Mike is on a mission to make the world a better place one man at a time. As the founder of The School For Men, he has helped hundreds of men from the ages of 20 to 60 reconnect with their heart and their voice to create powerful lifestyles filled with freedom and adventure. Mike is known for living a life without secrets, openly sharing his fears, challenges, and breakthroughs online for the world to see. You can follow him on Twitter @Hrostoski.
HIS FIRST HEARTBREAK
“My first heartbreak was 3 years ago. I was dating a girl that I met at work while I was working my first job out of my MBA. She took a job in North Carolina and I was still living in New Jersey so we kept it up long distance. Throughout that relationship so much changed for me - my mom passed away, and I left my corporate job because it just wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore - and we really started going on completely separate paths. I was actually set to go visit her for 7 weeks and she broke up with me the day before I was supposed to fly out. It was the first time that anyone had broken up with me. I was almost 31 and it is funny because I had always said that I wished someone would break up with me because I didn’t know what that experience was like. And then it happened. It was almost like getting stabbed in the chest, that heartache feeling I will never forget. I begged for her to take me back. I was supposed to come out for 7 weeks so I said ‘What if I just come for a month or a week or a day?’ I was trying to do anything to see her again. But she kept saying no. Ultimately looking back, I owe her a lot. She set me free. I was headed down this totally different path and I think she saw it. I ended up traveling the world for 31 months and I dated some really amazing women and my life just really opened up so much. I don’t think I had the courage then to break up with her, so I’m grateful that she did.”
WHAT HE WOULD TELL HIS 31 YEAR OLD SELF
“I would say, cry until you can’t cry anymore. Which is actually what I did. I was in Arizona at the time and instead of driving to see her in Asheville, I drove up to New York City - a 4 day road trip and on the drive I was listening to this podcast all about relationships. One of the episodes of the podcast was about what to do when someone breaks up with you. I remember the guy said “There’s a 3-step process for feeling feelings as a man.” Step 1 was to check in - what am I feeling right now? And what I was feeling was a lot of sadness. Step 2 was to ask yourself ‘If I gave myself full permission to feel these feelings would I die?’ And of course the answer is no. And step 3 was just to feel them fully. So I just cried so much over the course of those 4 days. I remember at the end of the 4 days I got to my friend's apartment in NYC and I went in to take a shower and I was laying down in the bathtub in the fetal position preparing to cry because I had been doing it for the past 4 days. And then there was this realization, this kind of ‘aha’ moment in my body - there were no tears left. I was good. I truly gave myself permission to grieve a loss for the first time. And sometimes men don’t do that and we just stuff our emotions down because we don’t think it’s cool to cry. My advice looking back to myself or to anyone even reading this is just to cry until you can’t cry anymore and you will have fully grieved that loss.”
HIS MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK
“I was dating a woman who moved to NYC and we were dating off and on because I was traveling a lot. We never had any clear relationship agreements. We never really talked about what we were. There was a lot of pain in that because we were never clear on what we were as a relationship. There were a lot of unspoken truths and conversations that we didn’t have that caused pain later. I feel like we were a really good match in so many ways but the timing was off.”
“Definitely crying. I’m a big fan of crying. It cleanses the soul and creates space for what's coming next and it grieves the losses of those attachments. Also talking to trustworthy friends - people who either have relationships that I admire or have lives that I admire or just really have the ability to listen. Doing things that create joy for me and having rituals that support me in being happy and healthy, like going for walks, working out and eating well."
HIS BREAKUP VICES
“When I was younger, in my twenties, I would end a relationship and I would just go out drinking and party a lot. Now, instead of trying to be very self destructive, I do the opposite - I work out a lot and drink green juice. People drink or do drugs to try to self medicate and numb the pain instead of feeling it. But the pain is still there. It’s still in the body until it’s felt and dealt with."
“There is a reason that the last relationship didn’t work out and you need some self reflection time to figure out what your responsibility was in that and what you really want moving forward. Without that level of self awareness you are just going to get more of the same. I think that’s another danger of just jumping right into something new without taking a look at yourself and figuring out what parts of yourself caused that last break up.”
CAN EXES BE FRIENDS?
“I think it takes two really special people in order to be friends with your ex. In most relationships I don’t think it’s possible or wise. I think there is often a lot of hurt either on one or both of the sides and every time you hang out with them or talk to them you are just plugging back into that hurt. When I think of myself, I’m really not friends with any of my exes, at least the ones that I dated for a substantial amount of time. Maybe once in a while they will send me something on Facebook but in general, I don’t think its that good of a practice because instead of communicating with all of these women from past relationships I can use that energy toward my partner that I’m in a relationship with now.”
HIS SOCIAL MEDIA PHILOSOPHY
“I think the trend that I’ve noticed is that if that it was something light - a fling or a light or short relationship - we will stay connected. But the ones that were really deep tend to not be connected because there’s just the hurt of even seeing their faces. For me, either I unfriend them or they unfriend me and I think that’s the healthiest thing to do. I believe in a minimum of 1 month or 3 months of radio silence from email, texting, social media in order to break those attachments and learn to be a person again. I recommend that to anyone after going through a breakup.”
HOLD NOTHING BACK
“Every relationship that you have today will at some point end. Either you’ll break up or you’ll die or they’ll die and at some point it will end. Thats just a truth. And with that said, knowing that it will end at some point, hold nothing back. Give it all you have while you have the honor and the pleasure of having that relationship. Don’t hold back any ‘I love you’s’ or appreciation or any of your realest feelings because it really is a gift to have that relationship in the present moment.”
KEEPING HIS HEART OPEN
“Having the experience of being totally in love with someone and having both of our hearts open is one of the greatest feelings in the world, so even when it hurts and even when I’m scared and even when I want to run away, I know that the more that I open the better my relationship is and the better my life is. Keeping my heart open to life is the only way I know how to live.”
Photographed by Josh McMurtie