There were times, in my days of singledom, when I was positive that the hearts of all men (except my Dad and other cool male relatives…and Jon Bon Jovi) had been ripped out by crazy romance-hungry zombies. Zombies who opted out of the brain buffet in favor of a more delightful, caring, considerate, and toe-tingling treat. This, of course, left all the men wandering the world without hearts…wreaking emotional havoc across the globe and slashing any female hearts that had managed to survive previous attacks.

Basically, any sign of a man having feelings would have been spectacular.

So I’ve got a little sliver of hope for all of you out there who still feel like you’re watching a horror movie. I asked blogger Paul N. to tell me about heartbreak.

Let’s see what he’s got for us.

I haven’t done a ton of dating. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which being that I am a huge pansy when it comes to putting myself “out there” and asking someone out. Two other reasons are that I am extremely picky when it comes to women and that I don’t want to date for the sake of dating. I tend to dismiss “crushes” as soon as I notice elements of their personalities that I could not live with. All of these drastically reduce girlfriend opportunities, which can become a problem, because on the rare occasion that I meet a girl with whom I could see myself ending up, I tend to fall in love…hard…

This has only happened three times in the last sixish years. I fell head over heels for a succession of three women , and was only able to get over the first when I met the second a month later, and was only able to get over the second when I met the third a year later. I thought I had found something really special in that third gal, Cinderella (not her real name…). We dated for about a year before she agreed to marry me. She returned the ring about six months later, which sent me spinning into the depths of a depression that I had never previously imagined.

As I wrote in last month’s post for Lauren, I tend to keep my emotions closely guarded. In particular, I usually simply pretend my negative emotions don’t even exist. This has served me well for a long time and enabled me to deal with a lot of frustrations and disappointments fairly easily. This one, though…this hurt. I had never truly experienced “heartbreak” and it caught me completely off guard.

My emotions hadn’t been so out of whack since high school when I had a great deal of trouble controlling my temper in certain situations. Part of the problem is that I simply didn’t know how to deal with all the sadness and anger that was coursing through my body in wave after infuriating wave. Do I confront Cinderella and pour it out on her? Do I lean on my good friends and cry on their shoulders? Do I bottle it all up and hope it leaves my system like a horrible bout of the flu?

It should come as no surprise that I chose the latter, hoping to wait it out until the “illness” passed. I opened up occasionally, in very brief windows, sometimes to my close friends, sometimes even to Cinderella’s close friends. The one thing I never even considered trying was drinking my sorrows away. Simply put, it unfortunately doesn’t work, (I tried it once, while trying to get over girl #2…not productive at all, but that was a very convenient evening to be at a kegger!) and I’d rather not send myself down the spiraling path of alcoholic depression.

All the stereotypes about guys not sharing their feelings with each other are totally true, by the way. When I say I opened up to my friends in very brief windows, I mean BRIEF. As in, one sentence to my buddy Bryce at my “Still-A-Bachelor” party (“She dumped you? I’m sorry, man…we’re still going to the strip club, right?”) and one sentence to my buddy Eric after several beers a month later. For guys, “being there” for a friend doesn’t mean talking and crying for hours on end. It means going about business as usual and having as much fun as possible in an effort to forget the unpleasantness, at least for a while. Just as an example, here’s how a typical “therapy for Paul” night would go:

Two hours of drinking, hanging out, and looking at beautiful, unattainable women at the bar

Friend: “So, Paul, how’re you doing?”

Paul: “You know, I really miss Cinderella a lot. This sucks.”

Friend: “I know, man. I know.”

Brief awkward moment

Paul: “…so…how about another game of Buckhunter?”

Two more hours of drinking, hanging out, and looking at beautiful, unattainable women

Maybe talking more would help, but honestly, we wouldn’t even know where to start, or how to have that conversation. Even if I tried talking about it with a friend, it would quickly devolve from an honest discussion about feelings and anxieties into a joke-filled recollection of a favorite movie or old story. It’s not that my friends don’t care about me, or that I wouldn’t care about them if our positions were reversed. That’s just not the way guys’ friendships work. We are unequivocally there for each other, but in a much more literal and much less conversational way.

Over the last six months, the pain of being dumped has certainly faded. I still get a pang of sadness every once in a while when I am reminded of our relationship in some way. I still have to tamp down the occasional urge to call Cinderella and list off all the reasons I feel angry and betrayed. I still feel a surge of bitter jealousy when I read about an engagement or wedding on Facebook. Ultimately, I know I won’t be completely over it until I find the next best thing, the woman who is so amazing that she will surpass and replace any of my previous flames.

…so if any of you gals have a cute, single early-to-mid-20s sister, or ARE the cute sister, feel free to invite me out for a drink…I’ll buy!