Often times, we transform ourselves into the roles of counselor, therapist, secretary and parent whenever the man we’re dating or seriously involved with is facing a dark period in his life. Suddenly, his job layoff, financial crisis or family emergency becomes our problem to solve. We begin taking on tasks, responsibilities and self-imposed stressors in an effort to make sure that the man we love survives this unfortunate setback in his life. We are buying extra food to make sure he’s eating as often as he likes. We’re updating his resume, making phone calls, being extra affectionate and offering loving advice to help him get through this dark period. It seems that our surface efforts would be embraced – our dude would display an outward expression of appreciation. Instead, however, he becomes distant and increasingly agitated whenever he’s in our presence. He doesn’t want to spend one on one time anymore, but is constantly entertaining his loser friends and online “fans”. Everyone else in his life seems to be receiving the smiles, upbeat personality and star treatment. Meanwhile, we are left home, alone, venting to our friends and wondering what we’ve done wrong to deserve his negative attitude. It’s simple…
Many of us make the mistake of extending ourselves in the same ways in which we assume we would want others to help or assist us in our time of need. We place ourselves in the mode to support our men by any means necessary, even if that sometimes means ignoring our own needs and sacrificing our financial or emotional stability for his ultimate success. In our decision to dive in to fix the issues that are plaguing the man we love, we tend to forget that a lot of guys initially feel the need to retreat and make decisions on their own. Even though we often think that it’s best to create a plan and take immediate action, a lot of men require space and time to determine what his first step will be in handling his dilemma. Bombarding his space with increased calls and text messages in an effort to find out what he’s going to do or if he’s going to follow our advice, only intensifies his stress levels.
We forget that even as his romantic partner, our position in our man’s life is not to necessarily solve his problems. Men are very prideful creatures. Despite his race, sexuality or socioeconomic background, a lot of men still feel that their role in life is to provide for themselves and protect the individuals closest to them. When we make an attempt to help without his asking, that behavior on our part tends to make our man feel weak. While it’s sometimes difficult to sit back and wait for our dude to share all of the details or to ask for our input, it becomes important that we give him the room to do so.
He is sometimes running to hang with his friends because even though they may be aware of his situation, they aren’t forcing him to discuss it or execute their idea of what the resolution should be.
One of the best ways that we can be supportive of the guy we love is to speak to him with encouraging statements, as opposed to using sympathetic words. You have to learn how to feed and fuel his ego in order to get him to open up to you or to ask for your assistance. Instead of saying things like, “I’m sorry that you’re going through this baby. Are you okay? Awe…I hope things will get better”, you should offer statements such as, “You’ve got this! The job is yours. Are you forgetting who you are?” Remind your man that he is still in charge of his own life. You can also bring up a past situation where the chips were down for him and he somehow pieced them back together. Encouraging him, as opposed to pitying his circumstances will give your dude the confidence he needs to make solid decisions on his own. Then, more than likely, he’s going to want you to contribute to the plan of action he comes up with. His mind and spirit will be open to receiving your ideas or suggestions. Your man needs to feel that you are standing beside him in his path to solve the problem and not necessarily in front – trying to lead him to make the decision that YOU think is best.
Also, keep in mind that you too are going to become just a tad bit frustrated and exhausted as you’re taking on extra responsibilities to make sure that your man is okay. Once you start getting frustrated because now you’re paying two cell phone bills instead of one, or now you’re having to run extra errands to help him out, he will recognize a change in your demeanor. Even though you’re aiding him from the kindness of your heart, the little things he says or does may begin to upset you. Despite your annoyance with him going out to have drinks with his friends when you feel that he should be home applying for jobs, you should not say things to him like, “well, if it weren’t for me then your phone wouldn’t even be on”, or… “I’m the one trying to help you and you haven’t even thanked me”. Your man may begin to feel like a burden and will often retreat as a result of his guilt. That explains why he’s suddenly interacting with strangers on Facebook or posting “happy photos” on Instagram, as if everything in his life is perfect. The communication he is now sharing with associates or total strangers serves as his escape from the relationship with you that is now filled with feelings of ridicule and resentment.
Always remember that during tough times, guys will often turn towards the individuals who know the least about their real life situations. Engaging with people publicly who only know them for their cute faces and other surface attributes sometimes makes men feel good about themselves when their lives are falling apart behind closed doors. It sometimes feels that we are getting the short end of the stick because he knows that we are aware of what’s actually going on. Our expectations of him are often greater than what he may feel he can fill at the moment.
So, the best way to avoid becoming the frustrated, lonely lover who is sitting at home feeling unappreciated, is to support your man WITHOUT MENTION. When he initially calls or texts you to inform you about what is happening in his life, do not tell him what he should or needs to do… until he asks for your input. Your job is to listen and offer encouragement. You only need to express sympathy in the event that his grandmother or best friend has just passed away. If you’re going to take care of washing his clothes so that he can focus on making emergency calls, there’s no need for you to verbally bring it to his attention that you’ve done so. Simply dry his things, fold them and put them away. He will notice on Monday morning that all of his underwear and tee shirts are clean. Never throw in his face what you have done to help him during his time of need. It’s tough enough for a man to accept money from his partner for food, gas or other bills. Even in the event that you two are upset and arguing with one another, avoid bringing up the gifts or favors that you’ve extended to him. He will often respond by LEAVING YOU, simply because he never wants anyone in life to feel that they can take full credit for the man he has become. And even if he doesn’t walk away from you in that moment, the resentment will send him on his way the moment he gets back on his feet.
Men don’t simply leave the individual who “held them down” when times were tough. Men walk away from the person who constantly held it over his head.
Guys rarely forget the individuals who helped them keep their heads above water. If you want your relationship to remain intact following the struggles your man is presently enduring, please don’t overwhelm him with your desire to take total control of his circumstances. Help him without stealing his power to help himself.