I moved out two months ago, and I just ran into my Ex out with someone else. This really hurts. Why is it so much easier and faster for men to move on?
Dear Hurt Friend:
From the outside, it certainly “looks” easy for those men who jump into new relationships before the bedsheets are cold. While not all men do this, and some women do it too, men are more likely to relationship hop. You could easily believe this means he’s completely moved on. Not true. When men invest emotionally in relationships, their feelings run as deeply as yours.
Why the difference post-breakup?
Women are socialized to express their feelings of loss, grief, and sadness in ways not taught to men because of societally imposed expectations of masculinity.
On top of that, women often have broader and more emotionally profound support networks than men, and they are more likely to seek support from a coach or therapist. Generally speaking, women’s ability to ask for help and use emotional coping skills makes them better able to process emotions and recover—but it takes time.
Those without the skills to deal with the messy and intense emotions that come with divorce rush to contain them by filling the vacuum with a warm body. In essence, a man who immediately begins a new relationship is using it as a coping mechanism that allows him to step back into the acceptable space of being the tough, stoic guy he’s “supposed” to be. He’s suppressed and compartmentalized his emotions instead of doing the painful work of healing them.
Put the Focus on You
It’s normal and expected that seeing him with someone else would really hurt. The most important thing you can do now is to continue to focus on your recovery. Remember, this isn’t about him. It’s about honoring and loving yourself by doing whatever is necessary to heal and move on.
Read the books, get the support (coaching/therapy), join the groups—whatever it takes—to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And remember to be gentle and loving with yourself as you come to terms with this unwelcome discovery.
On another note—The new beau is getting someone who hasn’t taken the time to heal from the past relationship and learn from it before “moving on” (that’s a huge relationship red flag).
For future reference—If and when you start dating, seek a partner who possesses the emotional intelligence necessary to do the work to process their emotions and heal before jumping into something new. Asking questions like, “What are some of the things you did that helped you get over your divorce?” or “What are some of the things you learned from your past relationship?” will help you identify one!
Have a “DearDeb” question? Please fill out this short, two-minute survey and include the question you want me to address. 2-minute survey
- Get a free copy of my top-selling book Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter & Happier After Divorce for tools and insights to recover, heal and thrive! (You just pay for shipping.)
- Join my Thriving After Divorce Facebook Group!