Toddlers fall all the time and we laugh. We see where they are, where they are going, and unto where they are falling. We laugh because we have assessed possible dangers and are confident they are safe. We have little- if not nothing- to worry about.
With adults it is different. Why? Because when we fall, we do so from a much higher altitude. You see, where you fall from matters!
A couple of weeks ago I had a most interesting conversation with a male friend of mine. We were discussing “giving love a second chance”. Well, needless to say, our chat did not have a topic per se but this is what we eventually ended up discussing anyway.
Femi and I met at university in London and have liked each other right from time. Liking, in the sense that we enjoyed spending time together on campus and joking every now and again. Nothing more, nothing less.. well, maybe a tiny bit of fancying-each-other too, but that was about it. Fast forward 3 years and thanks to Whatsapp we are in touch again. He has moved back to Nigeria and – by God’s grace- is doing very well. Having read some of my blog posts, he commented..
Femi: You see, you have very strong views about marriage. I don’t really believe in it.
Me: You don’t believe in marriage? How can you say that?
Femi: Well, I really don’t. Love, relationships and all that.. I don’t really have the time for that.. Money first, then women..
Me: Woooooow. Okay, well a woman must have seriously broken your heart..
Femi: Why do you say so?
Me: Well, you sound hurt..
(about two weeks later; just after a minor misunderstanding)
Me: Sorry, I was just in a very bad mood. You see, that’s why I prefer family to friends. Even when you argue, you know your family is not going anywhere; whereas with friends, they might just decide to get up and leave.
Femi: Please. Who is leaving? Are you chasing me? I’m not going anywhere. Come and chase me now. You know, we’ve always liked each other.. remember, uni? I know this is how you are and I don’t mind, really. I’d like you even if you were much worse lol. The problem really is just that I have these subtle anti-marriage views.
Me: Ahh.. why do you keep bringing this up? Besides, your views are not even subtle. I’m sure when you find a woman you love and want to commit to, your views will change.
Femi: Yes, maybe one day. Not yet, but one day.
Me: Yup! It’s just a matter of trust; maybe you’ve seen too many bad cases..?
Femi: Lol! Yes, trust issues and bad cases it is.. too many bad cases. I know so many of my friends and people around who used to play around when single; now they are married and still do the same. What’s the point? Why even bother?
Me: But just because some of the people behave like this doesn’t mean you must or will. Your own case can be different. It just depends on the two individuals involved. If you want to make it work, and she does, it can work!
Femi: I know. Look at our parents. Their generation was very different but things have changed. People don’t understand marriage or commitment anymore.
Me: Of course some still do.
Femi: Yes, I guess.. Hmmmm.. You have very strong views sha.
Me: Lol. I don’t think they are very strong. Femi, did someone break your heart?
Femi: Yup, 12 years ago.. I really loved her.
Me: What? 12 years?! Wow.. that’s a very long time! Have you been in any serious relationship since then..
Femi: Nope. No time. A few unserious ones, but nothing deep really. Focusing on work and making money. Have a lot of projects…
(and our conversation shifted to his work.. which he did not want to discuss in detail either..)
This made me think. A man nearing his mid-30s.. well, you know a bit about his background now.. still hurting. So the question now came, “Do women heal easier/faster?”
Femi: Well, I personally believe that when men love, they do so with all their heart; whereas the love of women is more shallow.
Me: How is it more shallow? I disagree.
Femi: It’s a fact. When a man loves, he really loves; so when it’s over it really hurts. Heartbreaks are harder on men. Period
Me: And that is why you don’t want to love again? Ever? I think women just get over heartbreaks easier, well, not easier, but we eventually move on, because we are romantically inclined. Women believe they live for love and deserve to be loved and that there is a Prince Charming out there willing to prove to them that “none of the pain was in vain”. We believe in love so much, we carry a lot of hope.. That next guy might just be the prince we’ve been waiting for. We won’t allow some random dude (you see, he is random now because he was evidently not the one) to ruin our potential happiness.
Femi: Oh please.. Have you been in love before?
Me: Well, I have been in “serious like” but never with someone I actually dated. Heartbreak? Nope, never.
Femi: Soon. You’ll fall in love soon.
Me: Is that a threat?
Femi: No, a promise.
Me: Hahaha.. we’ll see. Many have said that.
This conversation ended there, but it has been ongoing in my mind. Do men hurt deeper and women heal easier? Is it true that a heartbreak breaks a man? Or is it just that we women have been so accustomed to pain (physically and emotionally) that we have over the years learnt to simply deal with it? You see, there is a huge difference between managing pain, dealing with pain, and hiding pain. Most men hide it, and emotionally hide away (he is “emotionally unavailable”). I really don’t want to go into How the sexes deal with heartbreaks today, but rather discuss people’s opinion on whether it is Easier for a man to deal with a heartbreak than a woman, and Why?
I sent this message out to quite a few of my friends and got the following replies,
(1) There are men who can deal with heartbreaks quickly, and others that would rather not go through it. The last time it happened to me, I went mental. Once you had a serious heartbreak, you can’t fall like you did before. But it’s not always like that. I know men who don’t get heartbroken, I know men (like me) who get hurt and find it hard to love again, and I know two close friends who fall hard time and time again like a girl would. (Yinka, M)
(2) Yes, it’s harder for men because men don’t like being failures at anything. Simples. (Niyi, M)
(3) Heartbreaks are more difficult for men to deal with, based on our nature (Adam) but we tend to pretend by finding a lot of activities to indulge in, just to cover up what we are going through. Women can move on quicker because any man can come today and ask them out again. Little things that may not be obvious to women can hurt a man a lot. Most often women also find more ways and reasons to move on. Some men never do. I am a victim. So I know what I am telling you. How many women go asking men out? As a woman you don’t understand how much it takes. You don’t share our plight. And then, when it’s done, you go and find comfort. Men loose all their confidence after a break-up. We found it difficult to ask her out at first, then afterwards we’ll find it even more difficult approaching another girl. And even if a courageous girl comes and approaches me, I’d think twice; it could take forever. Our hearts a so fragile. Check your boyfriend when he is sick. All the crying and moaning. That does not make women stronger though; strength is more than your measure of emotions.. (Claude, M)
(4) Men? We just move on to the next- to cool the tension. Wild, passionate sex. It helps, a lot. You forget every pain. No long ting. (Segun AJ., M)
(5) I think it’s more difficult for men, but women show more emotion so you notice it more. Suffer-in-silence kinda-ting. Women just won’t be able to function for a while, but a man will. But it is harder for him to get over it; and longer. Men are weaker. I’m not kidding. Emotionally. Things affect them deeper.Women can take more emotionally. I don’t know; guess women were built to cope. As a woman you are the emotional rock of your family; so I guess it’s in-built. (Biola, F)
(6) Hmmm.. I think men do take it harder. The reason is because men generally don’t properly fall in love as easily as women do, and as such, when they fall.. they really do fall. So when the relationship ends, for whatever reason, they find it harder to get over and tend to take it out on the entire female race. However, fewer men really fall compared to women, even though they find break-ups harder. Besides, women fall for the ficklest of reasons sometimes; so whether we like to admit it or not, we can move on a bit quicker to the next flashy smile, deep voice, charming look. (Sharon, F)
(7) Yes, if men were truly in love with a lady and their heart got broken, it’s more difficult for them to get over it than it is for women ’cause it’s a big crush on their ego and self-esteem. (Sarah, F)
(8) Yes men do break.. and men do fall in love more seriously. Maybe not more seriously.. but they do. Don’t know why.. Maybe just because. (Fela, M)
(9) I don’t know but I think men don’t get over a past love because many (not all) avoid their feelings. (Jeny, F)
(10) People say that sha but I don’t know how true it is. I don’t think it’s easy for either. (Joe, M)
(11) I think it’s the same for both; it just depends on who breaks up.But afterwards men would rather distance themselves from love. Women are more likely to give love a second chance. (Segs Ag., M)
(12) Because they can’t take it and are weak and feel like the world owes them a favour. Like, no, the world is supposed to stop and gasp because somebody hurt you. And then they think it’s an excuse to be a bastard to the next person that didn’t do anything to you. (Kore, F)
(13) Once his heart is broken, yes, men break badly! And because they don’t talk about their feelings, it is more difficult for men to get over it. Men get hurt worse, it just takes a whole lot more to break them. Only thing is, they can put it aside easily. They play video games, smoke weed, but they don’t deal with it. And they don’t talk about it. (Jegzy, F)
Personally, I really don’t know what is at the core of this time-less question, but I do believe it might be a combination of any or every of the reasons stated above, or none at all.
We women are accustomed to pain- both physically and emotionally. We are used to it, and have learnt to manage it; most probably better than men have or ever needed to.
I’ve learnt that (closely linked to the male ego) is the need for man to believe he stands at the centre of his woman’s world. Every man likes feeling like he is someone’s number one. His mother made him feel thus, and so should his woman. The loving care and affection mother has lavished on son, is something son (although not necessarily aware of himself) expects to continuously receive from the major woman in his life. No matter how badly behaved he is or from where he has fallen, he expects to be forgiven. Without exception! Unconsciously, men act in ways they might even know they should not, but still expect woman to love, forgive..and most importantly, remain with them!
Oh, how women are known for their patience and tolerance; their innate strength to endure, close an eye, simply put up with things. No man (deep down) thinks his woman might one day really leave him. She is his backbone, his strength, his reassurance, his confirmation of being “the don”.
It naturally follows that his entire world, universe and surrounding galaxies collapse in the face of a break-up, in the face of being left behind. In a way it tells him “you are not all that” after-all.. and that- yes, I am more than sure- must hurt.
But then again, what do I know..? Heartbreaks are complex.. Love is simple.
The heart was never meant to be broken.