Out Of Relationship Mode, What Goes On In A Man’s Mind After A Breakup

Man Woman Cartoon Breaking Up

Breaking up is never fun. No one really looks forward to them. In fact too many men and women stay in a failing relationship way too long for many reasons.

Something I cover in this post: Shouldn't Getting Into A Relationship Be Harder Than Getting Out?

I was seeing a woman for about two years. We were exclusive and faithfully committed to each other but we recently broke up and now it's time to move on.

I'd like to share with you my private and personal thoughts on it which will give you much more than just a peek into a guy's mind right after a breakup.

It could help you get over some ex you've been having trouble letting go.

It could help you get closure over an ex-boyfriend or husband if you didn't understand exactly why it happened.

It could even help you get him back if that's what you're looking to accomplish in the next step of your  life.


It can and will help you better understand men and the emotions they feel.

The first part is MY view and an account of my feelings, what I felt, how I was getting along and what it all meant to me.

The second part I'll give you a generalized view of ALL men and what I believe they too go through after a breakup.

Here we go...

But before we start, this experience is based on a breakup that happened a while ago. I am happily married now.

I feel like I'm still in relationship mode. Like it's hard to imagine what life will now be without a girlfriend.

It feels as if my "game" isn't what it was and I have lost the edge I had before we were together.

When I was out constantly flirting with women and doing my whole "attraction" thing which took me so long to learn I felt ready to take on any woman who wanted to "spar flirt" with me. In other words, I felt rusty.

On top of that I feel like going out to enjoy a few casual sexual affairs with no strings attached but that's a problem because I'm in relationship mode making it much more difficult to shut off the after feelings.

I start searching for women who are young apparently easy or who are looking for something casual like me but I'm finding myself trying too hard.

Perhaps I'm doing it on purpose as if my heart hasn't moved on yet and getting through the pain by sleeping with lots of women "probably" won't help erase the pain anyways.

My mind seems to know that all too well and could be sabotaging me.

It all kind of feels like I'm going through a mourning phase with the anger, regret, then acceptance thing. I'm sure that's playing its part but there's certainly more to it.


I'm screwing up or off my game because I know if I go out and sleep with lots of women right away, it will feel like I'm degrading the relationship I just went through - as if through casual sex it will feel like she didn't matter to me or wasn't an important part of my life. Which is far from the truth.

So - screwing it up is perhaps a fail safe to protect what was once there AND to make it fully real that is was worth trying - it DID matter - it WAS important to me... she WAS important to me.

If I hold off a little - give it time to all settle in - it can feel like it meant more.

It's another way of not admitting I was wrong AND how I DID try hard enough.

What I see, right now, as a guy...

I am destined and slightly determined to stay in relationship mode for a certain period after the separation.

On the side: I cover dating and relationship modes in my silent man membership book if you're interested in learning about them.

I'll contact a few past girlfriends for anything I can get from them like support or intimacy to get back the lost feelings I enjoyed in the relationship which just ended.

If that doesn't work I'll end up accepting rebound sex or even a rebound partner and it's usually not about sex - it's about getting those wonderful feelings of intimacy and closeness back that are no longer at arms length everyday.

So NOW what happens as I progress and look for someone else to fill the now void.

My identity feels like it's missing something - my other half.

Maybe I changed during the relationship a little. I'm certain we ALL do so it's safe to assume I did at least a little.

I didn't plan on losing a part of me - it kind of just happens - we give and take so much in a relationship that part of you has to go along with it AND when it's gone...

It's feels a little empty.

So the onward search for identity becomes part of the whole "getting over it and moving on process" AND depending how deep I went OR how much of me I let go OR who I believed I was before AND who I think I am now - has to come together.

The pieces must be put back together stronger and hopefully better than they were before so I can avoid making the "mistake?" again with another woman in the future.

Which bring out the pondering and overthinking about the MISTAKES:

  • Could I have done things differently?
  • With all the good and bad that happened... were the choices I made the right ones?
  • Did I screw it all up?
  • Did she screw up more or less?
  • Who is at fault here?
  • What really went wrong?
  • Could I have saved the relationship?
  • Should I have tried harder to save it?
  • Was it really worth saving anyways?

It's obvious some mistakes were made - most likely by both - by does thinking about it all make it better or worse?

Does it help me move on or does it make the process longer and more difficult AND add the awful possibility of becoming bitter and despondent and scared of getting into another relationship.

Yet the mistakes still rattle in my brain and sting my heart so they MUST be waded through sooner or later.

Perhaps I'll wait - perhaps I won't - I'm just not sure and not thinking too clearly anyways.

How long will these feelings last?

There's no appropriate time table that you're "supposed" to suffer through after a break up.

If it happens too quick - it feels wrong - since I'm still in relationship mode and meeting another woman right now would almost feel like I'm cheating on my ex.

It it takes to long - I'll suffer more needlessly - that I know for sure.

It wasn't a bad break up...

Things just didn't work out like we has planned and it's BETTER that we went out separate ways.

How long does relationship mode last?

Who knows - the strange part of it is I KNOW for a fact even after I make my way to feeling single again - I'll once again find myself searching to be back there - to once again switch over to being a partner - hopefully a loving one at that.

As they say - only TIME WILL TELL but for now it's keeping it a secret and with probably a good reason too.

That was my EXPERIENCE at this moment.

Although re-written years later I can tell you it wasn't very long and I did move on from the update, married for the first time with a wonderful family and a loving, caring, amazing, and beautiful wife.

So as I promised in the beginning, the first section was all about me, my first person perspective on the break up I went through.

The next part I'll give you a generalized view of all men so you can relate to it better and hopefully clear up any and all questions you have about what really goes on inside a man's mind when the relationship is over.

What Happens To a Guy When He Experiences A Breakup.

A man will remain in RELATIONSHIP MODE for quite some time after the breakup depending on the severity of it, who broke up with whom, how long the relationship lasted, and how much of his identity was lost during the relationship.

He will feel like he's off his "game" even if he didn't have any before.

He will screw up more after to protect and to give value to what it was and how much it meant to him.

He will search for the intimacy he lost that is no longer within arms reach at any given moment.

He might have lots of rebound sex in order to feel something, anything, and to be felt by someone else. His search for comfort and empathy will in all likelihood run his life for a while.

He will think about the mistakes and question what it all meant, if it was worth it, who screwed up more, and what all of it will mean to any future relationship AND it certainly will make some men much more hesitant or even scared to enter another relationship anytime in the future.

I'm POSITIVE he feels bad for the loss. Who wouldn't?

Which also means he MUST experience ALL the stages of grief BEFORE he'll move on and during that process he may do some stupid things, drink more, smoke more, sleep around more, AND is more likely to try and rekindle the relationship.

There's denial... thinking maybe he's made a mistake.

If you broke up with him, then he wants you back and will deny the breakup and do smart or stupid things to win you back.

Then anger comes along rearing its ugly head.

He'll either be angry with himself or angry at you. Either way it's going to happen and I'm sure you've gone through it too being on one side or the other.

Bargaining comes along...

He's thinking, "What can I do to make this better?" OR "How can I fix this problem?" OR "What do I have to do to...?"

Yes you guessed it... "WIN YOU BACK!"

In reality, he might not be trying to fix it at all, although sometimes I'm sure he does mean it.

What he's really bargaining or trying to fix is how BAD it feels losing someone close to him and trying to erase feeling BAD.

When those options are played out entirely, IF he finds a way to move on, then comes...


Some men turn to alcohol. Some men turn to sleeping longer, skipping work, binge-watching shows, ANYTHING which gives him time ALONE away from everything that reminds him of you.

Except most of the time he's sitting around looking at everything which DOES remind him of what once was... back when you were together.

Eventually - for some - ACCEPTANCE will finally come along..

The process (not being too predictable) makes it hard to determine a time or moment when it happens.

One consistent thing among ALL men is that even if he gets through the process in a reasonable amount of time, the FEELINGS will linger and outlast the grief because men don't process emotions as efficiently as women do. (VERY generally speaking of course.)

Here's a quote which explains why it takes so long for guys...

Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington says women can both enter and recover from extreme emotional states a LOT faster and easier than guys can.

If you think about it, it makes sense.

We’ve all seen a woman burst into tears one moment only to be totally fine 5 minutes later.

But when it comes to emotions, guys are a lot more “fragile.”

Gottman says it’s because of evolution. Guys were evolved to be single taskers. To push everything out of their mind except the one thing they’re hunting.

And because of that men are slower to GET INTO an emotional state and MUCH slower to get back out of it once they're there.

Imagine an emotional state is like swimming.

Getting “emotional” for women is a lot like jumping off a dock into a lake. You get wet, sure. But the dock is right there and just a few seconds later you’re safe and dry…

But for guys, “getting emotional” is like getting dropped in the middle of the ocean…

Bobbing in the water.

Surrounded by sharks.

With land nowhere in site."

Secrets About Me Revealed & How It Can Help You Understand All Men

This "holding on to their emotions has a good side and a bad side.

There's the good side ... getting him back.


The bad part or side (of men holding on to their feelings for so long) is, if you don't want him back, expect it may be some time before he gets over you and it also explains ONE reason why it takes so long for a guy to commit to you.

The conclusion...

Based on any experience you might have with break ups, I'm sure you have noticed they are very similar to what you go through.

Men are NOT exempt from the process.

They experience many of the same emotions you do and one of the few differences may only be how long it takes them to get over it and move on.

Plus one more VERY important difference...

Men are  extremely uncomfortable opening up to others about their breakup which leaves them very little or even no outlet to release their pain or to talk it out with another person.

I am the exception.

Just because I can write it all out doesn't mean another man has the opportunity or is secure enough in his masculinity to talk about his feelings - especially publicly.

This typically leads to bitterness, more anger, more frustration, going out and doing stupid things to distract themselves and YES - not giving themselves the opportunity to get over it and move on successfully.

You don't have to feel sorry for them - that's their choice to remain silent and to bottle it all up.

BUT you must understand that since many men have been through some form of breakup in their lives - it WILL have an impact in his future relationships and if that happens to be you, HOPEFULLY today's post has helped you see things from HIS perspective so you can understand him better and make the transition easier for both of you.

I'm NOT excusing men for their fears of commitment.

Simply helping you see where it all comes from in a limited way because I have barely touched the surface today of what goes on inside the mind of a man when the relationship ends.


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This article was posted in Breaking Up – What Your Ex Was Thinking – After The Relationship Ends, Read His Mind – What Men Are Really Thinking & How To See His Thoughts

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10 comments… add one
  • AnnaNoel Shepherd

    Hey, my boyfriend and I broke up just after almost a year of being together. The thing is, he didn’t want to break up and neither did I. We both were so compatible and happy with each other, but I was dealing with anxiety and depression from bad situations in my home life and also because of an abusive ex. I was diagnosed with PTSD and my boyfriend never made me feel ashamed for being so broken. The problem was, I was suicidal and my parents did nothing about it because they didn’t know what to do. My boyfriend cared for me so much he would drive 45 mins to my house, sometimes at night to comfort me and keep me safe. (He would always come without my asking). Another thing was, he’s 23 and never before had a girlfriend because he never found anyone he wanted to be with. I was his first kiss and first relationship. Other girls did like him, but he didn’t want a relationship with them because he was very picky and came from a solid home. Honestly, him and I were inseparable. I would have spells of panic attacks, impulsive behavior, (like driving off alone at night) and he couldn’t understand why my parents never tried to do a thing or show they cared. I have been going to therapy, reading, exercising and going to conferences that help you deal with what I suffered from. Well, I my boyfriend wanted to help SO much that he completely wore himself out and cried so hard when he told me he had to leave because he couldn’t be of any help to me since he didn’t have anything left. Since we’ve broke up, I have been doing better and gotten over my past abusive ex and learning to cope with my parents. At first I felt responsible that he was leaving me, because I was broken and hurting. I learned a lot about healing and getting on my own feet when he broke up with me. I wasn’t ready for a relationship until I could work through what happened to me. I feel a relief now that I’m not suicidal or having panic attacks, nightmares or impulsive behavior. Now, this is a new pain for me. You see, when we were together I was scared of men because of things that happened to me and I didn’t know what love was, now… since I have had time to work on me, I am healing, but he is in despair. He misses me and can’t even come to church because he has to leave when he sees me. He misses me a lot. His family is worried about him. He won’t talk to anyone about the breakup, not even his parents that he’s so close to. He wanted the relationship and even now he said he’s not even close to getting into another. He is emotionally exhausted from trying to help and “fix” me. He is in depression now and doesn’t hardly leave the house. When we were together he always told me I was healing, I was doing better even though I couldn’t see it, and I was gonna be ok again. He always hoped and helped me tremendously and just when I felt I was almost ready to have a serious relationship, he had to leave. He told me it wasn’t my fault because my parents had not cared for me and it wasn’t my fault what happened to me about my ex. He wanted to fix me but he realized he couldn’t. Now that I’m better and healing and wanting a relationship he is so drained. What I realized after we broke up was that I loved him. We didn’t say that we loved each other one time the year we were together but he showed me multiple times that he loved me. On my good days we were the happiest couple and he had so much hope for us. On the bad days were I was a wreck, he wanted me to get better so our relationship would be great. He tried everything he could… most men would’ve left sooner but I could tell he loved me. Now that the word love is in the picture he’s out of my life. We both want each other so much and it’s hard to talk because we both want to be together and it hurts too much. My questions are… is he done with me? Is he ok? What’s going on in his brain? I’m not being selfish and wanting him to come back when he is like this, but is there hope for us again? Do you think he is moving on from me? Do you think he’s fearful that I will become bad again? Do you think he’s hurting as much as I am about the breakup? Were his emotions involved to the point he wants me and maybe later it will work? When a guy has nothing left, what goes on in their brain? When a guy wants a girl and was emotionally attached, and there were no fights, how does he deal with a breakup? Has he given up on hope for us?

  • Nina

    My ex broke up with me 3 weeks ago. After being together for 3.5 years.
    We had the most amazing relationship We we’re inseparable and at the start had both felt like we’re meant to be and start a life together, till about a year and a half ago He had gotten into drugs and since then he started getting more distant. He started cheating on me when he took drugs and I tried to get him away from drugs but he seemed to not do too drastic changes to leave it. After he broke up with me he said his feelings started to change about 5months ago. He now says he doesn’t feel like he is ready for a relationship and wants to clean up his act and work on himself as he can’t be in a relationship and fix his issues it’s something he needs to do by himself in order to grow up. He still wants me in his life as he does care he says.
    He has recently asked his parents to help him get clean as he feels the drugs have made his life a mess. He’s been clean for the past 3weeks and I’m really proud of him. I want whats best for him as he is my best friend. He is still young and i feel like maybe he needs this time to figure out what he wants.

    How do i get him back? Do i leave him alone to clear his head? Would he start to miss me and come back? How does one change a persons mindset that they want you back?

  • Vuyo

    I’ve been dating this guys for over 8 months now and the last 2 months he started to change, and when I ask him all these queation’s about the changes, he usually say I’m starting a fight, and why I feel the need to hurt him.
    I haven’t seen him for quite a while now and just yesterday i sent him a text, telling him that the best way is to break up, and he kept to quiet. He does’nt show any feelings regarding this.

    What I would like to know is
    What this silent meant exactly because I don’t know how he feels?


  • Kgaugelo

    Iv been dating this guy for 2 years and about a week ago we had a very big fight because i found out he was cheating on me and he blow up on me and turned the situation on me and said he doesnt want to be with me anymorw i guess it was to make me feel guilty but anyway, 2 days later he sends me a text apologising for disrespecting me n tells me he can’t live without me and told him i couldnt either. We continued to communicate for a few days and now we haven’t spoken in 3 days. Im now confused as to does he want to work it thru or he still wants or if he just needs space. I dont understand whats going on. Please help

    • Peter White

      Wanting to work things out and actually doing it are two different things BUT neither one changes the facts behind his performance. 1. He blamed the cheating on you. 2. He says he can’t live without you but did everything to assure that would not happen by cheating on you.

      I’m going to say yes he “sort of” wants to work it out with you BUT most of that comes from the fact the he now understands he can get away with it. Might not be a good thing there.

      Guys cheat for lots of reasons. That I will not deny. I’m not privy to his reasons, only his actions.

      I would suggest HE needs to set a clear example here by getting the necessary REAL help to prove to you his effort is real. That means outside relationship help for him first and then for both of you. Doing this on your own probably won’t solve anything.

      Beyond that IF that’s not happening give him all the space YOU need, not him.

      All the best,

  • Anne

    I dated my boyfriend for about 2 months. He was sort of new too it because his previous relationships were short and lasted like a day or a week. He told me I was his most serious one and apparently had fallen in love with me also. He felt like himself with me. every couple has fights and i guess he was scared I would leave him. We both told eachother we would never leave eachother no unless cheating was involved. I knew for a fact i would never leave because im not that type (unless he were to cheat) And one day bam he pulls the trigger and says he cant anymore. I dont know why he just made such a haste decision. We broke up and my old ex came back into my life and then my recent ex had found out and said he wanted me back and drove my other ex away. When he drove him away he tells me I love you but I still cant do this. It was pretty messed up that he drove my oppurtunity for love again ,away.(even tho it was sort of a rebound) He said he was afraid of committment. I gave up on it i fought alot for our relationship. He never would post om social media before and now all of a sudden he is and he seems all happy and stuff. He saw me once at a cafe with another guy and it had pissed him off and he left so mad. He confuses me, if he loves me why is he so scared to commit? Hes been distracting himself with his friends so much. I dont even think he even loved me. But i could see it in his eyes when he would tell me. And when we would fight he was always afraid i would leave him. so instead he pulled the trigger and said it so he wouldnt get hurt in the future. We were very serious and we have ALOT of mutual friends! And hes a very sentimental sweet human as well. He hasnt moved on to another girl either. He always said if we were to break up for any reason then he would never be able to move on or forget me.. :/ im doing the no contact rule rn so hopefully something good comes out of that. We both live so close to eachother and go to the same college! Ive already started working on myself as well.

    • Peter White

      Hello Anne,

      The truth is love and commitment, to a guy, are two different things. We can love without committing to a woman AND we can commit to a woman we don’t even think we love.

      Falling in love (for some men) is easy, committing is tough.

  • Nivi

    It’s been 3 months since my ex broke up with me.
    He moved outisde the country for work and recently posted a cheek to cheek picture with a female colleague.

    It bothers me that even after we had such a cordial break up (no fights, yelling, name calling, stalking etc), he didn’t have the heart to understand that this action of his will hurt me even though we are not together anymore.

    Do guys ever think back? Do exes (like me) ever cross their minds?
    Do you think men every think of wanting to get back with someone they broke up with?
    Would like to know your thoughts, thanks 🙂

    • Peter White

      Hi Nivi,

      I would say, yes. Men think about getting back with their “ex” all too often. However I won’t say he’s thinking about getting back with you. That’s behind me and the information I have.

      Just like everyone else (including women) we’re all guilty of doing something which hurts someone. Sometimes we forget or don’t think things through.

      Yes, it sucks but it’s an unfortunate part of relationship break ups. You can’t assume he’s suffering less just because broke up with you either.

      I know it’s tough but you must realize he can not avoid living his new life because you might be watching or happen to see something which perhaps, you should avoid if the break up is still fresh in your mind.

      It seems to me that if something he does might hurt you, and you had a “casual” breakup, then I would definitely avoid putting yourself through it all by distancing yourself and allowing yourself to fully recover.

      I do hope you get over him soon because three months is a long to still be thinking he might change his mind.

      This may not be what you wanted to hear, but I do believe it’s what you needed to hear and I of course do wish you a speedy recovery,


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