We all have an ‘ego’ that takes over sometimes. Think about the last time you were upset or the feelings you had when you were little. Do you know that feeling when words are coming out of your mouth so quickly that it seemed as if you were on autopiliot? That you were actually witnessing yourself but had no control to slow down or stop?
We all have that survivor instinct in us. It’s the old classic: fight, flight, or freeze. But it’s not something we want to foster in our everyday lives. We’re not out in the wild, needing to respond at a moment’s notice, without the ability to think clearly, especially in the context of a relationship.
For men, emotions aren’t always a way of connecting their heart to their body. This is a pre-programmed biological detachment that was developed hundreds and thousands of years ago. It was an advantage for men to detach emotionally when fighting for their food and existence.
For women, the need for attachment and emotional connection is also a prehistoric phenomena. Keeping their offspring safe and maintaining a ‘home’ required a certain amount of emotional intelligence. And finding a suitable mate was key to sustaining this, so women have developed a stronger sense of emotional attachment to people and things.
Neither sex is ‘right’ in nature, just different and necessarily diverse. Some women believe that a man’s emotional detachment is wrong and inappropriate while men believe women are too needy and emotional. It’s a sad dilemma and an easy place where couples can get stuck. Remembering that both men and women are inherently different and to honour these difference is key to successful partnership.
A common place where a woman gets stuck is creating an emotional ideal in her head and then comparing her new partner to this ideal. Here’s an example:
A woman has a falling out with a friend and is upset. Her boyfriend calls and invites her out to see a movie and she declines, explaining how upset she is because of her altercation with her friend. Rather than offering to come over, listen, and help her feel better, he tells her he’ll call next week when things calm down. She gets even more upset and can’t believe he didn’t do what SHE thought he should have done under these circumstances.
Then she starts making assumptions…
- ‘he doesn’t care’
- ‘he’s selfish’
- ‘he’s emotionally unavailable’
…and so on.
These are all beliefs, based on the woman’s ideal comparison in her mind, and secret expectations that often the man doesn’t know or understand. And if we zoom out to the bigger picture, it’s very likely that the man has offered what he would naturally need in a similar situation for himself. Space and time to emotionally detach from the drama. That’s simply how most men respond. Again, not wrong, just different.
And in this situation, some women become emotionally dependent on a man, waiting for him to give them what they think they want. They may further the expectation by wanting the man to call them back and give them the support and affection they were seeking. This sends off alarm bells for a man, sensing that something is ‘wrong’ but not knowing how to respond, and this will create a vibe that can create even more distance betweeen them.
What both men and women need to remember is this:
No single person can EVER give you exactly what you want and need emotionally. EVER.
The minute we start embracing this, the more peace we will have in all of our relationships. We can lower the bar of perfection and expectation and find alternate ways to meet our needs. Call a supportive friend, journal, take a walk to take perspective, or read a topical article or blog to get the empathy you need and deserve.
[Feature photo: Auzigog]