken anymore.
If you’re having trouble wrapping your mind around how to connect with your feelings because it doesn’t feel like what guys around you are doing, take a look at how lots of male celebrities are challenging toxic masculinity. Terry Crews is all muscle on the outside, but he plays characters, like Terry Jeffords in Brooklyn 99, who express their feelings without losing a single shred of their strength or ability to protect others. Crews also using his platform to speak out about the importance of vulnerability, and at the same time made an Old Spice commercial where he played the drums just by flexing his muscles… it’s 100% possible to be “strong” and vulnerable at the same time.
Taking Steps Toward Healing
As you learn to listen to your painful feelings and take care of them, the rest of the healing process is going to be all about your heart, your mind, and your body. Heartbreak can take a toll on every part of you, so it’s important to be thorough as you go about rebuilding the hope and joy that pain can steal from us.
This is the part of you where you’ll feel the anger, the sadness, the shame, the regret, the betrayal, or the confusion of your breakup. As you learn to listen to these feelings, consider what you can do to offer your heart some comfort while it’s struggling. This is where that classic trope about girls eating pints of ice cream after a breakup comes from.
Do you have a favorite meal? Do you have a favorite place? Do you have a favorite hoodie? Do you love it when your mom cuts the crusts off your PB & J? Do you love to watch reruns of a certain show?
Now’s the time to start reminding your heart that just because one person you loved isn’t in your life anymore doesn’t mean all the things you love are gone. Treat yourself to some things that make you feel warm, cozy, and loved so that you can keep your heart in shape for a future when the heartbreak is over.
This is where you intellectualize your feelings and turn them into thoughts. When your brain is flooded with the chemicals and hormones that follow extremely painful feelings, it can be hard to think straight, which is why we hear about people doing unexpected things after breakups. It’s true that you might look VERY cool if you shaved your head, but remember that now is not the time to make big decisions. Be patient, and wait out the heartbreak so you can make sure your actions are really what you want and not your painful feelings.
For the same reason, it’s also wise to avoid abusing substances during this time. Your judgment is clouded with feelings that won’t be there forever, and drinking heavily or abusing drugs can result in permanent consequences.
The number one way to keep your mind in healthy shape is going to therapy. You may not think you need therapy because it’s only for “crazy people” or because that’s just “not something guys do.” Those are lies that toxic masculinity culture tells. A therapist is just someone who knows how to listen to the millions of thoughts you’re having and help you figure out a way through them. You don’t have to go forever, but it’s a great idea to consider going while you are healing from a broken heart.
You might be surprised how much a broken heart can impact the body! Let’s just say, it’s easy to neglect or mistreat your body when you’re overwhelmed by mental and emotional pain. Be careful during this period of healing that you aren’t abusing your body by cramming it full of junk and then wondering why you still feel awful. Remember that exercise, even just a walk around the block, actually produces chemicals in your brain that help to fight off the noisy, painful thoughts. Make sure you’re feeding yourself nutritiously, drinking plenty of water, and moving your body so that you have the fuel to get your brain and heart through this.
Remember: healing a broken heart takes time. Don’t rush it, and be kind to yourself along the journey.
Consider Loving Again
So you’re being patient with yourself, you’re not isolating, and you’re tending to your heart, mind, and body. Now for the big question! Can a heartbroken man love again? Romantic relationships can feel terrifying after you’ve had the experience of heartbreak, and it’s not uncommon to feel like you’ll never love again. That may be true for a while, too. Your heart is hurting and needs to focus on other things for a while. But someday when you’re ready, open your heart to the idea of finding a new love. Don’t deprive yourself of that opportunity just to avoid future pain.
In fact, this is a good time to consider talking to God, again. He promises over and over again in the Bible to carry our burdens, tells us not to be afraid, and plans our future to be full of good things. With Him on your team, you can be confident that no matter what happens in your next relationship, you won’t be alone, and you’ll never be without love. Talk to Him about how you’re worried that you’ll never love again, or that you’re afraid you’ll just get your heart broken again. He listens, He loves you, and He’s with you.
If you want to hear more about how God’s looking out for you, reach out to TheHopeLine. We’re so sorry that you’re heartbroken right now, but we’re here to walk beside you as you heal. Keep your head up!
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