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Dating a Broken Man: 10 Things You Should Know

by Sonya Schwartz

Do you suspect you’re dating a man who has been emotionally damaged?

Is this something you’d prefer to avoid? 

Would you like to know the signs that this person has been significantly hurt in the past? 

If so, you’re in the right place. This guide reveals the five signs you’re dating an emotionally damaged man, plus what you can expect if you choose to pursue this romance. 

However, before we dive into this guide, it’s important you read the next few sentences carefully.

I want to tell you about a little-known aspect of male psychology, which has a huge impact on how they perceive their romantic partners. 

It’s called the ‘Hero’s Instinct’.

By learning how to trigger this, you can release deep feelings of pride, meaning and purpose inside a man. 

It’s a great skill to help men feel emotionally closer to you, and this could be particularly important if you’re dating an emotionally fragile man. 

Before I discovered this deeply primal male instinct, I found it terribly difficult to find a man who was willing to show love and affection to me. Now, it’s a lot easier to develop deep loving relationships (read my personal story to learn more).

This is a simple skill to learn, yet so few people seem to know about it. By learning how to do this, you can make your partners feel like no other woman can. 

If you’re looking for more fulfilling relationships, I’d urge you to learn how I discovered the power of the ‘Hero’s Instinct’

This will make it so much easier to bond with an emotionally fragile man. 

The advice below will also help you know what to expect in this situation.

The first thing we need to do is define what makes a broken man. When we talk about a broken man, we are talking about a man that has either been emotionally damaged or had their heartbroken. It doesn't always necessarily mean that a woman in a romantic relationship has caused him emotional pain, although that is the most obvious explanation, anyone could have caused it.

5 Signs of A Broken Man

Before we jump into talking about the things you should know when dating a broken man, we need to look at the characteristics of a broken person. You might not be sure if you're dating a broken man, so hopefully, these signs will help you to figure it out. Take a look at the signs of an emotionally broken man below - if the guy you're dating is showing a lot of these signs, he could be damaged emotionally.

He's Not Confident

He's Not Confident

If the guy you're dating comes across that's he lacking in confidence, it could be because he's been broken down so much that he no longer believes in himself. He might even doubt the fact that you're interested in him.

He Pushes You Away

When someone has been hurt badly before, they tend to assume that everyone they are interested in will also, at some point, hurt them. Therefore, they will self-sabotage any budding relationship because they are too scared of being hurt again.

He Might Not Open Up

He Might Not Open Up

When someone has been hurt badly before, they will constantly be trying to protect themselves, without even realizing it. He won't be open with you and will be shady about personal details because he won't trust you. It will take a lot of time for someone that's broken to have full trust in you and open up.

He's Sensitive

If you say anything, even as a joke, that's negative about this guy, he will get upset. Something that you might think as funny might seriously insult this guy, especially if it's about him, his past or relationship problems in general - anything can bring up triggers.

He's Quiet

If this guy is extremely quiet and reserved, it could be because he's dealing with so many emotions in his head that he is drowning in internal noise. and therefore doesn't want to speak a lot or be in loud places. In addition to this, if he has a problem with something you have said, he will keep quiet about it rather than talking to you about it, because he doesn't have the confidence to.

10 Things You Should Know About Dating a Broken Man

1. It Will Be Hard For You

Dating someone that's emotionally damaged can be really exhausting, and it requires a lot of hard work and perseverance. You will have to be careful about pretty much everything you say so that you don't upset him or trigger any past trauma. You will have to try exceptionally hard to gain his trust and open up to you. You will have to make the majority of the effort between you, because he won't, due to not wanting to put himself in a vulnerable position where he could get rejected. You will need to continuously reassure this guy that you're not going anywhere. In addition, this guy might have mental health issues that have been triggered by the emotional damage that has been caused to him, so you might have to try and handle his anxiety or/and depression.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that making all of this effort isn't worth it - it definitely is. It's amazing to have helped him grow and heal. Although you do need to make sure that you feel like you might fall in love with this person, and you need to be certain about having a relationship with them - if you leave them after a while, their emotional damage might get worse.

2. He Might Seem Controlling

2. He Might Seem Controlling

Not all broken men will be controlling, but some of them will be because they won't have trust in you. This is definitely the case for a man that has been damaged due to a woman being unfaithful to him. He will want to try and control you so he knows you can't hurt him. He might be interested in knowing where you are, who you're with and simply why you aren't with him. Although you do have to understand that he has been hurt in the past, you need to make him aware that him trying to control you isn't going to work. You can be understanding, but do not let yourself be controlled by him, because then his emotional damage passes on to you. If you start to feel uncomfortable about how he is treating you, you need to tell him.

You can try and assure him that you are going to be faithful, and if that doesn't get through to him you can simply tell him that if he tries to control you, you will definitely leave him because it doesn't feel right. You can try to sit down and explain to him the reasons you think he is trying to be controlling - he might actually open up, and stop trying to control the relationship between you.

3. He Won't Give You A Second Chance If You Mess Up

A broken man will be unbelievably protective over himself, even if he doesn't realize he is. Therefore, he will only ever give you one chance to love him. If you mess up this one chance and he sees you showing any red flags, he will leave and never come back. The particular red flags that the man you're dating will depend on what he has been through and what damaged him so much in the first place. For example, if all of his previous romantic partners cheated on him, even if you tell a small lie, he will leave you as soon as he finds out.

This is one thing you really need to respect - why should he give you a second chance if you mess it up? You shouldn't mess up any relationships and ask for a second chance, especially not one with a man that has been emotionally damaged before. As long as you don't mess it up, it will all be fine. So, don't let any mistakes or stupidity get in the way of what could potentially turn to love.

4. He Might Not Be As Romantic As Other People, Not Straight Away Anyway

4. He Might Not Be As Romantic As Other People, Not Straight Away Anyway

A man that's been seriously hurt in the past will be terrified of getting hurt in love, and therefore he might not act as romantically as other people you have previously dated straight away. A broken man will be nervous about showing affection towards you, being romantic to you and being open with you, because he will be scared that you're going to leave and he'll have opened his heart for no reason.

However, if you stick with this guy and earn his trust, you might come to realize that he is even more romantic than other men have ever been with you. When he does open up to you and when your relationship is going from strength to strength, he will show you a beautiful, romantic display of love, because not only does he love you, but he is also grateful that you stuck with him.

It can help him to feel more romantic and become more open if you make the first few romantic moves. If you're not usually the first person to show an appreciation of love first, it might bring you out of your comfort zone and you might love it - it will feel great.

5. He Will Try To Sabotage The Relationship

When you're dating a broken man, you need to be aware that he will try to sabotage the relationship. He might intentionally try to do this, and it might be his subconscious doing it, but it will most likely happen. You need to be aware that this man could try to ruin things for both of you a lot, even if he wants a romantic relationship with you. His attempts at sabotaging the relationship are just another way to protect himself from being hurt.

Unfortunately, the more in love with you he falls, the more doubts will come into his mind about the relationship going forward. The moment he realizes he is falling in love, he also realizes that you have the power to hurt him. At the point he realizes this, he might start to doubt the relationship, freak out and try to distance himself from you.

You need to always be prepared that this man might try to sabotage your relationship at any point. However, after you have been in a steady relationship together for a while and you both share in love, he should feel more settled and become more open with you, so then when he feels he is going to try and sabotage the relationship, he can talk to you about it instead of run away with no explanation.

6. He Will Want To Keep His Own Life Private

6. He Will Want To Keep His Own Life Private

A broken man will want to keep his own life very private when he first starts to date you Although other men might be excited to get your round to their place, invite you to meet their friends and get involved with their daily life, a broken man will move a lot more slowly. A broken man doesn't want to invite you into his life if he thinks you are just going to leave, so it might take some time until you are invited to be a part of his life, friends, and family.

In addition to this, a broken man will probably have his own place, and this is where he feels comfortable and safe. He has created a space that is just for him, and him only. You should really respect that he is only trying to protect himself, and he doesn't want his safe space to be a place of ill-feeling. Even if that's clearly not what you're planning to do, he doesn't know that. You shouldn't push your way into visiting his place or pressure him into including you in his private life too quickly because it could scare him and make him even more introverted. This also applies to your private life - he might not want to get too involved in your life until he knows he is certain about where the relationship is going. Once he has taken some time and feels he is able to trust you, he will invite you in to be part of his life - this is normally when he is falling in love with you.

7. He Might Not Tell You Why He Is Emotionally Damaged

You have to understand that a broken man might not tell you why is emotionally damaged. As much as you might want to know what happened to him, so you can understand fully what affected him so much, you might not find out for a long time, or you may never know. Sometimes, when bad things happen to people, especially when it concerns the heart, they don't want to discuss it because it just brings up trauma that they are trying to work through.

Once he has been your man for a while, he might open up to you and tell you the details of how he became damaged. This takes a lot of courage for broken men and therefore if he ever tells you, you need to ensure you are as understanding as possible. Never use what he has told you against him. Try to simply understand what he has told you, care for him and comfort him.

Regardless of whether this guy ever tells you or doesn't tell you how his heart got damaged, in a way, it doesn't matter because you will never know the full story, as you weren't there. The most you can do is try to help him heal by showing love - we will touch on that more later on.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

8. He Will Have Low Self Confidence

When someone has been broken down repeatedly by other people or had their heart broken in a really horrible way they will have less confidence than others. Perhaps the man you're dating was previously in an abusive relationship with a romantic partner or parent - if so, he will have very low self-confidence. In abusive relationships, the victim is constantly put down and criticized. If this behavior lasts for a prolonged period of time, the victim starts to genuinely believe that they aren't worthy of love because there's something wrong with them. They will move into a state of seriously low self-confidence, and low self-esteem.

Even if the man your dating wasn't in an abusive type of relationship, even a bad breakup or being cheated on can generate low self-confidence. Then, when you come along and start dating him, he genuinely won't be able to believe that someone wants to get to know him for the person he is, so he will find it very confusing. You might find that you have to reassure him of the fact you like him a lot or listen to him question why you're even with him.

The only thing you can do to improve this man's self-confidence is to try and make him see how amazing he is - makes him see himself through your eyes. It will be the best feeling when you start to see this man getting more self-confident, and knowing you probably had a lot to do with that.

9. He Isn't A Project For You To Work On

For some reason, a lot of women see damaged men as a specific group of men that are very attractive. This might have something to do with the fact that women naturally want to help and make things better. However, it's really disturbing to think that a woman would consciously choose to date an emotionally broken man, because she can try to make things better, and fix him. It's like the emotionally damaged man has been romanticized.

Although you might want to help this man, you should want to help him because you love him and you're trying to make things better for him, not because you think it's exciting to have an emotionally damaged man to try and take care of and fix.

10. Through Love, You Can Help Him To Heal

10. Through Love, You Can Help Him To Heal

Although you should never choose to be with someone because of the fact that they are broken, if you are truly falling in love with a damaged man, you can help him to heal. If you decide to stick with a man that's damaged, you can be crucial to his recovery by showing him the care and love his heart needs. You may be able to make things better for this man in a big way. You may be able to help a broken man in a variety of ways, but just be aware that it always takes time for a broken man to let other people take care of them and show them love.

One of the best things you can do is simply be there for him. Listen to him, respect what he has to say and allow him to open up to you if he thinks it will make things better. You can also simply show him that he has made your life better, and you want to make his life better with your love and care. If you think it may be beneficial, depending on what you know about what happened that caused him emotional damage, you may suggest he speak to a professional. You can even show extra care, and let him know that you are happy to go with him. You are best to tread lightly when it comes to something as sensitive as this, as he may not want to go and talk to other people about his issues.

It can be one of the best feelings in the world to know that you have helped someone by simply showing them love and care.


I really hope this article helped you to not only figure out what the signs of a broken-hearted man are but also what you should expect if you are dating a broken man. Hopefully, now you will know exactly how to spot a broken man, know exactly what to expect from dating broken men and know exactly how to handle it if you start to fall in love with one.

Did you like this article on broken men? If you did, please let us know in the comments.

You may also be interested in: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out If He's Cheating On You

Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

14 comments on “Dating a Broken Man: 10 Things You Should Know”

  1. I am married to a broken man and everything in this article is so real. I have been through so much with him

  2. The article was insightful and offered a lot of tips to point out if a man is broken. However, it felt as if the burden to fix him relies on the woman.

    This type of relationship is draining and there's no guarantee that this broken man will heal and stay with you once you've endured all of this emotional and mental anguish. In my opinion, after doing all of this the woman for sure will be broken; heart broken and in need of therapy.

    1. I totally agree, I feel like we are better off walking away from a situation like this. Unfortunately I'm coming across this article too late, almost 5 years into a relationship. We also have a son who just turned 3. My reason for commenting here is so I can help anyone reading this who may be just discovering they are involved with someone who has not yet healed from their past. If you haven't gotten too far deep as I have please take take the time to read this and save yourself. I can tell you first-hand that it does not get better, if it did I wouldn't be reading this article. I too saw "red flags" in the beginning (assuming you have too by being here) and I made the mistake of thinking I could help him. This of course didn't show up in any way that seemed to be connected to his past relationships but there were other things that seemed off. He was very quick (and still has been in the recent past) to quickly tell me I can leave after a small disagreement. He was also very controlling and would accuse me of cheating after missing calls when I was in the shower. Just very insecure all around. It didn't seem like too big of a deal at the time but things took a turn for the worse. This eventually lead to him insulting me any way he could, outright refusal to discuss any issue involving our relationship (stonewalling), complete inability to accept responsibility for his actions or lack thereof, blaming me when things go wrong, conveniently forgetting hurtful things he says or does (extreme gaslighting), and the list could literally go on. If you find yourself at any point doubting what is happening please stop and ask yourself this "How much could this man possibly invest in me if he is still living in the past?"
      Trust me, you will see glimmers of hope, I know I certainly have but that feeling like he's holding back will never change! I am currently in the process of deciding what my next move is and he's well aware of this. It should never have to come to the point where your absence makes him think about your value! He should already be fully in with all he has got and if he's not you will never feel fulfilled! Please don't be like me, don't allow any man to get so close to destroying you! I am a strong woman, I always said it would never be me, I never thought I would be put in this position but it happens! It is a slow painful process and before you know it you have suffered tremendously! Finding out this was the root of everything almost 5 years later is extremely painful! I've invested so much of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to this man! None of which has been reciprocated! This after 2 years of couples counseling! It doesn't change, it doesn't get better, and it will get dangerously close to destroying you! If you still think you can help him after this then please do something I wish I had and very directly ask him if he is still energetically connected to past relationships. It seems like such an uncomfortable weird thing to do but if he still has feelings/thoughts/hope that doesn't involve you, you owe it to yourself to find out sooner than later. I'll close with this, I confused this all with codependency, narcissism, and attachment issues and yes I'm sure this could be a small part of it but it was not the root of the problem. Find out now while you have a chance to take a shortcut and save yourself from the deep pain this will inevitably cause you later as you're taken down a long painful journey of finding out someone you dreamed of sharing everything with was only wasting your time and wasn't nearly as invested as you. Having to give someone an ultimatum does not have to be your future, asking someone if they love you does not have to be your future. If marriage is what you ultimately want, speak your mind now and make sure your motives align. Best of luck to you all.

      1. Wow! That was so good! You said everything and I mean everything that I’ve been think and not knowing how to put on paper. I read a book on Passive Aggressive Covert Narcissism and he fit but I truly believe it stems from another source. Thank you for sharing!

      2. I have been in a relationship like this but not just 5 years but 12. I am just starting to realize that regardless of my effort to help him or show that i can be trusted and i really do care about him it seems that he still is closed and won't let anyone in even me with all of my dedication for all those years. Unfortunately even with my mountains of investment I am left with no choice but to cut my losses and leave a one sided relationship out of respect for myself. And this puts him right back at square one. I really cared for him. I was in it for the long haul. I wasn't there just to 'fix' him. I wanted that beautiful healed heart and beautiful romance that could blossom from that and create a strong bond and tender and deep relationship that we both could enjoy. But what was he thinking? No reasoning would reach him. I couldn't do it anymore.

  3. Those characteristics belong to a guy far smarter than a woman. He's got his stuff together and doesn't need, want, or like her screwing it up. Women are do egotistical to think that they are needed, magical, or any of that other psycho-babble crap.

  4. Whoa, I'm in a 4 month relationship with my boyfriend and we had a big fight for the second time of which he started with me for no absolute reason. Now, reading all these signs made me realize that he is emotionally damaged. I was guessing all along anyway. I'm ACTU getting emotionally drained. I give him everything I can give him. I don't even let him feel that I'm not with him in anything at all. But he always finds a way to just belittle me and he doesn't even see this. I apologize so much to avoid any fight. He was even doubting me at son point and said I was cheating on him. Even though we are in a long distance relationship. But I assured and reassured him but recently, his aggressive behavior keeps recurring. I was scared at some point because he recently started raising his voice at me. Please I need advice. He seems like a good guy when he is not aggressive. He just doesn't have patience when he gets irritated at my attitude sometimes

  5. It is unfortunate but broken men cannot heal - they come in 2 types broken by divorce and broken from birth - neither will ever be able to love another human being ever.

    1. As a someone who is aware they are broken man, big "ooooft" at this comment. 31 now I have been cheated on by the two women I had a relationships with and abandoned by my mother who ran off with another man while I was going through cancer treatment in my teens, good to know I will never love again thanks Beth. 🙂

      1. Hi, Sam,

        I don’t know about that. I believe it’s possible to love again. They say that women heal quicker in matters of the heart but men love deeper when they find the right person. As a woman, I’ve been broken multiple times: physically abusive boyfriend out of high school; husband/father of my kids turned out to be a pedophile; and my last long relationship, my husband was verbally and emotionally abusive when drunk (every single weekend, all weekend). I’ve been through most relationship hells, but here I am, in a relationship with a man who had his heart torn out and tortured by his ex gf. But I love him. And I stand by him to help him heal from her, regardless of if he will ever love me back. If nothing else, I supported a good man on his road to recovery from severe heartbreak and he will always have a special place in my heart, even if he never says “I love you.”

        One day, I believe you will find love again. Be cautious, but remind yourself often that you are worthy of love from the right woman. Don’t settle quickly, look for red flags, stay away from women like your exes. And keep your head up. There is always hope.

  6. Hey girls out there I just want to let you know, that there are a lot more broken people out there that are also very open, and might have a taste that is out of his league because that's his taste, and also, some broken men like me tend to talk all the time and want to get to know more and more people, but he can't get too close because it will have gotten worse, if something were to happen. Keep that in mind.

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