Why men hurt more than women after breakups

One major reason why men hurt more than women after breakups: men always just want to suck things up.

The end of a relationship is never fair on anyone. Men hurt, women hurt when the familiar feeling of happiness is suddenly snatched from them due to a breakup. Even when the breakup is expected, the grieving process often still plays out.

A British study, reported here, has claimed that men suffer more long-lasting pain from breakups than women. The question that naturally follows this is: why is this so? How and why are men hurting more when it is they who usually seem to move on from breakups faster and more painlessly?

According to an article published on The Independent Ireland in 2017, it is not so controversial to say that men struggle more after a breakup than women do because “emotionally, [men] often react badly to major life upheavals. Moreover, [men’s] methods for dealing with changed circumstances are not always helpful.”

Women handle breakups differently from how men do it [Credit - Shutterstock]Women handle breakups differently from how men do it [Credit – Shutterstock]


A 2015 survey by Men’s Health magazine backs up this statement. Conductors of the survey found out that going to the pub was named the best way to “get over” a split according to while one third of those polled said the jilted party would be better off if he acts unbothered by the whole thing.

Right there, is one of the reasons why men suffer – the unwillingness to face what happened and come to terms with the reality of it.

Unlike women, males grew up with the 'men don't cry' attitude. [Credit - CanStock]Unlike women, males grew up with the ‘men don’t cry’ attitude. [Credit – CanStock]

“Males grew up with the ‘men don’t cry’ attitude and while men may deal with things differently, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same pain and the same hurt as women,” says Elaine Hanlon, a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Dublin. “So for generations, men have learnt to suppress this pain and hurt and ‘be a man’ which doesn’t allow much space for vulnerability.”

ALSO READ: Ladies! This is what happens when you date a ‘hard guy’

On the other hand, women are typically more comfortable finding a shoulder to cry on and letting it all out.

“Women are often less dependent on their significant other for emotional support – they typically have a wider circle of friends and will confide to family in a way most men wouldn’t countenance.” Hanlon says.

That kinda explains why they come to grips with reality and find the real strength to genuinely close a chapter a move on to the next quicker.

Women break up with men more than it happens the other way round. Another explanation for why men are hurt by breakups more [Credit - Shutterstock]Women break up with men more than it happens the other way round. Another explanation for why men are hurt by breakups more [Credit – Shutterstock]

Another reason why women don’t suffer as much as men after a breakup is because they do the breaking up more times than men.

“Studies show that more women than men are the initiators of marriage break up today,” Hanlon adds.

What this means is that, women have more time to start processing the pain ahead. They begin to prepare early for the outcomes of splitting up from a partner. By the time they are done with that phase, the man may just be beginning his.

For men, therefore, it is important to begin to deal with breakups in more expressive, healthier ways as opposed to the ‘suck-it-all-up’ technique that is being used from way back.


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Here’s Why Dating Today Is SO Hard, According To 5 Relationship Experts

My parents met their junior year of college, in line for a bar called “What Ales You?” Twenty-something years later, my older brother met his life partner before he could legally drink. It’s safe to say that I grew up assuming falling in love in your late teens was something that happened naturally to your body, like hormonal acne. As I graduated high school and then college, I wondered where the heck my star-crossed lover was. Moreover, I wondered why dating today isso hard. As the great Charlotte York once said, “I have been dating since I was 15. I am exhausted. Where is he (she)?!” But seriously. What gives?

Like any chatty young millennial with too much free time and internet access, I reached out to every type of relationship expert I could think of. Pausing the Sex and the City episode I was watching (via my ex’s HBO account), I asked them about the culprit of today’s dating drama. Hookup culture? Addiction to technology? Inability to create real and vulnerable relationships? (Spoiler alert: It’s a little of all three.)

In hopes of understanding why dating today feels so hard — here’s what five relationship experts had to say.



Our expectations are higher today because we are flooded with images of “perfect love” from TV, films, advertisements, and social media. We expect perfection and, if we don’t find it, we move on quickly. This makes dating harder because it’s common for us to look for what’s wrong with someone, instead of focusing on what’s right. We expect an intense spark to be there from the start. If it’s not, we check out and look for someone else, because we feel it’s easy to meet someone thanks to modern technology.

And having fun has become more and more important in today’s culture. After the initial spark wears off and the routine sets in, we become frustrated, bored, and want to experience the spark again. Many people would rather start fresh than fully dive into the other phases of love. And the ease of finding someone online takes away the perceived risk of ending up alone.

— Claudia Cox, relationship coach



In the past we relied on chance meetings, using friends as intermediaries, talking to a person to gain knowledge about them and thus our choices were reduced but the intensity of our connections was greater. Now we have access to anyone in the world — literally. We have computer algorithms that will match us based on stated preferences, we have the ability to make our physical appearance on line look more flattering than our actual appearance and we have all of this at the swipe of a finger. The result is, for many, having to sift through lots and lots of “dating data” to find a good, authentic fit.

Moreover, because we have access to people without having to leave our homes, we have access to communicate our wants and desires without much cost. The result is a much more complex array of dating categories including casual sex and hookups. We simply find another individual via the Internet who wants casual sex and without having to ever leave our homes we can arrange the process. There is very little investment and thus, it happens frequently.

— Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show



In the not too distant past, obtaining a casual sex partner was a difficult bit of business.

‘Hookup culture’ has given us mass confusion. It’s made it hard to define what we’re doing with a person. We find ourselves asking, ‘Is this a date?’, ‘Are we a couple?’, ‘What are the rules?’ ‘What are the expectations?’ ‘Am I one of many?’ ‘Dare I text them first?’ ‘Is it OK to let them know I like them?’ ‘If I express a concern, will they dump me?’

There’s no need for a ‘committed relationship’ if a person is primarily seeking sex. Hookups are effortless, therefore the rigors of being a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ have been eliminated.

— Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert and love coach



Now we can hide behind our phones and computer screens and totally avoid vulnerability and true intimacy but simply telling ourselves, ‘it shouldn’t be this hard’ and then you move on to the next person waiting in the wings.

Like social media, online dating has allowed us to invent the person we would like to be, even if that person is not truly who we are. This is often subconsciously done (I’m not talking about intentional catfishing here). By creating a profile of who you think you are or perhaps wish you were, you are potentially attracting the wrong person and setting yourself up for failure without even intending to.

It has also left us with the impression that if the person in front of us doesn’t meet our needs, there are plenty more where they came from and I can just find a new one. Why try so hard? Why push myself to be self aware, vulnerable, scared, compromising? I can order something off of Amazon and get it within 24 to 48 hours, and I can find someone who more perfectly suits my wants and needs.

— Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist



Before, relationships were relatively black or white — either you’re together, or you’re not. Today, there are multiple shades of grey that exist, and as long as both parties are aware and agree, who is anyone to dispute that? Relationships today can look however they want and the ability to have sexual relationships outside of monogamy has accelerated that idea.

The amount of content we have accessible to us due to the internet gives us many more options to ‘distract’ ourselves from creating in-person connections, because there’s a false sense of connection created by liking or commenting on posts on social media and other platforms.

— Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman

From hiding behind phones to feel overwhelmed with choices, there are a ton of reasons dating is so hard today. I’ve found that it can be helpful to try to see every happy couple as proof that you can (and will) find love, too, instead of comparing yourself to your friends in happy relationships. At the end of the day, while modern dating may be hard, you can sleep easy knowing that so many others are navigating this bizarre sea of love, together.

HIS & HERS – I’m On The Verge Of Leaving My Wife And She Has No Idea

This is the second installment of a new Dating and Relationships column I’m attempting to create here on Phicklephilly. My friend Jackie and I have been kicking around the idea of writing an advice column together. We actually came up with the idea a few years ago. We wanted something that gave advice from a man’s and a woman’s perspective. We’re going to try to publish this column at least once or twice a month for now. If it catches on, we’ll probably run every week.

Welcome to: HIS & HERS!

So let’s begin with a little background on Jackie.

Jackie Rupp grew up as a very sheltered only child, having parents with mental illness and few friends, she’s always been fascinated by the human condition and all our unique quirks and idiosyncrasies. She often writes about wrestling with social anxiety, fumbling through relationships, and ways to improve outlook. As a marketing consultant and founder of CAT creative agency, she helps businesses develop better content and branding messages and is always taking on new clients. A proud mom of two, she’s also passionate about pancakes, kittens, and exploring new adventures in handmade crafting.  



Okay, let’s get to the business at hand. Here’s our newest question.

I’m On The Verge Of Leaving My Wife And She Has No Idea

The reason? I feel like I’m back to being five years old and living with my parents. Let me explain. Since the pandemic started my wife and I have both been working at home. She works part-time and I work full time which gives her extra time around the house compared to me. I like to cook and try to contribute equally to household chores like cleaning and shopping. I’ve always noticed that she likes to be in control and tell me I “should” be doing things a certain way but as we’re both home together more things have reached a breaking point.

 In her mind it seems I’m incapable of even the smallest task. Take last week as an example. A friend was stopping by so I decided to whip up some cookies. I didn’t need any help and didn’t consult her on it as I thought it would be a nice surprise for them both. She came down to the kitchen as I was prepping things and started to take over, berating me for not using the right spoon, etc. like I was an inept person who had never been in the kitchen. Guys, I hold advanced degrees, I’m well respected in my field, and am responsible enough to manage several people at my job. Her work is far simpler but I would never want to make her feel less than because I don’t believe she is.

 At the end of baking, I didn’t even want to be in the same room with her anymore and the final straw came when our friend was over and complimented the cookies and my wife chose to give a laughing rundown of all the things I did wrong. It turned my stomach. But I don’t know how to respond. If I respond in anger it looks like I can’t take criticism (which is usually baseless by the way and more like her preferences rather than actual things I’m doing wrong).

 When I’ve challenged her in the past she’s gotten defensive and upset like I was the one hurting her feelings. I want a wife and lover, not a parent. I’m starting to feel diminished as a person and don’t know what to do. Help!

-Husband Due Some Respect



Phew! I felt the tension in the air with this couple. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. But I do have a little bit of perspective to give that might be helpful. Full disclosure btw, I’m no counselor, so take this for what it is. But here’s six observations I’d like to make for this gentleman to hear:

  1. The cookie incident as I’ll refer to it shouldn’t get pushed under the rug and never talked about. One major revelation I’ve recently learned was that we don’t lose the right to be hurt/bothered/annoyed/frustrated by something just because we didn’t react at the moment. There are no statutes of limitation on feelings. Now I’m not saying to dig up that wedding dance that embarrassed you five years ago, but the cookie incident should not go un-discussed.
  2. When you do discuss it, talk about FEELINGS, in particular, yours! Here’s an example: “Hey, remember the other day when Sonia came to visit and I made cookies. I can’t help still thinking about this. What you said really hurt me and made me feel small and unappreciated. Did you want to make me feel that way?” Notice I didn’t say “Hey, what YOU did the other day was really shitty. Because that’s a good way to get someone on the defensive, which it sounds like is a route your wife is always ready to take. Discuss things calmly, be seated, and give yourself the time and setting to allow your feelings to take their rightful spot in this relationship. It sounds like they’ve been taking that space in your own head for a while, now it’s time to share that with your team member.
  3. Following up on that, make this a team problem, which requires a team solution. Go into this conversation expecting your wife to WANT to change. If she shows other inclinations, express your disappointment in that path she’s chosen. “I was really hoping we could work on this together so that we both feel respected and uplifted, I need that in a partner and I think you do too.” Give her several chances to choose the right path (even if she gets defensive the first few attempts). Prepare for her defensiveness and don’t let it distract you from moving her closer to the right path of acknowledging her behavior and wanting to change it.
  4. Consider your wife’s needs. I know you’re struggling right now with feelings of unhappiness, but consider your wife’s perspective for a moment. Happy people don’t constantly feel the need to put someone else down to make themselves feel better. Depressed, insecure, unhappy people do this. It’s worth opening a conversation and also seeing if there are things you can suggest to bring more happiness and fulfillment to your wife’s world. Is there a hobby she’s long forgotten? Did she give up a passion that you know she used to love? Don’t expect change overnight or for her to jump right into something new. It might take time. You might also inquire with her about her happiness level, not in an accusatory manner, but in a place of compassion and love. 
  5. Seek couple’s counseling and also individual counseling for both of you. Couples counseling can give you an objective trained third party who can keep the conversation on track and point out when one person might be being unfair or unreasonable. It’s definitely worth at least giving a try before you end your marriage. You do have the responsibility to let your wife in on your thoughts about ending the relationship because of this pattern of behavior. Especially since up until now, she hasn’t really gotten any consequences from you other than an argument that ends when she gets defensive and emotional. All you’ve done in that respect has been to reinforce this behavior and she’ll continue to go to it if she knows it gets her off the hook and out of the argument. 

Ladies, I have something about this letter to say to you. I KNOWWW many of us do this in heterosexual dynamics. I know many times men give us plenty of reasons to complain and berate — they always take the long way places, they don’t bag the groceries “right,” they don’t know how to dress. But lemme tell you for every one of the things we can get on them about, I’m sure there’s a similar complaint they could lodge at us. Many times it doesn’t come down to IF there’s a complaint you can voice, but if you SHOULD. Read that line again. We’re all different and do things in different ways, yours may be the very best way in the world, but your goal in your relationship should be to be right about the small stuff, it’s to be happy. I have an example for you. Last year my boyfriend took me on a surprise drive for my birthday. He had arranged a couple’s massage for us. I was SO excited. In the car on the way there, I realized he had scheduled it at the more expensive of the two places we usually go to. I quickly hopped on Groupon to see if the other spa had a cheap deal, we could probably reschedule at the other spa and save him a few dollars. I stopped. Why would I take away this moment from him? He was doing something FOR me and I was trying to take over that and do it myself. Why? I realized it was about control. I think for many of us we get used to handling so many tasks in a day that we sometimes lose sight of the importance of letting someone else steer the ship for a bit. Because that can be a little scary and unfamiliar to us. I consciously had to choose to shut my mouth and enjoy the ride, which is what I did.  


You have to love yourself before you can be in a healthy romantic relationship with anybody else who loves you. If you’re feeling low and worthless, maybe you’re not ready for a relationship. Maybe you’ll be stronger and healthier if you put your love life on hold for a while, strike out on your own, and take the time to improve yourself first. You can also improve yourself while in the relationship if you get enough free time to yourself.

Some people were raised critically. It’s possible that your girlfriend was criticized a lot by her parents as she was growing up. I know that my parents were the ones who told me that they only criticize me because they love me. If they didn’t love me, then it’d be easier for them to just not say anything and let everybody else look down on me behind my back. Since your girlfriend says something very similar, I’d suspect that she’s criticized a lot by her parents, and it might really be how she expresses love. It’s natural to feel self-conscious and defensive when criticized, but remember your girlfriend is human too. It’s possible that it’s a symptom of the damage her parents did to her.

Considering that honest communication is necessary for a healthy relationship, there’s some truth to the idea that the ability to speak freely with each other can be an indication of a healthy relationship. It’s not healthy to ask her to stop criticizing at all. However, depending on what she says, there might be ways to criticize more constructively and without being as hurtful about it. For example, if she hates what you wear, she can take you clothes shopping and buy you new clothes instead of just criticizing your current clothes. Or if she wants you to have more muscles, she can buy you a gym membership and you can work out together. Or if she wants you to eat healthier, she can handle food for you. Or if she thinks you’re lazy, she can help encourage you to be more productive. Since she doesn’t seem to know how to be more constructive herself, you might try to lead her to think about improving the way she criticizes.

The next time she criticizes you, the first thing to do is to figure out whether you agree with her. Take a deep breath, count to 10, and try to calm down. Try to avoid getting emotional and defensive. Try to think first before responding. Ask yourself if it’s really something you want to improve about yourself. If not, then maybe an appropriate response might be something like, “Thanks for the compliment! I’m quite happy with myself about it.” If you agree with her and you really don’t like what she’s criticizing, then say so, like “Thank you for telling me. You’re right. I don’t like that about myself.” Then, put the ball back in her court: “How do I get better?” If she’s criticizing the same thing over and over, maybe try “I already know that, and you’re right. I’ve been trying to fix this about myself and I haven’t been able to. I hear what you’re saying, and it isn’t helping me figure out how to get better. Can you help me?” and “I’ve already tried to improve by doing all these things, and none of it worked. Do you have any new ideas about how I can improve that I haven’t tried yet?” Basically, every time she wants to criticize you for the same thing again, leads her to become more constructive about it and come up with a new way to help you improve.

Just remember: (1) you need to be fundamentally okay with yourself before you can have a healthy relationship, and (2) honest communication is also necessary for a healthy relationship. All humans are damaged in one way or another, and your girlfriend might be damaged in a way that she can’t stop criticizing completely, but it might be possible to work with her on how to channel her criticism more constructively. However, if you’re really too sensitive to take any criticism from her at all, no matter how she says it, then maybe it’d be good to spend less time on the relationship and more time on self-improvement until you can be okay with yourself no matter what anybody else says.

Jackie comment:

I really agree about criticizing being how someone might show love. That’s a great insight. Like some of us were raised in an environment that it’s the only way we know to show we care. From a woman’s perspective, many times that can turn into almost mothering your man. We want to show love, and we may be “mom-ing” all day so our partner just becomes another person that we should love to by instructing and critiquing. For me anyway, it’s still a conscious battle to refrain from doing that too often. Thinking before you speak can do wonders for a relationship, especially when you take the time to think about how the other person will feel about what you have to say.

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Send it to me in the Contact section of this blog, and Jackie and I will answer it in a future post!


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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