How Does a Man Feel When a Woman Leaves Him?

Don’t you leave my heart in misery

If you go then I’ll be blue

‘Cause breaking up is hard to do

Countless songs like Neil Sedaka’s “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” express how a man feels when a woman leaves him. A man pleading, reminiscing about the good times, or expressing the sheer loneliness of life without her is almost cliché in the music industry. Why is this trope so widespread?

How does a man feel when a woman leaves him? Perhaps more so than women, men have a more limited range of emotions after a breakup. Moreover, men usually aren’t equipped to deal with their feelings healthily – society doesn’t do a very good job of teaching them how.

So they bottle those feelings up, let them out in fits of anger or delusion, and sabotage their ability to move on from the breakup.

Keep reading to understand how a man feels when a woman leaves him and how he might handle it better.

Do Men React Differently to Breakups than Women?

Men and women always react differently to a breakup can be a gross generalization. However, there’s enough variance between the sexes to extract basic principles.


For example, when men feel threatened or powerless, they typically withdraw from the situation. This holds true during arguments with their partner and after a breakup. 

Men hate feeling out of control and do what they can to stop those feelings. On the other hand, girls are taught to seek control over their emotions by talking things out.

Those talks might be with their partner during a relationship, but they could be with a trusted confidant after a breakup.

In any case, men withdraw from emotional situations while women embrace them.

How Do Guys Act After a Breakup?

Guys are all over the map after a breakup; some go on drinking binges, others try to pick up women every night, and some sit in front of the TV sulking – and that’s just unhealthy behavior. 


The one thing that can be said is that guys feel powerless when someone dumps them.

They’re accustomed to feeling in control, and then it feels like the rug got pulled out from under them. So how they act afterward boils down to their coping strategies.

Many men do everything they can to put the breakup out of their heads. Others focus on how none of it is their fault and their partner is wrong on all accounts, and a few take the reins of power and focus on improving themselves.

So how do guys deal with breakups when they are dumped?

11 Ways Guys Act After a Breakup

Going through a breakup is hard, whether it was mutually agreed to or where the news completely blindsides one partner. Losing someone who was a significant part of your life is always painful. 

Due to men having more difficulty seeking social support, they can exhibit some strange post-breakup behaviors.

Some are healthy, others are not, but they are all strong indicators that a man is going through a difficult breakup.


#1 He is Talking Less

A rough breakup can do a number on a guy’s self-esteem, and one of the clearest indicators of his downtrodden state is that he’ll talk less. Even when he’s with a group of friends, he’ll speak only when someone is directly addressing him. 

Being so reserved is a sign that his mind is somewhere else. He could be thinking about where things went wrong in the relationship, if there’s a chance, he could get back together with his ex, or he might just be stewing over the breakup.

In any case, it’s common male behavior to get tight-lipped after a breakup.

#2 He Distorts the Truth

While a man feels many of the same emotions that a woman feels after a breakup (heartbroken, worthless, confused), he might not have the same ability to express those feelings. 

Men are taught that speaking freely about their emotions is weak, which can cause them to invent stories to explain a breakup.

Instead of admitting to their broken heart, they stretch and distort the truth to rationalize the breakup and regain a sense of control. 

Saying things like “I knew it would never work with her” or “I was ready to move on anyways” is a man rewriting the past to relieve his pain.

#3 He Looks for a Rebound

Many men say the quickest way to forget about a past relationship is to jump into a new one. All the negative feelings that come with a breakup can be erased with the euphoria of a new lover. 

But unfortunately, rebound relationships rarely last as compatibility gets overlooked if it helps a man forget his ex.

#4 He Blocks His Ex

This is sometimes considered an extreme step, something you would only do after a real bad breakup or the end of an abusive relationship.

Blocking your ex can seem petty or like you don’t want to be friends. In reality, it’s a healthy coping mechanism.

You don’t need to see what your ex is doing right immediately after a breakup. You don’t need to see who their next partner is before you’ve healed. There’s always the option of unblocking that old partner later.

#5 He Tries to Get Back Together With His Ex

Over 40% of people get back together with one of their exes, and rarely does it turn out well. On-again and off-again partners have a far lower relationship quality than stable partners.

Most of the time, men get back together with their ex because they have unresolved feelings about the relationship.

They could still be very attracted to their partner or have romantic feelings for them even though they rationally know they don’t make a good pair.

#6 He Plays the Blame Game

In the short term, playing the blame game and holding someone else responsible can be comforting.

However, breakups are painful, and when a man is still emotional, he’s not ready to assess how he might have played a hand in it.

So long as this phase is short-lived, it’s not particularly unhealthy. Only when guys hold onto that grudge-filled narrative for months does it become impossible for him to move and be ready for his next relationship.

#7 He Goes Into Hibernation Mode

Also known as social withdrawal, hibernation mode is when a guy removes himself from his friends, family, and potential romantic interests. 

That may not seem healthy on the surface, in fact, it sounds a lot like depression.

However, as long as this post-breakup phase is short-lived, it can be a time for the man to reflect on his past relationship and how he wants to move forward with any new ones.

#8 He Explores New Experiences

While many women like to hash out the breakup details with other women, most guy’s want to get their minds off it. They want to erase those old memories by doing something exciting with their male friends, like embarking on a big trip.

There he can try new foods, do new activities, and meet new people, all of which will have no connection to his former relationship.

#9 He Takes on a New Hobby

One of the best things anyone can do for themselves after a breakup is to dive deep into an activity. 

Take a painting class, join a gym, or start meditating every morning. Anything that occupies your schedule and your mind can be a healthy distraction from the pain of a breakup. 

New hobbies are also a great way to meet new people, specifically new partners.

#10 He Reevaluates Himself

Anyone in a long-term relationship knows that it’s hard to know who you are after losing your other half.

It takes time to see yourself as a me instead of a we, free of the constraints of a relationship. If he’s looking for self-improvement, he can think about where his life is going and what he hopes to get out of it over the next few years.

#11 He Spends More Time with Friends

Finding a good friend to spend time with is one of the best ways to heal from a breakup for both men and women. Friends remind of us of our good qualities when we’re feeling broken.

They take our minds off the breakup when our minds are busy with negative thoughts. They call us out on our concocted stories, forcing us to be clear-sighted about our relationships.

5 Ways a Man Feels When a Woman Leaves Him

Men and women are both bubbling cauldrons of emotions after a breakup, and it’s even worse when you’re the one that got dumped.

Men, however, spend more time ignoring their emotions and, in turn, take longer to heal.

These are the five emotional stages most men go through after a breakup.


#1 Confused

If a man doesn’t initiate the breakup, his first reaction will likely involve trying to patch things up.

Unfortunately, he might not understand what went wrong or is willfully ignorant of it when it’s explained. He just wants things to return to how they were, and that’s not possible in most cases.

#2 Angry

It’s the one feeling men are encouraged to express, making it the default when a man feels hurt. 

Sometimes that anger is directed outward and he lashes out at his former partner while some men turn inward. Anger is expected but rarely healthy. The less time a man spends being angry, the quicker he can move on.

#3 Prideful

Most men want to appear stoic as if nothing could hurt them. Inside though, they’re crying out, and being unable to tell anyone makes it ten times worse. Pride builds a wall between a man and those who can help him through the pain.

#4 Hopeless

When the gravity of the situation finally settles in and the man realizes he can do nothing to control things, he becomes hopeless.

This is the sulking in front of the TV stage, where he refuses to meet up with friends or even think about talking to other women.

#5 Optimistic

Depending on the man, this feeling could take a few weeks, a few months, or maybe even a year, but it eventually does. A man can feel ready to love again with time and healthy coping strategies. 

This happens faster for men that are more open with their feelings and work to better themselves before diving into their next relationship.

How Long Does it Take a Man to Forget a Woman?

There’s no answer to this question; it depends on the man, how long he was in a relationship, how the breakup was handled, and his coping strategies.

The longer the relationship goes on, the longer it’ll take to get over the breakup – more time usually means greater attachment. 

If the man feels blindsided by the breakup and doesn’t want to end the relationship, the grief period will also be longer.


He’ll probably spend some time trying to heal the relationship and attempting to get back together with his ex

For less than a year of relationships, a man might take a few months to recover fully, and one that lasts several years could take a year or more to heal from. However, the clock doesn’t start until he accepts that the relationship is over.

Self-destructive behaviors like excessive drinking and rebound sex also slow the healing process; they are distractions that prevent the man from moving on.

After a breakup, a man needs to focus on his emotional well-being, learning from this painful experience to succeed more in the next relationship. 

Final Thoughts

It should be pretty clear that men don’t respond to a breakup in the most productive ways. 

It doesn’t need to be like that, though; men can have satisfying relationships and walk away from it without all these negative feelings when they don’t go as planned.

The best thing a man can do for himself is to focus on what he can control and set aside the things he can’t. 

He can’t change how his partner’s emotions, only his own. However, he can work to improve himself through exercise, mindfulness, and focus on the important things to him. 

Women are attracted to self-improvement, and new relationships will come naturally.