Who Leaves Who In A Relationship?

Men Leave Relationships in Many Ways

In my clinical and personal experience, I rarely see men doing the leaving. They do lots of other things, but rarely are they the ones to completely end a relationship. They compartmentalize and disappear into work, hobbies, fantasy, or addiction. They carry on secret lives and secret affairs. They’ll create situations that make it impossible to continue in a relationship or marriage. They might leave a dissatisfying relationship in their heart, but they are unlikely to leave in body.

Why Do Men Stay

There are lots of reasons why they may stay. It might be a sense of obligation. Or an ability to disown parts of themselves that don’t fit the constraints imposed on them.  It may also be the inability to tolerate feeling like he’s failed at marriage. Or maybe men expect less from a relationship, less from love. Perhaps the hard-to-stomach truth is that men are conditioned to expect less satisfaction from life in general.  Beneath the veneer of stoicism and high tolerance for disconnection, there are aching hearts and empty souls.

“If we want men to be more accessible, engaged, and filled with vitality, we need to be prepared for the latent anger – even rage – that comes from being treated as an expendable tool.”

If we look at men and women in broad stereotypes, we could say that many women embody the notion of the selfless caregiver in a relationship, while men are the soldiers.  The soldier is able to put feelings aside and work for a greater good. The ability to do this is useful, but when that greater “good” is in opposition to a man’s values and heart, he can become detached and robotic. There is a high likelihood he can become too rigid, always putting feelings aside. He loses his erotic intelligence. He can no longer feel connected to others, himself, or to life. He becomes inaccessible. He is but a shell of himself.

If we want men to be more accessible, engaged, and filled with vitality, we need to be prepared for the latent anger – even rage – that comes from being treated as an expendable tool. There needs to be space for their healing. If we want men connected to their vitality, we have to prepare ourselves to have their source of vitality be in opposition to ours. This means we have to be ready to hear “No” or even “Goodbye.”

If we want to have a relationship that is full of life, we have to be willing to risk its demise.

We cannot have the mindset that a relationship or marriage must be preserved at all costs. We need to accept a relationship’s temporal nature. The price for preservation is likely one’s vitality and lifeforce. This, by definition, ends a relationship. There can be no real connection or relationship with someone who is dead inside. It’s only when we embrace each other’s passions, sources of vitality, and complexities without reducing each other to a utilitarian role that we can truly be in relationship with someone.

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