Today is the day! Today is the day that you celebrate the love of your life by taking them out to dinner, buying flowers and chocolates, then taking the night back home for some snuggles and sweet nothings.
But what do you do when you’ve been together for a little while and this isn’t your first valentine’s day? What if you decided to pick up a shift today, or you didn’t mind being scheduled. What happens when love feels like it cooled down and it might not return?
It’s not a good feeling. I experienced it with my last relationship. It felt like things had grown cold. Like valentine’s day was obligatory, like we were supposed to be happy when we really weren’t. What happened to the joy that we felt when we first got together? Is it just a product of human nature to grow weary of your partner?
My failed relationship taught me a lot. Mostly about myself. My personal issues and demons. My failings as a person, as a man, and as a partner. But beyond that, it taught me that no, love doesn’t just die.
I’m sure you’ve heard “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” right? Did you know that it’s a book too? Let me tell you, that book is life changing. If you want to check it out, click the link above. Now, I’m not here to sell a book. This post is about why you may feel like things are different than they were. Why you feel like things continually get hot, and then cold. Like you’re on the same page, and suddenly you’re not.
Knowledge is power. In this case, it is the power to create a strong and lasting relationship. Knowing that men are like rubber bands and women are like waves can help you understand why your partner feels distant. At the same time, it can reassure you that things aren’t necessarily over.
This post isn’t going to do a good job of encompassing everything, so I strongly, strongly recommend you read the book. (Seriously, I have a digital copy and a physical copy on top of considering getting the audio version. You have to read it.)
Anyway, when I say that men are like rubber bands, I mean that a lot of men vacillate between wanting to be close and affectionate and becoming distant and somewhat cold. They don’t necessarily consciously do it and they certainly don’t do it with the express desire to hurt you.
Women typically pull away from their partners when they don’t feel understood or cared for. When a man pulls away, it’s not always for any particular reason, he just needs to. If you don’t know why he’s pulled away, or you think to yourself, “we were having such a great time the other day, why is he so cold now? What did I do?” Then it probably wasn’t you or anything you did.
Men simply need to feel independent every once in a while. Now, I don’t want anyone to get hurt or feel like men are using you or anything, so here’s the kicker: just like a rubber band snapping back when you’ve stretched it out, he is going to come back at you with all of the love and intimacy you can handle.
In addition to needing to feel independent and strong, men NEED intimacy. They need to share their love with you and to support you.
Now, we all know that men are bad at sharing their feelings, right? It’s just not something that we (men) spend a lot of time thinking about. We just feel things and react. We don’t make a habit of questioning why we feel they way we do, we just feel it.
So, when he inevitably feels the need to prove himself to…himself (I know, it’s dumb) he isn’t going to have the wherewithal to tell you why he needs some space. Additionally–because we don’t stop and think–if you chase after him and don’t allow him the space he needs, he is going to continue to pull away without ever really assuring you that it’s not anything you’re doing. Although, he may tell you that you’re being “clingy” in one way or another that’s hurtful and not what he really means.
Again, we men just feel things, so we feel like someone is “clinging” to us, like we’re being held back or that we can’t breathe. It’s a feeling that we don’t fully express. We don’t ever say, “I want to explore something alone, but I want to share the experience with you when I’m done,” or, “I need to prove to myself that I can fix this thing. So…I love you, but I don’t want your help unless I ask for it. When I fix it, can you be proud of me with me?”
Without saying any of that, any attempt to hold on to us while we try to accomplish this thing that we don’t express (or even really know) can feel like it’s too much.
If we’re allowed to do it though, the FIRST thing that we want to do, is run back to you and share everything in our hearts with you. It’s weird and I don’t fully understand it, but that’s the way that it works. It’s like a switch. When we’ve (I’ve) had enough independence, literally the first thing that comes to mind is coming to find you. Nothing else in the world matters more than getting back to you.
If he pulled away from you in the middle of a conversation and became emotionally distant, this is the time to talk to him. When he comes back. He is going to act like there was no gap, even though there clearly was. When he does come back, you can explain that he pulled away in the middle of a conversation and it hurt your feelings. It made you feel like he doesn’t care about you, or that you can’t be vulnerable with him.
Even though it wasn’t his intention to do that to you, he needs to acknowledge that is what happened. From here, you two can start to work out what triggers him to want to pull away and how you can let him have his independence when he needs it.
Striking that balance will put you both at ease and will make your lives so much easier than they were before you understood the intimacy cycle of men. I don’t know this for sure, but I want to believe that when (and if) you two are willing to talk about–and learn about–this cycle, the days of talking about your feelings that turned into him walking out and leaving you crying and alone can start to end.
I do know that when he enters a relationship with this knowledge of himself, he is going to be better about letting you know what he needs.
That last part was kind of heavy, right. It was a little on the nose for me and I questioned whether I should put something like that in here. I don’t enjoy revisiting the pain and suffering that I caused someone else. Whether I intentionally did it or not is irrelevant. The memories of those days and nights is painful and depressing.
I decided to leave that there, because I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one who experienced this, and I want those feelings, those low vibrations to be felt by anyone who reads this. Especially the men.
I want that, because I want to talk about how women are like waves.
That downward motion of things being okay or hopeful to pretty quickly turning into feeling down and lowly is something that–to my understanding–happens to women as a natural state of being. Just like men feel an innate need to pull away, women feel an innate need to delve deeply into themselves and talk about some of their negative feelings. Feelings that they deny feeling most of the time–and mostly for the sake of others.
I won’t lie, I am not an expert on this subject, nor do I think I’m particularly good at reacting to it. Instead what I can offer you (and me) is a look at what happens and what should be done in response. I can tell when my fiancee is feeling down. Her whole demeanor changes. She gets very quiet and very still. Her face loses all emotion and she begins to look vaguely panicked, lost, and misty-eyed. I don’t know if others can see this change, but it is like night and day to me.
My problem is–and it has been this way since before we were together–that I want to fix it. I want to make the bad feelings go away. That’s not what she wants though! Looking at it in writing, I can see the problem better. I want to fix it. I want to fix her mood. I want to fix her.
That’s not how we feel, but that’s how it translates. We don’t want her to feel badly about herself. We see an entirely different version than she sees. Where she sees ugliness, failure, and worthlessness, we see perfection, success, and self-less love. We want her to see herself as we see her. We want to deliver what she deserves. Endless happiness and comfort.
We get frustrated when we can’t deliver that. We don’t understand where these feelings come from and we don’t understand that it has nothing to do with us or anyone else, really.
Just like it scares women when men need to pull away, it scares us when we see women diving deep into what looks like a bottomless pit of despair.
I’ve learned–thanks purely to an extremely emotionally intelligent and developed woman that I have the pleasure of calling my fiancee–that understanding and truly listening are the most important things.
Being with the woman that I’m with and having the experiences that I’ve had, I’ve found myself learning to talk about (icky) emotions and feelings. In a level of detail that I didn’t even know existed. Again, as guys, we don’t question our feelings. We just act on them. However, when your guy starts to understand what it means to question where their feelings come from, what caused it, and what the solution is, they can better understand the necessity of talking about things.
There is value in talking about what you are feeling and why. Which is why the crashing of the “wave” shouldn’t be a cause for concern, or a sign that something needs fixing. It’s just nature, man.
As scary as it is, you need to let her come down on herself. You need to be there to support her, not fix anything. She will “fix” it on her own and she won’t hesitate to ask for your help if she needs it. But when she feels down, she needs to know that you’re there and that you see her for what she really is.
When she gives you examples, you don’t need to fix it. You just need to reassure her. Follow her lead. That downward crash could be waaaaayyyy further down than you anticipated and it could take a lot longer than a few minutes. Just follow her lead and let her know what she isn’t alone.
When she comes out of it–and she will–you will be fooled into thinking that something was solved. That something was fixed. It wasn’t. It’s going to come up again. When it does, it is not the time to get frustrated and lash out. Yes, you’ve been over it before. Yes, you’ve talked about it and she felt better after your talk. No, you’re telling her that you’ve been over it isn’t actually helping.
Look, I get it, your ego is hurt. You feel like it was something you did, or didn’t do well enough to get through to her. It can be especially hard if you’re confronted with questions about your loyalty. Are you going to leave her? Are you going to cheat on her? What about that one time you said_____? “But, the other day you…?”
Yes, it sounds like a personal attack, and yes it stings, and yes it makes you defensive and angry. She isn’t blaming you, though. She is questioning if you’re different. Different than all of the other assholes that she dated. Different than her parents who had a rough divorce and left her feeling alone and hurt. Are you really a knight in shining armor?
You’re going to have to go into a lot of “dungeons” and slay a lot of dragons before they stop coming up. And yeah, she keeps walking into dungeons knowing there are f**king dragons in there. She’s in there looking for something. Something you can’t see and something that’s precious to her.
Be the knight in shining armor and walk through them with her.
If you made it this far, thank you for sticking with me. This was a long one. I hope that you got something out of it and I hope your relationship is better because of it.
And seriously, check out the book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.“
Good luck tonight! Talk soon.