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Breaking Up: What It Feels Like For A Man

If ever there was a time when I so badly wanted the women of the world tapping my phone line, it’s when one of my boys is telling me about a woman he cares for but with whom he has to break up.

There are reasons we all do it, some good, some not good, some obvious, and some abstract. But lately I have been thinking about why men do it for what seems like no reason at all, and wondering whether or not women ever take our side of the story into consideration. In other words, sometimes it’s not him, sometimes it is her.

The thought occurred to me recently, after a friend of mine back home went through a break up. He called me after it happened, and while I could tell he wasn’t broken up or emotional about it, he wasn’t cold about it either. There was something else going on, something more real, more deep, and while he never could quite express in full the reasons he broke up with this woman, I thought what was most telling was in the reasons he wasn’t saying.

There wasn’t another woman waiting in the wings. He had no prospects and he was not cheating on her with someone else. He very much wanted to be in a relationship, specifically with this woman, but once things got underway, he saw different sides to her he hadn’t before. He communicated his issues with her once they got to be too much, held onto the idea she would work on fixing those issues. For her troubles, he took the time to fix whatever issues she had with him. I saw this with my own eyes and to be honest, it was one of the things I liked least about his woman. I had no problem with her personally, I had a problem with how my boy was when he was with her. For whatever reason, whenever we hung out as a group, I saw little semblance of the man I knew.

I never said this to him. I kept to my two cents in my pocket out of respect for his efforts to make it work.  When he would tell me what was going on, there were times I saw the strain in his eyes or heard it in his voice, and I wanted to tell him it doesn’t sound like the relationship was going to last, but I knew it was a matter of time before he would see it too. I would let him vent and then afterward simply ask him, “Well, how do you feel about her?” All the time, he would say the things he liked about her. He didn’t have to think about them, but then again, they weren’t substantial. I knew it and he would come to know it.

When he finally broke up with his woman, he didn’t bad mouth her, nor did he bad mouth the idea of relationships. He had a feeling about a girl, he acted on it, and it ended up not working out. The realization stung but I don’t think it scarred. If anything, in the days after the breakup, he was frustrated with her inability to understand the issues she had were too much for him to put up with. It wasn’t about another woman, or more women, or the feeling of wanting to be single. She kept on suggesting as much and I knew for a fact, he just grew tired of being with someone with whom he wasn’t compatible.

Pride fools men into doing foolish things, like staying with a woman simply because we want to will ourselves to work it out. What happens as a result is we get so caught up in keeping a relationship together, we lose sight of keeping ourselves together. We do things like cheat or spend longer hours at work just so we don’t have to be near the woman we chose to make our girlfriend. We confuse commitment to someone else with a commitment we made to ourselves. What I have realized is a real man is able to admit he made the wrong choice or he chose the wrong woman and does something to fix the problem.

Whenever a man talks about a woman not being right for him, we either think it is for a super dramatic reason (he’s cheating or something of the like) or super superficial (he wants to be single, she doesn’t go down on him). But there’s something in between these two reasons, something less dramatic than cheating and something deeper than how she performs in the bedroom, and that something, sometimes, is her. I get tired of men who break up with women being accused of not knowing what they want. There are times we know exactly what we want and it isn’t what we have so we have to let it go. If women knew how much easier it is to cheat than it is to break up with a woman, they might give more credit for the men who stand up and say they’re moving on. They might appreciate the man who says something to their face instead of a text or sending phone calls straight to voice mail. I’ve broken up with a woman I cared about, and the hurt on her face is embedded in my memory bank to this day.

Breaking up sucks. Realizing we made the wrong choice sucks. Knowing this perfect woman who stands before us is not perfect for us — you guessed it — sucks. And on top of it sucking, it’s hard, sometimes harder to do than just smile, grin, and bear it. I’m not saying all breakups are noble, I’m just saying, breaking up isn’t always heartless, at times, it’s all heart. Just like it takes a real man to say “I want to be with you and only you” it takes a real man to say “I don’t want to be with you anymore.”

Sometimes, breaking up sounds like this.


The Process: Stepped up the run to 6.5 miles. Have no idea what my goal is with this distance thing, but I like going far so long as the route is scenic

Poppin’ Questions Podcast: I’m preparing Episode 31 for tomorrow. Hit me on my Formspring or email me at for a question to be considered on a future episode of the Poppin’ Questions Podcast. In the meantime, for those who haven’t, check out Episode 30. Click here to listen!

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  • DoctorKimana

    The truth is, sometimes the wrong guy will drive a girl to do things she has never done and would never do in other relationships. My previous relationship took me to the most miserable years of my life and I “hid” my misery by acting out in some very unattractive ways. I wanted to love him since he seemed like a “Good Guy” (which was an act as well) but I knew from the beginning he wasn’t the right one and at the time I was too young to just end it there. I’ve come to realize that you can’t make yourself fall in love with someone and as much as you love and care for them, true love isn’t forced. Your friend did the right thing, if she wasn’t trying to fix her bad habits for him, she wasn’t the right one and was never going to be.

  • Guest

    As the days go on in our lives with or without an attachment, we get to know more about ourselves. What we go through in our lives and who the person/people are that allow us to get to know ourselves better, it’s all part of our experiences, for better or worse. It is to an individual’s benefit to figure out who is right for us because all it matters in the end is that he/she will be compatible and also for the sake of a healthy long term relationship.

  • SW

    FYI your fanpage doesn’t exist :((

  • EvolvingElle

    Great post! I’ve had many relationship talks with my guy BFF, and he has stated that men stay in relationships with women who are not right for them for the simple fact they don’t want to start over, which in my mind is crazy. Kudos to your friend for realizing this relationship was not healthy and ending it. More men should adopt this behavior.

  • Zia Zitella

    Seeing the crushed look on someone’s face when you tell them you’re not into them anymore does indeed suck. But it is always the better road to take than cheating to get out. And if someone is willing to work on their bad habits but you’re not willing to work on yours then you don’t deserve them. And yeah, sometimes it is “her.” I’ve had friends in the past that were single, both guys & girls, and I would never set them up. Truth be told, some of those female friends I wouldn’t wish (or curse) on any man. Needless to say, I’ve lost touch with them myself. Any relationship that proves to be emotional high maintenance, eventually leads you to ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” Many times it’s not. Kudos to your friend for taking the high road and evaluating what he wants for himself and feeling he’s worthy of getting it.

  • kitty87

    Very honest and understandable. As a woman, I can kind of understand the reasoning for cheating now. If only all men behaved this way, there’d be less craziness in the world for “revenge.”

  • Allykat

    This was real talk straight up no chaser. If only it was this easy. I am a new follower/reader and this is probably one of the best posts I’ve read, besides the one where you ran into the pregnant ex. Good read!

  • Sir Fariku

    Sometimes you know it isnt working but try hard to make it work. After a while, you give up. Well written

  • rw

    this one made me sad cause i want to know what he’s thinking

  • lalanii

    Take this, flip it to coming from a woman’s perspective… and you have summed up my last relationship. Great post Jozen.

  • Half a HErO


  • Guest

    Read about you on Washington Post, which led me to your blog. Your writing is mediocre, at best.

    Reading that article, I HAD to find out the reason for your arrogance. I futile attempt, as I am still perplexed. So many light-skinned men think that being light-skinned equates to being handsome and, sadly, that’s not true. You look nothing like Drake, but I digress….

    Is Howard still accredited? Lastly, you do realize your gay, right?

  • MercyKilling

    It’s *YOU’RE”….YOU’RE GAY! Geeeze! [While you’re trying to talk about someone’s writing.]

  • DavisRocky

    It wasn’t her fault the relationship went wrong. She may have been the reason why he broke up with her, but she isn’t the reason why the relationship didn’t work. It’s really a a problem on both parties. But the real reason why a relationship doesn’t work in general is because the one breaking up with the person can’t deal. It’s more noble to break up with the person than to go out and cheat, but that person is still the one with the issue.

  • Guest

    ..? you’re weird “Guest.”

  • Marell Ellis

     I dont think that Jozen, or his friend, is pointing the finger directly at her but rather  at their lack of compatibility and what he originally thought would come of the relationship. No one should have to deal with someone that they sincerely have issues with for the sake of the relationship. Im a female and my last relationship ended in a very similar way. The questions I had to ask myself was 1) I like the things he does as a bf but do i like the way he handles things as a person? and 2) compromise is good, but how long before Im compromising myself in order to be in this relationship? When these are the questions that you start asking then its time to stop “dealing” and get out of the relationship, regardless of how hard letting that person go may be.

  • Fernando

    I really enjoyed this article and the way you write. kudos

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