A new study challenges the popular stereotype that men don’t want support during a breakup


The popular stereotype that men don’t want support during a breakup, separation or divorce is simply not true, according to a new paper from researchers at the UBC School of Nursing.

In fact, many men seek help by accessing online resources, coaches and self-help books, or they contact friends, family and community groups, and some hire professional counselors. .

Lead Author Dr. John Oliffe (he she)nursing professor who directs the men’s health research program at UBC, and research co-author Mary T. Kelly (she she) say men can be resourceful and resilient as they navigate their way through painful relationship change.

A failed relationship can lead to significant mental stress-; men already have higher risks of suicide than women, and marital separation multiplies this risk by four. By exploring the ways men seek help after a breakup, we can potentially design better supports for their mental health.”

Mary T. Kelly, research co-author

“It’s also important to change the discourse,” adds Oliffe, Canada Research Chair in Men’s Health Promotion. “The story What is most often said is that when a relationship breaks down, the man goes into crisis and/or commits violence on his partner, but this is not the trajectory of most men. It’s helpful for guys to see that most breakups end with men overcoming their challenges by leaning in for help.”

Finding creative help

We know men ask for help when an intimate relationship breaks down, but we’ve always thought it was professional help they were looking for. Our research shows that they used a variety of strategies creatively,” says Oliffe.

One of them does lonely work and reaches out to established relationships. About a quarter of men said they searched the internet extensively for blogs, coaches and other resources. These guys were usually younger or their relationships had shorter durations. They contacted friends or family members, not necessarily to find a solution, but to discuss, or they read self-help books.

Men who had been in longer-term relationships, where children are involved, or who may face litigation, division of assets, etc., were more likely to make new connections and seek help community like local dad groups or groups. of men who have been through a separation or divorce.

About half of the men sought professional mental health care services such as counselling. These were usually men who had a pre-existing mental illness or those who needed formal help to overcome the enormity of what they were feeling.

Breaking stereotypes

This article breaks the stereotype that men don’t go to the doctor and don’t want help, notes Mary Kelly.

“It breaks the trope that men aren’t emotional and aren’t affected as much as the rest of us by a breakup. We also tend to think that men aren’t introspective or vulnerable, but a lot of men were really engaging in this kind of deep work.

Resources – and some tips

Kelly adds that there aren’t many resources to help men build better relationships. “However, our group at UBC is working on a few projects. With support from Movember, we are creating an online resource for men who want to learn more about managing relationship conflict and building relationship skills. We are looking for also currently participants for a new project that will invite men to share their ideas on what contributes to a healthy relationship.”

For men currently dealing with a breakup, Oliffe recommends taking time to “sit with the emotions that come with the breakup. You can be sad and happy, angry and sad at the same time. Seek to reconnect or stay in contact with friends and family Be careful about substance use Maintain a routine, exercise and be open to seeking professional help.


Journal reference:

Oliffe, J.L. et al. (2022) Mapping help-seeking for men’s mental health after relationship breakdown with an intimate partner. Qualitative health research. doi.org/10.1177/10497323221110974.


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