Ask a Guy:  He Lost His Job and Wants to Break Up post image

Ask a Guy: He Lost His Job and Wants to Break Up

I was dating my boyfriend for 7 months. We were happy and going along with the relationship at a normal speed.  We were exclusive, called each other girlfriend / boyfriend. Then he lost his job and pushed me away. He wanted a break, so we took 2 weeks alone.

He came back and decided he wants to start over and just “see each other”, but not use labels and big obligations for our relationships future. He missed me, but was confused where to start over. Where do I go from here?

What you’re describing is actually something I’ve seen happen a lot when it comes to men, relationships and job loss.

Never underestimate the power of a man’s job to affect the rest of his life.  There’s something deeply psychologically ingrained in men that causes us to feel terrible when our career, work or job is out of whack.

There was a post a little while ago called, “Ask a Guy: Why Isn’t My Boyfriend Interested in Sex Anymore?” where I talked about how a guy’s job has a deep impact on his self-image/self-esteem and sense of worth in the world.

Job loss is hard on men and women, but I don’t believe that it shakes a woman’s sense of overall worth and “potency” in the world the way that it shakes a man.

One of the major ways that men gauge their own attractiveness is on their ability to effect the world in the way that they intend.  Men live in the world of wins and losses, victories and defeats.

And it pervades through the culture.  When someone is being nasty and wants to shoot down a woman’s attractiveness to men, they’ll insult the woman’s appearance or weight.  But when someone wants to insult a man’s attractiveness to woman, they’ll insult his ability to “win” in the world — they’ll call him a loser.

A guy can’t help but feel like a loser when he’s lost his job.  Even if he didn’t like the job all that much, if he feels that he didn’t deserve to lose his job he will very likely start questioning his own sense of potency (ability to have an effect in the world) and his own sense of deserving-ness.

As a result, your guy probably feels like a worthless loser on the inside.  And as a worthless loser, he probably feels that he doesn’t deserve love, affection, a relationship or sex from a good woman like you.

In fact, he may have wanted to break it off with you because he feels that you don’t deserve to be “stuck with a loser like him”.  He might be trying to give you an out so that you don’t have to be stuck with him (and if you do stay with him, it would mean that you really do care for him and he’s not a total loser at least.)

Moreover, men don’t want to feel coddled or pity for our loss.  I can tell you personally that it’s a sickening feeling for a guy to think that his girl is loving him because she has to, but deep down is disappointed in him or thinks he’s a loser in the world — and guys will think that way even if that’s not what’s really going on.  So if you’ve been trying to comfort your guy, be careful… it could actually be driving him further away.

So what should you do?

Well, I’m going to go back to the advice I’ve given for many areas of man-woman psychology:  Leave it alone!  Give him space to figure it out… if he brings it up, let him just talk about it, ask questions, but don’t get involved in trying to help or solve it.  If you can avoid the subject completely, do that.

All the guy wants is to get back in the saddle and feel like he’s winning in the world again.  Once he’s solved the problem within himself and feels like he’s a “winner” where he wants to be, then things will be better and your relationship will most likely return to normal.

The problem is, there’s no telling how long this will take.  I can tell you that I went through this and it took me a year to really, truly get my act together again.  For other people, it might only take a couple of weeks or a month.  It really depends on the person’s personality, how the rest of their life is, their social support outside of your relationship, etc.

The question you want to ask yourself is: How long are you willing to wait?  If you really like the guy and are happy with the relationship, I would say definitely wait it out for a bit.  Give him space, don’t bring up the subject and don’t coddle him.  Just make sure the time you spend with him is positive and high quality and let him figure out his situation himself.

Hope it helps,

eric charles

Written by Eric Charles

I'm Eric Charles, the co-founder and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing articles to help people free themselves from suffering and have clarity in their love life. I have a degree in Psychology and I've dedicated the last 20 years of my life to learning everything I can about human psychology and sharing what gets people out of struggling with life and into having the life they really want. If you want to contact me, feel free to reach out on Facebook or Twitter.

34 comments… add one

Leave Your Comment Now...


Hey Eric, I was just wondering why the advice you gave here was different than the advice you gave the woman whose boyfriend broke up with her after his grandmother died. I believe you told that woman to start dating and if her ex wanted her back, he’d find her and make the commitment. But this woman you’ve suggested that waiting would be okay. Is it the difference in circumstances? Ex: man losing his job would probably affect him more deeply than losing his grandmother?

Thank you for all that you do!

Reply March 31, 2023, 2:46 pm

Eric Charles

Honestly, I don’t remember. This article was written about 13 years ago.
In the early years, I had to edit down the reader questions, which meant some of the details were lost. In later answers I was better about streamlining the questions and making sure my answers encapsulated all my reasoning.

Reply March 31, 2023, 4:25 pm


I like how when women tell a story, they are just innocent bystanders who never said or did anything the whole time. She is just usually knitting a sweater for the homeless shelter, and in walks this man who proceeds to do stuff. mmm

Reply November 4, 2020, 1:03 pm


I found this article and while it seems to be catered to a man losing his job and how the woman is affected, but I am battling this same situation with my (ex)girlfriend.

My ex, and I refer to her as my ex because she ended it after she found out she was losing her job. I’m 35 and she’s now 32 and she has a son from a previous marriage.

She is the sweetest woman I have ever met and I didn’t realize it until all of this went down, but I’m completely in love with her. We are so compatible and got along so well and never fought or argued. She would constantly tell me things like “You’re so good to me” & “thank you for making me feel so special” and was always so sweet and affectionate when we were together. I told both my family and friends that I felt like she was “the one”. I know losing a job as a single mother has got to be about the scariest thing to encounter, but I was trying to be the supportive boyfriend and let her know that I was here for her and was willing to do literally anything she needed to take some of the stress off of her. She has completely shut me out of her life and I haven’t heard from her in 2 months. I’ve never felt so lost and helpless before. The last time we spoke on the phone, she told me that she just didn’t have the capacity in her life for me anymore and that her life was broken and she had to fix it. I asked if we could resume things when everything normalizes and she couldn’t give me an answer. She just stated that she was in “fight or flight” mode and couldn’t even think about that right now. Just a week prior to this, she asked me if I wanted a key to her apartment…it was getting serious and I know I made her happy. I just backed off and haven’t tried to reach out in a month because the few sporatic times I did, it got me nowhere.

Could this response just be her being terrified of losing her son and maybe she’ll come back to me? (Her ex-husband would gladly take her to court to take her son away if he knew about the job loss). Not knowing this is really the most awful feeling ever. I miss her more than anything and I didn’t do anything.

Reply October 29, 2018, 7:52 pm


I am going through this now. He wants to get back in and claims he is in no position to be in a relationship. I told him that I am not expendable just because he’s going through a tough time. That’s just life.

Reply May 21, 2018, 3:43 pm


I’m going through this one now. Glad I found this article. My guy lost his job 4 months ago, and he’s become very edgy and withdrawn. I’m trying to give him his space to get his stuff together, but it’s now taking a toll on me and makes me feel like he’s losing interest. I’m willing to wait and hold out until I can’t anymore.

Reply April 9, 2018, 4:09 pm


I am going through same thing now with my boyfriend. he was laid off from work a little over 2 weeks ago. I asked him if he wanted to go 2 vintage antique show. He replied I need to have a job First.
I haven’t heard from him in days I know I should give him space. But do I still remain in contact like hi how you doing or just send a smile face text. He’s really down and out at this point his hit an all-time low in his life he feels like he doesn’t deserve me he’s not worthy of a relationship with me that I deserve better. Any advice ladies I know I should wait a certain amount of time but he truly is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my entire life since my divorce 4 years ago who treats me like a lady open honest but he’s just hit this huge bump in the road. I’m willing to wait because believe me there’s not much out there he’s 48 I’m 54. And we all know the dating world is a shallow puddle at our age

Help with positive advise, no negativity please.

Reply August 1, 2017, 10:13 am


I have a similar situation with everyone above. I’m dealing with a man for just over a year who lost his job and together we are fine but, not knowing if he will get a job soon is weighing on him. We were good for a time seeing each other while he waited to hear about the options he did have. He didn’t disappear on me and not call or text like he did when we first met. But now it’s down to the wire with him. He might lose his apartment and his light bill is over due. He doesn’t want any help and I respect him for that. He is trying to figure it out on his own. He says that we can’t be official and evidentially move in together with each other until he can carry his own weight. But now that his prospects are gone except for one which they aren’t calling him yet or anytime soon, he has developed sleeping habits that aren’t like everyone else’s so much so that we haven’t talked because when I’m sleep he is awake and vise versa . It’s only been a few days so far but, I know him. If he doesn’t hear from this job or any job soon I may not hear from him for a very long time if at all. My question is, is it ok to at least call or better yet text him at least once a week just to keep in touch if his “hibernation” goes longer than a week? I know I need to give him space and I am doing that but I don’t want him to think I gave up on him or anything or he give up on me because of his situation. Thanks.

Reply April 20, 2017, 8:32 pm


I met this guy on social media and we have been dating ever since. He planned coming to see me and all of a sudden he said he lost his job and wouldn’t come anymore. I felt bad but i told him it’s ok. For some time our relationship has lost a bit of the excitement we used to hv when we were making plans of his coming. And i told him i really dont know what we are doing anymore because i feel lonely having someone i call a boyfriend not know if i will ever get to meet. And he said he was testing to see if my feelings would be same if he lie about losing his job. Is that really right? Coz this is not the first time he is telling me lies.

Reply December 12, 2016, 2:27 am


This is the best advice for this situation I’ve read. My boyfriend of two years just ended things after losing his highly sought after coveted job with a prestigious university. At first he seemed to take the loss in strude but aftet a few weeks he has become angry,depressed and mean. I responded by gibing him love,distance and respecting his feelings.
I have been wrecked by this ending of the relationship and so sad I feel sick. My prayer is that he gets back on track and returns to me. However my hardeat thing is giving him space to miss me,think and heal. How do I show I still love him but give him space? Im in tears all day..I feel like ive lost my best friend and soul mate. Any advice is appreciated.

Reply July 10, 2016, 9:41 am


My partner left me after 5 years. He was made redundant after a long successful career and having never been out of work. Many people have told me to move on but I believe he is genuinely shaken by events which caused re-evaluation of his life.
Erics advice is spot on about not offering sympathy or even assistance. My partner became either very angry at my attempts to help or extremely upset.
Depending on your commitment to the relationship I’ve found the best approach is to step back and if you stay in contact then keep things positive such as going out or doing things you both enjoyed. Respecting the emotional impact that job loss has on a man is really important.

Reply November 13, 2015, 5:55 pm


The exact same thing happened to me. My boyfriend left me after almost 5 years together. He lost his job and his entire world changed and I could not understand why this was affecting him this way. We never had any problems until his lay off and then he pushed me away. Like your case, my friends also told me to move on but it is so difficult because deep in my heart, I want him back. This article is great. I have to give him space and time to go through what he is going through. If it is ment to be he will return. Right now, I’m just enjoying being with the girls. He was the love of my life and I feel like I am going through a divorce for no reason. I have no plans to date anyone any time soon…..just trying to heal from this. Wow……

Reply April 17, 2016, 1:23 pm


I was highly offended that it came across that women do not feel the loss of a job as strongly as men. That is simply not true for me and it rings as being shovenistic. The article was otherwise good and informative.

Reply November 10, 2015, 1:51 am

Eric Charles

OK… you care a lot about your job. Good for you.

I wrote this article this way because:
a) This site is a women’s site.
b) These articles are women asking questions about men and trying to figure out what’s going wrong in their relationship.

What I’ve found is that after receiving thousands of questions from women, the people sending questions often underestimate the impact that losing a job has on their guy.

So my simple message is that the impact may be beyond what you might expect in terms of how deeply it affects them.

Everyone knows that losing your job is an upsetting experience for men and women. And of course there are women who care very much about their careers.

I’m not making a socio-political statement about women in the work place.

Reply November 10, 2015, 11:19 am

Simone Price

So I’m a year late but thank you for writing this AND for your comment. I’m in a lesbian relationship and would def. be the “man” referred to in the article, and I didn’t take it personally one bit. The truth is, I am the more feminine partner in my relationship on the surface, but I am very career driven, intellectually curious and less focused on family, friends and relationships. As the tomboy my fiancee is actually ready to be a mother like, – yesterday. My job loss this year was career rattling, and left me nearly suicidal (extenuating circumstances, ugly situation) – and every part of my body and brain said “shut down” – meaning no love, no sex, no commitment, stop the program, HALT! This was heart-breaking to my partner who definitely wondered why “a job” meant more to me than her/us.

It’s a highly individual situation, but you really broke down the fundamentals – self esteem and self-worth can take a real hit with a job loss. Loved it!

Reply October 26, 2016, 5:41 pm


This exact thing just happened to me! He didn’t lose his job but did a while back and had to take a lower paying job and the result is he is now having serious financial difficulties. He stopped textin everyday or asking to hang out as much. So I stopped textin now for two days since the last time I saw him. Don’t know if I should never text again till I hear from him or shoot him a text at some point. He said he still wants me in his life but needs time to figure things out. And I really believe him and want to give him the space that he needs but at the same time I’m confused. I figure just to let him reach out when he’s ready ? Idk not sure about anything haha

Reply July 28, 2015, 3:26 pm


And how do I get my name off here ? I didn’t mean for that to show up. Haha

Reply July 28, 2015, 4:10 pm


I really appreciated this article because it shed some light on how men must truly feel when going through a transition of a career change, not having a job or losing a job (whereas I think women feel much differently). My boyfriend of 1 year recently broke up with me because he felt very ashamed and unhappy with himself and where he is in his life. He is in the middle of a big career change at 31 and having a very difficult time finding a job (coming from a lucrative career where he made a very good salary). He has told me that the break up has nothing to do with dating and sleeping around and not being ready for a commitment, but more feeling inadequate and not feeling like he can support a relationship emotionally or make one a priority the way he should. We had a soulmate-like connection and both talked about marriage. We were best friends. We have seen each other once and it was tearful and emotional from both sides, especially his. He seems to be having a difficult time, but still feels that he needs time to sort through his life and get to a “better place”.

My question is – if I found out that he is pursuing other girls to go on dates or hang out with (it seems casually), should I be upset, or re-consider ever getting back with him? Or, is this a fair part of his process of sorting things out, and should I understand that he is just trying to fill the void in his life temporarily with someone elses’ company. I imagine it’s not serious, and I am also dating and trying to move on, as I don’t know what will happen with us. It is a little disheartening to know that he is pursuing others in even a casual way.

I appreciate your advice. Is this harmless? Or, a red flag for a bigger issue that I should be more cautious of if he tries to come back to work things out? He keeps assuring me that this has nothing to do with wanting to see other women. I suspect he is just lonely and looking for temporary companionship?

Thank you!

Reply June 18, 2015, 2:45 am


Hi there, thank you everyone for the posts. I was dating someone special for two months when his employer company went into bankruptcy. He broke things off almost immediately. I tried being respectful of his space and keeping in touch with a light touch, saying positive things like you’ll figure it out, you are great, but then I sent him an inspirational book to cheer him up, and he shut down. Didn’t even say thank you. I was so hurt. Most of my friends said well if he really loved you and it was meant to be he wouldn’t be like this … and that made me feel like I made a mistake or like I can’t judge a man well. But your article made me realize that he does care – he does not want to be a wimp and mooch who takes a woman’s love and does not give back. He is a man who wants to provide. But how long that will take …

Reply August 15, 2016, 10:52 pm


My boyfriend broke me up for about 4 months ago with his lost feeling reason, before this happened he was really down because of his career situation that still cannot bring him up to feel like job problem is solved.we fight and he blamed me everytime with his madness. Finally he became silent one and I asked him why but he said did not feel like has a first chemistry with me. In a broke up period he still remember to wish me on last valentine and also my birthday. i feel confused with such awkward of him. Please advice

Reply May 18, 2014, 1:16 am


My ex and I were together for 10 months; he found out in June his work contract would be over in mid-September. He and I were govt contractors. Since June, he had been distancing himself from me, while I was trying to keep him thinking positive; I even went as far as helping him with his resume, cover letters, and job apps. Well at the end of August, he said he was not happy with the direction his life was going and that he felt he didn’t want to bring me down with him or snap on me if he became angry. He tried breaking up with me via e-mail. Then he asked to “clear his mind” for 6 days. I saw him after 6 days and thought we were fine. We discussed a few things; I kept telling him that I’d be there for him through the good and bad and I thought he understood. Well, sure enough he broke up with me 5 days before he lost his job. I feel that he didn’t want me to stick around because he had to deal with this on his own. As far as I know, he’s still unemployed but we haven’t contacted each other at all. I took it pretty hard as I genuinely loved him but if he’s obviously not happy with his life, then he wouldn’t feel happy with me and I’d feel miserable if I was lacking love and affection.

Reply October 18, 2012, 2:29 pm


My boyfriend and I have only been dating for about a month and the relationship so far has been the best. He treats me as if I am the only and most beautiful girl in the world. I do my part as well to make understand that he is the King in my world. Our chemistry is the best i have ever had in my life. I feel as if he was the one that was made for me.

Today he just lost his job and he was so upset he went home to another state with his family and left me high and dry. I understand completely about a man’s ability to not be able to provide can really mess him up. I offered for him to move with me while trying to figure the mess out but he said “that would be nice but I need to figure out my next move”.

I know he does not want to rely on me especially after his last relationship the girl had him pick up his whole life to be with her and she ended it when got there. So he is scared to take that step with me. I just feel like he had a bad batch of women in his life and I am not them. I texted him saying “If I can’t love you at your worst, then I don’t deserve you at your best” and he lightened up and stated he does not want to end our relationship.

I need to know what to do and how to talk to him so that I stay in his mind/heart without pressuring him and giving him his space to figure it all out. Also the right things to say to keep him encouraged and while still speaking to the King in him. Please help

Reply June 12, 2012, 12:17 am


Thank you so much for this! My boyfriend was a week from becoming a commissioned officer in the military and got thrown out of his 10 week training program right before it happened. This was almost 2 months ago. Since then he went from wanting to move in together and further our relationship to hardly talking to me and greatly stopping verbal affection (we’re long distance). Since then he hasn’t been able to find a job and everyday he’s just grouchy. When we talk on the phone at night he’s just always down. It was getting really hard to separate his frustrations with himself and his life from his feelings for me, especially since it’s such a stark change from what I am used to.

I think the best piece of advice you gave in this is to give him space. I’ve been texting him/telling him all the time that I’m here for him and supporting him and bla bla and he stopped answering them. I’m probably making him feel even more like crap without realizing it. Thank you so much.

We did have a talk about communication and he told me he wants this to work if I can be patient with him through it so I’m definitely going to keep trying. Knowing he’s not the only guy who has dealt with this and in this manner is very encouraging!

Reply May 17, 2012, 2:59 pm


These posts really help. My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 months. We worked together, and he was fired last week… in the most awful, demeaning way possible by his boss who was actually interviewing my bo’s replacements right in front of him the day they fired him!! My bo didn’t speak for two days. I gave in and sent him a text saying I believe in him and support him, and understand if he needs space for awhile. he said “thanks.” The next day he text that a new job had come through, and I said I was proud of him, he said “thanks.” That’s it so far. It’s so hard not to take it personally, or to reach out to him again…I’m just so hopeful that he can separate thinking of me from thinking of that toxic job and this break will be over soon. I miss him and love him so much.

Reply January 29, 2012, 6:22 pm


well, im a girl and feel like him now when i lost my job- ive stopped dating a guy who i actually really like… i know its stupid, but i know that i feel too low right now and too unhappy to be getting myself into a successful relationship with him. if im not happy with myself, how could we be happy? its a sad world we live in when thinking about all this crisis etc, people miss out on the joys of life which is just so short!

Reply December 14, 2011, 6:26 pm


My boyfriend recently tried to break up with me. He lost his job not too long after we started going out. We worked at the same company and I had the misfortune of having to witness it. I did not mention it much and did not pressure him about his job loss. I may have been overly sensitive to his situation and the reason he wants to break it off is because he does not feel a connection. Unless you have a solid long term relationship, expect to skate on thin ice.

Reply November 27, 2011, 2:38 pm

Eric Charles

There’s certainly an added sting considering that you worked there, so when he sees you he can’t help but think of the job.
Your best option is to give him space and not take it personally. No guarantees that he’ll come back, but if you don’t want to chase him away, assume that he’ll work out his issues and come back to you when he’s ready.
If/when he does, he’ll probably want to explain where his head is at and where he’s coming from. He wants you to understand him – if you can just listen without judgment or pity and just UNDERSTAND, it will deepen your connections and relationship.
Good luck and hope that helps.

Reply November 27, 2011, 3:27 pm


Thank you for providing the insights I so needed. A month into our relationship, my ex was laid off from a prestigious job he’d had for 20 years (he’s also an ultra-athlete – i.e., highly defined by achievement). It’s been a rollercoaster ride (break up, reconcile, repeat several times). He’s been out of work for over a year and he’s been depressed the entire time. Last night, we finally had to accept fully that we couldn’t be a couple b/c his life is still derailed and he couldn’t give me the affection and feelings I wanted. Your columns about job loss and depression rang so true — I wish I had such advice 1.5 yrs ago. I love him. And b/c of that, I care more that he finds his footing again — w/o the pressure of a relationship — than that he be w/me. Hurts? Yes. But your insights have helped me to be at peace with how it is. Thank you.

Reply August 8, 2010, 2:00 pm

Eric Charles

Always glad when I can help. Good luck! :)

Reply February 25, 2010, 10:30 am


Again, timely and insightful advice. And it’s helping me to understand the headspace that the guy I’m involved with is in.

Reply February 25, 2010, 3:52 am


Thank you for posting this Eric. I always appreciate reading your insights. You always have a fresh perspective on dating and relationships and you’re probably the only dating advice writer that I actually believe to be helpful.

Reply February 23, 2010, 10:28 am


I love Ask a Guy… best dating advice out there.

Reply February 22, 2010, 9:59 pm


Loved this article. Makes so much sense.

Reply February 21, 2010, 3:49 pm


So true. I would also say that this can happen even when a guy is still at his job, but things are going badly. My ex-boyfriend got a new boss that he did not get along with. It was around that time our one year relationship took a turn for the worse.

Reply February 20, 2010, 6:22 pm

Leave a Comment


Sign up for our
free newsletter
and get a free chapter
of our book,"He's Not
That Complicated"