Recovering From a Breakup
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 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 an often not clear and precise enough term. Benevolent sexism has more to do with treating women as though they are in their place rather than as a group of people who want to progress and see change. 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, 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? I dated a man who would get jealous at the thought of me even having friends of his gender. 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 I should have. I should have questioned him, but I, like most women, find questioning trust is 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 clearly 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.
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 our pasts 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 breakup, 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.
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 finding someone else with lightning speed. These are destructive methods to healing; 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 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, take your energy out on pottery making.
I’m not someone who says everything happens for a reason, because I believe you have more choice and possibility to you than that. 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 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 awhile, 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 for you, 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 gentleman. You deserve a gentleman, not a squash pretending to be a man.
One of the difficult parts in 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 qualities in your ex; you need to come to terms with his more selfish behavior. You need to call him out for benevolent machoism and how it mislead you.
Did he give you 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.
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 longterm. 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 end up finding an old friend suddenly becomes 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.
Signs of Benevolent Machoism
How to notice benevolent machoism:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- He feels entitled to do whatever he wants in the relationship. He can make a big fuss over something and direct 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.
- 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.
- He considers you more as a trophy than a person. He sees you as an object.
- 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.
- He panders your intelligence or ability.
- Instead of communicating what could hurt your feelings, he hides stuff because he thinks that would be better for the relationship.
- He avoids communicating difficult things with you because he doesn’t think you can handle it or he thinks he is sparing your feelings.
- He blames you or puts pressure on you for when things fall flat.
- Instead of making adjustments when you hit a normal rough patch, he just bails.
- 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.
- He doesn’t take ownership for his faults.
- His ego is unchecked.
- He pouts and gets all puffy when things are bad and sulks that you won’t comfort him.
- 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.
- He suggests doing sexual activities that make you uncomfortable because he says he deserves it, and doesn’t consider how he has destructive fantasies.
- He will talk forever about his goals, but he doesn’t listen to yours because he doesn’t think they are as important.
- 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 a dynamic person with a multitude of facets.