Many men struggle with getting into or maintaining a successful romantic relationship. The rate of divorce, break-ups and affairs in our society illustrate the prevalence of this issue. In order to really address this problem, it’s important to understand its origins:
In our society, men are often socialized to restrict their emotional expressions in public. “Boys don’t cry” is a phrase many boys hear from parents, teachers, and coaches. Beyond emotional restriction, many boys and men are taught to limit sharing of feelings to a select few (if anyone at all). Men are taught that being vulnerable, and sharing emotions is dangerous. In heterosexual relationships, men often rely on their girlfriend or wife for the majority of their emotional needs.
Unfortunately, this reliance on a single person or select few is too much, especially during stressful times such as challenges at work, loss, or illness. This over reliance is a recipe for disaster. What happens when a man is sick or had a hard day and his romantic partner is at work or otherwise physically unavailable? Or what happens when children come into the picture and his wife becomes distracted or is too tired to be as emotionally supportive for her husband as she used to be? Disappointment, anger, jealousy, and affairs to name a few.
Men face the challenge of reaching out beyond their comfort zone to access additional emotional support. While it is a challenge against many years of socialization that suggest that asking for help is weak, expanding the network of emotional support is a very worthwhile endeavor. Having multiple supportive friendships can contribute to increased life satisfaction and better romantic relationships for men.
Seeing a psychotherapist who can help you to address your emotional needs and expand your support network or joining a men’s group are two of multiple options for approaching this important issue.