Men and the Fight/Flee Response In Relationships

When a relationship is in shambles, most people only employ 2 options on how to troubleshoot it. And if it doesn’t work out, there’s 6, 999, 999, 999 people on the planet. You’re bound to find exactly what you found in them in someone new, right?

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While some things on the surface seem easy, instant gratification with the things we truly want isn’t so common. Complete happiness requires sacrifice and a certain type of surrendering. We give up the things with less meaning in order to willfully do every possible thing to obtain what means the most. For most guys (myself included), we’ll put all of our effort into our jobs/careers, our fitness regimens, our closets, and even our social circles. We have no problem with the developmental slow burn in those areas because eventually those things become parts of our identity. However, when it comes to relationships, men tend to have a “nice, but not a must” perspective.

I never really sat down to put my relationship (or the desire to have 1) on the list of life’s priorities. All I knew was it fit somewhere between buying a nice, modern style mansion and giving my moms some grandkids. Never once have I methodically pursued a woman with the expectation of it going somewhere. My approach has always been if we get along, have the same interests and goals, and can always communicate freely, then let’s just let things happen. Passivity isn’t always the best approach though. Sometimes you have to make things happen.

When things take a sharp turn and cause a relationship to dynamically change, it’s like a Mayweather left. There may be little things leading up to the big bang, but you don’t really pay attention. Our own naivete is often the sole cause of heartbreak. Guys often treat relationships as optional because in our perfect picture frame, the woman is always replaceable. Our list of requirements and wants for a woman aren’t nearly as exhaustive as the fairer sex. So when things get stale or too difficult or simply change unfavorably, it’s convenient for us to choose the flight response. The way a man’s emotionality is built, the picture doesn’t change because the woman in it did.

On the other hand, women put a lot of work into keeping a relationship afloat while treading rough waters. I’ve said it before, women’s ability to be resilient is astounding! Maybe it’s because of the ratio that women invest so much into a relationship that’s obviously on life support. I don’t have official statistics, but I’m sure when it comes to the “let’s go to therapy” solution, 9 times out of 10, it’s the woman who initiates that. Men may want to fix things or we’re generally problem solvers. Yet the older I get, the more I can see that it’s really women who handle the repairs of life.

So for guys, how does one know when a relationship is worth fighting for?

The answer is pretty simple. When you cannot see yourself without HER. Not being alone or making the next woman fit into her mold are just excuses. When you think about your future plans, whether it’s next year, next month, or next week, you can’t see them clearly without HER is the only reason you need.

It sounds a little cheesy. I used to think it was unlikely to feel that deep about a woman until it happened to me. But that’s how love is for guys. We never believe it exists or understand it until we’re in it. The things in life worth having don’t come without setbacks. Relationships don’t come with an instructional manual either. What made me understand when fighting for a relationship becomes a necessity is when you know you’re not fighting alone.

The fight or flee response for guys and relationships comes down to qualifying that woman in the full schematic of your life. It’s not easy for a man to see remnants of his failure and try to piece them together again. That rush you had as you were building isn’t going to be there anymore once it comes toppling down. To compare it to other successes in our lives; many of us are dream-chasers, but few of us are actually living the dream. Only the boldest of men can humbly say “that didn’t go according to plans, but I’m not giving up on my ability.”

The mind and heart are always in constant battle when it comes to love. Love, in and of itself, can be a battlefield. However, every man will experience that 1 woman where fighting or fleeing isn’t even a pondering thought. We just suit up and charge toward the chaos, knowing that the only way we can fix it is to go through it.

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