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His Take: “Why Do Guys Move On So Quickly?”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

“Why does it always seem like guys can move on from a relationship so quickly? My boyfriend and I broke up three weeks ago and he’s already has a profile up on a dating site. Meanwhile, I can barely get out of bed in the morning.” — Still Heartbroken

JAREK: Friendfinder.com is not a dating site. I kid, I kid. You should be able to accurately predict your man’s behavior post-breakup based on how the relationship ended. Did he give you some clearly rehearsed, atypical speech pattern on how he needs to develop as a human and discover himself, sugared up with words obviously outside of his vocabulary? Then it’s likely he wanted to end the relationship for a while and consulted some unqualified source, such as the internet, for advice on how to do that.

If, on the other hand, he was not the one who ended the relationship, or it was ended on terms not within his control, then he likely won’t be able to move on so fast. We men, we hate being dumped. If he still created a profile online, then he is probably just looking to occupy his mind. Nothing gets you over the last one like the next one. The next one doesn’t need to be a winner, she just needs to be the next one. Time with someone else will distract you enough in the hopes of eventually getting over your last love. It’s not the best way to get over someone, but it sure seems to be the easiest, even if in the back of our minds we know we are just kidding ourselves.

ELIAS: Men tend to handle breakups differently from women. Crying with the boys over Ben & Jerry’s typically isn’t our style. Instead, most men will hide their emotions. What we show on the outside is typically not indicative for what we are really feeling. For some, moving on quickly is a way to cope, and, in a lot of ways, is what is expected of us. It can be way easier to deal with these hidden feelings by finding someone new rather than wallowing in what was left behind.

GREG: The reason men appear to move on so quickly from a relationship is because their concept of a breakup does not start when he says the words “We should see other people.” In his mind, he may have decided to end the relationship several weeks before actually saying the words — maybe because he was unsure how to broach the subject, or he was swamped with work and didn’t want the extra stress, but mostly it’s because breakups end in tears and crying women freak us out.

JOE: First of all, posting a profile on a dating site is nothing more than dipping one’s toes in the water. It says nothing at all about how he feels about the breakup except that he knows you’ve broken up. Second, anyone can be the one who moves on first – it’s not something men (or women) generally do faster. Some people feel they’re never/always the first to move on, but this says more about them and the types of relationships they enter than a given gender’s reaction to breakups.

That said, there’s a huge difference between moving on after a breakup and getting over someone. We don’t truly get over a person until the thought of them being emotionally and physically intimate with someone else doesn’t gnaw at our gut. But… we can accept that a relationship is over well before all the wounds have healed, and that certainly can include deciding to date again. In fact, people often start dating — even before they’re emotionally ready to do so — as a means to jumpstart the process of moving on, often with the hope that, by moving on, they’ll make it easier to get over someone.

* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.

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{ 38 comments… add one }

avatar sarolabelle March 10, 2011, 12:06 pm

awwww…I think it’s sad she says “my boyfriend” still. Shame. :( I hate breakups.

avatar moonflowers March 10, 2011, 9:12 pm

I can totally relate. I did that for a few weeks myself. :(

avatar MissDre March 10, 2011, 12:08 pm

“Did he give you some clearly rehearsed, atypical speech pattern on how he needs to develop as a human and discover himself, sugared up with words obviously outside of his vocabulary? ”

My ex did exactly that… and then went on to get some other girl pregnant 2 months later while I was still pining away for him…

avatar Uyzie March 10, 2011, 12:17 pm

Sounds like a gift to me– you dodged a bullet with that one!

avatar ReginaRey March 10, 2011, 12:10 pm

I think Greg is pretty spot-on – if a guy does the breaking up, a LOT of the time he has been mentally checked out for weeks and even months. So when the actual breakup happens, it seems like he’s moved on quickly…when in reality, he’s had quite some time to process it.

This comment from Joe hit home with me: “We don’t truly get over a person until the thought of them being emotionally and physically intimate with someone else doesn’t gnaw at our gut.” I think that is the perfect way to guage when you are truly over someone, and a great way to judge when you might actually be ready to be “just friends” with an ex. A lot of people tend to think they can jump right into friendship, and it just isn’t possible. This is a great test. Awesome advice, guys! :-)

avatar maynard March 10, 2011, 12:13 pm

Defintely agree with Greg here. My fiance dumped me a couple months ago and we were still living together (in his house) for about a month before I could move. Even then, our relationship was over before he actually called it quits, so on “boys night out” he was getting numbers and kissed two girls WHILE I WAS STILL LIVING THERE (and while we were still sharing a bedroom!). That was, and still is unbelieveable to me, but I’m not a guy. But, his defense was it was ‘over’ for him before it was for me, so he’s had more time to get over me while I’m still a crying baby half the time… waaah.

avatar sarolabelle March 10, 2011, 12:20 pm

awww…..I feel for you. :( I can’t imagine something like that happening.

avatar Uyzie March 10, 2011, 12:27 pm

I’m sorry that happened to you, maynard! What a terribly inconsiderate and callous way to treat someone else. But, the silver lining is that you found out what a jerk he was before you married him! Like with MissDre, in these cases, his dumping you is actually a gift- the gift of being much better off without him!

avatar MissDre March 10, 2011, 12:30 pm

Bug hugs!!!

avatar _jsw_ March 10, 2011, 1:22 pm

I’m really sorry to hear that, maynard. I know it still hurts, and I know it’s not all that helpful to hear how lucky you are to be without him, but trust me, some day, you’ll be securely happy with someone else, cuddled in bed on your tenth anniversary, possibly with kids or pets on the bed as well, and you’ll momentarily think back and thank the deity of your choice that this jerk showed his red baboon ass and allowed you to get onto a better path in life.

avatar Uyzie March 10, 2011, 1:56 pm

I cannot like this enough. I wish more guys showed their red baboon asses earlier on in relationships so we wouldn’t have to waste so much of our time! (Actually, I wish all PEOPLE would do that, regardless of gender.)

avatar maynard March 10, 2011, 2:45 pm

Thanks Joe

avatar Uyzie March 10, 2011, 3:00 pm

PS- Sorry if my telling you that you were better off without him wasn’t helpful, maynard. I just reread Joe’s comment and realized that he might be referring to me. I was only going from my own experience. After wasting 7 years on a guy, I actually found it really helpful when my friends reminded me of exactly why I didn’t want him back!

avatar _jsw_ March 10, 2011, 3:14 pm

No!!! I’m sorry that I wasn’t clear. I just meant it doesn’t always make someone feel better because nothing anyone says makes them feel better until they reach a certain point. It came across as a rebuke of those saying she was better off, which is not at all how I intended it. I also ended with, basically, telling her how lucky she was to be without him.

I truly didn’t mean it as a negative comment on what you’d said, Uyzie.

avatar Uyzie March 10, 2011, 3:43 pm

Hehe. No worries, Joe! Even if you HAD been referring to me, I wouldn’t have been offended. :)

I just thought I should pro-actively apologize to maynard, just in case, since your advice is always so spot-on. (and funny!)

avatar ape escape March 11, 2011, 11:55 am

Red baboon ass. hehehehe. Can’t stop giggling. “You know, it’s funny, ’cause it’s true.” :)

avatar RoyalEagle0408 March 10, 2011, 1:27 pm

:(

That’s about all I can say.

avatar Elle March 10, 2011, 1:46 pm

eHugs from me to you!!!

Do you live in NY or PA? Maybe we can meet for coffee. I will drive 4-5 hours for you!!! Or maybe you should drive, to get your mind off things :)

avatar maynard March 10, 2011, 2:46 pm

I’m actually in central NY at the moment but I’m moving (back) to Cleveland saturday

avatar cdj0815 March 10, 2011, 12:19 pm

Elias that is somewhat a male friend told me two days ago. He said that he cried and boo-hooed over the girl he broke-up with recently, but did not show it with other people. He said he felt comfortably telling me about it, but not his male friends.

avatar jena March 10, 2011, 12:26 pm

it’s not just guys — after my last two-year bf and i split, he mourned for MONTHS and bitched me out multiple times. I started seeing someone 2 weeks after the breakup.

avatar RoyalEagle0408 March 10, 2011, 12:53 pm

I just want to say that I thought Joe’s answer was just the one paragraph. I couldn’t believe how short it was.

avatar _jsw_ March 10, 2011, 1:15 pm

The last time I answered a question in just one paragraph was when I walked into the elevator and someone asked me what floor I wanted. It would have been a longer reply, but they frantically got off at the next floor.

avatar RoyalEagle0408 March 10, 2011, 1:25 pm

I was just concerned that I should be watching for pigs outside my window.

avatar SSBoo March 10, 2011, 1:32 pm

I loved Joe’s comment, “We don’t truly get over a person until the thought of them being emotionally and physically intimate with someone else doesn’t gnaw at our gut.” That is exactly how I knew I was over my ex-fiance. I heard he was living with his new gf and they had bought a dog together and I was just like “eh, ok. What do you think of this shirt?”

avatar suesues March 10, 2011, 2:05 pm

I’m absolutely LOVING these “his take” segments!

avatar the1little1one March 10, 2011, 2:11 pm

i totally agree with joe’s comment: that we’re not over someone until the thought of them with someone else doesn’t make us want to vomit, etc., but here’s a question: can you “move on” and date other people or enter a new relationship even if you’re not OVER your ex? is it pointless to force yourself to act as though you’ve moved on when you still aren’t over your ex (as joe defines “over”)? where’s the line between putting your best effort in to heal… and just kidding yourself? you’ve got my mind spinning, people!

avatar ReginaRey March 10, 2011, 2:29 pm

At least in my experience, it’s possible to “move on” without being “over it” – accepting it’s over, actively doing things for yourself, going out on some dates, etc. Trying to start a full-blown relationship when you’re still in pain from the last one, though…baaaad idea. I think you’re only “kidding yourself” if you still feel pain (ie you want to vomit imagining them, or imagining them with someone else), and are trying to pursue a new relationship. But you’re right – it’s certainly a thin line to walk.

avatar RoyalEagle0408 March 10, 2011, 2:45 pm

I think it depends on the person, the seriousness of the relationship and how/why it ended. For me personally, meeting someone else usually helps me get over someone and also is the litmus test for how ready I am. If I’m with someone new and thinking about my ex, it’s a bad sign.

avatar _jsw_ March 10, 2011, 3:51 pm

I think it’s perfectly OK to date other people once you’re able to not be a basket case on the date – which, honestly, might require going on a date or two to determine – but that, as ReginaRey said, it’s a really bad idea to begin a relationship while you still have strong feelings for someone else.

You need to keep in mind, if you’re still hung up on someone, that you’re also somewhat ironically more likely to become attached too quickly to someone else, so keep things very casual until your ex is someone who no longer holds the lease on your heart.

If you really just need to feel loved, foster animals for a while. It’ll distract you, make you feel incredibly loved, and calm you.

avatar Desiree March 10, 2011, 2:28 pm

I do think men and women are both capable of moving on quickly after a relationship ends, but I think it often plays out differently. My female friends seem more prone to short-term “rebounds,” but the guys often end up staying with the next girl they date. I think that may be why women think men move on so fast–their rebound relationships seem to have a higher probability of becoming semi-permanent. (This is a large amount of generalizing, but it applies to my social circle.)

avatar heidikins March 10, 2011, 4:05 pm

@Joe “We don’t truly get over a person until the thought of them being emotionally and physically intimate with someone else doesn’t gnaw at our gut.” I have been thinking about this a TON. I am clearly not over some of my x’s, and there are one or two that I don’t think are really over me. While the latter isn’t really my problem, the former leaves something to work on. Thank you, seriously. The simple, blunt answer is appreciated.

xox

avatar _jsw_ March 10, 2011, 9:57 pm

You’re very welcome, and you should know that I arrived at that observation through extensive personal experience of having my innards gnawed. ;-)

fast eddie fast eddie March 10, 2011, 5:51 pm

In my misspent youth it usually took between 2 hours and 2 weeks to “get over it”. There were a few of them that I’m still not completely over decades later. It truth there were several that I was over with on the first date, and a few that were over me before the first date. This love stuff is dam complex.

During those years most of us believed that most if not all the world’s problems would go away if we stopped fighting wars and loved each other enough. After 40 years of reflection on that all the events since I see no reason to change that stance.

avatar rosalee March 10, 2011, 7:33 pm

Guys, your comments are so enlightening! And for the LW, keep in mind the difference between appearance and reality. He may date other people, and from the outside look like he’s moved on (certainly he wants you to think that!), but it doesn’t necessary reflect what’s going on inside. A guy friend recently confessed to me he was still not over the girl who broke his heart 4 years ago (sad, really), but you’d never know it given his behavior. On the outside, he’s kind of a player. He started dating other girls right away, and even stayed with one for a year, even though he wasn’t that into her. He wasn’t particularly into any of them, it seems. I think his case is unusual because the breakup hangover has dragged on so long. But I suspect lots of other guys do still care, even if they don’t seem to. In fact, those that care the most might feel especially pressured to cover it up by acting like they’re over it. Sometimes it really is a facade. Hang in there, LW!

avatar moonflowers March 10, 2011, 9:23 pm

My ex tried his hardest to look totally over it. I was dumb and believed him. Then again, I was also trying to be all friends-with-the-ex cool and over it myself when I wasn’t really okay either.

It wasn’t until I saw myself one morning in the mirror after a night where I’d cried a bit before bed that I realized my ex’s eyes had looked just like that in the months after we’d broken up. He’d been telling me he was all ready to date again right after the breakup, but I think it was just as hard for him, only he wasn’t keen on showing it, and especially not to me.

avatar TheOtherMe March 11, 2011, 11:04 am

I hate when I’m too busy with work and by the time I get the email notification, all the good things have been said :(

1) Maynard: We love you and are sending you a ginormous e-hug

2) I think most comments by our panel of men are pretty accurate, depending on the relationship. It’s true that in someone’s head ( male or female ) when you’ve already checked out emotionally, it can be easier to move on quickly.

3) Sometimes our perception that someone has moved on very quickly is just that, a perception. As ELIAS said :”Crying with the boys over Ben & Jerry’s typically isn’t our style”. Men often keep those things bottled up. I have had a few breakups when sometimes even after ‘years’ the Ex would admit to still not be over me, even though from the outside, it seemed like he had moved on.

avatar Diana March 11, 2011, 12:52 pm

similar thing happened to me… while i was mourning the loss of a serious and long term relationship. he got MARRIED not even a month after we broke up… baboon ass or mental issues, you tell me! and he still had the balls to tell me he still thought about me and cared about me. sometimes guys can be callous and hurtful and there isn’t much you can do but hold on tight to those who truly care about you and wait for the sun to come out… and then go find an amazing someone who will make you forget all about the baboon ass-hats.

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