- The Art of Manliness - http://www.artofmanliness.com -

How to Weather a Break-Up Like a Man

vintage sad lonely man walking snowy path

Editor’s Note: AoM has previously discussed how to break-up with someone like a man. [1] But what if a woman breaks up with you? Today my good friend Michael Etzkorn gives some much-needed advice on how to deal with this unfortunate turn of events.

Breaking up is hard, whether it is mutual or one party does the dirty work. Any serious relationship that ends will leave one or both people heartbroken. My fiancĂ© and I were together for nearly four years when we ended it; it had been a long-distance relationship for some time, and we couldn’t agree on what we both wanted and needed in our marriage. Our break-up was very civil and mature, but that is not to say that it was painless. Fortunately, heartache is bearable if you can man up. Almost all of this advice is a composite of good advice from friends and first-hand experience.

Leading Up to Breaking Up

There is always a period of time leading up to the break-up where at least one self-aware person in the relationship will notice that there is trouble in paradise. Whether it’s a short relationship or one spanning many years, there’s always a road to break-up. It can take a matter of hours or it can take months. If you’ve ever heard the term “the suspense is killing me,” then you’ll understand that this is the hardest part of any break-up. Here are some tips on handling this phase:

The Actual Break-up

This is where things get ugly. This is also when you want to ask questions. You want to ask them now, because you’ll want time away from them after the break-up. You’ll also want to find out exactly what it is they are thinking in case it really is something you can fix. Ask questions like:

The key to the break-up is dignity. Being a pathetic, sobbing wretch is not going to win her back. Neither is being a furious, profanity-spewing juggernaut. Hold your head up, have respect for her and have respect for yourself. Be reasonable when you try to find out what you can do to save the relationship; you shouldn’t give in to demands or options that you don’t want to live with. There have been several times I’ve offered to save the relationship by promising something I really wasn’t comfortable with, but it doesn’t fix the relationship; it simply shifts the awkwardness around. You might still be with her at the end of it, but at what cost? Do both of you a favor: remember your dignity.


People will try to give you a formula like “a week for every month,” but the truth is that you’ll be better when you are better. This is when you might cry your eyes out or hit the gym or find a friend with a punching bag in his garage. Remember that it’s over. Here are a few things to keep in mind in the meantime.

Your life will go on. Things will get better. It will take a long time, in all likelihood, and it will take some work. Above everything else, remember your respect for the other person and your respect for yourself. Keep your head up high and roll with the punches.