Are You Trapped in the Relationship Maze?

Are You Trapped in the Relationship Maze?

Are You Trapped in the Relationship Maze?

Have men and women become trapped in a complex maze of our own making, designed to keep us apart?

Many women today, are making the same complaint; they can’t find a decent guy to settle down with. Most of my single girlfriends voice the complaint, that there seems to be a shortage of good men. Not to be left out of the fray, many males by their defining behavior seem to believe that the girls should perhaps just learn to share. And therein lies the problem. One of the defining characteristics of the male has been his propensity to be fairly generous in his affections and this happens to be the one trait which most of us women find intolerable! We love generosity but not when it comes to intimacies like love and sex.

So what should a girl do? Should she settle? Relax her standards a bit? Get rid of that old, never to be fulfilled impossible list? Accept the “generosity” of her erstwhile male friend? Forget her idea of an exclusive relationship which will lead to marriage? Or should she just settle for spinsterhood? Certainly, critical questions requiring critical answers.

Like any other aspect of life, relationships and our perception of them have the power to define us. From which ever quarters we gather our information, most of us have a fair set of defined standards and I’m not here to suggest that we lay them down by the riverside. It is important that we know what we are looking for, especially in the area of a life-partner. However, having had a couple of conversations with men, I am not at all convinced that the good breed has become extinct. Somehow I believe that the lines of communication have become crossed between today’s men and women and the result has been a polarization of both species. We think we know what each others' problems are, so we have perfected the art of accusation without pausing long enough to really listen to each other. As it stands, the guys with the really canine activity get all the attention and the really decent ones get branded with the same brush and could perhaps be overlooked time and time again.

Now I really believe that men and women appear to be at cross-purposes because we have easily become locked into exclusive communication styles designed to keep each other out. We have developed an adversarial “us versus them” mentality which deepens our mutual suspicions and keeps each other at arms’ length. So then how is a girl to spot a decent guy in this crazy relationship maze we have created? More so, how can such a guy get through to a girl without having his tail whacked in a trap as it were? Have we perhaps become trapped in a complex maze of our own making, guaranteed to keep us apart?

If we are to surmount the relationship barriers which we have erected, we first have to recognize, understand and then hopefully circumvent them in our quest for true love. These barriers are in essence the flawed perceptions we have of each other. Here are a few examples to go by:

What Women Say
1. I’m confident, independent and capable of making my own decisions.
2. All a man wants from a woman is sex.
3. I’m not yet ready to take our relationship to the next level.
4. My biological clock is ticking.
5. I wish you would be more supportive.

What Men Think
1. You don’t need a man because you have it all going on, so I’m not that important to you.
2. You don’t plan to give up the apple without a fight.
3. You think I just want to use you.
4. You’re ready for a marriage proposal and I’m the lucky guy.
5. You want me to agree with everything you say.

What Men Say
1. I want to spend more time with you.
2. I can’t get you out of my mind.
3. I want you to look out for my needs; I have feelings too.
4. Maybe we can start an exercise routine together.
5. I want to take care of you.

What Women Think
1. You want another opportunity to jump my bones.
2. You want to wear down my resolve with sweet, flattering words.
3. I can’t stand a sniveling guy and I’m definitely not your mother.
4. You think I need to lose weight.
5. You want to control me with your money.

Of course these are just a few examples which are not exhaustive by any means and according to culture and socialization they may change. They however do bring home the point that what we hear/think, is often filtered by our past experiences, the stories we’ve been told by our friends, what we witnessed as children and even by the male-female script presented in the media. The problem with this super-script is when we allow it to become gospel and accept it as the defining parameter for all of our relationships.

There will always be men who are unscrupulous and women who are users. This tendency to look out for numero uno at all costs is just a part of human nature which is unlikely to change. If we hope, however, to find true love, then we have to be willing to give each man or woman we encounter the courtesy of a “clean slate”. So take this advice.

Try not to lump all male and female behavior into the same mold, no matter how tempting it is to do so. Allow a guy or a girl a chance to prove themselves. Keep the channels of communication open and don’t assume that this guy is exactly like your last. Resist the urge to channel your past pain into a new relationship prospect. This does not mean acting naively or putting aside our common sense or our intuition, but it means giving that individual a brief opportunity to prove us wrong. It means keeping hope alive and not being deliberately adversarial or negative in our expectations. Basically it means practicing grace and graciousness, while admitting our own foibles.

Navigating the relationship maze does not mean dropping our guard or lowering our expectations or standards but it does mean adopting a mature response to the exciting opportunity of meeting new people. More importantly, navigating that maze also means looking inward to ensure that we are perhaps somewhere close to the ideal, we are so steadfastly looking for in a mate.

Find more articles by Denise J. Charles at

Join the Conversation