There's a difference between true character flaws and small mistakes.
By Sandy Weiner
Should I stay or should I go? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you’re not alone.
It’s difficult to know which behaviors to forgive and which are true red flags, the ones that signal it’s time to break up. The simple answer is, red flags are signs of character flaws. If you see any major flaws in someone’s character, walk away.
However, there are behaviors that many women break up over, and in many cases, the relationship could have been saved.
If he’s a man of character and he makes a mistake or misbehaves from time to time, I encourage you to give him a break. And please forgive him if he acts like…a man.
6 Excellent Reasons to Forgive a Good Man
1. He has trouble expressing his feelings.
If he doesn’t ask about something that’s important to you, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an insensitive guy. It probably means that he is uncomfortable talking about emotions. Forgive him for that. You’ve been conditioned to express your emotions your whole life. He hasn’t.
So, help him out. For example, tell him you’d like to talk about something challenging that happened that day. Ask if it’s a good time to talk.
And tell him what you want from him. If you just want him to listen, tell him. If you want problem solving, tell him. Men’s default setting is to fix. It can drive women crazy. So if you don’t want him to fix the problem, just ask him to listen and maybe even hold your hand or give you a hug.
2. You feel he takes you for granted.
If you’ve showered him with home-cooked meals, gifts, and your unconditional love before you’ve established a relationship, don’t be surprised if he starts to take you for granted.
I once dated a guy who brought me an over-the-top gift on our first date. On the second date, he cooked a three-course meal. On the third date, he cooked again, and when he saw how much I liked what he made, he went out and bought some for me to take home to my kids. I was uncomfortable taking, taking, taking before there was a relationship.
So, ladies, if you want to make his favorite Peruvian duck with chocolate mousse for dessert, wait until you’re in a relationship. As a woman, you define your value by receiving and allowing, not by giving and doing. Show a good man that you’re a woman of value, and don’t give unconditionally before there’s a relationship.
3. He doesn’t open up.
Forgive a guy who grunts one-word answers to your questions. If you want him to open up, ask an open-ended question, not a closed question where “yes” or “no” are the only answers.
And remember that a lot of men are not long-winded. They don’t embellish when they talk. They tend to speak in ‘headlines’, while women tell stories with lots of side bars. So, when you’re communicating with a man, make sure to speak in language he can follow. Bottom line your story, and save the juicy details for your girlfriends.
4. He doesn’t know how to comfort you.
Most men are great at problem-solving. They like to fix things. So when you’re upset and he doesn’t know how to comfort you, he’s at a loss without the tools to fix the problem. He will probably become frustrated and shut down.
When I was in my twenties, I went cross-country with my boyfriend. By the third day, I felt like I had made a huge mistake. He was ignoring me most of the time, and that night, as we sat around our campfire, I was crying. He asked if I had a cold. I couldn’t believe how insensitive he was. Didn’t he know I was upset? I was mortified, embarrassed, but I didn’t have the words to express myself back then like I do now.
If you’re upset, please tell him how you’re feeling and what you need. He will love knowing how to make you happier, but he can’t read your mind. Men are terrible guessers. So, don’t leave a guy for not knowing how to comfort you.
5. He doesn’t listen.
Women complain that men don’t listen. Men complain that women don’t listen. One of the biggest issues in relationships is that men and women don’t listen to each other.
Why do women often think that men don’t listen? Probably because he’s in the middle of a task when you’re talking to him. Most men are single-task oriented, while women are better at multi-tasking.
Forgive him for being focused on one task when you want him to hear you. He’s probably not ignoring you. It’s just the way his brain works. So, check in with him, and make sure he’s done with that task and is open to listening before beginning a conversation. That way, you’ll be able to get his full attention.
6. He shuts down when you’re upset.
It can be very challenging when a man withdraws when you’re angry at him. But, let’s turn it around for a moment and take a closer look at how you behave when you’re angry. Do you express yourself easily, or do you hold in your anger, accommodating him even though you’re pissed off, suppressing your needs until you’re ready to implode?
If you often withhold your feelings and then accuse or rage, he’ll probably get defensive or shut down. Can you blame him? He’s bracing for an attack.
Forgive a man for becoming defensive or shut down when you react or attack or blame, and learn better communication skills when your feelings are hurt. Address the issues when they come up, when they’re still small, before they become so big you can’t take it anymore. Of course, if you do consistently express yourself well, and he still gets defensive or shuts down, that’s a reason to leave him.
When the attraction is strong and hormones are coursing through your body, it’s easy to dismiss red flags. Keep your eyes open, especially at the start of a relationship, and separate out the true character flaws from minor infractions.
Most of all, know your value. The high value woman who can clearly communicate her values and relationship standards through her actions and words attracts the highest value men and has the healthiest, most loving relationship.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.