Not a week goes by where I don’t read about a woman, usually multiple women, talking about heartbreak in the blogosphere – not that there’s anything wrong with that. As a writer/blogger, I am familiar with the cathartic process of sharing your inner most thoughts with complete strangers who even if they judge you have no real tangible impact on your daily life. I get it.
The only time I take issue with these types of posts is when women hop on their proverbial e-soap boxes and use their various platforms to declare that they and they alone are the only ones who know about heartbreak, and men are merely the harbingers of heartbreak. In their opinion, men’s sole purpose in life is to leave as many heartbroken, damaged women lying in their wake as possible, until one day, by black magic I assume, he decides to become a “good man” and chooses from the millions of women clearly waiting patiently and gratefully for the opportunity for him to come along and offer to put a ring on it.
If only it were that simple.
The truth of the matter is that isn’t the truth at all; it’s not even close. Most men will experience the same, if not more, heartbreak as women. The only difference is we don’t talk about it (at least not openly). Today, I’d like to cover three reasons why women think they’re the only ones that experience dissatisfaction, pain, and difficulties in the game of love, but regardless, men know that women don’t have a monopoly on heartbreak.
Men Don’t Talk about Heartbreak
The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. There are a myriad of reasons why men don’t talk about heartbreak, but there are two primary reasons I want to cover. 1) It’s not “manly” to talk about heartbreak or not always coming out on top, no pun; and 2) Men have been taught all our lives that we’re not allowed to express all available emotions of the emotional spectrum. I’ll expand on both of these points in more detail.
1. It’s not cool to talk about losing. Men are competitive. I’m not going to go into why, but in a competition, it’s all about winning. Since men don’t want to come off as losers, they make it seem like they’re always winning. This is a lie. Men lose all the time. The average man, and quite frankly, some top men, get turned down as often or more often than they succeed with women. For most men, approaching women is a numbers game. Some women dislike this fact of life, which is strange when you consider how adamant women are against approaching men. As a man, it’s difficult to convince a complete stranger how great of a guy you are, even if you are legitimately a great guy. Further, the woman has to be receptive to your approach. That’s a man’s world.
When a man talks about his night out or life in general, he doesn’t talk about all the women who turned him down before he met the one who accepted his advances. Outside observers see a guy only bragging about all of his victories and they assume he never loses. In a relative example, people remember Michael Jordan for all the last minute shots he made, but they tend to forget all the last second shots he missed. Men lose all the time. Just because they choose to focus on their victories doesn’t mean they’ve never tasted defeat.
2. Men (feel like they) can’t express emotions. From when we’re young, it’s engrained in a man what emotions he’s allowed to express. Not only is this taught to men, it’s taught to women. Men and women have a perception of what defines a “real man” and breaking out of this stereotypical mold proves increasingly difficult with age. For instance, if a little girl scratches her knee, there is usually someone there to pick her up, tell her it will be ok, it’s ok to cry, and everything will be ok. In this same scenario; whereby a little boy scratches his knee, there is usually someone there to tell him to “man up” and that “big boys/real men don’t cry.” This is a facetious example, but I’m sure it’s one you can relate to. These minor reinforcements occur day after day, year after year. The outcome: a boy, who eventually grows into a man, learns that even in the face of legitimate pain, it is not ok to express your emotions.
As this man ages, the women he dates reinforces this expectation. Therefore, not only are men naturally paranoid to open up emotionally based on the lessons of our youth, but we also encounter women who have been taught these same lessons about what defines a “real man.” If we do anything to act outside of her vision of a man – like, oh I don’t know, express ourselves in a way she doesn’t feel defines a “real man” – like her predecessors before her and of a man’s youth, young women are quick to remind us to “man up” or chide us for acting like less than a man or even worse, say we’re acting like a [female dog/Drake-like].
By the time a man because a “grown man,” he has had decades of reinforced stereotypes of what defines a man. The majority of this entails never fully expressing your emotions to anyone, for any reason, at any time. Then, in the irony of all ironies, he meets a woman who wonders why he won’t, can’t, or refuses to open up to her. He’s spent his entire life learning that the only emotions he’s allowed to express are stunted or repressed, and now he’s supposed to magically forget all he’s ever known because he met you?
Breaking News: Women Cheat Too
Almost every man I know has been cheated on or played the side-man role to a committed woman. Yet, somehow, women have managed to convince the world that only men cheat. Statistically, 20% of men will cheat in their marriage; this is nearly matched by the 15% of women who will also cheat. That’s not the huge chasm that women would have you believe. In fact, one study found that when married women do cheat, they do so earlier and more often than unfaithful men. Further, as I wrote about here, most unfaithful men are usually unfaithful with women who know his relationship status. The stereotype that men are the MVPs of unfaithfulness hurts both sexes in different ways. Men, incorrectly, believe they are the only ones that dictate who, when, or what cheating will occur within a relationship because they, inaccurately, believe women are incapable of cheating. In other words, many men become lazy in their relationship because they have the false belief that no matter what they do, there woman won’t go anywhere or be unfaithful.
More importantly, because women do cheat at approximately the same rates as men, you have a number of men who, as I outlined above, don’t fully share their emotions on the experience, but they still harbor the post-traumatic stress of having a woman (or women) they love cheat on them. Many men cope by becoming passive-aggressive; meaning they go through life never fully trusting another woman or taking out the deeds of a past woman on future women, because he never got over, vocalized the heartbreak caused by the actual sinner, or developed the emotional tools or support necessary to cope with heartbreak. In reality, most men deal with heartbreak through denial, repression, or both. A lot of men’s idea of coping is figuring out how far they can repress a memory out of existence.
Since (most) men don’t talk about their familiarity and first-hand experience with emotional pain, women assume men are simply better at dealing with, getting over, or worst still, men simply don’t feel any pain from heartbreak at all. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At best, men might be better at hiding the pain, but no matter how well you conceal a wound, it still needs to heal.
Check out page 2 to see why men may even love harder than women.
1Men Love Harder Than Women
I’ve shared this quote before, but I think it speaks volumes, so I’m going to share it again.
I feel like men are more romantic than women. When we get married we marry, like, one girl, ’cause we’re resistant the whole way until we meet one girl and we think I’d be an idiot if I didn’t marry this girl, she’s so great. But it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option… ‘Oh he’s got a good job.’ I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job. – Dean (Ryan Gosling), Blue Valentine, 2010.
There has been much debate on who loves harder, men or women. My personal opinion is that when it comes to love, women love more often and men love harder. In some ways, depending on your viewpoint, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.
Because men love so rarely, they place more of their “eggs in one basket” so to speak. Some might argue that it even feels unnatural for a man to love because to do so flies in the face of not only his natural instincts, but all that he’s been taught his entire life. Men are taught to regulate their emotions and only invest themselves, logically, in situations they can directly control or can control through some type of competitive investment; meaning they may lose but there is an equal or relative opportunity for them to win. This is not the case with love and relationships.
There is no successful formula to ensure love will last forever; otherwise, everyone would use it. Instead, love is one of the greatest risks anyone will ever take. For this reason, I’m actually one of those people in the minority who believe women love with far more wisdom and logic than men, but men are less risk adverse than women. In my observations, women need more justification to fall in love but they are also more willing than men to take a chance on love. Stated another way, although I think women are more logical than men, they appear far more likely than men to allow love to outweigh any number of conflicting logical points.
When it’s boiled down, emotional love – as opposed to familial – is the faith that you can invest your all in someone with the expectation that they will do the exact same, unequivocally, forever…
Let’s all pause for a second.
Do you realize how stupid that sounds?! Yet men and women all across the world do it each and every day. Flying completely in the face of logic, they take a chance, and hope for the best, and sometimes, they’re right.
You don’t have to be fan of Nazerth to know Love Hurts, love scars. However, the recognition and experience of such pain is not exclusive to women; it’s possible that it’s not even predominately felt by women. In fact, it’s rare that anyone, man or woman, sets out to cause the pain so many of both sexes believe that we and we alone experience. Ladies, although you may never hear or read about it, the next time you’re doubled over in pain, heartbroken, tears falling, know that there’s a man who’s released or repressed the same emotions you’re experiencing due to some woman in his life who inflicted the same emotional devastation upon him, because as I said in the beginning…
Women don’t have a monopoly on heartbreak.