What you need to know about break-ups
One of the more common calls I receive is, “My ex-boyfriend and I broke up 4 months ago, and now he’s calling me again. I am so confused. Can you help me, I can’t figure out why he is calling now?” Very often, this communication occurs 4 months to the day at the earliest and no later than 6 months. On the flip side, I get a similar call from men about how they ended a relationship 4 months ago pretty easily and now are overcome with sad feelings and often regret they let someone good get away.
I want to clear this up for both men and women because I’ve discovered its not common knowledge that men and women process breakups differently, and those differences make things much harder for both parties.
Let’s start with the breakup itself:
When the man initiates a break up, it’s often a practical, spur of the moment decision made to solve a problem. As in, “I love her, but I’m not IN love with her,” or “I just don’t think it will work” with no obvious reason why. “She’s just too needy” is another common reason. Typically emotions are not a part of the decision because they are being suppressed. Often with guys I hear, “I just feel numb.” I also hear them express how proud they are of themselves for making such a good decision. When I hear it expressed with little or no emotion, I know they are suppressing their feelings.
When the woman initiates a break up, it is usually very different. Women typically back out of a relationship rather than end it. A woman will begin to emotionally detach from a relationship long before she makes the call. She does her grieving around the relationship ending before it does, and she starts to find herself again. She does things she wants, mentally decides which boxes she is going to put this man’s stuff in and thinks about things she can do with the free time she will have when he is gone. The actual breakup is just an unpleasant task that needs to get done because in her mind, she’s already gone.
Men often mistake a woman withdrawing and wanting to do her own thing as a sign the relationship is actually getting stronger. In their minds, she is becoming less needy and seemingly more confident. This is why so often men are stunned when this same woman turns around and breaks up with them. I typically hear some version of the following, “I thought things were going so well. She was starting school and a new job. Overall, she seemed happier than before. I just didn’t realize that’s because she was about to leave me.”
Men should know that a woman who has complained in the past that she wasn’t getting her needs met is suddenly taking dance lessons, spending more time at the gym and saying she might not be free for the usual Saturday night date this could be a sign she is preparing for a breakup.
After the breakup:
For women, no matter who initiated the breakup, there will likely be a period of time where she will be really upset and stay at home, eating whipped cream right out of the can and pounding chocolate while watching Bridget Jones’s Diary and crying.
Not so for the guys. There might be a brief expression of grief, and then they go right into suppression mode without realizing it and turn off their emotions. This is why woman often hear stories from their mutual friends about how he’s out partying days after the breakup. Meanwhile, she is still stuck in the upset phase all the while thinking, “How can he do that? Did I mean nothing to him?” No, that is not the case. He is not processing his emotions right now, he’s distracting himself.
At the 4 to 6 month mark
The woman have had their cry, moved his stuff out of their home, used his favorite towel to clean the toilet, set fire to the old pictures and in some cases, started dating again. The break up wound has not completely healed but at least has scabbed over a bit.
Not so much with the guys. This is right about the time those old coping mechanisms of distraction stop working, and they start feeling bad, really bad about what happened (the way the woman felt from day one). This is when they start thinking about giving the ex a call to “see how you are doing,” sending a text that says, ”SUP” or creating some ridiculous obviously made up excuse for contact like, “I can’t find my favorite towel. Have you seen it?”
The confusing communication brings up so many upsetting emotions for women. They are feeling better, and the email/text brings all the earlier upset back to life only to start thinking about the ex again. Unfortunately, in some cases ,memory suffers from omission, and even ifthe woman had initiated the break up, they tend to forget all the reasons why. They forget or excuse the cheating, forget the disrespectful behavior and mean things he did, and forget how he made them feel bad about themselves so often while they were dating. Instead, they focus on that spark. Those lusty feelings that are always present at the beginning of a relationship that may have clouded judgment and made a person overlook flaws in the past.
To make matters worse, she doesn’t even know why he’s contacting her again, and curiosity takes hold. If there was another woman, she might wonder why it didn’t work out. She might wonder if he wants to get back together, or if he has something really romantic to say, none of which she would want to miss by not calling him back.
She should always assume he’s thinking he might want to get back together when he reaches out and before she makes ANY response she needs to decide how she feels about that first. If she wouldn’t be open to rekindling the romance she needs to consider not responding at all. Remember, the wound has not healed yet. It’s still a bit sore, and that scab can easily break and start bleeding again.
Now, I’m not going to say that there is no hope for that relationship once it hits that 4 month mark. Plenty of amazing relationships moved to the next level after a person had a few months to really think about how much they really loved someone, like Princess Kate and Prince William. However, those are the exceptions. Usually a rekindling results in the same painful end a few months later. A person should think long and hard before making that initial call or responding to an inquiry. After doing all that work to heal you wouldn’t want to start all over again and miss a more amazing relationship with someone even better that is just around the corner.
Jill Thomas CCHT
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
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Author of the book “Feed Your Real Hunger” & “30 day weight loss Jumpstart” Hypnosis CD
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