Chris Koney column: Men also get heartbroken, and sometimes worse


“Why you say I did nothing for you? When, I for do anything you want me to do, maybe another time, maybe another life, you would be my wife and we’d get it right. E don cast, last, last, na everybody go chop breakfast. Have to say bye-bye, oh, bye-bye, oh, to the love of my life, my eye, oh, don cry, oh, my eye, oh. I need igbo and shayo, shayo”.

That was the song on repeat as I enjoyed the cruise from Accra to Cape Coast over the weekend. In a pensive mood, I reflected on the lyrics of the song, Last Last, which is currently receiving global attention with heavy rotation and airplay on mainstream music platforms worldwide.

It was easy to relate as a human and a man in love. For this reason, I couldn’t hold myself and it turns out to be a moment of mixed feelings recollecting how our emotions extremely drive us, leading to sometimes an unknown land and a world of uncertainty with a shoe-string hope of things working.

This is a song by the African Giant, the Odogwu himself, a BET and Grammy award-winning musician, Burna Boy – arguably the biggest African musician on the surface of the earth currently. As suggested, the song chronicles his truth as he pours his heart after breaking up with British rapper, Stefflon Don, who he once described as his wife.

For a very long time, men have been stereotyped and regarded as resilient, emotionally tough and immune to heartbreak. However, the reality is that as men, we are hurt by grief, betrayal and loss as much as anyone living on planet earth. It is time to look again at what the world perceives of men.

Through the song, I noticed the theme of heartbreak in men, and its lasting legacy in how we handle these conversations as we seek healthy and wholehearted relationships using personal experiences. For once, I wondered why we, as men, feel heartbreak so differently.

I am tempted to believe that in real life, men feel as if they can’t share in the emotions of being heartbroken. To be a man is considered to be tough and to be seen as a ‘hard guy’. Practising love for ourselves is a challenge, and the song gave me a sense that this was a conversation we need to have as men.

The question on my mind as I listened to the song was whether the world understands what it means for a man to be heartbroken. As much as we are touted as the purveyors of resilience, emotional stoicism and are generally the ‘heartbreakers’, I would argue that the hearts we break are our own. Culturally, we have been taught that men do not get brokenhearted, this is a myth most men believe until they experience their own heartbreak.

In men, a painful symptom of heartbreak is disconnection. Contrary to what many think, heartbreak is not only experienced through romantic love. You have grief, betrayal, deep loss of a friendship, as well as the ending of a romantic relationship – these are all instrumental instigators of heartbreak.

Emotional vulnerability requires us to navigate parts of ourselves lost at boyhood, and heartbreak is the emotional rupture that requires us to do the necessary work of loving deeper.

I remember a conversation with my former boss a few months ago about a book I was writing in the aftermath of my first major heartbreak. He revealed that his biggest heartbreaks came in the form of the end of an important friendship, and the loss of people he loved sincerely through the coronavirus pandemic.

These events, according to him, caused him to feel extremely lonely, disconnected from the world, and struggling to find a way back from the depths of this emotional pain. He struggled to regulate his emotions and kept exploding in public with his moods swinging from deep contemplation to periodic anger and weeping.

This heartbreak was helped by therapy, which gave him the tools to articulate what he was feeling by solid male friendships that held him up and gave him a shoulder to cry on, and by him dedicating himself to the practice of self-compassion.

His personal healing through journaling created stronger and deeper bonds with his friends and family, and helped him to get back to feeling himself again. Self-compassion, though, is the biggest key to navigating our own heartbreak as men. We must allow ourselves to feel what is happening, and let the feelings flow freely. We have to acknowledge the pain, and slowly begin to nurture ourselves without scolding ourselves for feeling this way.

Men do go through heartbreaks no matter what they tell you. Through our emotional deepening, we will grieve fully as boys who were yearning for love, and had to mend the broken heart of self-betrayal and loneliness that come with a strong disconnection to the self. Men, like everyone else, are going through life’s ebbs and flows; we are just not well-versed in how to express it. However, I choose to speak openly about heartbreak as a way to explain one thing: you are not alone!

Leave a Reply