What do Men Really W ant? Not Needy or Clinging Behaviour

A woman friend of mine was recently complaining about the man in her life. What the complaints boiled down to was that he was not doing the kinds of things she thought he ‘should’ do. For one thing, she felt that if he loved her he would send her a phone text message every day.
Bizarre as this example may seem, it serves to illustrate one of the classic problems women run into with men. This has to do with having a set of expections and then putting pressure on the man when these are not fulfilled.
My friend’s boyfriend had started to get distant and unavailable. It turned out that she had been putting pressure on him to text her more often and I pointed out to her that this may well be the cause of him distancing himself.
As soon as a woman starts to put pressure on a man to modify his behaviour she needs to be very careful that it is about something important as she might lose him because of it. It takes a lot of effort for anyone to change their natural behaviour. The man in this example was not really inclined to send lots of text messages. Trying to push him into it would have two negative affects:
1) it turns something playful into a ‘have to’ and takes the fun out of it.
2) he would wonder what demands she would put on him next. (Don’t underestimate this one as it can have a lot to do why men will often resist even small requests for change).
It is much better to negotiate changes in behaviour by encouraging the behaviour you want. This is especially effective if you keep the following in mind:
1) It is much more powerful to ask for what you want than to complain about not getting it. “Can you please…”, sounds so much better than a whiney “You should…”.
2) It is much more powerful to praise the behaviour you like rather than complain about the behaviour you don’t like. “I really like it when you …” is miles ahead of “I hate it when you don’t…”.
Notice, please, what I am focussing on here is man’s personal styles and preferences not major behaviour problems (such as very aggressive behaviour or deep depression) which do require very clear and specific intervention.
Behind my friends expectation/demand for ‘text message every day’ was an unmet emotional need. This would come across to the man as ‘neediness’ and that is often what is behind men ‘running away’.
If my friend becomes conscious of her need and the nature of it she could then handle it much better. If she discovered that it was really a need for reassurance she could look to other ways of meeting that need either by a) meeting it herself b) accepting other forms of behaviour from the man which she would also find reassuring.
Trying to get other people to change is always a bit of an uphill battle. Better to change ourselves and then see what happens. We may find that the other person will change anyway, or that we don’t need them to change after all.
‘Needyness’ is the result of acting out needs of which we are not properly conscious. Learning to understand our own needs sets us free from needyness, because as we learn to understand needs we naturally see healthier way to meet them.
Yet, many of us avoid honestly looking at our needs in case that makes us more needy – the opposite is true! We cannot handle what we do not see and we do not see the things if we believe we dare not look at them.
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