Sunday, November 29, 2009

Relationship talk: why they end sometimes

Relationships are hard, but there are a few things we all should keep in mind to keep a relationship healthy and moving forward. I recently read a blog where the author wrote out some common reasons that men end relationships and I think I would like to offer some perspective for BOTH sides of the game. This is not why every man or woman leaves; it's some very real things that have gone wrong in some relationships that I hope can help save some fighting and even heartache.

Why [some] men end relationships:

1. They don't get a chance to talk or ever be right.
Last night, I was at Semolinas and overheard a couple having what was becoming a heated conversation. The man was saying that the woman was wrong, and he actually cited examples and the woman just kept saying "nope, no, no". I am a good arguer, as I'm told, and in logical argument, if you do not have a defense, you have no argument at all. So while I have no idea what they were discussing, it seemed as though the woman just didn't want to be wrong. She couldn't counter his points or cite her own reasons for why her recollection of the incident was different. This can lead men to feel like they are never right, and their experiences aren't valued by their partner. What can also happen is that the woman can become over bearing with her thoughts; often getting louder, yelling, or talking over the man. For any person, this can lead to feeling like the other person isn't listening and doesn't value what you have to say. This is no different for men. What's worse is that men often take great effort to offer their thoughts and feelings and after not being listened to, they may clam up altogether. This will lead to a lack of communication on multiple levels, and even a good relationship can begin to crumble under that weight.

2. Loving him too much is suffocating.
It seems bizarre to say that loving someone too much is bad. But for a guy, no matter how in love he is, after some time, he will want his relationship life separated from his regular goings on. I must quote Paul Rudd from the movie "Knocked up": "Do you ever wonder how somebody could even like you? The biggest problem in our marriage is that she wants me around". Women like to show they care by being there. Men show their love by supporting and protecting. Men need personal time, even when they're smitten. It is very important for couples to maintain the personal lives that they had while they were single and to make sure to nurture friendships that were valued before they became coupled up. Men tend to be more logical in this and knowing that their relationship might not last so they do not want to lose other things that are important in their lives. It doesn't mean that he doesn't care; it just means that he may already know that being too involved with each can lead to boredom or aggravation and he doesn't want that to happen.

3. Insecurity.
Even the best matched couples can find themselves in trouble if one or both parties is insecure about themself in any way. Women tend to expect their men to reinforce their self esteem but we forget the most important part of that phrase: SELF. No one can make you feel better about yourself. It is incredibly taxing for a man to feel like he always has to emotionally support a woman in this way. It is not necessary to ask a guy if an outfit looks nice every time you get dressed to go out. You bought it so you should already know if it looks good on you or not. The worse manifestation of insecurity is the suspicion of cheating. If a man has given his woman no reason to suspect that he would want someone else, a woman shouldn't assume it is so because she has a problem with herself. The first sign is when a woman wants to know what her guy is doing any time that he is not with her, or asking about female acquaintances that are in his life. If a woman is worried about where her relationship is heading, she should talk about it instead of potentially pushing him into the arms of a stranger. He picked you and he wants you to be confident in knowing that.

4. Excessive independence.
A lot of women, especially us black women, have a tendency to feel that we have to secure our futures with or without a man in our lives. I do not believe that a woman's role is simply to serve her man. But I once heard that "when a woman buys a house when she's single, that says to men 'I don't need you, don't bother". Men are wired to be providers and that is their number one way of showing how much their care. Thus, when a woman removes that from the equation, she makes him obsolete. It is a blow to his masculinity if he feels that he can't provide some things for her, or that he is not a needed or valued part of her life. So while every woman should have her own goals, job, education, car and domicile, she should beware of prematurely buying that turkey baster because the man that wants to be that for her may think that she has no need. Women must allow a man to open doors and pay for things from time to time. It is helpful is she asks him to fix something even if she knows she can do it herself. He should feel that he has a purpose and that he is not disposable.

5. Not valuing his sexuality.
Men operate on a hormone that drives them to want to procreate. The survival of his best features are dependent on this, well, in an animalistic sense. We like to blame testosterone for men's problems but don't forget, it is coursing through female brains, too. Men are not just horny monkeys; they DO like to express their affection physically and they did pick the woman they are with because they are attracted to her. So while female libidos may be a little slow going, it is important to recognize that it is a big part of a man's relationship with his woman. Sometimes women refrain from sex for silly reasons. Not making time for romance because she doesn't want to mess up her hair, or a TV show is on, or any other reasons that I I mean women have given that AREN'T your period will send him thinking that it, and thus HE, aren't important. It may be annoying that he wants it seemingly all of the time, but the day that he doesn't means that the relationship is in serious trouble.

6. Infidelity.
This should be number ONE but I am not ranking these as all reasons vary from couple to couple. Men do not have the same capacity to forgive and forget as women do. Once their trust is ruined, it is hard to get it back, if at all. They are also very aware of how sexuality works for women (and how we are inclined to have sex less often, typically) and if she is so bold as to cheat, then he understands that she simply has no need for him anymore.

Why [some] women end relationships:

1. He disregards her wishes.
No, boyfriends and husbands aren't magic genies, but even the most reasonable requests can be ignored on a regular basis and this is frustrating to a woman. She views her relationship as a partnership and that means that men participate in the mundane, the dirty and the annoying. If she doesn't get a break from daily routine, why should he? It is not painful to help around the house, fix or seek repairmen for broken things, or to even hand over things that are needed. Football, video games, and even phone calls are no excuse to not be there when a woman says she needs help. In the case of an "independent woman", if she dares to ask, she must mean it. When the requests truly are irrational, he should tell her so. Men may not know where the line is to be drawn, but a good place to start is to ask yourself if you would need or want help with that particular thing if it were you. Sometimes it may even be an excuse for her to have her guy around when she can't engage in other activities with him.

2. The relationship is stagnant.
Most women dream about marriage before they start their first period. Women learn to date and have fun, but by a certain point in life, whether by societal pressure or the incessant ticking of our biological clocks (which men also have), women start to whittle out those that don't have the stamina for the long run. Women can be very lenient and accepting of men and break ups for this reason can seem to come out of nowhere, but at some point she has realized that she doesn't want to marry him or that he doesn't act like he wants to marry her. A friend of mine once said that "love is easy, but commitment is a bitch". Truer words have been spoken, but these are good, too.
It may a big deal for a guy to even coast along with a woman because, to him, this is commitment. If he has not left or sought out a new partner, in his mind, that's good enough. Women, however, don't want to hold the regret of what could have been. Maybe the guy at the car dealership might have been "the one" and she might never know it if she stays with a guy that isn't considering a future with her.

3. Emotional Infidelity.
What is emotional infidelity, you ask? Women expect to be the emotional support system for their men and even friends, and when someone that they trust to come to them seeks outside support, it is very hurtful and damaging. Most men do not keep a lot of female friends, and the ones that do will find ways to assure his woman that these are platonic relationships. When these lines are crossed by flirtation or even engaging in deep emotional conversations, it makes the woman feel like she is not needed or even that she's done something wrong. It is often a sign that the man is unhappy with his woman (see number one and number five of why men leave) and once she realizes this, she may opt to jump ship before he can do any further damage, leave, or even cheat on her.

4. Baby mama troubles.
Men who have children from previous marriages and relationships are tied to those women for life. A smart woman will do her best to respect that relationship because that child is always going to be number one. However, men do not consider what role the non-mama is in. No matter what the status of your relationship or your future, she can never be number one in your life or first at anything. Maybe you will get married one day, but she will always have the burden of knowing that she won't have your first child, or that "the other woman" will always have to be in not just your life, but hers. When single parents enter relationships, they must decide where their relationship is going and what role their child/children will play in that relationship. There must always be a balance and respect and when those scales tip, a woman may cut and run because she doesn't feel valued and that there never really is a place for her in his life.

5. She's scared you don't like her and you will leave.
It's a symptom of insecurity, yes, but in a person whose very being is knit together to ensure survival, women may dump a guy to spare her own hurt. It is usually easier to get over regret than self doubt. Sometimes the signs may be anything from not spending as much time with her as often he used to, not being physically engaging, or not allowing her to participate in his life (meeting friends, offering advice, cooking, or going to his preferred hang outs). She may see these things as signs that he doesn't like her as much, and instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, it is best to sneak out the back door and live as little as a Dear John note. She may be wrong, and if she is, some guys may investigate further, but generally, she will leave and not look back. She would rather feel that she's lost out than feel like she made him stay or his life less enjoyable.

There are little things that can eventually cause volcanoes to erupt, mountains to be made from molehills, and things like socks not being put in the hamper to WWIII-like effects in relationships. It is very helpful to recognize what they are and try to fix them before irreparable damage is done.

General troublemakers:

1. Venting your frustrations to friends that can't help.
It is very natural and OK for people to vent to their friends when they're mad at their partner, but it can become a nasty habit. It is unhealthy for the friends because they can begin to develop a bias against the partner because all they ever hear are the negative aspects of the relationship. It is also hurtful because when people vent, they tend to think that they're over the problem, and then the issue is never discussed and thus never resolved. Even the most caring person can not correct something they've done wrong if they don't know that it negatively affected someone else.

2. Not allowing for change.
So, guys screw up. It is easy for a woman, especially a woman who has her life in order, to find fault in ways that a guy may not. The more serious a woman becomes about her relationship, the more "perfect" she will want it to be. This is because a mature woman is trying to make a home, and she can not jeopardize the survival of that home, child, or relationship. However, Women may ask or even demand that a guy do or don't do something, but then jump to the assumption that in a similar situation he will automatically repeat the undesirable action. Allow him to screw up. If an issue is discussed, the guy has to be allowed to fix it. This is true for women as well. It is hard, at times, to acknowledge that the things that women do to make their own lives work do not translate into the relationship. When she finds this out, she also has to be given the chance to make up for the mistake.

3. Not apologizing.
No matter how big or small the problem is, an apology can go a long way. An apology isn't saying "I'm wrong"; it is saying that an understanding has been met. For instance, if a husband tells his wife he has a meeting AT five, and she thinks that he will be DONE at five, she may say, "I'm sorry, I misunderstood what time you'd be done". Sometimes men are afraid to apologize because they have huge, overflowing egos and they think that saying "sorry" will mean that they did something wrong. In Spanish, one would say "lo siento", meaning "I have sorrow for it". Giving an apology with explanation can also alleviate concern that blame will be placed (like in the example above. She does not say "I was wrong", but that she has sorrow that she misunderstood).

4. Lying.
If a person is a pathological liar, the pathological part can be refreshing because there is a pattern or understanding that it happens all of the time. When a person lies indiscriminately, with no reason, it can break trust in even worse ways than lying does on its own. For instance, if a girl says that she is going shopping with a co-worker when she is really having lunch with a guy friend, she is doing two things: 1) suggesting that what she is doing is not acceptable in her relationship and 2) suggesting that there will be a pattern in this behavior and the next time she is shopping with her friend, she must really mean she's at lunch with a guy. What happens if she doesn't lie the next time and she really IS shopping? Then her guy is then free to assume that she could be lying ALL of the time.
In general, dishonesty is bad. If a person can not handle the truth, that is their problem and it should be discussed. Sometimes guys lie because they don't want to upset a woman; sometimes they lie because they think that she will think the truth is stupid. No one should ever have a fear of communication. If you do it openly with friends, why wouldn't it be done openly in a relationship?

5. Becoming complacent in your duties.
Sometimes people tend to forget that relationships need to be a balance of give and take and fair expectations. Sometimes men and women start to expect things out of their partners that they could not deliver on themselves. Hypocrisy is a killer. It's not good to tell someone that it burns your biscuit to watch them to eat with their mouth open but you are really smacking away on that corn on the cob. Be realistic. It is also bad to attack a partner for not completing household duties if your half aren't done.

6. The Blame Game.
No one can be right all of the time. It is usually best in a discussion or argument to recognize fault and to be mature enough to accept it. It is not helpful to try to divert attention and claim that maybe the dishes aren't washed, but your partner has left six pairs of socks on the floor. It is not a time to try to feel better about being wrong, or to air grievances that you haven't plainly talked about. It is best to apologize for whatever is wrong or to try to have a discussion about what can be done to remedy it.

Every relationship is going to have its own pitfalls, and every individual has their own deal breakers. These are some very common and hopefully avoidable pitfalls that can help take a relationship to a new level.

Some info taken from here.

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