The ways guys deal with breakups is conditioned by two factors.
The first is rooted in nurture, which is the culture within which they were raised. The second is genetics, or “nature.”
Attempting to make sense of a guy’s behavior isn’t always possible or evident because we don’t have access to subconscious triggers that drive emotion such as genetics, past experiences, fears, e.t.c. What we do have, is the capacity to link behavior with the outcome. What I mean by this is that after delving into the relationship affairs of thousands of people, there comes the point where specific behaviors often repeat themselves, as do the outcomes.
In this article, I’m going to share some of these behaviors, and what they usually end up meaning once all is said and done. While I am relatively confident strolling into this grey area, it does bear remembering that it is objectively impossible to deal with men as a unified category, so I urge you to use this as food for thought rather than as a post-breakup rulebook. If authoring this website has taught me anything, it’s that silver linings and rulebooks simply don’t exist when it comes to a relationship.
Hot And Cold Behavior
Men will often find that their self-esteem is inextricably linked to their relationship. If things are going well, they feel like kings (and usually take certain aspects of the relationship for granted), if things are falling apart, so is their sense of self.
While you may point out that this goes for both sexes, bear in mind that men are prone to isolate themselves, and are typically less able to construct support structures aimed at keeping a foot in reality. Not only this, but men are also statistically more likely to act impulsively in the event of trauma. This makes the advent of losing touch with self-worth devastating in the short term. The corollary of this as far as you’re concerned is that your ex is likely to act irrationally and confusingly. Enter hot and cold behavior.
Hot and cold behavior can lead to an emotional tug of war, which is exactly what is: An effort to regain control without risking rejection. Due to the fears involved, nobody wants to risk being sidelined and cast aside; manipulative behavior is the bait that allows us to gauge what our partner’s intentions are without actually asking and therefore risking bad news.
If you are on the receiving end of hot and cold behavior, chances are there are still questions that need to be answered. A man who keeps tabs on an ex, even if that connection is rooted in negativity, still has something invested, or they simply wouldn’t bother.
Examples of hot and cold behavior
- Engaging without actually talking on social media (only if the breakup was one-sided).
- Verbally promising to do things but then not actively following up (actions speak louder than words).
- Engaging in complex behavior (ignoring the elephant in the room and chatting about their pet instead).
- Praising you one moment and kicking you down the next (their emotions are a stock exchange).
The bottom line is that manipulative behavior will lead to confusion. It’ll leave you asking why. Why is he talking to me? What does he want from me? Does he hate me? And on…
No matter what is thrown at you, bear in mind this behavior has two primary goals.
- To keep you engaged. Dragging you down into his chaotic world prevents you from moving on. Even bad press is better than no press to an ailing ex.
- Reflection of the soul. Forget the eyes; his mixed messages are a reflection of his undulating emotions. If he is unable to be direct and coherent, it means that he still has something to lose.
Of course, just because he continues to be rattled by the breakup does not mean he is willing to reconcile, but it does say the embers aren’t quite cold yet.
He’s Ignoring You: Revenge, Manipulation Or Moving On?
Cold behavior may seem jarringly obvious, but the games certainly don’t end here.
Silence is a powerful weapon. If I had a cent for everytime someone told me that ignoring an ex or going no contact is a surefire way to get them back I’d be a millionaire by now. Regardless of what I think about that nugget of wisdom, the point is that collectively, we all inherently know that cold behavior is a powerful manipulative tool. And when the going gets tough, we’re often willing to use it (especially when we have no other choice).
So, if your ex is currently giving you the silent treatment, it may be a sign he’s attempting to level the ego playing friend by making you stew in your anxiety for a little while. He knows, if he still has feelings, that the longer you are cut out, the more you will become curious. Has he forgotten about me already?
If the breakup was genuinely one-sided, however, chances are the silence is not a game. The thing is though, no matter what his intention is, we should take this silence at face value by accepting it.
- If the silence is manipulative, we are calling his bluff and teaching him that manipulation won’t work. If he is unable to bait intent out of you, he will be forced to reach out directly.
- If the silence is genuine, we can rid ourselves of false hope and mixed messages and move on cleanly.
Men are particularly prone to silent games because, culturally speaking, we are often taught that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. Thus exposing our feelings and fears is something that comes at a cost concerning self-esteem. Despite how superficial this sounds, it has become apparent to me that this continues to remain true. Not in all cases, but in many. For instance, men will often preface their messages to me by saying something like:
It’s not that I need her back, but….
Women, on the other hand, seem to be more accepting of the emotional turbulence that comes at the tail end of a relationship. You’ll notice, for example, that most of the comments that are visible on the blog are from women. However, most of the private Emails I receive are from men! Telling.
How Guys Deal With Breakups
When it comes to raw emotion, both men and women share the same fallout spectrum. What changes is how we deal with it.
While I run the risk of stepping into a generalization, it appears nevertheless accurate that men are more likely to:
- Find themselves socially isolated after a breakup and lack a support structure.
- Engage in hot and cold behavior, primarily out of the fear of rejection and looking/feeling weak.
- Act impulsively. For instance, men are more likely to commit suicide at the end of a relationship than women.
- Attempt to confuse you or bring you down, in an attempt to make them comparatively more valuable.