Not all of us will be fortunate enough to be celebrating this Valentine’s Day with the love our life. To help you find happieness for next Valentine’s Day our very own Board Certified Couple Therapy Professional Psychologist, Dr. Joel Block, explains an essential aspect of male psychology.
Will I find happiness?
You’ve been hurt, dumped and duped and you’ve bounced back. You’re still in the game. Then you meet him. He’s a keeper, at least that’s your dream.
Ah, yes, close your eyes and let the fantasy play out on the movie screen in your head. Soft Sunday mornings with fresh squeezed orange juice. Romantic walks among colorful foliage in the fall, blossoms in the spring. Intimate dinners and nights lying in each other’s arms.
There will be no need to speak; you’ll know each other’s thoughts and be comforted by them. He’ll be your strength, your joy and your safety net. You’ll be his lover, his best friend, and his anchor in life. You’ll even get each other’s jokes.
Sigh. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Let’s say his name is Bennett, but his friend’s call him Benny. He’s single, straight and seems commitment interested; he invited you to call him Benny within minutes after you met. He makes you laugh, and he actually listens to what you have to say. He’s stressed about the ad campaign he’s working on, but he still makes time for you.
No more dark, lonely nights, right?
Fast-forward a few months. Now things are changing. He seems too tired for everything except sex. You posed a question that made him wince: “Benny, where is this relationship going?” You ignored the warning of the wince, tried not to notice that he appeared weak-kneed, and held onto to his stammered reply, “I don’t want to lose you” like a life preserver in a stormy sea.
“Are we it forever?” you asked with too much plea in your tone.
“Of course we’re ‘it,’ forever,” he said.
The words were balm for your soul. Another few months go by. Secretly you are beginning to doubt that you and Benny are really ‘it’ forever.
Who knows? Maybe he’s just suffering from settling-down fever. Or maybe he’s going through a rough spot in his life—but if that’s so, why didn’t he talk that out with you? Maybe he just needs more time. But it’s approaching a year! Maybe, maybe, maybe…
Do you make excuses for the men in your life? Remember Mark, you stuck with him through five rehabs. You gave great advice to Jeremy who confessed to “intimacy issues.” Your advice was so good he left you for your (former!) friend Janice.
Top 5 ways you may be hindering your own happiness:
Before it gets that far, take stock of your own empathic tendencies by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I constantly trying to explain my partner’s actions (or lack of action) to my friends?
- Do I look for qualities in my partner that I can later pin his mannerisms on (i.e. “He wasn’t close to his father growing up so he has trouble expressing his feelings now”)?
- Do I frequently catch myself feeling sorry for my partner because I know how hard it is for him to be open with me?
- Am I allowing him to forget important dates or things we have planned together by blaming his forgetfulness on the other pressures in his life like work?
- Do I frequently hear myself saying to him “It’s okay, I understand” about everything?
If you answer “yes” to three or more of the above, you may be hindering your own chances to find happiness by not making your man take responsibility for his own actions.
Sound even a little familiar? Consider that you may be one of the many women who suffer from what I call pathological empathy. Pathological empathy is about taking “poor baby, he needs understanding” over the top.
Get this: It’s not about what he says; it’s about what he does. Consider commitment a verb and look at his actions, not his words. Effective actions/results demonstrate commitment; words rarely do.
Here is what a grown up partner looks like behaviorally:
- He is there for you when you need him, not just in words, but in action as well.
- He doesn’t see himself as a victim, usually blaming others for his problems, he takes responsibility for his actions.
- He is accepting of you.
- He is open, that is, he discloses his feelings and thoughts to you.
- While his own needs are important to him, he does not always put himself first.
- He is mature, not a boy pretending to be a man.
- He has a strong set of standards/beliefs he lives by.
In other words, what your partner says better be backed up by behavior that is consistent; do what most men do, adapt to this part of male psychology—be a behaviorist. Men are less interested in words, and more interested in Show Me! In short, if his actions don’t match his words on the important things and you stay with him, it is at your own peril, you’re gonna crash. Wise up, behavior that is consistent with his words is where it’s at!
And, while you’re at it, why not give yourself a head start, take the Instant Chemistry assessment and receive a roadmap to relationship success.