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Why Men Struggle In Relationships

Why Men Struggle in Relationships 

Everyone has blind spots when it comes to making a long-term relationship succeed. American men have particular trouble creating emotional intimacy because our culture teaches us to minimize our emotional intelligence in order to look and feel manly. is lack of familiarity with what I call emotional honesty creates a lack of emotional maturity. It also sets us up to have a huge blind spot—not only about relationships, but also about ourselves as passionate, feeling individu- als—that keeps us trapped in a frustrating and Unavoidable Dilemma: On the one hand, as men we rely upon the deeply hard-wired survival instinct within ourselves whenever setbacks or adversity happen to us on the road to “making it” or succeeding in our careers.  is is a good thing. On the other hand, we also unwittingly and unconsciously rely on this same deeply hard-wired survival instinct whenever setbacks or adversity occur on the way to “making it” or succeeding in our intimate relationships. However, rather than help resolve the problems that occur between a couple, relying on this instinct as the primary way of dealing with our loved one only creates more disappointment, more anger, more confusion, and more hopelessness in the relationship. is is our Dilemma. Furthermore, because this survival instinct is also a very fundamental piece of who we are as men and how we express our masculinity, it is di cult—if not impossible—for us to function without it. at makes it our Unavoidable Dilemma. Survival is that  ght-or- ight, I’ve-got to-make-it-to-tomorrow-no-matter-what, win-or-lose mode we get into when our backs are up against the wall, and we have to do whatever it takes to keep our businesses alive and compete in a dog-eat-dog world. Our survival instinct (survival mode) is also how we react whenever we feel threatened or hurt—either physically OR emotion- ally. When things aren’t going well in an intimate relationship, we feel threatened and we go into survival mode. While it may be second nature for us to protect ourselves utilizing the same instinct that keeps our businesses or careers alive, the price our relationship pays is huge whenever we engage our partner from that hunkered-down, swords-drawn, I’m-right-you’re-wrong, you-are-now-the-enemy, sur- vival state of mind. And the worst part is that we usually don’t realize the damage we have caused until it’s too late and she is threatening to leave the relationship! e bottom line is this: being in survival mode creates distance between us and the women we love. Our survival mode more than likely triggers her survival mode, which then relegates us to a survival relationship. And when this pattern of interaction repeats itself over and over, the founda- tion of the relationship erodes, leaving no trust, no goodwill, and no hope to save the relationship.
In a thriving relationship—especially during times of stress—what a woman needs from a man is to approach her as the adult, mature man that we are, not the wounded little boy that is looking to take his anger and pain out on her.  e way out of our unavoidable dilemma is to talk to her about what is real and honest for us in the moment. No tip toeing or walking on eggshells around her. Being real means revealing whatever truly is in your heart or your gut or your soul, even if it might not be received well or understood or agreed with. In other words, it is crucial that you get emotionally honest with her and speak your Truth, which ideally will make it emotionally safe enough for her to turn around and do the same with you. Having a life and a relationship that are not caught up in Survival Mode is a goal not easily achieved, especially with all the stress of making a living and maintaining a certain lifestyle—stress which we very often create for ourselves. It does involve choosing to learn new information—espe- cially about yourself as a man—and how to bring a deeper sense of masculinity that is mature and courageous to your relationship.  is might at  rst be uncomfortable, but it ultimately will lead to a healthier partnership and a deeper appreciation of the woman you love.  Dr. He ~ Dr. She

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