Male Breakup Trauma

Tova Hartman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article is based on interviews with 56 heterosexual men who were left by the women they loved. The interviews were analyzed using the Listening Guide, a method that Carol Gilligan developed over years of listening to the multiple voices of women and adolescent girls, and then to young boys, adolescent boys, and men, as they internalize and resist cultural scripts of manhood and womanhood. The method is an outgrowth of Gilligan’s theory of human development that pays special attention to times of initiation into gender codes. Gilligan’s theory and methodology, which were vital in opening up the narratives of children, were vital in disclosing the “oughts” and “shoulds” of masculinity in the men’s narratives. For the men, their breakup threw them into a kind of liminal situation where their masculinity is questioned; if they did not soon “move on” to another romantic relationship (effectively constituting their re-initiation into manhood), they sensed a threat to their identities as men. The men’s assumptive world had shifted, resulting in a condition that I call “male breakup trauma.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalQualitative Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • Breakups
  • Carol gilligan
  • Masculinity
  • The listening guide
  • Trauma


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