Who’s fault is it when a relationship fails?
Two words for you: the man’s.
Note: a relationship failure is something different than letting a relationship decline and die, or just breaking up with a girl, because you’ve lost interest or other things in your life have taken precedence or she’s let herself go and is no longer meeting your requirements for someone you’ll keep around in a relationship capacity.
In that case, while a female observer would still consider it a “failed relationship”, from the standpoint of the male it probably isn’t (unless it’s a case of her letting herself go... then, maybe it is, if she was what you wanted before that but stopped being it after it). In that case, it’s just a relationship that didn’t work out.
When I say “failed relationship” here, what I’m talking about is a relationship that you really wanted to work out... but it went belly up anyway.
Is it ever the woman’s fault?
Yes, sometimes. Rarely. In the case where the relationship is a female dominated one because the man has yielded to her the role of captain aboard the good ship Relation... in that case, he is following her lead, and the direction the relationship goes is up to her.
Even then though, I’m torn... because most women who lead don’t want to do it, and resent men who make them do it as weak. If I’m the officer of a military unit and I hand over my command to one of my subordinates, who then goes on to lead us right smack into a disaster, am I absolved of all blame, or do I still take some too?
The large majority of the time, across most kinds of relationships, it’s the fault of you, the man – and nearly always, it’s a failure of leadership that causes the relationship to fold.
One of the most irksome kinds of comments we receive on this site come from whiny men weighing in on some of the relationship pieces (and especially on the one about why women test men) to let us know that we are wrong, men shouldn’t have to do everything... it’s the WOMAN’s fault when relationships fail! These men want relationships!
Which is kinda like saying well, I went to high school but failed out, therefore it’s the high school’s fault, because I wanted to get a diploma and they just wouldn’t give it to me.
Or, I started a business and it failed, so it’s society’s fault, because I wanted it to succeed and for me to be a billionaire but people refused to buy my products and make that happen... therefore it’s their faults and not mine.
The similarity between the high school student, the business builder, and the man in a romantic relationship is that all of them are pursuing something that reacts to them, in, yes, a sometimes difficult-to-fathom or hard-to-predict way (especially for the very inexperienced of men and/or those with bad mental models and without proper guidance in these arenas), but nevertheless, react to them it does.
Because, in relationships, this is how women are: watching you, observing you, and REACTING to you based on what they see; the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly.
A Failure of Leadership
Solon, the famed poet and statesman in ancient Athens, has many memorable quotes, but one of his more interesting ones is this:
“A people always minds its rulers best
When it is neither humored nor oppressed.”
What Solon is saying here is that the happiest subjects are those whose rulers neither:
- Give them everything they want and cater to their every whim, nor
- Give them nothing they want and cater to none of their whims
To this I would also add, “Nor neglected, too,” since neglect is neither humoring nor oppression, but leads to people coming to despise their rulers (or simply just drift away from them) just the same.
And in a relationship, the subject-ruler dynamic is in fact alive and well.
But wait! you say. I am a modern, sensitive, equality-minded man! I thought women wanted to be treated as equals!
Or, perhaps, you say, Women are so vocal about wanting their equality; let’s just give it to them! I will treat them the same as I’d treat any one of my friends, and expect that they want and need and require nothing more from me than any of my male friends would, either.
Both of these are out-of-touch with reality and seek to give women “equality” when this isn’t what they want.
The man who considers himself equality-minded and not wanting to lead his woman inadvertently ends up being led by her.
Meantime, the man who throws his hands up in frustration at women
and proclaims that he will treat them just like men doesn’t end up in
many meaningful long-term relationships anyway, because he’s too bitter or defiant to figure out what
women want and give it to them (and from what I’ve seen, he
usually ends up, ironically enough, committed to a woman who ends up
leading him just like the first equality-minded guy does).
No woman wants to be with a man who is subservient to her... or even “equal” to her!
She wants to be seen as equal in the workforce, in academia, and other places where she seeks to make it unrelated to romantic or sexual pursuits... but when it comes to those latter two, you’d better bet her bottom dollar that what she wants from a coworker is not the same thing she wants from YOU.
Many men do not realize this, or are unable to, and thus they don’t lead.
Yet even among men who DO realize that women are in search of a leader, failure is very common.
That failure comes in one of the three forms discussed above:
- Humoring her,
- Oppressing her, or
- Neglecting her
Why a Failed Relationship Failed
Lets grab a closer peek at each of the possible excesses that lead to a relationship failing.
Humoring. Humoring is the sin of the nice guy, whose girlfriend, lover, or wife is so important to him that she’s become his mission – and he must do anything and everything to ensure he doesn’t lose that mission. Whatever she wants, he’ll get it. Whatever she needs, he’ll deliver to her. Whatever she requires of him, he’ll provide. His life is one of service... to her. And while she may enjoy this at first (especially if she’s rebounding from a string of sexy bad boys who didn’t ‘treat her right’), she will always quickly tire of it, and tire of him. And before long, she starts to ask herself what she’s doing with a partner who’s so far beneath her that he bends to her every effort to control the frame, anyway.
Oppression. On the flipside of the nice guy’s humoring comes the oppression of the man who also views it as very important to hold onto his woman, but sees the only way of doing that as being strict, unbending control, rather than trying to endlessly please his way into her never wanting to leave. Often this man has come from a background of tough guy friends and relatives himself, and he’s never learned any means of compulsion except by force – you do what I say, or else. His force may be verbal or emotional, and not ever physical – but he still pushes the women in his life to constantly submit. Eventually they get too far into ego depletion, come to resent him, and look for ways to exit and go lick their wounds – or fight back and take revenge.
Neglect. Neglect is in the gray zone of “is it a relationship failure or isn’t it”? Certainly, the relationship did not work out... but if that’s because you didn’t want it to, is it really failure? Perhaps not. Neglect comes about when a man loses interest in a woman he’s seeing, and simply begins putting progressively less time and emotion in her. He doesn’t try to please her; he doesn’t try to control her. In fact, he doesn’t really do much of anything with her... and eventually the two of them just drift apart, sometimes with her fighting to get some kind of reaction out of him – anything – but sometimes with her just saying, “Well, was nice while it lasted, but I’m bored now too,” and exiting stage left.
Any one of these done to excess spells doom for a relationship, every bit as much as it does a kingship.
Humor her too much and she’ll come to view you as her inferior, leaving you (in boredom) to go find a man who is her superior, and more worthy of partnering up with over the long haul.
Oppress her too much and she will eventually lash out in rage, resentment, and vengeance, undermining you and seeking to wrestle free from your controlling grasp.
Neglect her too much, and she may try to reinterest you but, failing in that, will eventually just shrug her shoulders and walk away herself.
The first two of these you might’ve recognized as similar to what we talked about in “How to Get Your Girlfriend Back”:
- “Screw you, jerk!” is quite similar to what happens with oppression
- “Yay, I’m free!” is quite similar to what happens with humoring
But why does a woman view a man who humors her too much as a boring snooze... or a man who oppresses her too much as an insufferable jerk?
It has to do with the lack of balance in the picture; because, you see, a good ruler lies at none of the extremes of humoring, oppression, or neglect, but rather somewhere in the happy medium between the three that combines the elements of each into a far more attractive combination.
A good candle to light the way for the aspiring leader is perhaps to think of leadership thus:
Give her enough breathing room to feel her decisions are her own, yet
Provide enough of her relationship needs that she feels content, while
Disallowing her from overstepping her bounds within the relationship
But before we discuss these, first let’s get out of the way many men’s reluctance to lead.
The Reluctance to Lead
Relationships are probably one of the biggest things passersby complain about on this site. They seem to be among the most jarring, cognitive dissonance-generating topics we discuss.
I believe that part of this stems from men who aren’t very good with women in general holding out the hope to themselves that if they can just manage to land a great girl SOMEHOW into a relationship, at that point they can hang up their spurs and ride off into the sunset and from that point forward it’s automatic wedded bliss.
I think the other part is that Western society and media today takes care of so many of the decisions a man was historically called upon to make for himself that a large portion of Western men never have need to develop any leadership traits throughout their lives.
Western society is also quite different from many ancient societies; while most societies shamed men for acting unmanly or indecisive, Western society has flipped this, hoisting up womanly virtues like cooperation, inclusiveness, and compromise. Arguably, these values may be better suited to a highly industrialized civilization where men don’t need to sally out into battle every couple of months or years as most men have throughout most of human history, but they aren’t very conducive to healthy male-female relationships.
This is the part of the article where I say “grab the reins or get off the wagon”; either you’re going to say to yourself, “You know what – I may not WANT the responsibility of leadership right now... of being the one who has to be the buffer between the winds of uncertainty that make up real life, and the desire for guidance and certainty a woman will want from me, but this is what’s needed and this is what I must be,” or you’re going to reject it and say, “No! I shouldn’t have to do that for a woman,” with the implication, since one partner MUST be the buffer between the uncertain real world and the clearer relationship world, that you will be yielding the reins to her.
If your path is the latter – I won’t lead; I shouldn’t have to lead; she needs to do her part – there’s no advice I can give you, other than find a woman who is high in empathy and will be gentle toward your emotional needs.
If yours is the former, though – if you embrace the path of the man to lead, first the women he has around him, and then, perhaps, later on, his business, his family, his tribe, his cause or his country – if that’s your path, then I invite you to continue on through this article, and let’s examine how best you can lead the women (and others) in your lives and reach a happy end.
The Leader Usually Gets Crucified
One other ugly caveat, before we jump in: it’s always the leader who gets the blame.
If you’re a student of history, one of the things you will consistently be amazed by is how often great men who do great things for their societies are cast out by those same societies (e.g., Themistocles saved all of Greece from the powerful, invading Persian Empire with a legendary maritime battle... then later was falsely accused of being in cahoots with the Persian Empire, and forced to flee for his life), frequently assassinated and having their families murdered as well.
It’s not that bad when a relationship doesn’t work out, but the man pretty much always gets the blame.
This is because the leader is the one who accepts full responsibility. He’s the one who says, “Put this thing on my back; and if it works out, give me the glory and the rewards, and if it doesn’t, the ignominy and the deserts.”
If you’re risk averse,
that probably doesn’t sound all that enticing, but it just goes with
the territory, and it’s something you must make peace with. Unless your
woman was a saint, you will nearly always face scorn on the failure of
a relationship, whether it fails after 3 weeks or 4 decades.
And while truthfully there will be all manner of seemingly random things that intervene in your relationship, the fact remains that your guidance and leadership is the #1 thing that determines how it all plays out.
Probably not... and in the rare case she still would have anyway, you need to pick better.
#1: Give Her Enough Breathing Room
This one’s simple enough to say, but depending on where you’re at with women might be harder in practice:
You must give her enough space that she feels neither smothered nor controlled.
Just not so much that she feels neglected.
Easy to say, hard to do, right?
In fact, you will tend to fall on one side of the divide or the other – either too clingy/controlling, or too hands-off, depending on how fully wrapped up in your own mission you are (or how dangerously close she is to being that mission).
Generally speaking, it’s better to be a little more hands-off and then reel it back in and spend quality time with her than it is to be a little more clingy/controlling and then have to give her some freedom.
In the one case, she chases you for more affection (you’re a little too hands off); in the other, she struggles to separate herself from you (you’re too clingy or too controlling).
This one’s mainly a mentality thing, and there’s not much you can do technically to control yourself here; if you don’t have legitimately a purpose in your life than her, and you aren’t otherwise in possession of absolute abundance, it’s going to be hard to dial it down.
You can use hard rules to keep your emotions checked for a while, but in relationships your inner self bleeds through... which is what makes relationships easy for the guys who are already pretty solid on the inside, and a real pain for the guys who’ve still got work to do.
If you want some practical steps, they include:
Don’t go crazy texting / calling / messaging her. Personally, I never write girls first unless it’s been weeks since I’ve seen or talked to them or I want to set up logistics for them to come over. That’s going to be a little different for everyone’s personality style – if you’re a bit more emotionally involved than I am, maybe you call her once a day at a certain time each day, but I wouldn’t go too much further than that. Relationships are for face-to-face, not correspondence, unless you’re away fighting off barbarian hordes.
See her slightly less than she’d like. If she wants to spend every day with you, for example, you should probably stick to 3 to 5 days a week max (assuming you’re in a pretty committed relationship but not living together). If it’s a newer relationship and you aren’t seeking commitment, usually better to keep this substantially lower, in the range of once or twice a week max – see “How to Start a Relationship with a New Girlfriend.”
Invite her to some things, but never pressure her to come. When people try to wrap others into relationships with them, a lot of the time they start by inviting them to things, and then waiting around with visible anticipation for the response. If you’re going to invite, it should be offhanded and casual (not a big deal), and you should try to be as uninvolved in her response as you can get... try not to think about it too much in advance if you’re getting worked up about it. The less pressure she feels, the more she ends up feeling that her decisions to invest in the relationship are hers, and not simply reactions to your pressuring her.
Those are a few quick fixes, but if they’re unnatural for you, you should probably be working on things like your mission and your abundance mentality first and foremost, before you start worrying too much about running the perfect relationship.
#2: Provide Enough of Her Relationship Needs
This one I and other articles on Girls Chase have discussed extensively on the site in various other articles – see:
- Self-Expansion and Growth in Relationships
- The Long Term Relationship: A Man’s Manual on Getting Started
- Fighting in a Relationship: Causes and Cures
- Should You Make a Promise to Her? Things You Ought to Know
- Should You Say “I Love You”? Making Progress in Relationships
- How to Make a Girl Fall in Love with You
- How to Build a Relationship
- How to Romance a Girl (and Really Steal Her Heart)
- If Your Girl is Bored Change These 6 Things
Her Orgasm Hard from Sex in 8 Minutes or Less
- Turn On Your Girlfriend with Raw Sexual Enthusiasm
- Impressing and Amazing Your Girlfriend’s Family
- How to Make Her Love You: Passionate Love, and Old Love
to Keep Her Attraction Piping Hot as Long as You Like
... and dozens more.
If you want the broad brush overview, read “What Women Want.”
This sounds super complex when you’re starting out, but once you’ve deprogrammed yourself from what society tells you women want (and that’s a real mixed bag of relatively effective stuff and horribly ineffective stuff) and get the gist of what women actually want, they become pretty simple.
Here’s the long and short of it: women want men (over the long term) who:
- Make them feel accepted and valued
- Make them feel sexually desirable
- Make them feel secure to be with a strong and dominant leader
- Make them feel challenged to continually flirt and chase and
All of that gets handled almost automatically if you are a.) with a woman you genuinely really like, yet b.) also have a mission of great importance to you that trumps all else.
Until then, you have to simulate it, but you should always bear in mind that that’s the object: reach the point where you are the manly, sexy, dominant man who is just within her grasp and makes her feel great when she gets him, but whom she’s never certain she unconditionally now possesses.
All while, of course, never supplicating.
#3: Disallow Her Overstepping the Bounds
This is another one we’ve already discussed plenty on here and I won’t repeat much:
- Tactics Tuesdays: Handling a Nagging Woman
- Don’t Hurt a Girl: The Importance of Expectations
- Relationship Control and Female Domination
- Fighting in a Relationship: Causes and Cures
- How to Stop Playing Games (in Your Relationship)
- Relationship Jealousy: Here’s How to Beat It
- End Relationship Drama with These 2 Rules
- I Don’t Chase
‘Em, I Replace ‘Em
- Operant Conditioning in Your Romantic Relationships
- Respect in a Relationship: Where It Comes from, Where it Goes
- Scare Tactics and the Illusion of Control in Life and Relationships
to NEXT a Girl
... and plenty more.
The gist here is that you are not controlling a girl... but neither are you letting her run slipshod over you.
Instead, you are fine and happy with her while she is fine and happy with you, but the moment she starts acting up, you communicate your indifference (if in a casual relationship or early on in the relationship) – see the “Women and Drama” article for this – or you very quickly get to the heart of the matter and settle it (if in a longer term relationship) – see the article on operant conditioning for how to do that.
There must be consequences, and you must be willing to walk away (see “I Don’t Chase ‘Em, I Replace ‘Em” and “How to NEXT a Girl”). If you aren’t able to leave if you must, you will not be able to enforce rules and boundaries – be very aware of that going in.
The one not able to walk away from the table isn’t the leader. He’s the one who’s led. Hopefully you won’t have to play this card... but just having it in your deck makes all the difference in nearly everything you do when it comes to checking boundaries. You just can’t communicate the same level of certainty and determination (the kind she’s looking for in a man) if you know, deep down, that you’ll never really back it up.
By the same token, you must also be focused on “resolution” as
rapidly as possible. Deal with an issue, then resolve the bad emotions
and get on with things. Leaving open fuming in a relationship is what
creates an air of oppressiveness, and it’s what drives women toward
seeking outlets for the resentment that builds – it stops them from
needing or wanting revenge. Deal with outbursts rapidly and expertly,
and get things back to positive emotions soon after it’s done.
Your Relationship, Your Charge
Absolving yourself of the need to lead doesn’t make the problem go away, any more than throwing the covers over your head when a gang of machine gun toting home invaders are pointing their gun barrels at you makes them disappear. Just because you can’t see their guns doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get shot.
A relationship is a project that you control, command, and steer. A well-run relationship is a partnership, where you’re the captain and your girl is your first mate. You’re in charge; she provides valuable support, suggestions, and counterpoints that help you lead better. But you call the shots.
If you find yourself in a relationship with a woman who makes a crummy first mate, then either you did a poor job picking her out, or you did a poor job keeping her happy enough to want to continue doing a good job after.
Inexperience relieves you of the blame in either case, but it doesn’t leave you any better off. So – get your experience up, and learn this.
And if at the end of this article you still feel like saying, “It’s too hard! Why does the man have to do anything! What about equality?!” all I can say is:
“Life’s tough, ain’t it?”
But you roll with the punches and before long all that stuff that seemed really hard before is child’s play to you now.
So don’t despair; repair (your damaged relationship game) and go crank out some awesome connections and great first mates.