Why do men fall out of love? It's rarely a simple issue of attraction, sex, or money trouble. In this provocative no-holds-barred guide, Michael French brings unparalleled insight into the male psyche and reveals why so many men feel trapped, unhappy, or unfulfilled, and what women can do about it.
Based on interviews with men from all ages and walks of life this grippingly honest book illustrates why, when it comes to relationships, so many men feel "outgunned and outmatched" by women. Discover:
The 4 relationship busters that lead couples to flounder and sink - the loss of intimacy / the quest for validation / the perfection impulse / the fading of attraction - and strategies for dealing with them head-on
Six key reasons why men fall out of love - from issues of identity, power, and fear to stereotypes about who they really are and what they want
The truth about men and (mis)communication - and ways for them to open up
Three questions a woman needs to ask a man before she becomes emotionally involved
The Relationship Audit - how couples can figure out what is driving them apart and find ways to mend their relationship
By finally bringing men's true feelings to the surface, Michael French offers a dramatic new approach to understanding men and their hidden emotions. This guide illuminates the deeper reasons why men fall out of love and, more important, shows how relationships can be healed.
For each man kills the thing he loves.
- Oscar Wilde
There are many stories by women about why they leave their husbands, partners, or lovers, but few by men who head for the exits. Are they not getting the attention they want? Are they simply tired of, bored with, or frustrated by their partners and want to trade them in - as if shopping for a car - for a newer, shinier model? Are they filled with so much anger, frustration, or confusion about their relationships, or other parts of their lives, that they don't know what else to do but leave? Maybe they're hoping to find a new woman to save them, or they're chasing a lost childhood. Many are clueless about where their emotions come from and how they work - they understand the effect but not the cause - and how important their childhood is to the man and intimate partner they ultimately become.
Their confusion also comes from mixed messages they receive from women. On the one hand, men are often chided for not being emotional or sensitive enough, but they also hear that emotions are a woman's domain and that men can't possibly understand their complexity or compete with women in this arena. So men think, with linear male logic, why bother becoming something, or attempt to master a skill, they can't possibly succeed at?
For men, falling in love seems relatively straightforward. It usually starts with physical attraction and/or infatuation, followed by an emotional connection, then attachment, openness, and trust and, as the relationship matures, companionship, a sense of responsibility, and dependency. Falling out of love is usually more gradual, complex, and unsettling, not just for its painful impact but because of the subtle, dimly understood reasons behind it. The thief who steals love away is sometimes another being who lives inside us. Often he is the child we once were and then abandoned prematurely. The thief is also the incessant voice of our masculinity, and our passive willingness to accept traditional male stereotypes. It is as well the "binge and purge" values of popular culture; the struggle to find healthy role models; the conscious and unconscious behavior of our female partners; and, not least, the difference between how men and women learn, think, and communicate.
The ten stories here offer different insights on why men struggle with love. One insight, hardly groundbreaking but still important, is that the nest and its boundaries send a mixed message to a man almost from the beginning. On the one hand, there is the idea of "growing up" and "settling down" and having a family - a primary definition of masculinity. On the other, most men, at some level, are inherently uncomfortable in a committed relationship. They think or fantasize about whether they chose the right partner, and isn't it too bad that they have to settle for just one woman because no one partner can satisfy a man on every level. Men tend to want it all, even if they're afraid to say so out loud, or admit that, practically speaking, the goal is impossible. The irony is that when their relationships run into trouble, men, rather than leave, often stay - out of convenience or habit, fear of the unknown, the sense that quitting means failure, or the belief that somehow they can fix the problem. The underlying assumption behind all four reasons - ubiquitous in male culture - is that a man must always feel in control of his own world.
In any relationship, as early infatuation gives way to the daily routine and compromises of living together, men dwell specifically on the limitations on their sexual freedom. What a woman may happily define as "security" and "comfort" often comes without the consent of a man's hormones. Perhaps he understood the theory of giving up his freedom before entering the relationship, but reality is another matter. For many, suppressing their attraction to other women comes at the price of finding fault with their partners or themselves, retreating into passive-aggressive behaviors, or wanting to escape from their relationships whenever possible. Men like this may simply not be emotionally ready for a serious commitment, but even when they are ready, their hormonal and psychological makeup mean a need for exploration and a certain amount of freedom.
As hoary a stereotype as it may be, this is the basic definition of a hunter-gatherer. This does not imply a license to pursue other intimate relationships, but it does mean finding healthy outlets for independence, self-assertion, and emotional fulfillment: a world without women. Exclusive male enclaves can mean anything from car clubs, investment groups, sports, Rotary meetings, prayer groups, breakfast clubs, or just time alone for thinking or reading. In J. R. Moehringer's memoir, The Tender Bar, his adolescence and manhood are largely shaped by the company of men who gather in a bar to drink, to vent, and to be honest about their feelings, whether or not they are politically correct. The theme is men respecting and caring for other men. It is also about being unintimidated, deflecting judgment, and burying your pain, including that caused by women, before it buries you.