Women cry, grieve and then move on after a breakup. So why do broken-hearted men unravel in silence?
Dealing with a breakup
After she broke my heart, it was the little things that I remembered most: the way our mouths were a perfect fit, the way her face looked when she didn’t know I was watching her, the inexplicable, endearing things that would suddenly captivate her, like her favourite TV commercial. “Oh, I love this ad,” she would say every time it came on, and we watched it so many times that I swear every word, every gesture, every nuance of emotion of its 30-second story arc is tattooed forever upon my heart.
The one thing that I couldn’t tell you is exactly what they were advertising—unless it was some fantasy about the nature of male heartache. Because, in this commercial, a young woman is at a wedding reception when she runs into her ex-boyfriend. He looks at her and melts—just melts. In his eyes—so full of wistful longing and regret—you can see that he knows exactly how much he has lost. And the young woman smiles—pretty, demure, spectacularly smug. “Love it to death,” my girlfriend would say. And I would bite my lip to avoid telling her “But male heartache looks nothing like that.”
Men's dark heartbreak
Outside of advertising, male heartache is a darker, more brooding beast. Rather than wearing its broken self on a sleeve, male heartache suffers in silence, grits its teeth and pretends that it doesn’t care. In real life, that brokenhearted hunk in the ad would have got drunk and tried to get off with the bridesmaid. And even back then, my heart was steeling itself because I knew that one day— after our love had been lost, betrayed or abandoned—my girlfriend and I would meet in some public place and she would be hoping for a remake of this ad.
Moving on after heartbreak
And so it proved. The set-up was the same, apart from the fact that we were in a Chinese restaurant, not at a wedding. But there she was, looking fabulous and sitting across from some dreamboat from central casting whom she couldn’t keep from kissing. Did I melt? Could you hear my heart breaking? As I sat there with my own new love, two tables down, did my eyes brim with loss and yearning? No, even though—between you and me—that was how I felt inside. I knew that this girl I had loved—and still did love— would spend the night in the arms of that other man.
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How are men and women different when it comes to breakups? Find out on the next page ...