Think back on the breakups in your life. Pretty intense, right? Whichever side you were on, dumper or dumpee, it was probably grim and emotional.
Everybody reacts differently to a breakup. Moreover, experts say men and women tend to handle splits in distinctly different ways.
We enlisted psychologists and breakup experts to explain the compulsions men and women experience after such a split. The list on the left explains how men and women take different paths following a breakup.
Read them to ensure smooth sailing after the relationship reaches its end.
1 Day After Dump-Day
Protest Stage: "At this point, emotions range from despair to rage to intense love and hatred," says Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University.
He: Picks a Fight
A University of Illinois study found that men are more likely to funnel negative emotions into physical aggression. So you're more likely to punch a wall or a jerk at the bar. Hit the gym instead; cardio and resistance training reduce anger, fatigue, and tension.
She: Cries Her Eyes Out
Women cry five times as often as men do, and 85 percent of women say they feel better after weeping. If you swung the ax, don't let her tears melt your resolve. If she ended it, her crying doesn't mean she's having second thoughts.
1 Week After D-Day
Obsession Stage: An MRI study conducted by Fisher and her colleagues found that the recently dumped show elevated activity in several brain regions, including those that control obsessive thinking, anger suppression, and output of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with risk taking.
Men exhibit "verbal nonfluencies" ("uh...um...") if they talk about the break, according to research by David Sbarra, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Arizona. Don't dwell. Join a hoops league, or hit the road with a pal. "Men recover by doing things with peers, not by talking it out," says Fisher.
Women settle in with friends. "They rely on close social networks to talk about their breakups," says Fisher. All your secrets are punchlines, your flaws fatal, and your sexual prowess panned. This is how her friends see you now. Brace yourself for their slicing glares and icy shoulders.
1 Month After D-Day
"Worst-is-Over" Stage: Researchers at the University of Virginia studied people 1 month after a split, and found that the recently dumped were as happy as those still in relationships.
He: Drunk-Dials His Ex
Most breakup sufferers pursue their exes at least once, says a University of Nebraska study. Instead, vent in a journal—but keep it to yourself. "Our studies show you'll always feel worse after making contact with your ex," says Sbarra.
She: Blames Herself
Even if she called it off, she's likely to blame herself for a breakup, says Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., a psychologist at Alliant International University. This, coupled with loneliness, makes her miss you. Keep your distance. Play "friend" too soon, and you risk prolonging her pain and yours.
6 Months After D-Day
Acceptance Stage: "You'll know you've reached acceptance when you wake up one morning and realize that you've gone a whole week—or longer—without thinking of your ex," says Fisher.
He: Asks Out a Coworker
Men achieve emotional calm a year before women. "After 6 months, you'll start returning to a state of equilibrium," says David Wexler, Ph.D., a psychologist and founder of the Relationship Training Institute. You're ready to swan dive back into the dating pool.
She: Seeks Closure
"Women stress this fuzzy concept of closure," says Caroline Tiger, author of How to Behave: Dating and Sex. "It may mean telling you 'I never loved you,' or showing you she's better off without you." Either way, kill her ploy with kindness. Wish her well.