We all know that breaking up is hard to do, but, in my case, it wasn’t just difficult, it was downright devastating, deflating and, without question, the most difficult thing I ever had to experience in my life. Whether that sounds defeated or not, I don’t care, because it’s the truth. And, now that it’s been almost 1.5 years since the break-up from the girl I nearly married, I’ve found my true self again, realizing how to be masculine again. 

Yes, guys, 1.5 years later, I’m finally myself again, regaining the full confidence, swagger and I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that landed me someone as, seemingly, incredible as my ex was years prior. It took a lot of patience, some frustration and lots of confusion to get to this point, but I’m here, and I want to share how I was able to be masculine again and get myself back.

It’s no secret that many men struggle with mental health. It’s something that has been all over the news lately, with more and more guys openly talking about how they go to therapy, open up about their problems and, in some cases, even take medication to treat symptoms. While, even in my lowest point, I “only” spoke to a therapist — which was extremely helpful, by the way — opening up and talking to friends and family about the break-up way back when was soothing in its own right. That said, it takes confidence to even do that, breaking down the barrier of “being a tough guy” and just internalizing things. It’s 2018, gents, times are a changin’ for us.

Anyway, for any of those guys who might be going through a debilitating break-up, struggling with self-image, often compare themselves to others or are just bitter when seeing another person who’s happy, here are some ways I was able to become masculine again — and, hopefully, these tips can help you.

Treat yourself

One of the best things I did following my break-up was to travel and see friends and family. No joke, the very next day after my ex left my crying on our apartment doorstep as she moved out without any explanation to me, I left town. For the next two weeks, I worked from home, took some vacation days and was able to decompress from the weight of the relationship. Even if you can’t do something similar, don’t be afraid to take a few days off work and do a small weekend trip with buddies or do something you’ve always wanted to do.

Laugh at yourself

There were a lot of times in the healing process where I’d sit back and be mad at myself about how I changed my personality for my ex-girlfriend, as she seemed to take my masculinity from me and, if it ever did show, she disliked who I was. It took time, but, now when I look back, I laugh. It was her own insecurities that led to such reactions. You’re never going to do everything right, so, if/when you screw up or feel like you made an ass out of yourself, take a deep breath and just laugh, it’s good for the soul.

Surround yourself with positive people

There’s nothing worse than going from a dramatic relationship with an insecure, unhappy person to being single and still being around people who act and think the same. I get it, misery loves company, but, in getting my masculinity back, I had to make the tough decisions to cut some friends out of my life. You control your destiny, and you need to decide if your ultimate happiness is based off of how many friends you have around you, or how many friends who are exactly like you you have around you — even if it’s just one or two.

Spend time alone and take control of your time

Want to know how you’ll really get your masculinity back? Say no. That’s right, once you realize that you’re comfortable being alone and aren’t dependent on being around friends, family or strangers at a bar all the time, that’s when you know you’re regained your true self. Look, I’m about as social a person as you’ll ever meet, always thinking I need to be doing something. That said, people need time alone, and taking control of your time and whom you give it to is important in being confident and being masculine.

Don’t be afraid to cry

Not afraid to admit this at all. I cried, guys; a lot. And it was really helpful to do it, even when tears would pour out of my eyes out of nowhere. Keeping up all of that pent up anger, hate, sadness and heartache isn’t healthy, it’s demoralizing to both your body and mind. So, yes, in a strange way, how to be masculine is by crying. You know this feeling isn’t forever, so get it out, start the healing process and get yourself back, otherwise you’ll be bitter and guarded for a long, long time.