We stay with men who make us feel valued; who witness all of us.
Many of us have been there. We have felt the increasing void within as someone we love treated us with indifference. We have started questioning our value and even felt that deep, gut wrenching realization that it’s not us but the relationship we should be questioning.
I work as an intuitive relationship coach and have seen first hand the growing number of women who are leaving men they still love deeply. I have also been one of them; riding the line between total elation and gut wrenching pain. Elation that I was not carrying the burden of a relationship that left me feeling unseen and the pain of knowing that the relationship died long before my feelings did. I write this deeply personal essay during a time of great strife within my own marriage. Issues that continue to plague us and my feeling that my needs are not being met. Marriage is far from perfect and we reflect the evolution found in marriage but in the work that I do its important that I walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We are currently spending a bit of time apart to gain a bit of clarity on where we go from here. What it is that we want. And what effort we are going to impart to keep things alive because we do both love one another incredibly. I could not look my clients in the eyes and ask they take this same step in their own relationships if I refused to do so myself when necessary.
Women work exceptionally hard at their relationships. We will bend ourselves in every direction and contort our entire lives to try to save a sometimes sinking ship. Whereas before it may have been that women were left feeling we could not leave an unhappy relationship, many more are now making the decision to love themselves more than they love another.
So why do women leave men they still love?
For many women it’s about being tired of feeling like an option to their partner. They live their lives, doing the best they can and feel as though their partner never shows up for them. It’s not that these men are necessarily bad or nasty men. They are good fathers, attentive sons and gregarious, supportive friends. They are hard workers, support their families and are generally thought highly of. They even love us-though if you ask for many of us we do not feel this love. They are good men who seem to have forgotten or never learned how to love.
But they take their women for granted and fail to show up in meaningful ways that will show their appreciation and love.
Many of us women have commented that we doubt our partner would even notice if someone else came in and swept us off our feet. This is not about whether cheating is right or wrong but a sign as to how invisible we as women sometimes feel. Whether you are married, in a long term relationship or living together, the act of being together does not make your partner your property. What it took to get her, it takes to keep her. What captured her attention is likely the greatest clue as to how to capturing her over and over and over again. But for many men once the deal is done be it moving in together or signing a marriage certificate there is a real lack of effort that goes into maintaining the relationship further.
This is not necessarily about countless fancy dinners or expensive gifts, though those are nice as well (and I do suggest you shake it up here and there-sometimes a little surprise goes a very long way). This is about giving her your attention. This is about truly witnessing her and not just nodding, smiling and doing what is needed to placate her in the moment.
She needs to feel your attentiveness. She needs you to ask questions and show that you care about what she’s done that day, going through and feeling. Its about taking an interest in the person she is and not just the job she does for you. We as women sometimes feel that its an endless list of tasks that we are to do for you, for the family or relationship as a whole and she, the person she is at her core, is lost in the fray.
Take time to really hear what she is saying. I once read a staggering statement that nearly 90 percent of the time we are not truly listening but rather just waiting to respond. When she is talking, does your mind wander over to your to-do list? Do you truly see her? Are your eyes focused on her, showing her that she has your undivided attention?
Attention comes in many forms. She wants to feel the passion come from you as you touch her, worship her. She wants you to show that her pleasure is just as important to you as your own.
She wants you to think about how she feels most loved. For some it may be a small love note in her email one morning, for another it may be bringing her home peanut butter M&M’s. Whether large or small (and you should definitely mix it up a bit here and there) these gestures show her that you know who she is. It reminds her that she is not far from your heart or mind, even when not together.
We all need to be seen and heard and feel that we are important and the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t take hours to do any of these things. Commit to 10 minutes a day and watch the transformation that takes place. Watch as she brightens and suddenly comes alive! She will flourish in all of her roles including the role of your partner. Once you get a taste of your woman when she feels valued you will never go back.
Sidebar: Pronouns in this piece are used for ease of reading. Switch it, flip it and insert whatever polarity you desire; it’s a two-way street that applies to all genders and types of relationships. We are an inclusive world and relationships of all variety should be respected and honored.