(Audio version available below)
You don’t just believe she loves you, you are sure of it. Yet, you can feel her slowly slipping away from you.
You reach out to touch her, and you feel her body tense. It’s so subtle; you used to think you imagined it. She rolls her eyes each time you speak. It is as if everything you say is ridiculous. You almost wish she would get angry so you can talk openly. Instead, she is pleasant but detached.
Yet, with other people, she is still the fun-loving woman you fell in love with.
Women do exist who show no respect for a man, regardless of what he is like.
Her feelings for him are not strong enough. There is also the wife or girlfriend that nags you and gives you a bit of a hard time. It can be annoying, but it is not personal. When all is said and done, she is there for you and you feel close to her.
What do you do if you have the lady in this scenario that is polite but aloof? This is perhaps the most difficult to cope with. You believe happiness with her is within your reach. You just cannot seem to grasp it.
I spend my life working with entrepreneurial women who prefer not to go home. I am going to share a few of the things they tell me that a man may never guess would be a problem.
You rely too much on her for support.
One of the wonderful benefits of an intimate relationship is to have somebody who supports and encourages us. Even so, it is not their responsibility to validate us so that we feel loved. When we rely heavily on the approval of our partner, it puts enormous pressure on them to act how we want them to. By default, it means they are not free to just be themselves. They will eventually resent you for putting them in that position. From a sexual perspective, a needy man is just not attractive.
You are boring.
Spending time with your partner is extremely important. Date nights are marvellous for keeping the romance alive. They are not so marvellous if they are the same dinner and a movie routine that you have been doing since you met. It is remarkable how two people in a relationship can have the same conversation over and over again. “How was work?” “What time is American Idol?”
Being more imaginative does help, but another way is to have interests outside of your relationship. That way, when you come back together, you have new things to talk about. The irony is that if you are a man that relies on your lady for lots of support, you are less likely to do things without her, or with friends of your own. When you find a pastime that you are passionate about, you become more interesting to her, and it makes you feel great too.
You sulk, go quiet or walk away when you are frustrated.
This is classic, passive aggressive behavior. You could justify it because you need space to process or calm down. Maybe you do. But each time this happens–just like water dripping on a stone–it will wear away her respect for you. You risk her thinking you avoid situations or that you are emotionally immature.
You use money and gifts to get the reaction you want from her.
She wants to love you, so encourage her to share her feelings.
I cannot image any woman who does not enjoy receiving gifts or having money spent on her. It is lovely. But an intuitive woman can smell manipulation from afar. You love her, and you want to please her. The problem is she knows you are only doing it to get on her good side. If you spoil her all the time; then good for you. But if you only do it at specific times, like after an argument, or worse, just before you try to make love to her. Note I said try.Furthermore, if you already disagree about finances, it just makes matters worse.
Money is the issue that gives me an insight into the private world of the men and women I work with. When they decide to tackle the finances in their business, it can open a window into the other areas of their life which they also want to repair.
It is hard to feel criticized because you love someone. She probably feels stupid and petty herself; so she doesn’t say what is truly on her mind. Remember, you are not responsible for your partner’s behaviour. She can always choose how she responds. She cannot, however, choose how she feels.
She wants to love you, so encourage her to share her feelings, no matter how difficult it is to hear.
Imagine if the next time you reach out to touch her, instead of flinching, she reaches out to touch you, too. And this time it is because she wants to.
First published on The Good Men Project Magazine