I’ve never met a man who went into relationship looking to get hurt. Looking to be misunderstood, rejected, insulted, criticised, or humiliated. I mean, who does that?
We all go into our relationships to feel good – to feel great! To give, to share, and connect, to have great sex and be understood. And, mainly, to be accepted and loved for who we are.
But over time, something happens. The dynamic shifts away from those wonderful experiences and feelings, and often transforms into something unrecognizable. Something, that if we knew would happen from the beginning, we would never agree to.
It usually starts small, but can start big. Little comments, some sarcasm, some passive-aggressive behavior, some unacceptance of “who you are as a person.” Next thing you know, she wants you to CHANGE with a capital C.
And most of the time, the shift isn’t a pleasant one. It comes with a lot of pain, perhaps the threat of separation, and lots of hurtful language.
Most men who work with me are going through this exact phase – this exact phenomenon. And while the details are usually a bit different, it usually boils down to the same underlying sentiment:
OMG-She is Driving Me F*ing Crazy!”
A variation of the following continues: “What on earth happened to us!? All of a sudden, she started becoming critical. Nothing I do is ever good enough. She doesn’t want to hang-out anymore. She doesn’t say nice things anymore. She doesn’t want me to touch her anymore. She never even says “thank-you” anymore.”
In extreme cases, the situation is even worse: “She is kind and has time for everybody else besides for me! She will spend hours on the phone with her friends, but doesn’t have 15 minutes for us anymore.”
And, it usually concludes with: “I’m so tired of this. I don’t need this headache and heartache. I’m just looking for someone to hang-out with, enjoy, and have fun with. I’m fed up and this ain’t worth it. I want out.”
And every time I hear this same story, my heart bleeds for these men, because this really hurts. We feel alone, abandoned, confused; and the age-old never-ending message of “I’m not good enough” rears its ugly head. Sad, really.
And what really gets my goat is that usually, the beaten man on the other end of the phone is really a great guy. A provider; a protector; a lover; a giver. I am often amazed as to the level of integrity and sacrifice these men have for their relationship and partner.
Yet none-the-less, here we are, with a broken heart and a broken spirit.
But I have a secret that I know, and he doesn’t.
My challenge is going to be how I can convey this to him, each man in his own way. Each in a language that makes sense to him. And in such a way that once he “gets-it”, the turn-around is so profound that it brings a smile to his face, a warmth to his heart, and an excitement back into his relationship.
What I know that he doesn’t is that this woman who is terrorizing him, is doing so exactly the way she was designed to do. She is fulfilling her purpose, to a tee. She is being the perfect partner to him. She is achieving the impossible: turning this boy into a man.
Just he doesn’t realize it. And neither does she. She may even deny it. She self-righteously defends her behavior by proclaiming that he is not appreciative of her. That he doesn’t pay attention to her. That he doesn’t prioritize her. That he isn’t doing anything with his life. That he is too clingy & needy & controlling. That he is too jealous; or not jealous enough or, or, or the list is endless.
But what she is doing, as only a woman can do, is zeroing-in on every single one of his weaknesses, and literally throwing it in his face. Rudely, crassly, insensitively, done exactly in the perfect way to get him to where he is – broken, and on the phone with me.
And she is doing this not because she doesn’t love him – exactly the opposite. Precisely because she does love him, and wants to see the best version of him arise from the ashes.
She sees in him what he doesn’t see in himself, the negative and the positive.
And when he gets this – when he realizes what is actually going on – that she is 100% correct about all his boyish patterns and his shortcomings, his lack of maturity and masculinity, he laughs. And it is a deep, deep laugh from his soul. Because a new window opens up for him, full of new perspectives and insights into who he was and who he can be.
As the possibility and image of a new & improved man emerges, we both smile together and together say to her, “Thank you for driving me crazy!”