So many guys have come to me for a counselling session because their lovely partner has left them. This is something that I understand. But what makes me sad is that they don’t realise why.
It is so easy to think that because we have fallen in love and decreed to love someone forever, that they will feel the same.
We might have a myth that we can be ‘ourselves’ and we will be loved. The sad reality seems to be some people don’t have relationship skills.
They don’t understand the person in their life needs to be ‘nurtured’ and the love needs to be ‘nurtured’. I emphasise this word because I have no idea what other word to use in that context.
If people can be split into categories and we choose to use a process that refers to these categories, it can help us make sense of this dilemma. The categories are: drivers, analytical, amicable and expressive.
A person who is a driver and has some analytical traits is going to be very focussed on tasks. They don’t understand that their partner may not be.
What they will do in the relationship is to focus on achieving results. They may talk about their vision for the future and what they are building for the future.
Their partner may be an expressive or an amicable person. They may complain and say they want more attention.
They may request hand holding and compliments and long walks. The driver will say they don’t have time for such nonsense and they are building something or growing something or creating something.
The other person keeps quiet, but slowly becomes more and more resentful. One day they leave.
The driver tells me, “It was out of the blue; I didn’t expect it.”
However, it is more than likely that the other person complained and asked for more; that they withdrew and demonstrated other signs that they’d had enough. Then they left.
I then find myself with a very sad person who doesn’t have the will to live anymore, because their heart is broken.
However, if I had told them what to change, they may well have ignored me.
Their arrogance and determination not to receive any feedback that is contrary to their view of themselves causes their downfall.
So this article is a plea to all those people out there who are not paying attention to their relationship and they are assuming that it will keep living no matter how little maintenance they do.
Just as a car needs petrol, oil and water, and plants need pruning, fertiliser and bug repellent, a relationship also needs time and energy.
Take the temperature of your relationship. Is it still hot? Are you sure? Put some love into it. See what happens.
Suzanne Loubris is a relationships and organisational psychologist who works with individuals, couples and corporations to resolve conflict. Visit behaviourthatworks.com.