The Reasons Why Men Suffer More After a Breakup

Throw the old stereotypes of men out the window.

Men get a bad rap in the romance department. Society has painted them as the unfeeling and detached sex — which is why lots of ears perked up when a new study about men and breakups emerged from Binghamton University and University College London this summer.

For the study, researchers surveyed 5,707 men and women, with an average age of just under 27 years old, from 96 different countries. The findings: Women experience more emotional anguish in the aftermath of a breakup, but it takes men longer to recover.

In fact, the researchers note, men never fully get over their breakups. Instead, they tend to eventually just “move on” to the next partner without resolving the issue of what went wrong in the previous relationship. Since the study explained the results from an evolutionary perspective, the researchers guessed it was because women tend to invest more in their relationships than men — because each relationship a woman enters could lead to a nine-month pregnancy and many more years raising a child. In this line of thinking, since women are wired to be choosier, the loss is more profound with the departure of a high-quality match. On the other hand, since men historically have had to compete for the attention of women, it may take them longer to realize what they’ve lost, that they aren’t finding a woman who compares to their ex, and that she’s perhaps irreplaceable.

That’s one theory, anyway. But there’s definitely more to breakups than the ancestral explanation, according to research and experts in the field. And while today’s man is still biologically wired to be the hunter-provider type, the male sex has adapted to take on a more complex role, says psychologist Karla Ivankovich, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, Springfield.

“In the past, emotion did not serve a purpose in providing for the family,” she tells Yahoo Health. “It was not beneficial to getting things done. But today, men are likely to be involved in all facets of a family, engaged in their relationships, nurturing, and rearing.”

How Do We Recover From Breakups?

A lot of factors that generally influence the impact of a breakup of heterosexual couples (on which we have the most research) are not sex-specific. There is no cookie-cutter approach for how men and women each handle breakups, says Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. “Many factors have less to do with gender than with other behavioral tendencies that are correlatedwith gender,” he tells Yahoo Health.

Take rebounding as a coping mechanism after a breakup. The success of rebounding has to do with resources and options available, says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, the chief scientific officer at Match. “A man who is young, incredibly good-looking, with money, is going to have a lot of options and will probably recover a lot quicker than someone who doesn’t,” she tells Yahoo Health. The same concept applies to women.

Also factors: How invested you were in the relationship and how important that relationship was to other aspects of your life (say, if you really wanted children and you were hoping for that partner to be the mother or father of your child). “If a person knows they were just in it for the short term, the breakup will not be as difficult,“ notes Marisa T. Cohen, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at St. Francis College and co-founder of the Self-Awareness and Bonding Lab.

So there’s no question about it — there are many variables at play for how someone will take a breakup, regardless of gender. But there are a few reasons a man might take a split harder in the long term compared with a woman, experts say. Let’s explore the theories.

Theory No. 1: Women Initiate Most Breakups

The question of who takes it harder may be less “man versus woman” and more “dumper versus dumpee.” According to the Binghamton study, the rejected parties experienced more “post-relationship grief” (though grief was still severe for both halves).

Here’s why that matters: More often than not, women are the initiators of a breakup. This was true in the current study, and Fisher says she’s also found this to be the case in her own research. Why, exactly, is tough to say — especially since the Binghamton study notes “other” was frequently selected as the cause of a split, showing that there is no single, common reason for breaking up.

“If women are the ones doing the breaking up, then they are already taking the time they need to emotionally divest from the relationship while they’re in it,” Ivankovich tells Yahoo Health. “So it may be that men are caught off guard by breakups — and then, loss is loss. Whether it’s death or dying, the loss of a job or relationship, you still go through the stages.”

And privately coming to terms with a relationship’s inevitable end is decidedly easier when your partner is still around, something both parties don’t usually have the luxury of experiencing. “Breakups are rarely mutual,” Cohen says. “Based on Diane Vaughan’s research on the process of uncoupling, the initiator is the first person to express displeasure with the relationship and want out. He or she goes through the process of experiencing single life, and potentially finding another partner, from the secure base of the relationship.”

When the partner is finally clued in to the fact that the relationship is ending (or over), this person is forced to move on abruptly and alone. “This makes the healing process much more difficult for the partner,” says Cohen. “The initiator can enact preemptive strategies while in the current relationship to ease the transition from one partner to another, but the partner can’t.”

Cohen says there’s a good chance the initiator has already taken a look at the relationship market long before they put themselves back on it.

Theory No. 2: Men Are Wired to Handle Breakups Differently Than Women (and May Lack a Solid Support System Postsplit)

The Binghamton study took a look at breakups from the evolutionary perspective, so let’s do the same now — because men and women arewired differently. They have long had different goals for relationships and different ways of dealing with the aftermath. Some of those strategies are more or less ingrained in our psyches.

From an evolutionary perspective, Ivankovich says, the emotive woman often looks at a breakup as a problem to be solved, whereas the logic-oriented man looks at the same breakup as a problem that has already beensolved. As such, the emotional process for each is different. For men, the breakup is the end. For women, the breakup is the beginning of a larger psychological dilemma.

“If a male has no option, because she has broken up with him, the way he adapts to the situation is to move on,” Ivankovich says. “Men are not relationship analyzers, so the next relationship is seen as a do-over. Because women are emotionally tied to relationships as nurturers, any time things go awry, a woman will analyze the situation to determine what she ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ done differently, to be able to move on.”

Which brings us to the value in rehashing the relationship postsplit: It’s effective in the short term to realize personal lessons and resolve what led to the relationship’s demise, Fisher says. (Though, there will eventually come a time when talking about what went wrong in a relationship will just prevent you from moving on, Fisher adds.)

But while a common problem for women is dwelling more than they should after a split, men have the opposite problem. “Vulnerability isn’t an adaptive thing for men,” Fisher says. “They are naturally predisposed to suffer in private. Women talk too much, men probably don’t talk enough.”

Historically, men just aren’t encouraged to express their emotions to male friends like women are with their female friends. “If a man was to call his friends up, crying about the end of a relationship, he would be treated very differently than a woman,” says Cohen.

On top of that, after breaking up, men may look around for their “guy squad” and realize it doesn’t exist. Interestingly, Markman says women often have more close friends than men and are more likely to keep their friends when they are in a relationship. Men often spend less time with their pals, which could ultimately put guys, who are already less likely to communicate with their peers than women, in an even worse position.

“The stronger a person’s social network, the better that person is able to deal with the fallout of a breakup,” Markman says. “So, a big reason why men often have more difficulty recovering from a breakup than women is that it takes them longer to re-establish social ties that will allow them to deal with the emotional difficulty of the breakup.”

Breaking Up, Millennially

Millennial-age men are more emotionally intelligent than their forefathers, Ivankovich says. “They ‘feel’ like no generation before them.”

Finally acknowledging that men actually have post-relationship needs, and encouraging them to access those deep emotions rather than brush them off, is only a positive thing. “People who have trouble talking about emotional topics will have trouble really understanding what happened and what went wrong,” Markman says. “In addition to being able to ‘get over’ a particular relationship, it is important for people to learn from breakups so that their next relationships are better and stronger. Anyone who does not deal with a past relationship is likely to make the same mistakes again in a future relationship.”

Transparent Feelings …Can Men Reveal Themselves More?

With so much research showing that young males suffer beneath the gravity of conventional masculinity, why isn’t there more help for them on campus?

Last semester, a student in the masculinity course I teach showed a video clip she had found online of a toddler getting what appeared to be his first vaccinations. Off camera, we hear his father’s voice. “I’ll hold your hand, O.K.?” Then, as his son becomes increasingly agitated: “Don’t cry!… Aw, big boy! High five, high five! Say you’re a man: ‘I’m a man!’ ” The video ends with the whimpering toddler screwing up his face in anger and pounding his chest. “I’m a man!” he barks through tears and gritted teeth.

The home video was right on point, illustrating the takeaway for the course: how boys are taught, sometimes with the best of intentions, to mutate their emotional suffering into anger. More immediately, it captured, in profound concision, the earliest stirrings of a male identity at war with itself.

This is no small thing. As students discover in this course, an Honors College seminar called “Real Men Smile: The Changing Face of Masculinity,” what boys seem to need is the very thing they fear. Yet when they are immunized against this deeper emotional honesty, the results have far-reaching, often devastating consequences.

Despite the emergence of the metrosexual and an increase in stay-at-home dads, tough-guy stereotypes die hard. As men continue to fall behind women in college, while outpacing them four to one in the suicide rate, some colleges are waking up to the fact that men may need to be taught to think beyond their own stereotypes.

In many ways, the young men who take my seminar — typically, 20 percent of the class — mirror national trends. Based on their grades and writing assignments, it’s clear that they spend less time on homework than female students do; and while every bit as intelligent, they earn lower grades with studied indifference. When I asked one of my male students why he didn’t openly fret about grades the way so many women do, he said: “Nothing’s worse for a guy than looking like a Try Hard.”

In a report based on the 2013 book “The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools,” the sociologists Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann observe: “Boys’ underperformance in school has more to do with society’s norms about masculinity than with anatomy, hormones or brain structure. In fact, boys involved in extracurricular cultural activities such as music, art, drama and foreign languages report higher levels of school engagement and get better grades than other boys. But these cultural activities are often denigrated as un-masculine by preadolescent and adolescent boys.”

Throughout elementary school and beyond, they write, girls consistently show “higher social and behavioral skills,” which translate into “higher rates of cognitive learning” and “higher levels of academic investment.”

It should come as no surprise that college enrollment rates for women have outstripped men’s. In 1994, according to a Pew Research Center analysis, 63 percent of females and 61 percent of males enrolled in college right after high school; by 2012, the percentage of young women had increased to 71, but the percentage of men remained unchanged.

By the time many young men do reach college, a deep-seated gender stereotype has taken root that feeds into the stories they have heard about themselves as learners. Better to earn your Man Card than to succeed like a girl, all in the name of constantly having to prove an identity to yourself and others.

The course “Real Men Smile,” which examines how the perceptions of masculinity have and haven’t changed since the 18th century, grew out of a provocative lecture by Michael Kimmel, the seminal researcher and author in the growing field of masculine studies.

Dr. Kimmel came to my campus, Towson University, in 2011 to discuss the “Bro Code” of collegiate male etiquette. In his talk, he deconstructed the survival kit of many middle-class, white male students: online pornography, binge drinking, a brotherhood in which respect is proportional to the disrespect heaped onto young women during hookups, and finally, the most ubiquitous affirmation of their tenuous power, video games.

As Dr. Kimmel masterfully deflected an outpouring of protests, the atmosphere grew palpably tense. A young man wearing fraternity letters stood up. “What you don’t get right is that girls are into hooking up as much as we are; they come on to us, too,” he said. Dr. Kimmel shook his head, which left the student clearly rattled.

His voice quavering, the young man stammered something unexpected from a frat brother, about how women can be as insensitive and hurtful as guys. He sounded like a victim himself. But afterward, when I asked him if he had reached out to any of his guy friends for advice or solace, he stared at me, incredulous, his irises two small blue islands amid a sea of sclera. “Nah, I’ve got this,” he said.

I wanted the course to explore this hallmark of the masculine psyche — the shame over feeling any sadness, despair or strong emotion other than anger, let alone expressing it and the resulting alienation. Many young men, just like this student, compose artful, convincing masks, but deep down they aren’t who they pretend to be.

Research shows what early childhood teachers have always known: that from infancy through age 4 or 5, boys are more emotive than girls. One study out of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in 1999 found that 6-month-old boys were more likely to show “facial expressions of anger, to fuss, to gesture to be picked up” and “tended to cry more than girls.”

“Boys were also more socially oriented than girls,” the report said — more likely to look at their mother and “display facial expressions of joy.”

This plays out in the work of Niobe Way, a professor of applied psychology at New York University. After 20-plus years of research, Dr. Way concludes that many boys, especially early and middle adolescents, develop deep, meaningful friendships, easily rivaling girls in their emotional honesty and intimacy.

But we socialize this vulnerability out of them. Once they reach ages 15 or 16, “they begin to sound like gender stereotypes,” she writes in “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.” “They start using phrases such as ‘no homo’ … and they tell us they don’t have time for their male friends, even though their desire for these relationships remains.”

As women surpass men on campus, the threat felt by thin-skinned males often reveals itself in the relationships where they feel most exposed. “Boys are not only more invested in ongoing romantic relationships but also have less confidence navigating them than do girls,” writes the sociologist Robin W. Simon in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior. That’s problematic, because “romantic partners are their primary sources of intimacy,” whereas young women confide in friends and family.

Some cultural critics link such mounting emotional vulnerability to the erosion of male privilege and all that it entails. This perceived threat of diminishing power is exposing ugly, at times menacing fault lines in the male psyche. Experts point to sexual assaults on campus and even mass murders like those at a community college in Oregon and a movie theater in Colorado. These gunmen were believed to share two hypermasculine traits: feelings of profound isolation and a compulsion for viral notoriety.

With so much research showing that young men suffer beneath the gravity of conventional masculinity, men’s studies is gaining validation as a field of its own, not just a subset of women’s studies. Hobart and William Smith Colleges has offered a minor in men’s studies since the late ’90s. The Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities was established in 2013 at Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York, and plans to offer its first master’s degree program in 2018. Last year, the center hosted the International Conference on Men and Masculinities, where topics included fatherhood, male friendships and balancing work and family life.

So why don’t campuses have more resource centers for men?

Some universities offer counseling services for men of color and gay men, and some sponsor clubs through which male members explore the crisis of sexual violence against women. Only a precious few — the University of Massachusetts and Simon Fraser University among them — offer ways for all men to explore their shared struggles. And these don’t exist without pushback. Talk of empowering men emotionally yields eye rolling at best, furious protest at worst — as when the Simon Fraser center was proposed, in 2012, and men and women alike challenged the need for a “safe space” for members of the dominant culture.

But wouldn’t encouraging men to embrace the full range of their humanity benefit women? Why do we continue to limit the emotional lives of males when it serves no one? This question is the rhetorical blueprint I pose to students before they begin what I call the “Real Man” experiment.

In this assignment, students engage strangers to explore, firsthand, the socialized norms of masculinity and to determine whether these norms encourage a healthy, sustainable identity.

The findings result in some compelling presentations. One student interviewed her male and female friends about their hookups and acted out an amalgam of their experiences through the eyes of a male and a female character; another explored the pall of silence and anxiety that hangs over campus men’s rooms; two students gleaned children’s gender perceptions in a toy store. One of the most revealing projects was a PowerPoint by a student who had videotaped himself and then a female friend pretending to cry in the crowded foyer of the university library, gauging the starkly different reactions of passers-by.

“Why do you think a few young women stopped to see if your female friend was O.K.,” I asked him, “but no one did the same thing for you?”

He crossed his arms, his laser pointer pushing against his bicep like a syringe, and paused. Even at this point in the semester, the students, some of whom had studied gender issues before, seemed blind to their own ingrained assumptions. So his response raised many eyebrows. “It’s like we’re scared,” he said, “that the natural order of things will completely collapse.”

Curated by Timothy
Original Article

The Secret Code of Hugging

What’s in a man’s hug?

Have you ever wondered what goes through one’s mind when a hug is exchanged? Well, healing takes place magically. Suddenly the world seems better. You start to feel positive about life. Like someone once said, a bear hug after a long day is sometimes all you need to feel better.

It’s a known fact that a hug is the biggest stress buster for human beings. As we humans are bound with feelings, the emotional gestures become crucial for us and hug being one of them. Having said that did you know just as we can know about a person from the way he shakes hands, same way you can know your guy the way he hugs you?

“One day someone will hug you so tight that all your broken pieces will fit back together.”

This hug day FashionLady has come up with an exclusive edition helping you understand the meaning behind his embrace. The way your beau hugs you tells a lot about his feelings for you.

Let’s Look At Different Types Of Hugs

  • The sneak hug
  • Hug with a gentle rub
  • The waist wrap hug
  • Hug with a pat
  • Hug with touching his head to yours

Now let’s look at each of the different types of hugs in detail and learn the significance of a hug, actually each of the different hugs.

The Sneak Hug

In this hug, your guy sneaks from your behind and puts his arms around your chest! In this type of a guy hug girl from behind, the feeling can be most amazing as a sneaking and sudden grab and hold will make you feel more wanted and secure. These hugs are amazing specially when given while the girl is busy cooking, doing the dishes, while she is reading a book and so on.

This kind of gesture suggests that the guy is madly in love with you. He wants you to make you realize about the oneness here, as wraps your body with his arms, while keeping your feet intertwined. As per author of Success Signals, Patti Wood, “By covering your back, he’s conveying that he wants to shelter you. He’s also flexing his masculinity — this displays his strength and dominance.”

However be warned that if you husband/boyfriend frequently hugs you from the back. You should realize that he is longing for a closer connection but thinks you’re unavailable. As per Christopher Blazina, PhD, author of The Secret Lives of Men, “He avoids hugging face-to-face because he’s worried you’re not into him.”

Relationship 911: Unpacking Shame

The ways we perceive the actions of others reflect how we see ourselves. I knew I had a problem with shame because of how I’d been treating my partner.

It began innocently enough.

“Are you really going to eat all of that?” I’d ask playfully, as if monitoring his eating would negate my own cravings.

“You did what in high school?” I’d gasp, appalled at whatever crazy anecdote came up. As if I were Mother Theresa.

I was looking at his past under the same negative microscope with which I judged my own. This served to confirm my belief that my mistakes made me a bad person.

Shame was deeply rooted in my relationship history, but I covered it with false bravado, impulsiveness and deflection. Subconsciously, I kept focus away from my own negative qualities by looking for them in others. Even in those I loved.

At the time, I saw this as a positive behavior. I would point to something I saw as a fault in my lover, then actively assert myself in “helping” him fix it. I thought that this made me a good partner. But in truth, I was anything but.

I didn’t know how to love someone without trying to improve him or her somehow – even if my words said otherwise, and even if I didn’t really want to change them. I couldn’t help myself. Judgment, blame and shame were all that I knew, even when life was good.

“Blame is [a] defensive cover-up for shame. Blame maintains the balance in a dysfunctional system when control has broken down.” – John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You

I could say that I developed these habits because of my religious upbringing, where love came with conditions. Or I could blame my actions on past relationships, because they all seemed to have been dysfunctional in this way. But to actually solve the problem, I would have to look at the common denominator in these factors: me.

I didn’t know how to love myself without pretense or perfectionism. And because I didn’t take the time to admit this before I entered the relationship, it took a big toll on my partner. I was ruining my life, without even realizing it.

At the time, I was convinced that I was in the right. I believed that caring for people in spite of their shortcomings was the same as unconditional love. The very foundation of my relationships had been poisoned by shame. I acted defensively by default, manifesting of my own deepest fears. I truly loved my partner, but I was doing it wrong.

It took a great deal of therapy, self-reflection and rock bottom moments for me to finally have the guts to look in the mirror and acknowledge the fearful person staring back at me.