In my over 10 years of experience working with both men and women in relationship distress from conflict, separation or the effects of adultery I have had the honour to see deeply into the psychology behind male and female relationship patterns. This article will reveal some of men’s fear of hurting their partner.
I don’t want to hurt her
I have heard it uncountable times when men have shared their truth with me in therapy about their infidelities etc. and why they do not or not yet want to tell their partner: The fear of hurting them. In fact, I have witnessed this fear paralyzing men to the point of waiting for their female partner to take action and leave, even when it should have been the man’s responsibility, given the situation.
Inability to deal with emotionality
I wonder how much of that fear is linked to their inability to deal with female emotionality. This is a generalization however it has been shown again and again that men are inexperienced in dealing with what once was the most loved person’s emotional reaction: anger, sadness, despair, pleading and irrationality.
Men have shown me that they are more (or for a longer time) capable than women to live with a relationship that is no longer perfect. They believe by avoiding the unavoidable pain of the truth, they can steer the relation-ship around it and ‘it will magically solve itself’. The truth of the matter is: postponed is not repealed.
History has shown that men (and women) are able to live multiple relationships at one time, some openly but more often hidden. The fear of hurting their partner and having to deal with the emotional aftermath is partly responsible for the comfortable situation some men are in having a wife at home and a mistress somewhere accessible.
Resilience of women
Women on the other hand I have heard say: ‘I just want to know’. In 80% of couples with infidelity issues I heard the woman say: ‘I knew something wasn’t right, I just didn’t know what and he wouldn’t say’. Women in general are more resilient than their partner believes. The emotional aftermath, which follows revelations of adultery or the wish to separate, obviously has to be processed; there is no shortcut through it. Having to live in the unknown with some sense of ‘something not being right’ is not enjoyable either and creates havoc on self-confidence and self-esteem.
So, what to do?
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- How would I like to be treated if the situation was reversed?
- Given I’m dealing with the person I once loved the most how would I like to treat him/her?
- What would be the most respectful way to treat all the people involved?
- Do I need professional help to sort this out?
Remember that talking to your friends will evoke them to share their opinion, depending on how they feel about the situation whereas talking to a professional will allow YOU to find out what it is that you need to do.