Dear Monica, I am having trouble sustaining long-term relationships. What do you think I am doing that makes men back off? —J. P., Springfield
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re getting along perfectly with your guy, blue skies as far as the eye can see. Then all of a sudden, he shuts down and is aloof. You feel more like the lonely housewife than the hot object of his desire. Why the sudden freeze-out? When men annoy us, we are verbal about it (this is typically followed by a laundry list of how they should be more sensitive to our needs, take out the trash…). When we annoy them, the typical male reaction is to avoid us. Good communication in relationships is the goal as long as you remember this: It is not what you say, but how you say it. Perhaps you have to take a look at your words, along with your actions and see if there is a good reason behind his pulling away. Here are some behavioral patterns in which women tend to engage that make men run.
- Does he feel like you trust him? Do you suspect he’s cheating on you every time he leaves your sight? Are you checking his texts and emails when he’s in the shower? After a while, he’ll get tired of reassuring you he’s not messing around. Quite frankly, it’s a waste of time trying to gain someone’s trust. The eventual outcome here will be that he’ll ditch the relationship, hang with the guys and eventually find a girl that trusts him.
- How do you deal with your insecurity? No guy wants to be a babysitter. Do you present yourself as a needy person that requires constant attention? Does each day present itself with molehills turned into mountains? This is not the package most men seek out for the rest of eternity.
- Are you there when he wakes up, by his side all day and tucked into bed with him at night? Do complain too much about his not being around enough? Time apart is a good thing. Nothing is more annoying to a guy than feeling smothered and suffocated with a “Stage 5 Clinger”!
- Is the conversation substantive and interesting? Listen closely. Men do not care about the stores you went to while on a shopping spree, or the details of the cute shoes that were on sale at Nordstrom. Leave the girl talk for gal pal lunch dates. He will shut off faster than you can say “sample sale” and is less likely to pay attention when you actually have something important to say. Lose the idle chatter and be a listener from time to time. When engaged in dialog, bring up topics that you know are mutually stimulating. Hint: lunch, tennis games and shopping are of little interest to anybody, let alone guys.
- When the going gets tough, lose the drama. Making an emotional scene is barely acceptable for teenagers and completely unacceptable for adult, mature women. It’s exhausting to deal with these scenarios and any normal person would feel like they are walking on eggshells. Save the dramatic reaction for when he really does something that truly warrants the theatrical performance.
- Nagging leads to misery. Don’t pick at his every fault to the point that he can’t do anything right. Even though you think you are helping him change for the better, chose your battles wisely. For starters, get off his back so he doesn’t associate you with his mom. If you think this much is wrong with him, leave: A zebra doesn’t change its stripes.
- Save the Games for Words With Friends. Return phone calls and texts in a timely manner. If you are available Saturday night, don’t play hard to get. Just say yes. No one has time or patience for the chase. If you are interested, give off the cues that say so.
The best advise for any relationship—be it one with friends, family or significant others—is to put a smile on your face and be positive and happy. No one wants to be around people who whine, complain and see the glass as half empty. We all have our ups and downs, and certainly want to choose someone who is there for us for better or worse. Think of the traits that you want in your mate and give this in return. If you are putting your best foot forward and he is as well, things should start moving in the right direction.