5 Reasons Why He Doesn't Care About Your Breakup
Trust me (and science): he's only hurting himself.
You gave your entire life to this relationship. You were willing to sacrifice everything for him. You spent countless nights awake trying to figure out how to make things work. So why is it so damn easy for him to move on? Is it because he never loved you in the first place? Is he really over it? Three weeks later, he seems to have found everything he was ever searching for in another woman- is there really no chance of working it out once he's started dating his rebound?
All these questions are valid and important- and I'll tell you what else: you are not alone in wondering all of these things. That's why you're reading this here today. Because someone else has felt the same pain that you currently do. There's two reasons for this article: (1) for the females- to let you know that you are not alone, there is scientific research explaining the way he acts, and it's never too late for another chance; and (2) for the males- to give you a better understanding of your usually coping mechanisms and help you understand what you are instinctively inclined to do- and why you may want to think twice about your approach.
Hearing from your family and your friends is one thing (and it can be calming). But research-driven information is something entirely different- and in my opinion, a lot more comforting. So, let's talk about what's really going on in his head after the breakup.
1. He doesn't even realize how much he cares.
One of the most frequently cited pieces of research on the issue of emotional trauma as a result of breakups took place at Binghamton University in 2015, where over 5,000 people from 96 different countries were surveyed. In it, head researcher Craig Morris notes that on a scale of 0-10, where 0 was painless and 10 was unbearable, the average emotional pain among both men and women was significant; reaching just below 7- with women averaging 6.84 and men averaging 6.58. Men's levels of physical pain averaged at 3.75, compared to women at 4.21 (Morris 2015). So if you think he isn't feeling the pain just like you are, he either just hasn't realized it yet, or, since "men are raised to hide their feelings and to not let you know if you hurt them—the worse the pain, the more they have to hide it" (Caroll).
Men reported "more feelings of anger and engage in more self-destructive behaviors than women" (Morris 2015). This first part comes as hardly a surprise to most. It's rare for a person of the male gender to admit a weakness of theirs- this idea of "aggression", if you will, arising out of the concept of violence being manly, is a trait that is instilled in them through human instinct: right alongside callous sexual attitudes and the notion of danger as exciting.
Aggression, often in the form of anger, comes naturally to men- and these traits are more widely acceptable among their gender stereotypes. In their primeval capacity as the warriors and heads of households, men are socially expected to be more calloused toward any emotion that presents a sign of vulnerability or weakness. Think of it this way: in battle, a great warrior wouldn't allow his opponent(s) to see him limping. Then, they would know exactly where to attack. Similarly, members of the male gender are typically closed off with their emotions (Mosher & Tompkins 2010).
2. He's going to process his hurt ...well... ineffectively.
Men tend to repress their grieving process with a "'fake it till you make it' approach, according to Dr. Scott Caroll of the University of New Mexico. "Some men become dogs and go for every hookup...alternatively they party with their guy friends to drown their sorrow or bury themselves in their career or their hobbies- anything to keep their mind off the loss and their pain" (Caroll). This frequently includes the use of the rebound tactic (see below).
Long-term female partners have a dramatic effect on their male counterpart's healthy behavior (Reczek & Umberson 2012). Because of this, one of the first signs that a man will exert after a breakup with his partner is unhealthy behavior. This will usually be seen in tobacco and alcohol use, as well as frivolous sexual affairs (Hemminki & Li 2003) that he's likely to engage in with his group of friends.
3. His friends won't know that he's feeling anything- and he won't lean on any of them for support.
In a study that asked participants who they seek first when they're feeling depressed, 71% of men chose their wives; while only 39% of women chose their husbands to be their confidantes. (General Social Survey, 1972-2012).
While a newly single man will engage in self-destructive behaviors, women, "in comparison, frequently feel more depressed and participate in more social, affiliative behaviors than men" (Morris 2015). Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), women are more frequently in touch with their emotions, and less inclined to hide their sadness- and because of the social constructs of women, their peer groups are generally more emotionally supportive and open to one another. This allows women to be around groups of their friends, whereas men tend to isolate themselves, and/or keep their emotions separate from their social groups. Research even argues that men are neurochemically -predisposed to have more difficulty in breakups than women do- and as a result, they will resist seeking help from friends (Young & Alexander 2012).
From a young age, males are discouraged from opening up to one another- and the effect that this has on their reactions to breakups is not insignificant. As men are discouraged from opening up to their friends (and often even their families) to have their emotional needs fulfilled, their female partner takes on a role of huge importance as his main listener, the vessel of his hopes and dreams, and the object of his fears. A woman quite often becomes a man's entire support system- so when the two are separated, he is left with far less than she is. Researchers even go so far as to refer to this as the loss of the male's "spiritual home".
4. He'll distract himself with that rebound.
By now you can probably recognize how, though they act entirely different, the loss of a man's 'spiritual home' affects them in a deeper, more traumatizing way than women (not what you expected, is it?). It's no surprise then that men are all too eager to try to fill the void in their life with the only thing they know that can replace all of the different things they've lost in breaking up with you: another relationship.
Renowned clinical psychologist Josh Klapow at the University of Alabama suggests that male's lack of emotional development is to blame for men's view of relationships as "accomplishments", instead of meaningful partnerships. As a result of this detachment, men are able to "move on to the next [relationship] more quickly," to continue this vicious cycle (Klapow 2016).
The self-esteem of the male takes a hard blow during the breakup. Because of that,"women's behaviors could be argued to be more constructive strategies as a result of their tendency to preserve the relationship, whereas men choose destructive strategies for maintaining their own self-esteem" (Morris 2015).
Morris adds that critical self-analysis, while understandably depressing, can benefit us in the long run. In a 2011 campus-based pilot study, he and his team found that while women lost more self-esteem after a breakup (twice as much as men), they were almost always able to identify a silver lining of increased personal awareness and greater perceptivity regarding future relationships. Moreover, he found this coping mechanism helps women recover more fully and emerge emotionally stronger than men.
5. He was never as invested as you were in the first place.
It sucks, but it's true. Just look at it from a biological perspective. Whether it's conscious or subconscious, most (dare I say all?) women head into relationships with a greater focus on long-term commitment than men do, and it's just in our DNA:
“Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than men,” Morris said. “A brief romantic encounter could lead to nine months of pregnancy followed by many years of lactation for an ancestral woman, while the man may have ‘left the scene’ literally minutes after the encounter, with no further biological investment. It is this ‘risk’ of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate. Hence, the loss of a relationship with a high-quality mate ‘hurts’ more for a woman” (Morris 2015).
Because of their testosterone levels, men tend to display more aggressive and competitive behavior. Primordial activities have trained men to compete: for food, attention, and love- among other things. So, naturally, they view dating as another competition. So "the loss of a high-quality mate for a man may not 'hurt' as much at first" for men. (Morris 2015). Key words: at first.
“The man will likely feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time as it ‘sinks in’ that he must ‘start competing’ all over again to replace what he has lost — or worse still, come to the realization that the loss is irreplaceable,” he said. Sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone; and for men, this couldn't be more true.
He may not seem like he cares now. He might not show it and might not tell you, but the pain is very real for him too. Break-ups suck. As someone who has struggled with chronic depression for most of my life, I know the pain of a breakup deeper than most. I'm not too proud to tell you that losing a relationship has nearly killed me too many times to count. I, like you, process the pain deeply, and don't let go easily. But coming from experience, the best advice that I can offer is to go out into the world and do better. Prove to him and, more importantly, to yourself how irreplaceable you are. Let the grief propel you into an era of self-discovery and awareness that will benefit you for your entire life to come. Learn to live alone. Learn to love yourself. Learn to look inward and depend on yourself as a source of happiness. You're all that you've got.
Who knows, maybe he'll catch wind of this personal transformation and realize that caring might be the smartest thing for him to start doing. But I can tell you one thing: it helps to recognize the front that he doesn't even realize he's putting on. "It can take men years—or even decades...if they truly loved her. They just don't show their grief to others—or even to themselves" (Caroll).