Ah, break-ups, one of life's worst rites of passage. Just when you thought you'd finally found the perfect guy, reality comes tripping along and smashes your dreams to bits — leaving you with a broken heart and scar you'll carry for the rest of your life. Break-ups suck, but they can also be really good for you. They get you out of bad relationships (hopefully before you reach the point of regretting ever starting the relationship in the first place), they teach you about yourself and help you to grow and mature so you're better prepared for the next serious relationship, which just might actually be the one that lasts forever.
No matter who does the breaking up part, you both have to handle and process it, and we all do that in different ways. Some of us will dive right into another rebound relationship while others will take up a new hobby or sport to keep ourselves occupied for a while. You might spend hours crying and binge-watching your favorite TV show on the couch while he works on anger issues at the gym.
Not surprisingly, everyone wants to know who handles a break-up better: men or women? The question fits in with the age-old battle of the gender question of who is better period. We're gonna say right off the bat that women are better at handling break-ups than men are, but we could always use a few tips and tricks to get even better at this area of life, too.
15 The Womanly Way: The Power Of Friendship
One very clear advantage that you have over your man is that you have friends and aren't afraid to be vulnerable or emotional around them. If you have very good friends, they'll have seen the signs of a break-up coming and will be ready to rush in with vino, ice cream, and a solid shoulder to cry on while sneaking your phone out of reach.
Basically, women have their go-to girlfriends to help them get through the tough time that is a breakup, while men have a hard time speaking to their friends about what they're going through.
According to Glamour Magazine, one of the key reasons behind this phenomenon is a neurochemical called vasopressin which kicks in after a break-up. It causes your now-ex-beau to view other men as less approachable (since his brain is telling him they are wounded and vulnerable) while it tells women that other women are approachable (since we're also wounded and vulnerable, so we need the pack protection to safely process).
Men are beginning to move past this century-old method of being raised to hide their emotions, and they're reconnecting with a natural part of themselves in the process which shows improvement for future generations. But since men are men, they will always have a small part of themselves locked up where no one can get to them. We women will simply continue to bond with each other and share each other's sorrows.
14 The Womanly Way: The Leavers And The Grievers
Hollywood would have us believe that men are no good and will dump us at the slightest reason to do so. The reality, as it turns out, is considerably different. According to Bustle by research and statistics, you are more likely to end the relationship than he is. The numbers stack up to be that women leave the relationship 76 percent of the time, and 84 percent of men admit that they were the ones left behind.
This doesn't necessarily make the break-up any less hard for you, but it does give you a slight edge in the recovery process since you will already be one step ahead in the road of accepting that it wasn't going to work out and that it actually is over.
You're less likely to go into shock if you know it's ending beforehand. You will also be the one likely putting in the extra effort in the weeks leading up to the break-up in the hopes of salvaging the relationship. This is more common in marriages than dating relationships, but if the relationship is important to you, then you'll fight for it regardless. And when the fighting is done, you'll have the maturity to wash your hands and walk away while he is still reeling.
13 A Lesson From The Boys: End All Contact
The rise of social media has made it incredibly easy to stalk and keep in touch with people you left behind at different stages of your life. This includes your exes. According to Vixen Daily, one of the ways men respond to a break-up is to cut off all contact completely.
This means blocking you on social media, deleting your number and erasing your email address. This isn't because he never wants to ever talk to you ever again, but rather a coping method for his pain.
Seeing your smiling profile picture or getting a random text from you(which you shouldn't be sending anyway unless you have a very, very good reason to do so) can reawaken his feelings of pain and deal with that open wound again isn't fun for him. So he just shelves it—and you—for a while.
Besides, if you're the one who dumped him, then there really shouldn't be anything left for the two of you to discuss. You'll have given yourself closure and know very clearly why you decided to leave him. If anything, he's the one with unanswered questions. But he also knows when you're done, so he won't go looking for answers to those questions. He'll put it behind him and move on.
12 The Womanly Way: Getting A Fresh Start
Another way in which you have the edge in handling a break-up better is that you can start over easier and sooner. While a lot of men appear to bounce back really quickly and go out on dates immediately, that's really just a mask to hide their pain.
In reality, according to Men's Health, he hates starting over. He takes longer to adjust to his new living situation because it largely came as a complete shock and surprise to him (especially if you dumped him) while we, as women naturally do, have already given the end of the relationship considerable thought and made contingency plans in case it ever did crash and burn.
Besides, realistically you know you won't find the same level of intimacy and trust right off the bat while he doesn't always bank on that fact and ends up missing you terribly. To his way of thinking, he put the time, effort and work into one relationship and it caved in around him. Is it really worth it to do all that hard work over again and risk the same result happening to him again? This line of thinking is understandable but doesn't help in the recovery process.
11 The Womanly Way: Thinks Fast And Recognizes Bad Relationships
It's common knowledge that our brains work faster and continuously in comparison to men's (which is why you should sleep in longer than he does). So, it's logical that you reach conclusions faster than he does.
According to The Daily Mail, women will recognize early warning signs of the relationship ending and take mere days to end it.
Men are shocked by the break-up and will drag out the pointless relationship for weeks and sometimes months as they try to process and reach the same conclusion we've already hit upon.
Once your guy does make up his mind, he won't easily change his point of view again, which can work in his favor in this regard but not when we're trying to decorate the house with him.
Thinking faster helps us get further along in the recovery process in the beginning stages. We realize sooner when it's all done, and we reach the conclusion that we survived and can move on with a new guy sooner than he will move on with someone. We also know that the green drapes will look a lot better in our living room than just a random color he picked out because it was on sale and he was in a hurry.
10 A Lesson From The Boys: They Don't Overanalyze Every Little Thing
Admit it, we as women all do this probably more than we like to think we do. When we're looking at a potential new boyfriend, we are consciously or unconsciously analyzing him for a long-term commitment that includes marriage and kids somewhere along the line.
According to Psychology Today, this is primarily because we bare the larger share of parental investment (what with pregnancy, nursing, child-rearing, etc.) and want a mate who will ideally stick by us for all of that and help out, too.
While your guy is concerned with a future family, he doesn't make it as high a priority as you do and he spends far less time overanalyzing. His worlds still reel from a surprise break-up, but when he's the one breaking-up, he isn't as devastated at the crumbling future he built in his head as you are.
This is why it's very important to call your sable friends to commiserate with because they will likely have a better and more realistic take on your situation than you do at the present moment. They will understand your need to overanalyze everything and let you talk yourself out of breath before pointing out a few obvious things to consider (like the fact that the world isn't actually ending).
9 The Womanly Way: In Touch With Ourselves And What We Want
We women think and feel simultaneously and can tie memories to feelings and vice versa. We aren't afraid to express our emotions and label what we're feeling. This can give us an emotional edge and often makes us the more mature member of just about any relationship we'll find ourselves in throughout the course of our lives.
Meanwhile, according to Men's Health, because your guy isn't as in touch with his feelings, his initial response to a break-up is to mask his pain and suppress his emotions.
This can lead to him taking longer to fully process everything and keeps the pain simmering on a back burner deep inside his manly mind.
Because we're more in touch, we get those feelings out in the open and handle them sooner—getting the messy task over and done with at the beginning. We're also able to name our emotions, which helps identify them and thus take the mystery out of the unknown. He might be able to do this, but most guys just feel like a wad of anger all the time and don't have the tools to differentiate between being mad and sad or hurt. Thus, his emotions might look huge, unknown and scary to him.
8 The Womanly Way: Take Some Time Off
One way in which we react differently to break-ups than guys do is that we aren't afraid to take time off to heal. As Bolde puts it, mental health days are completely justified, and we can take a few days off of work to cry, binge on chocolate and process what happened. It helps us recover and heal in a faster, healthier way than the guys' method of soldiering through and going to work regularly—or even pouring themselves into their jobs just to cope.
That just ends up wearing him out, and he still has to process his feelings, except now he is too exhausted to fully comprehend what he's feeling and he ends up going to extremes or drunk-dialing you, which doesn't help anyone.
It's best for bother genders to allow themselves time to heal. We can take a day off from the pressures of work, curl up with chocolate and our journal or a box of tissues and Netflix, and really give ourselves a chance to grieve the end of the relationship and feel every ache and pain that will accompany the closing of this chapter in our life. Once everything is all out and we're dry of tears, we can begin to pick the pieces up and repair the damage. Don't change this crucial step in the break-up process. Women got this one right.
7 A Lesson From The Boys: He Has Helpful Hormones
We can't exactly steal this one. Sorry, ladies. As Psychology Today puts it, when a man enters a relationship, his testosterone levels drop and are replaced with the lovey-dovey happy hormone known as oxytocin. This helps him bond with you and get all settled in — ideally for the long run with cute babies included. When he leaves a relationship, his oxytocin drops and the testosterone rises. His body says he's done with the relationship and signals him to move on and get back into hunting and pursuing.
We women don't have the same hormones levels, so our bodies won't help us recover.
But we have other advantages; so the guys can keep this one if they absolutely must have one advantage. He needs oxytocin to feel love; he gets it from hugs and stuff, but we make him high with copious doses of it just by being near him.
From his perspective, there is nothing quite like the rush of feelings he gets when he's with you—his one special girl. When you leave him, he's left empty and wondering what happened. His body will eventually kick in and rescue him but the hormonal fluctuations will still occur. It's like the world's worst period.
6 The Womanly Way: We Have Healthy Coping Habits
After a break-up, many of us are left wondering what to do with ourselves and all the free time we suddenly have on our hands. According to Bolde, we usually respond by focusing on ourselves to make our appearance look better and healthier in case we happen to run into our ex.
On the flipside, a man dives into wild nights out with the boys to help numb his pain and the mess of feelings he doesn't want to process yet. This can have an unhealthy effect on his body and doesn't help him solve anything either.
He just has empty bottles to clean up in addition to fixing his bleeding heart.
Meanwhile, you're off hiking in the fresh air with a new hair-do and eating shrimp salad once a week with our favorite fruit smoothies for breakfast. Having healthy coping methods goes a long way in helping you to recover quickly—without wasting extra time sobering up or detoxifying from whatever substances you've been ingesting lately. Your body will thank you, and you'll be happier sooner because you physically feel good. Besides, a healthy complexion aids in your beauty routine and helps with the inevitable makeover you'll undergo before reentering the dating world later.
5 The Womanly Way: We Get Back In Shape Physically And Mentally
Alongside the partying lifestyle and the random hook-ups your ex is diving into in the hopes of coping, he also has to deal with suddenly declining health issues. According to Psychology Today, after a break-up, a man's physical and mental health suffers in the long run. The physical is usually due to over-partying (or maybe he's one of those extreme sports types and goes rock climbing when he really shouldn't be climbing anything). His mental health breaks down and turns into a deep depression that can be very hard for him to shake.
You can become depressed, too, but the odds are in your favor since you responded to the break-up by calling tour friends and not rock climbing while high, buzzed or warring with inner emotions. The hormones that fuel love are similar to the rush of adrenaline we feel when doing something borderline scary (like rock climbing or sky-diving). Some fellas will seek out these activities to regain their rush of feel-good hormones to combat the pain and sadness they're currently experiencing. The hormonal mood swings will eventually settle down, and he'll slide back into dating mode soon enough.
4 A Lesson From The Boys: They Have Separate Boxes For Everything
Women like boxes; we put things into them and keep everything separate and neatly organized. The prettier the box, the better. Men, however, have mental boxes.
As Glamour puts it, men are good at compartmentalization and can put the old broken relationship into a brain box and hide it while putting a new exciting relationship into a new box and playing with it sometimes.
The two boxes ideally never ever touch. While you love boxes, your brain is not designed this way. Besides, even if you did manage to train yourself to have brain boxes, you'd eventually take everything out and play with it—sorting the good from the bad and untangling the emotional knots.
Men don't really do that; they don't know how to untangle their emotions. So, they keep it in the box out of sight. If you could pry your ex's brain open, you'd find a lot of very interesting little boxes and a lot of random ones with labels like Pick Up Dry-Cleaning, Where Are My Socks and I Don't Like Carrots. If he pried your brain open, he'd get swept away on the twinkling rushing current of brain waves which interconnects everything in your head, and he'd be lost in mere seconds.
3 The Womanly Way: Time To Compete Again
The way men and women are designed is that men hunt and pursue, and women are pursued and respond (eventually). While times are changing and we can now be the pursuers, too, his brain is still hardwired to peacock and attract a mate, viewing other men as rivals for your affection. This means—as Bolde puts it—that post break-up, he has to start competing again.
This is exhausting for him because he is already pretty busy suppressing his emotions, working and drinking. He thought he was done with this activity when he found you. You have the edge in that you're not pressured to compete, and you don't immediately go looking for a new mate anyway.
Instead, you take some time to yourself and rearrange a few broken pieces before tentatively checking out the dating game again. Jumping from new date to new date isn't everyone's cup of tea and certainly isn't an ideal activity to perform immediately post break-up. But some guys do it anyway in an attempt to mask their pain and pretend that they're okay when they're really not. Immediately diving into a new hobby sounds like a better and more fun thing to do post break-up anyway.
2 The Womanly Way: We Handle The Little Things Much Better
Ya know how in a relationship, he can never find his socks and always forgets to buy milk unless you tell him (repeatedly)? Well, those are called "the little things," and Bolde says women are better at handling them than men are. No surprise there.
When we're together, men develop the habit of letting us gals handle all the little things for them. So, when the relationship is over, he's stuck with trying to handle all of his little things on his own and forgets to buy milk, bread, and eggs.
Meanwhile, because you were already doing the little things anyway, you just move on with your day and only suffer a minor routine disruption in that you're not nagging anyone to get the milk after work. You've got milk, dry cleaning and blueberries for next week all on your own.
There are a few guys who are very meticulous and handle all the little things for themselves but generally, men let us handle it and unconsciously assume we'll always be around to handle their domestics for them. This comes from centuries of programming and will eventually get worked on by future generations. For now, just mail his stuff back and call it good.
1 A Lesson From The Boys: His Priorities Are In Check After A Breakup
One last difference that men sometimes have the advantage of is how we view relationships and the priorities we want out of them. As Psychology Today already told us, we women typically look for an ideal mate to have babies with and spend the rest of our lives together. This means that if a break-up does occur, we are more devastated by the loss of the future we'd built in our minds and by the realization that we have to go find another ideal mate. Meanwhile, men want a relationship more for status and immediate needs ("she's pretty and I like her so I'm keeping her," is what they're likely thinking).
This difference in needs and priorities can often help him recover better from a relationship. He tends to have fewer serious relationships though, so when he does have one, it really breaks him when it ends. Serial daters are only successful because they strive to keep emotion out of it. They stick that stuff in the emotional brain box and keep it locked up tight out of sight. This is why when a serial dater falls, they fall hard and don't know how to recover. It reads like a really great chick flick we'd love to binge watch over and over with popcorn and vino.