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Mind Of Man: What’s Going On In Our Heads After A Breakup

A certain woman in my life wants to know what guys are thinking when a breakup goes down. So here it goes. We think about beer. And drinking it. And how drinking said beer will help us get lucky with the la-a-dies. The ladies with the righteous hoots.

Alright, fine. That was a sweeping gender generalization. A crude, cheap oversimplification of the masculine condition… But that doesn’t stop it from being true.

If we dump you, chances are we’re thinking about everything but the woman we just parted romantic ways with. We’re thinking about the other women we want to see naked, or bratwursts at Sunday’s game, or rocking Xbox sans pants.

When you dump us, we either think that you’re a succubus-tramp, or we think about how much we want to ferociously screw/make tender love to you one last, bittersweet time. Actually, we’re probably thinking both. Since we all have the same basic emotions, we’re probably all heartbroken and busted up and angry.

If the breakup is mutual… Well, let’s be honest. No breakup is “mutual.” That’s a pity term. There is no such thing as a 50/50 breakup. The best you’ll get is a 51/49 breakup — somebody always wants it a little more than the other. The term “mutual breakup” roughly translates into “we don’t viciously hate each other publicly, at least not yet.”

But if we dump you, chances are we’re thinking about everything but the woman we just parted romantic ways with. We’re thinking about the other women we want to see naked, or bratwursts at Sunday’s game, or rocking Xbox sans pants. Yet again, since we all share the same spectrum of passions, we’re probably relieved that we escaped a bear trap without our paw is intact, and are slightly guilty.

Got it?

When I was asked pointedly by my she-dude friend [Hi. -- Editor] what guys are thinking when a breakup happens, I knew it was a loaded question. The real question she wanted to ask is, “Why don’t guys talk about what they’re thinking when they breakup, either to friends or to the woman wronged?”

Because we don’t want to think about it. Because we are knuckle-dragging, gorilla Frankenstein’s with concrete cinder-blocks for hearts. Feel better?

I mean, I realize you probably hoped the answer would be, “We’re thinking about YOU! And how much we miss YOU! How much we regret everything we ever did to lose YOU! Oh, I wish I had the courage to call YOU and tell YOU! That! I! Miss! YOU!”

For starters, it is dangerous and dishonest for two people who have broken up to communicate. On a certain level, we shouldn’t know what the other is thinking. Talking after a heartbreak is stunting. Deforming. Like foot-binding, or a broken leg that wasn’t set right and healed ugly. There should always be a long period of non-communication between two parties who are separated. Closure is overrated. Not every rag needs to be violently wrung dry.

Can I ask a question? Why do women talk about their breakups all the time to the entire world? [Ouch. -- Editor, again] It is totally full disclosure with y’all. You gush about feelings, fears, insecurities, and shockingly intimate details. It’s an embarrassing emote-a-thon to anybody and everybody, especially to fresh exes who don’t want to talk to you or shouldn’t be talking to you. It goes beyond honesty. It’s almost auto-exploitation. Write press releases.

If I had to choose between a communication drought and a communication tsunami, I’d choose the drought. There is something positively smothering about someone who is emotionally over-available.

I know it is “healthy” to express your emotions, to not pent them up and let them fester, or, worse, let it metastasize into a terminal prejudice towards love and relationships. But seriously, sometimes discretion is a virtue. There comes a point where letting it all hang out serves no purpose other than to perpetuate drama for drama’s sake.

So here we are again. Men don’t talk enough. Women talk too much. Is it possible to talk just enough?

Is it as simple as suggesting that we all continue our adoption of each other’s gender habits and switch off? Maybe it would do all the lady flowers a world of good to not talk about their breakups. Go ahead, ladies. Steal from the dude playbook. Dig a shallow grave in your heart, lock up your feelings in an old treasure chest, bury it, and get thee to a Guitar Hero party. Get drunk. Sing your boobs off. Your feelings aren’t going anywhere. Every heart’s map has multiple X’s on it, anyway. And “X” marks the spot.

As for dudes, I loathe to suggest we all go to brunch and dish. In fact, I veto that. But expressing one’s frustrations and doubts judiciously to close friends is not something that would compromise one’s masculinity. Quality is preferable to quantity in these regards.

A final thought. Regardless of who dumps who, dudes think about you. We don’t lobotomize ourselves, or erase you from our brain. We know where the “X’s” are, where the buried treasure lies. And that’s enough. Whether you broke our heart or vice versa, you are always with us. We just don’t always like to share, be they beers, memories, or the various pains of conscience. It’s difficult to dole out things that are precious.

So don’t freak out. You aren’t forgotten. William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The same goes for relationships. All of them. I still think about every ex-girlfriend I’ve ever had, and I always will.

I think about them, but I don’t think about them. If that makes any sense.

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