Women immerse themselves in their romantic relationships, while men place their romantic partners on an equal but distant footing, according to research from Oxford University.
The study shows that, generally, women are more invested in their relationships than men and that their happiness and well-being is more dependent upon how things are going in their intimate relationships.
Is this a surprise to you? It's not a surprise to me.
After all, who's usually the one who recognizes when things in the relationship aren't working too well? The woman. Who is it that typically seeks professional help for the relationship? The woman. Who is it that mostly spends time on YourTango, reading self-help books and going to seminars about relationships? The woman. But why is it this way?
Women are biologically wired as the nurturers. They're the ones with the skills to anticipate the needs of their partners, take care of nurturing the relationship and do the problem solving when things have gone awry. Men are more biologically wired as the providers and protectors. It's not that the relationship isn't important to them; it's just that they show it in different ways — by working hard, establishing a career and maintaining an emotional distance.
You may ask yourself, "How can I change him? How can I make him more involved in this relationship?" I say, you shouldn't — so don't even try.
"InsideOut Empowerment" tells us that we have five basic needs. We all have them; the strength of each is unique to each individual and they appear genetically programmed. That's not to say that circumstances, culture, stage of development and other factors don't impact these needs, but we have a genetically determined profile that stays fairly stable throughout our lives.
A relationship destroyer is looking at your partner, deciding he or she is deficient in some way and then attempting to "make" him or her different. It's not that people can't change; they can. It's that they won't do it just because you want them to change!
The simple fact is that men and women are different. They tend to have different benefits in relationship but they are both interested in intimacy. Young adult women tend to focus mostly on their need for connection. This manifests in having children, creating homes and nurturing their intimate relationships. That's not to say women don't have careers. They do but most prioritize these connecting activities.
Most young adult males focus on their need for significance. They're interested in making their way in the world and having an impact. This is not to say they don't have relationships, start families and create homes. They do, but their priority is typically focused on work.
This dynamic tends to shift in middle age as children leave home. Women believe they've invested and sacrificed for their family and now it's their turn. They go back to school, change careers or develop their own businesses. At this same stage of life, men tend to realize their children are gone and they missed a lot. They're tired of the rat race and feel ready for connection. So, in a lot of ways, men and women flip roles.
These differences make relationships interesting. Imagine if both of you focused on connection at the same time. You'd feel blissfully happy with each other ... but nothing would get done. Similarly, if you are both primarily focused on significance, then you'd have financial success ... but have little in the way of intimacy.
Recognize the differences. Embrace the differences. And appreciate what you both bring to your relationship (and don't forget to tell each other of your appreciation). Allowing each person to embrace who they are and celebrating that will do the best job to increase the intimacy in your relationships.
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