Author: Paul R. Brian
Relationships are hard, and all too often they end in heartbreak.
After a breakup, we often think a lot about why the relationship went off track. It’s also common to wonder whether your ex-boyfriend regrets hurting you or if he's already moved on.
The truth is every man is different. At the same time, there are shared psychological traits that all men have, especially after dumping someone.
Here are the five stages of a male dumper’s regret timeline.
Every man is a little different in his values and thoughts, but the male dumper’s regret timeline follows a similar pattern.
When he wishes he hadn’t dumped you, he generally shuts down.
You'll notice he's quieter than usual and doesn’t message or call even to discuss practical matters like canceling subscriptions you share or giving you his copy of the key.
It is understandable that after a breakup you’re going to talk a lot less. But you’ll notice that it’s not just you he’s shutting off to.
You may notice that:
If you do see your ex out in public, keep your eyes open:
Guys are usually good at repressing their feelings and putting on a show of being normal in public. But when you look closely, you'll be able to identify that your ex's smiles are no longer as genuine and his laughs are no longer real.
When you or a friend ask why he doesn't seem to be having fun, he’ll give excuses and blame sleeping problems or work. He’ll never admit it’s because he’s cut up over dumping you.
After all, he knows it was his choice! And it’s going to take a lot for him to walk that back and admit he screwed up.
Even after you’ve broken up, a man who still has feelings for you will not just suddenly “move on.”
Whatever the reasons he gave for dumping you, those residual feelings are still going to be there.
That’s why the next stage in the male dumper’s regret timeline is that he begins to really worry if you’re OK and whether you still like him.
So he reaches out to contact you through messages, calls, social media posts and sometimes in person.
In the early stages of the breakup, he may not ask you directly, but he will ask mutual friends for news about your life and how you are.
You may be confused by his behavior. After all: if he really cares so much about you, why did he break things off with you in the first place?
If he’s asking about you a lot and reaching out to ask if you’re “ok”, then that may well be exactly what he’s asking himself as well.
Understand that he feels guilty and full of regret, and his male psychology is starting to sound the alarm.
His conscience is telling him: you made a mistake and hurt this woman who’s much higher quality than you realized. Get her back, idiot!
He wants to talk to you to see how you're handling the situation, sure. But he also really regrets breaking up with you.
At this stage of the male dumper’s regret timeline, a lot depends on how you are reacting.
If his silence and then attempts to contact you are met with a positive response, he may start pursuing you more earnestly and straightforwardly apologizing.
He may even ask for a second chance and tell you that dumping you was a mistake.
But if you’re still very hurt and not ready to respond to his outreach, he will often move on to stage three which is where he suddenly seems to be having a glamorous and perfect life.
He’s putting on an epic show about how much he loves being single.
He’s showing up at pool parties with girls on his arms and fist pumping until late at night surrounded by the trendiest DJs. This guy must be over you!
He's going to behave like he's the most optimistic person in the world. No one's ever seen him like that, and even some of his close friends are convinced.
His social media posts are pure euphoria and optimism. He’s all about “moving on” and “embracing life.” Maybe there’s even some spiritual stuff about vibrations and “cleansing the past.”
This happiness will be so extreme that it will be easy for you to see through it and realize how false it is.
He’s putting on a show, that’s for sure. And 99 times out of 100 it has a target audience of one: you.
The next stage of the male dumper’s regret timeline is that his amazing new life suddenly starts intersecting with yours.
He was just on his way to the gym and he just so happened to bump into you at the new fitness studio you’re attending.
“What, you go to this gym now too? No way!” he says.
Whether it's a mutual friend's party or a Saturday farmer’s fair he knows you love, he'll find a way to be there.
Suddenly, he also becomes actively interested in spending more time with your friends and will want to infiltrate any plans involving you.
After a relationship, it's obvious that you'll have a lot of friends in common, but if you find him showing up at events he wouldn't normally be at, then it often means he regrets losing you.
He wants to take that dump back.
Sometimes you can even find him in your favorite everyday places, such as in a restaurant or supermarket.
If this reaches the level of stalking, it’s seriously uncool and in dramatic cases law enforcement may even need to be contacted.
But in most cases it’s harmless if not a little sad that he misses you so much he’s become your personal shadow.
Is it cute or scary?
That's ultimately for you to decide.
Last and most of all, the male dumper’s regret timeline reaches the stage of actively trying to get you back.
He knows you from the inside out and as a result he also knows ways to win you back.
He won't usually be direct with big romantic gestures, but he’ll make it clear that he wants to change for you.
When you two were in a relationship, you might have told him to quit smoking or maybe you told him to stop wearing his favorite shoes that you thought were comical and ridiculous.
You two probably fought over it, but there was no change in his behavior.
Suddenly, you will notice that he is taking into account all your criticisms and is a completely different person.
He’s started dressing like an adult and apart from a stick of nicotine gum he’s fully done with smoking.
Are these gestures enough to solve what was wrong with the relationship? Likely not. But they certainly show how much he misses you.
It's only natural that you miss your ex-boyfriend and spend a lot of time crying.
This is especially true when he was the one who dumped you and you still wanted to stay together.
Sometimes men hurt you and break up with you for the most ridiculous reasons, but they end up regretting it badly.
The truth is that a male dumper usually has issues around control, or suffers from an avoidant attachment style. When the relationship starts getting serious and you demonstrate clear interest, he suddenly pulls back sharply.
But when he realizes this was a mistake, his guilt and regret kicks in. This is where he generally goes through the five stages above.
It starts with: him shutting down, contacting you, trying to prove he’s over you, making efforts to be part of your daily life and then actively trying to win you back.
Whether his efforts work or not really depends on how you respond and whether you want him back not.
After the breakup, most male dumpers do their best to show that the breakup hasn't affected them and they're enjoying their new single life.
Your ex-boyfriend will probably show up with a new woman on social media and you'll see more pictures of him partying it up with his great new life.
(Just between you and I, if that’s the case, then it’s like that he’s in stage 2 of a rebound relationship.)
The regret hits him when he realizes that this new hedonism won’t actually satisfy him. That generally happens after a few weeks up to a month or two.
If it hasn’t hit him by then, then he’s not regretting letting you go.
We all get nostalgic once in a while. Maybe he saw something that reminded him of you, or he's just reflecting on things recently.
Anyway, he really misses you and what you guys had together. And he’s regretting dumping you.
He may miss being in a relationship, or he may miss who he was when he was with you.
He wants you back because he misses the way things were before.
First of all, there’s no way to make a man feel or not feel anything. He may have dumped you for a legitimate or important reason, and he might not regret it.
Or he may have dumped you because of his own issues and might be blameworthy for the majority of what happened.
If you’re trying to help influence him to regret it, the best way is to demonstrate that you have moved on with your life and respect yourself.
You are fond of him as well, but you’re not dependent on his approval or him coming back to you in any way.
When he sees this he will realize that whatever mistakes he made are something he should own up to, whether or not he wants a second chance.
If he regrets breaking up with you, eventually he’s going to let you know. He will also apologize for hurting you and breaking your heart.
The question of whether he ever truly will regret it depends on the man and the situation.
Why did you break up and what led to it? And what has he done since the breakup?
Paul R. Brian
Paul Rowan Brian is a freelance journalist, author and writer from Canada. He's written for Ideapod, Hack Spirit and Love Connection and is focused on culture, relationships and self-development. You can follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian.
Editor & Author For National Council for Research on Women. Founder & Author of the Popular Women's Relationship & Dating Advice Website, The Feminine Woman.
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