The good people over at the Journal of Health and Social Behavior have recently published a report stating that it's men, not women, who tend to suffer more after a breakup.
Their reasons make sense; women are more likely to confide in close friends and family members after a breakup, talking through their emotions, whereas men are more likely to confide in bottles of Jameson and their X-Men figurines. I happen to know, from personal experience, that this study is absolutely, 100 percent true.
After all, when I broke up with a woman I really liked, all I did was move clear across the country. Such is the power of heartbreak: It can make a man who is horrible at cleaning, organizing and packing spend hours cleaning, organizing and packing his entire life -- and moving said life over mountains.
I think the thrust of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior study isn't that men lack people to talk to after a breakup -- God knows I had plenty of people to chat with -- but that we're unwilling or unable to talk about the way we feel. I talked incessantly, in fact, to whomever would listen -- my sister, my female friends, girls at work.
Note, however, that I felt I couldn't really talk about it with any of my male friends. There is some sort of genetic coding there that prevents dudes from getting to the heart of matters of the heart with other dudes. Not that my guy friends weren't willing, it's just that I was uncomfortable/unsure/nervous about my pale and naked suffering.
What happened was fairly typical, really. Over the course of about 16 months, I harbored intense feelings for a co-worker. Then, like magic, one night at around 2:30 a.m. she texted me. Those moments in life, so rare, so beautiful, when you know -- you just know
-- something big happened. I remember standing in my bedroom looking at myself in the mirror, a moment before I left to fetch a late-night cab and head to her place, that everything was about to change.
In the beginning, it almost seemed like she liked me more. There was this strange reversal at the outset where I had that all-important edge in the relationship, because equality in feelings between two people is pretty much a myth; one person always likes the other just a little bit more. And so this woman I had longed for, dreamed of for months on end, would call me, want to hang out, want to be together all the time and I'd be all, "We'll see." Insanity, really, considering I spent the better part of two years obsessing about her.
Then, of course, came the power shift, gradual at first, then all at once. I found myself desperately in love with her while she began the slow, inexorable slide away from me. I wanted to be with her all the time; she was all, "We'll see." I have no idea how this happens, how the power balance shifts without warning, without any clear reason, but it does. Soon enough, I was constantly scrambling after her, emotionally, figuratively and, often, literally. Although she still "liked" me, our respective feelings for one another had see-sawed to an unnatural degree. I was up-in-the-clouds in love with her; she was sanely rooted on terra firma, looking at her watch.
We broke up on New Year's Eve. I was pretty much inconsolable. She was promising me it would be OK, that everything would eventually be OK. I became enraged with conviction that I was supposed to marry her. My oldest sister, a romantic and ex-hippie and lovable kook, told me to go get a cheap ring and propose. Madness. I never did. Instead, I devolved into a creature that barely ate, drank too much and cried all the time. I vividly remember watching an Ellen Degeneres stand-up routine from the fort I had made of my bed. It was funny. I was laughing and crying, laughing and crying. Lunacy.
Eventually I ran out of women to bore with my story of heartbreak, and my guy friends wanted their old friend back. Meanwhile, the woman I loved was doing quite fine. She'd check in from time to time, make sure I was OK. Once, in a major oversight, we saw each other again, and I ended up back at her place, so distraught, so sickened by my love for her and her clear indifference toward my love, that I was unable to perform the act of lovemaking.
That's what really did it. The city became anathema to me. Every bar, the names of streets -- it all somehow felt like a memory of her.
So I cleaned and organized and packed. I moved from the west coast to the east coast and started a brand new life in New York, as far away from her as I could get in the continental United States.
I still think of her from time to time. Good thoughts, mostly. She's married, with a daughter, and I'm happy for her. I just wish that when our relationship ended, she had hurt a little bit more.
[Redacted] Guy is the resident Single Guy writer for Lemondrop. He has written on every facet of the human experience as it relates to the heart, whether swelling with longing or aching with regret. No, it's OK, he doesn't want your pity. You can, however, send him hate mail and love letters here, and/or follow him on Twitter.