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Recovering From a Breakup With a Nice Guy Who Wasn't Actually That Nice

Andrea writes on various topics from dating, couples, astrology, weddings, interior design, and gardens. She studied film and writing.

It is all too easy to fall for someone who seems nice. If it seems too good to be true then there is a chance he is putting on an act to capture you. Down the road, he might start making you feel bad in the most twisted ways.

It is all too easy to fall for someone who seems nice. If it seems too good to be true then there is a chance he is putting on an act to capture you. Down the road, he might start making you feel bad in the most twisted ways.

What Is Benevolent Machoism?

Breaking up brings with it a wide selection of emotions. Often times we reflect on the good times, feel confused, and go through a relapse of emotions for months. Breaking up with someone is like bouncing a ball from a tall building: the ball finally reaches the bottom, but it bounces back up with hope, but not to the height it once stood. It’s perfectly normal to go through cycles as you process the breakup.

You may realize in hindsight that the person you were getting close to was actually abusive. Sometimes we realize that they weren’t spending as much time with us as it seemed, but they had somebody else they were seeing. This article is more for women, but men might be able to learn some things from this as well.

What I want to focus on today is benevolent machoism. Some people would call it benevolent sexism, but I find this to be an oxymoron, and it’s often not a clear and precise enough term. Benevolent sexism is a chivalrous attitude toward women that feels favorable but is actually sexist because it casts women as weak creatures in need of men’s protection.

Benevolent machoism means: entitlement issues, control issues, and believing that men don’t have to play to the same rules as women because boys will be boys. Do you get the general idea? Years ago, I dated a man who would get jealous at the thought of me even having friends that were men. Meanwhile, behind my back, he was reconnecting with his ex and doing what he wanted with her. I never fully delved into his actions as much as I should have. I should have questioned him, but I, at that time, found questioning trust to be a grave move.

Benevolent machoism is meant to put “women in their place.” He may seem like sparkles, your comfort, your safety, and even your pride during the relationship — until you learn new information and have to go backward and process how his behind-the-scenes shenanigans were happening at the same time he was seeing you.

For those of you who are into film editing, this is kind of like rendering a new sequence or effects onto an already established sequence. This is why you may cycle through your thoughts for months (perhaps years) in order to find closure. You won’t find closure through your ex, and if you can without a doubt say he fits benevolent machoism, then you can rest assured they’re liars.

Benevolent machoism means he seems on the surface like a kind gentleman, but when you unpack the layers — you find he is entitled and full of control issues.

Some people are nice jerks. They're actually just jerks, but they still know how to charm people and waste their time.

Some people are nice jerks. They're actually just jerks, but they still know how to charm people and waste their time.

Dormant, Hidden Monsters

Benevolent machoism differs from regular machoism because it’s more dormant. It’s divisive rather than in your face. Your ex-boyfriend may have really honestly been lovable, affectionate, or even devoted, but it wasn’t the full picture, and that’s partly what makes it so difficult to process.

But rest assured, no matter how much this man betrayed your trust, stabbed you in the back, or traded you in for a woman you know isn’t near your value — you can recover your heart, your emotions, and find someone who is going to treat you right. This is far more important than trying to win back the same man, who could repeat all the same evils with you. Sometimes we crave the past because it’s familiar, it’s comforting, and we don’t have to step outside our hopes and dreams as much.

In order to have a complete recovery, you have to drop down into the depths and really face yourself, face your emotions, and do so without judgment. Nurture your emotions, really talk to yourself. You may find you weren’t listening to your gut and that’s why things went so long with a benevolent macho. When you first break up, spend about a week distancing yourself from others, don’t communicate with your ex, or even look at his social media. Go through your emotions: cry, stare at your feet, scream, call abuse hotlines or your mom if need be. In order to move forward, you need to look directly at yourself and come up with a plan to get yourself on a healthier track. You want to attract someone who is going to care about you in every possible way.

Signs of Benevolent Machoism

How to notice benevolent machoism:

  1. Refusing to discuss how to split the check, especially after several dates. He always feels the right to pay for your dinner. Even if you tell him you’d like to pay. It seems sweet, but he is actually trying to control finances.
  2. He often compliments you for being nice, sweet, and kind but never things like how you are independent, competitive, capable, daring, bold, or intelligent. His compliments are more about how you are compliant than how you are a person. Again, this is about control.
  3. He can be friends with women, but you can’t have friends who are men. No matter how plutonic. Why? Because he is allowed to do what he wants with women, but he wants to make sure you are compliant to him in regards to your friendships.
  4. He feels entitled to do whatever he wants in the relationship. He can make a big fuss over something and directs the relationship if it doesn’t fit his expectations — and he doesn’t make his expectations clear. He makes it unclear whether you guys are committed. He might seem like he is trying to be in a relationship with you, and then suddenly call it quits when you do commit.
  5. He doesn’t consider your feelings because he is more concerned with his own goals. He doesn’t see women as having goals, or that women having goals is laughable.
  6. He considers you more as a trophy than a person. He sees you as an object.
  7. If he were to describe why he likes you it will sound more like a laundry list of features for a car. He doesn’t have compliments for you that are more than at the surface.
  8. He mocks your intelligence or ability.
  9. Instead of communicating what could hurt your feelings, he hides stuff because he thinks that would be better for the relationship.
  10. He avoids communicating difficult things with you because he doesn’t think you can handle it or he thinks he is sparing your feelings.
  11. He blames you or puts pressure on you for when things fall flat.
  12. Instead of making adjustments when you hit a normal rough patch, he just bails.
  13. He feels entitled to your body and makes advances rather than take things at a mutual pace. He completely goes into despair mode if you suggest pulling back from sex even just a small amount.
  14. He doesn’t take ownership of his faults.
  15. His ego is unchecked.
  16. He pouts and gets all puffy when things are bad and sulks that you won’t comfort him.
  17. He neglects you, calls you needy, or pushes you away when he knows if you did the same dirty tactics, he would feel just as excluded.
  18. He suggests doing sexual activities that make you uncomfortable because he says he deserves it, and he doesn’t consider how he has destructive fantasies.
  19. He will talk forever about his goals, but he doesn’t listen to yours because he doesn’t think they are as important.
  20. He sees women as one-dimensional or only have one purpose in life. He may only expect you to have kids or fulfill his sexual needs rather than accepting that you are your own unique person.
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Women Recover After Breakups Better Than Men

And here’s the good news — women get over breakups better than men. Women naturally will go through breakups. You are programmed to face your emotions, take them on with fierceness, and come out just fine.

For men, they’ll cover up the breakup, maybe even move into a new relationship too fast. Since they do not actively process their emotions, it sticks in their unconscious mind, and it can stay there for the rest of their lives. Men don’t have built-in support to process these emotions, nor friends who really know how to handle emotions. We also falsely label emotions as feminine when emotions are non-gender specific. This makes it harder for men to step into these places and express themselves. Instead, their friends usually encourage them to go wreck themselves, spend a night out drinking, and find someone else immediately. These are destructive methods; we want to focus on constructive methods.

It’s perfectly normal to go into a hermit state after a breakup. You should hit the refresh button so you can collect yourself and come up with better strategies for yourself. Consider this a time to pamper yourself, get in touch with old friends, and go after your health. Start eating better, get better sleep, and don’t be a drama queen. You won’t attract your old flame or a new flame by being dramatic. Show yourself that you have the confidence to take on the world. Get out and do something, stretch your legs.

You may in the initial stages of the breakup find yourself romanticizing over the person. You may find you have a great deal of emotional and spiritual thoughts, even a telepathic connection you didn’t know you had. Explore these thoughts, but you don’t need to tell him you are having them.

Don’t stalk his new friends, lovers, etc. It’ll just fuel craziness and cycles of hope and doubt for you. With all the emotional energy you’ll be feeling, put it to good use. Maybe this is a time to switch careers or find a new hobby that could make you money. There is a reason so many albums and books are about breakups, so put that energy to good use. Write something, get into something musical, or take your energy out on pottery making.

I’m not someone who says everything happens for a reason. I don’t think there’s an angry god out there trying to give you negative outcomes to teach you lessons — that sounds kind of abusive to me. Accidents happen, and sometimes bad things happen because the foundation we build for ourselves isn’t strong enough. But ultimately, reasonability isn’t a part of everything around you, nor is it always the heart of god.

God, if he exists, would sacrifice himself if he is really an all-loving and all-knowing god, and sacrifice isn’t always reasonable. Reasonability also doesn’t always have to do with acceptance, and acceptance is what you need when a breakup gets to you. You have to accept it happened and learn coping strategies to move forward.

Time Is the Answer

You might not like the idea of letting go of him all at once. It will come with time. And time does heal all wounds. After a while, you won’t be focusing on your ex as someone you miss and love, but as someone who didn’t treat you right, who was a jerk, who was a number of ugly words. And this is great news when you are in this state! Why? Because it means hope is returning, you are getting more secure in who you are, and you are accepting that you can move on and find someone who is without a doubt a decent person. You deserve a gentleman, not a squash pretending to be a man.

One of the difficult parts of a breakup is feeling like you have two people in your head — the one you love, and the one who just backstabbed you. It may take time before you accept that these two people are the same person. Give yourself space and time to think about each one of these separate people until your mind is comfortable with accepting the truth. It’s not good for you to only romanticize the great qualities of your ex; you need to come to terms with his more selfish behavior. You need to call him out for his benevolent machoism and how it misled you.

Did he make promises that didn’t pan out? Did he say sweet things only to turn to someone else and say those things? Was he kissing you then turning to someone else for intimacy? These are not the qualities of a man who offers his loyalty, trust, and love. And you can’t change him to be that way either. As much as your instincts say to nurture him, it’s more important for you to nurture yourself. Making yourself more attractive and accepting of yourself, will help you to attract someone better for you on the whole.

Some people recover from a bad relationship in a couple of days, while others take a whole year to get over someone. Go at your own pace.

Some people recover from a bad relationship in a couple of days, while others take a whole year to get over someone. Go at your own pace.

Falling in Love Again

Don’t set a timeline for when you will be ready to date. You will naturally be ready to date someone in your own time. It usually happens when you are not thinking about it. You may want to spend three months or so avoiding all possible suitors. But really hone in on yourself before going out with someone new (or old). Getting a single date isn’t the key after a breakup. It’s finding someone who is really going to work for you in the long term. Everything else in between that time can really be a waste of your precious time.

Without processing and evaluating your emotions, it will make it harder to find someone who is a healthy match for you. You may run into an old friend who has suddenly become more attractive, or while out with friends you really click with someone at a bar. There’s no telling when it will happen, so it’s better to prepare and enjoy your single life while you have it. You need to first love yourself before you try to love someone else.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Andrea Lawrence

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