This is a story you might have heard before.
A man meets a woman…
And he falls hard.
He’s never met anyone like her before.
They have so much fun together. She makes him laugh. They talk about things he usually doesn’t talk about.
He thinks about her all the time. He makes it his business to find out everything she likes. He plans things he knows will excite her.
Finally, he asks her to be his girlfriend.
He feels stronger and more like a man with her by his side. He’s proud of having a girlfriend as cool as she is.
Then it happens…
The glow starts to fade.
When she reminds him to do something, it feels like nagging. He can tell she’s getting irritated at him for his irresponsibility. He gets irritated at her because he feels judged. He doesn’t need another mother.
She wants to talk about the “problems” in their relationship. He feels like she’s trying to change him.
They fight more often now.
He decides that she wasn’t different after all. She’s not special. She’s just like every other woman.
He breaks things off.
Within days, he’s back on a dating site, searching for the mythical woman who’s so fun and cool that she never asks for more from him.
My question for you is this:
If you were that woman, what would you have done differently?
Did Your Ex Get Stuck In This Pattern?
Most women understand relationships a lot better than men.
That’s not because of biological differences. It’s because of socialization.
Women are trained to see relationships as central to their lives. They’re the ones buying self-help books. They’re the ones dragging their partners to couples therapy. They’re highly motivated to make relationships work.
Because of that training, women often assume that men know more than they do.
For example, you probably know that relationships go through a life cycle.
There’s a honeymoon phase, a reality check, and a power struggle.
When the glow fades and you start to see that he’s not as perfect as you thought he was, your relationship isn’t dying. It’s getting real.
When you start arguing, it’s not a sign that you aren’t compatible. It’s a sign that your relationship has entered its toughest phase, the power struggle.
Knowing this, it doesn’t scare you when issues crop up in your relationship. You take it as an opportunity to do the work of reconnection.
But it does scare him.
He doesn’t know how to handle it. Every relationship he’s ever had ended during the reality check or power struggle. He’s never made it past the other side.
How do you get him to wake up and see that working on the relationship isn’t a hardship—it’s a labor of love?
Keep Looking Forward – Don’t Look Back
There’s a reason men prefer the honeymoon phase.
It’s exciting. He feels like he can do no wrong. You can’t keep your hands off one another. He feels energized, confident, and alive.
Many men get hooked on this feeling.
The minute that energy fades and his new partner starts to get on his nerves, he breaks things off.
He’s chasing that high of infatuation.
He’s seeking a partner who will always look at him with stars in her eyes, not one who sees his flaws.
The work of relationships makes many men feel incompetent. They don’t have the practical skills they need.
Faced with a man like this, a woman might decide to protect him from reality. She takes on all the work of the relationship herself. She hides her needs so that he can live in a perpetual honeymoon phase.
Does it work?
This strategy holds the relationship back, rather than allowing it to grow.
3 Intimacy-Building Skills
Relationships grow when you face the challenges of intimacy together.
Here are three ways you can do that.
1. As you’re practicing relationship skills, talk about what you’re doing.
For example, if you’re practicing active listening, tell him that you want to make sure you understand him completely before you reply. If you’re holding space for him, tell him that you want to honor what he’s going through.
2. Help him help you.
Don’t assume he knows how to be the partner you need. Instead of telling him what he’s doing wrong, tell him what you’d like him to do.
3. Discuss your vision for the future.
If you don’t have a vision for your relationship, you’re at the whim of how you both feel in the moment. When it stops being fun, there’s no reason to stay together.
Brainstorm about the kind of relationship you’d both love to have. Then take active steps towards that goal.
There’s something magical about building a life with someone. It’s a challenge. Men love a good challenge. But only if they know what the reward will be, and only if they have the skills to have a fighting chance.