The majority of the time, on social media, we rarely see or embrace positive relationships in a meaningful manner i.e. #relationshipgoals. Unfortunately, the negative realities and possibilities of relationships are altogether more interesting and enjoyable for the audience to digest. For as long as I’ve been alive, there has been an eternal view that men are dogs, selfish, useless and in need of babying. I wish I could say that it is a false narrative but…it is not…well, not entirely. But that’s a different story for a different article.
We all know that men and women think and process differently, however this is something that people often forget when we get into relationships and the inevitable hard times come. Women are beautiful and wonderfully complex individuals. And that is part of allure. The mysterious nature of women is a God-given gift that complements men’s innate desire to be go-getters and problem-solvers.
I am by no means an expert in this relationship malarkey. I mess up from time to time and make the silliest mistakes but that is part of the process. The most important thing to remember is that relationships are a journey that requires two people that are willing to put up with the good, bad and the ugly.
Logic vs Emotion
For me personally, the showing of empathy on a regular basis was not something I was used to. In my family and circle of friends, we dealt with bad situations by laughing first, even poking fun at the person for their stupidity, and then we work out a practical solution. So when I got into relationships with women, where that doesn’t work the majority of the time, I would deem them irrational and couldn’t understand why they don’t just bow to my way of dealing with problems. In my mind, if it wasn’t logical, it was stupid. 1 + 1 = 2. ALWAYS.
As a result, all of my relation/situation-ships sank because my idea of what was logical, was limited to my way of thinking and my perspective on how she should respond to the situation. When really rationality and logic will tell you to look at the problem, understand who is involved in the problem, and listen to how the issue is affecting them. The conundrum here is that you actually have to care in order to do this. If this is supposed to be something serious and you don’t care enough to try, just let her go. It is easy to see why I and many others never took this approach. We just didn’t care enough. Why listen to how this person feels when I can tell her it makes no sense, make her sound crazy, be right as always and still get the cooch I came for when she calms down. All of which feeds a corrupt ego.
In order to have a successful relationship, you NEED to be willing to understand the person you are with. The only way you can understand the person you’re with is by communicating. Whether you’re arguing or having pillow talk, you can learn something that will help your relationship depending on whether you are listening to respond or listening to learn! Having arguments doesn’t always indicate that you are incompatible. The best way to look at arguments are opportunities to learn more about each other in anticipation of your joint future.
‘Emotional’ behaviour doesn’t always mean irrational. In the many arguments I have had with my girlfriend of 4+ years, I have become better at stepping back and just listening to how I have made her feel. THAT is what you need to deal with. Whether you intended to make her feel that way or not, the issue is that she does feel that way and it is your job to fix that. How? Well there’s this thing called an apology…a sincere one. A sincere apology is a verb. You must show that you are making the effort to rectify your wrongs otherwise it is just empty words which damages any trust that you have. I know women can struggle with that concept themselves, but as men, we need to be strong enough to say sorry even if we know it’s not coming back.
Am I your teacher?
In a relationship, there are many teachable moments. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HAVING TO TEACH YOUR PARTNER THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF AND/OR HOW TO BE BETTER AT DEALING WITH SITUATIONS YOU FIND YOURSELVES IN. For example, if your partner is someone who always runs away from arguments instead of resolving them, you can and should discuss this and talk about why it is better to solve situations head on. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I see people say they are not willing to teach their partner how to love them…as if their partner is a mind reader and is going to know the ins and outs of your complex being that has been developing and still changing over 20+ years. Let’s be realistic. Of course there are basic elements of yourself that your partner should get from early on, but there are areas that take some getting used to. Men are guilty of expecting women to be our mind readers too. If you don’t let your woman know how you feel, how her words or actions affect you or your insecurities (yes, us men have them too!), you cannot expect to be happy. Part of being a man is being strong enough to be vulnerable. Without vulnerability, you cannot sustain a good relationship. Letting her know that specific actions or words or even jokes, have an adverse effect on you is okay. It doesn’t make you weak or overly emotional. If that’s how you genuinely feel, then express it. If you feel like you cannot be vulnerable with the woman you are with, then it lets you know that a long term relationship is possibly out of reach.
If you can’t be honest and vulnerable now, when harder troubles come later down the line with time, finances and even children invested into the relationship, you will struggle.
So, my brothers, let’s get it right. For those of us who are serious about having meaningful and long lasting relationships the key point is this:
- After the honeymoon phase, it does take a lot of thought and practising things that don’t come naturally to us.
- You are responsible for your happiness. Your partner can help but only if you let her.
- Vulnerability is a necessity as it helps build trust. It is difficult but it’s worth it. After the initial scare of being vulnerable passes, the beauty of the person saying the right thing and/or accepting that hidden part of you, is liberating.
Photo Animation by @SimplySeyi