We had it all figured out back in the ’70s: If it weren’t for societal influences, men and women would be just alike, right?
Wrong. Over time, scientific studies have revealed that men and women are fundamentally different in some biologically determined ways: Women have a physiological need to be in a steady relationship with a man. On the other hand men, aka “hunters,” often need physical and emotional distance from women.
Put simply, we need them and they don’t always need us. Sounds like we women are between a rock and a hard place. Unwittingly, we give in to our biological urges, while ignoring theirs. As a result, we fall into some predictable relationship traps:
We rearrange our schedule for him at the drop of a hat.
We ignore our own hobbies, interests and opinions, if they conflict with his.
We forget our friends, and focus on him.
We can’t change biology, but we don’t have to succumb to it, either. Fortunately, there is a way to maintain your sense of self and experience a fulfilling love relationship. Here’s how:
- Know who you are today. Make an honest appraisal of yourself. What are your interests, preferences and opinions? Your strengths and weaknesses? Enlist the help of a trusted confidante in conducting your appraisal.
But remain a “work in progress.” (with or without him!) Based on your appraisal, what areas need further development? Consider the following in your self-improvement plan:
- Your mind. It’s never too late to broaden your experience. Expose yourself to something different — anything! If you are an engineer, for example, go hear an opera or take a creative writing class.
- Your body. Regular exercise will keep you healthy and greatly improve your attitude. And don’t apologize if it appeals to your vanity. After all, what’s on the outside does count. Revamp your wardrobe, and change that hairstyle. You’ll feel better about you, and so will he.
- Your spirit. Make time to be by yourself. Take a long walk, or lose yourself in a book. Alone time will help you recharge your batteries and remind you that despite biology, you are just fine without him.
- Your soul. Nourish key relationships with friends and family. Doing so is rewarding and will keep you from pouring all your energies into him. Additionally, find your passion. Whether it be your vocation or an avocation, discover what you love doing, and do it.
- Confidently communicate who you are. Don’t worry if your opinions and preferences differ from his. “Different” adds “zing” to a relationship. And if you are too different, better to find out now!
- Let him share his thoughts and feelings with you at his pace. I know what you’re thinking: “I’ll be dead and buried before that happens!” Well, why not find out? If he does choose to open up you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And if he doesn’t, maybe it’s time to rejoin that dating service.
- Give yourself time off from the relationship. Rather than giving him “permission” to be away from you, gently clarify that you will regularly be doing things without him. This will allow him to miss you and to engage in that “hunting” routine which comes so naturally.
Implementing these strategies will make you a happier, healthier woman, and will likely improve your romance. And if the relationship ends, you will have developed the capacity to enjoy your own company.
Purcell, M. (2006). Keeping You Without Losing Him. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/keeping-you-without-losing-him/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.