Houston! We have a problem, only this time there are five of them. Being your quintessential male, drawing up a list of relationship issues which crop up with alarming frequency in my occasional romances wasn’t quite as hard as I had initially imagined. In fact, it was actually a conspicuously humbling affair.
And so, without further a-do, I give you my subjective list of stuff that really matters to us, and how these needs tend to be both confusing and an understandable source of insecurity for our partners in crime (while I don’t presume to speak for all men, I’m still going to vouch for these with a fierce sense of potentially misguided self-confidence).
1. We Need Our Space
Who doesn’t? I hear you rightly assert. However, our desire to seek personal sanctuary (a.k.a the man cave) is our physical and subconscious way of emotionally re-energizing.
Consider our continuous back and forth a rubber-band principle that is a necessary for us to rekindle passion and longing, and not a way of attempting to run for the hills. It is primarily a mechanism that strengthens our commitment and intimacy, not diminish it. The further we are allowed to retreat, the harder we come bounding right back.
Unfortunately, this retreating provides fertile grounds for insecurity and misinterpretation. If we fear that the cause of this rubber-banding is disinterest, we are likely to give chase, denying the man his romantic rekindling mechanism. If the chasing is taken too far, it can and will cause the rubber-band to snap. Ouch.
2. We’re Not Great At Interpreting Non-Verbal Cues
Our ability to decode body language subtleties is usually on a par with that of an inanimate object. This isn’t always the case (some of us are eerily fluent at non-verbal interaction), however if communication seems a little hit and miss lately — it might pay dividends to invest in a direct, crystalline tete-a-tete. Ideally before misinterpretation leads to insecurity or resentment. And an unfortunate case of much-ado-about-nothing drama.
3. The Male Hormonal Flip-out
As a preface, this is one commonly reported difference between men and women that I have trouble agreeing wholeheartedly with. Nevertheless, people far more qualified than I swear by this principle and who am I to disagree with them (consider that weak attempt at scape-goating responsibility my disclaimer)?
The premise is this: Men and women react differently to stress. Men tend to adhere to the flight or fight response while women go for the less confrontational tend and befriend approach.
The result? Should relationship issues threaten a man’s sense of self, he may react uncharacteristically aggressively (usually impulsively), or rubber-band decisively towards his
bat man cave.
While it lasts (usually as long as the underlying stress exists — and it may have nothing to do with you), the flight or fight cycle can tear a relationship apart, dismantling trust and burying intimacy. With intimacy gone, but commitment still in place, you risk running headlong into a degenerating love-hate relationship.
4. Male Stereotypes And Peer Pressure
Men often succumb to the stereotypical confines of what we perceive being a man is (erroneously) really all about. Attempting to be unwaveringly stoic, resilient and impervious to stress can threaten our sense of self-worth (because we see our inability to be strong enough to weather the storm as a sense of weakness — or personal failure), and make us patently miserable.
Unfortunately, this stereotypical perfectionism leads to situations where we are prone to sell-off our needs in order to retain “respect”. A manifestation of a twisted illusory man-in-the-mirror complex based on impossible expectations.
At the end of the day it is really up to us to define our own humanity and open the introspective gates of our feelings for our own emotional well-being. But it can take time, and a great deal of courage to do so. And recognizing how difficult it can be for us to “be ourselves” is a surefire way to ease the process.
Of course, this is equally true of women too. The main gist of my rant is to ensure that neither party, in the guise of the fallacious and limited structure of gender roles, is taken for granted.
5. Fear Of Intimacy
Again, not all men are scared little pandas when it comes to intimate relationships, but the male fear of intimacy does have the tendency to crop up. What gives?
In short, fear of intimacy is often linked to a volatile mix of low self-esteem, past trauma (usually connected) and wavering self-worth. Mostly, however, it is linked to the psychological factors discussed in my previous point. Fear of failure, coupled with low self-esteem can make the prospect of rejection far too traumatizing to dare confront.
We cut and run in a desperate attempt to safe-guard our feelings, because once the shadow of emotional dependency sets in, the fallout will threaten not only our long term security, but further weaken the insecurity bubble that envelops our self image. And for once, the phrase “it isn’t about you, it’s about me” really does ring with the resounding crunch of truth.
The solution is both at once simple and complicated. Being reassured by our partners is only a temporary salve, the real issue is learning to love ourselves. In a sense we need to learn what is loveable about our own nature, and have faith that we are fit to the task of being a worthy companion to the object of our love. Which would be you (by the way).