Is it impossible for men to move past heartbreaks?

senny asks:

I need relationship guidance.  Is it so hard for men to forget someone they loved in the past who broke their heart?

Hi senny –

My quick answer is Yes.  Just as it’s hard for anyone to ever forget any other horrible thing that happened to them.

Our brains (and I’m talking humans, dogs, even mice) are trained to learn most strongly from bad things.  That’s why governments have punishments for breaking laws – you might like the fact that your insurance company rewards you for being a good driver, but you’re going to remember that awful speeding ticket more!  

Maybe when you were very little, you put your hand on a hot stove.  Maybe your mother or father had told you many times, “Don’t put your hand there, it’ll hurt!” but you didn’t remember, or chose not to obey them.  But once you put your hand there and felt just how hot that burner was, you learned, and never did it again.

This just makes sense.  Our brains learn from bad things faster and more permanently than anything else, because otherwise none of us would survive.  We’d eat poison fruit again, after it had made us sick.  We’d pick fights with bigger dogs again.  We’d jump off high places, forgetting how painful it was when we landed.

So yes, heartbreak fits right in.  And humiliation, confusion, resentment – all the negative feelings that relationships can create.  (And of course, this is true for women as well as men).

And if I’m picking up on what you’re asking correctly, what you really want to know is how to move past this hurt, or help someone else move past it?  The best way – and really the only way as far as I can see – is to get more specific.  Let’s say Susan broke Ramin’s heart.  Now Ramin might go to a place of saying “I’ll never trust women again,” or “I’ll never trust anyone enough to love again.”  Well that’s a recipe for a miserable life.  But what if Ramin looks at this closer, and says “Susan was always flirting with other men.  So I’ll never fall in love with a woman who flirts with other men again.”  Well that’s a little better.  But what if he looks even closer and realizes, “Susan lied to me when we first met.  So I’m going to insist that anyone I let myself love has to be honest first.”  I like that better.  

So you see, we’ve moved from never trusting anyone again, to never trusting flirts, to never trusting liars.  Suddenly Ramin’s future looks a lot better!

If that makes sense, and if you can apply that to your situation, that’s great.  If not, please write me back and let me know more about your situation, and I’ll be thrilled to help you out!



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