"Bartender! Double gin and tonic," is screamed across the dimly lit bar. Yes, there's me again, drowning the sorrows from yet another failed relationship. I seem to find myself here a lot. Maybe I'm here too much, to be honest.
It's a night after another failed date. I tried my hardest; I talked about life, love and everything in between. But, I suppose she started to see through the cracks. She saw past the "Mr. Normal" disguise I put on before I leave the house.
I do this because I want to seem less out of control than usual. According to many Internet blogs and presumably the women with whom I've had relations, I am a "broken man."
When women refer to a man as broken, however, he's automatically thrown into a dumpster of failed boyfriends who are labeled as forgetful, cautious and emotionless. But, we're more than our "broken" exterior.
Here are a few things people get wrong about the broken man:
1. Hook-up culture has damaged us, too.
Just because a man might seem broken doesn't mean he's oblivious to why his past relationships have failed. In today's hook-up culture, relationships start out innocent enough. We want to see each other 24/7, and we just can't get enough.
But when the sex-capades end, we essentially end up with a total mind f*ck. We wonder if the other person is actually interested in us, and whether or not the person is seeing other people.
At this point, you have to come to terms with reality. After a few unanswered texts, ignored calls and that sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach, your phone finally buzzes with that relationship-ending text.
"Hey, can we talk?"
I don't need to explain what happens now because we're all aware of how this story ends. These seven-month relationships end with no real explanation, other than, "I ... I ... just can't."
After sharing all the hopes, dreams and fears with the person you've held the closest, you're left without so much as goodbye. Eventually, you begin to think you're somehow emotionally poisonous to others.
When this happens so often, it's hard to have the courage to tell the next possible girlfriend all about yourself. Ergo, witty Tinder profiles and sincere Bumble accounts are nothing but false bait for hopeless romantics.
But, it's hard for men to express how they feel without being deemed "broken." So, we pretend we're having the time of our lives and that we're content with shallow relationships.
2. We pretend everything is fine.
When women are heartbroken, they are able to cope in the stereotypical ways that are often depicted by society. They have an outlet for their grief that isn't uncommon to what we see in various rom-coms: lying bed, eating boxes of chocolate and watching re-runs of "The Bachelor."
I'm not saying all women deal with their heartbreak like this or that this isn't a contrived summary of how women get over their exes, but the narrative is extremely common and widely accepted.
Of course, as a man, if I did that (or anything more than having a slightly disappointed face), I would be exiled from the land of eligible bachelors running amok in the streets of college towns. I'd be left with nothing more than a broken heart and a hangover. There is a long history of men being defined by what lies on the surface. For the most part, men have been raised to be stoics in a society that promotes strong, but horrifically reserved men.
A cold, battle-hardened appearance is more welcomed by society than an deep river of unfiltered personal energy. Emotional guys have a stigma of being frightful, and even "lesser" men.
Men are forced to save their true feelings for the times in life that sync up to a scene in the latest rom-com, which features the overly open boyfriend wearing sweatpants and cooking something in the kitchen. Society tells us that women like men who have feelings. They shouldn't show them, but they should have them.
Though there are times when we feel comfortable (or drunk) enough to show you how we truly feel, these moments are brief and uncommon. We cannot be completely honest.
We take the loss of a relationship very hard because just like everyone else, we tried so hard to make it work. We just never feel like we can tell you that right off the bat.
3. But, this doesn't mean we need to be "fixed."
Pressuring guys into regurgitating their failures in love will only leave them begging for acceptance from anyone. That isn't a healthy option for either party.
You don't have to fix these men. Accept that there are certain things in our lives that have crumbled our spirits, and we most likely will talk about it in time. Just ask the right questions.
Nevertheless, before you assume a man is simply "broken," dig a little deeper. Instead of focusing on what is broken, turn your attention to why. He became broken due to many reasons you will never understand. You haven't been in his life long enough to know, so don't write him off as eternally heartbroken.
4. Look for our inner beauty.
Think of a broken man like a Jackson Pollock painting. From the outside, there is seemingly incoherent chaos. Though, once you sift through the confusion of relationships past, it begins to look like a well-scripted novel.
The meaning of art is not to glorify the appearance on the outside, but to show the significance of what lies beneath. Until that happens, Mr. Misunderstood will continue to dream of things that might have been, could have been and should have been, but never were.
Until then, I'll be here shouting, "Bartender! Another."