how many truly equal relationships really exist?
February 12, 2013 12:17 PM Subscribe
Is there more truth to "treat them mean keep them keen" than people will admit? In my observation most guys seem to be drawn to women who are a bit less invested than they are. I hate to generalize but I don't know how to square what people tell me is true with what a lifetime of experience and observation has born out. Is this just an essential part of human nature that I should learn to accept?
posted by timsneezed to Human Relations (58 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I've heard many times that only abnormal people respond to emotional unavailability, yet every guy I've been involved with seemed to be turned on by it. I've also noticed this in relationships between people I've known. I guess it's possible that all of my boyfriends and most of my friends'/acquaintances'/relatives' partners have been unhealthy but it seems unlikely given the number of people involved. I'm not saying every guy responds to the chase but it just seems like it's more of a majority than a minority.
People always jump to an extreme when you make a generalization. Perhaps they imagine that emotional unavailability equates to rampant cheating or neglect, the kind of behavior that would turn most healthy people off. But I'm talking about a more subtle form of emotional unavailability that I don't think the guys in these relationships are even conscious of.
I am naturally affectionate. In past relationships when I felt a guy was withdrawing I tried small experiments to see if my intuition was right that they were turned off by my availability. The results were usually the same. As an example, if we were texting and I gave them short, noncommittal responses or even just waited a few minutes to respond they would start sending me increasingly more ardent and frantic texts.
Whenever these guys talked about exes that they loved the most I discovered these women were unavailable in one way another -- either less invested in their relationship or not even interested in dating them. Here's what's strange. These guys didn't even seem to realize that they were responding to this quality or that these women weren't fully available. Yet the facts they presented me with made it clear.
I also notice it in small ways all the time when observing the relationships of friends and relatives. In the relationships where the guys seem most invested the women are usually keeping them on their toes, but I'm sure none of these men are even aware of how their relationships look to the outside. How do I mean keeping them on their toes? Subtly critical of their partners, less affectionate, making them do a lot of the heavy lifting, but never to the extent of abuse or blatant mistreatment.
Often these marriages are perfectly stable and happy so the dynamic isn't necessarily unhealthy, but it's just so rare that I witness a truly equal partnership.
In short my gut based on life experience is that most men respond to slight indifference. Yet I keep getting told that the opposite is true! Is my intuition off base? Also doesn't it makes perfect sense that people would value what they can't fully have? The second part to my question is how do I find an equal relationship where I get as much as I give?