In the search for a partner, could you be pushing away the man of your dreams? Here are 7 things which push the good men away.
There are a few re-occurring seasons of life that put extra pressure and awareness on the state of your love life. Valentine’s Day is the obvious one, where every corner of marketing is covered in love (or anti-love, which still puts just as much pressure on). Christmas and birthdays are another time where the togetherness of others reminds you of whether or not you have a bae to call your own. New Year’s Eve, milestone events and achievements, season changes – all these things can be stabs in the heart with regards to a stunted love life. If you’re reading this one, it’s likely one of those seasons is pushing your buttons, or you know someone who’s experiencing this frustration.
I very, very regularly hear from women about how frustrated they are about the absence of good men around. I would say at least weekly, if not more. It’s something I’ve written about in the past a few times. I can understand where such a frustration can come from. Some men do horrible things and absolutely tarnish masculinity, some to the point of pushing you off men completely. Sometimes you try and put yourself out there but it feels like no one is interested. And if they are interested, they’re the wrong type of guy, the one who leaves you with your heart broken and your self esteem once again in shreds.
But there’s probably an aspect of this frustration that we don’t always acknowledge, even though it may be the primary reason that finding a good man can be so hard – there are things that are done in relationships that push the good men away. My wife and I have been re-watching Doctor Who and a character named Mickey Smith got me thinking in this direction as a reminder of someone who exemplifies this phenomenon.
As much as I have heard the frustration from women about finding a man, I have heard equal amounts of frustration and even pain from the good men who are being complained about. When you mention certain people’s names to them, they will list some of these (sometimes all of these) as reasons why a certain person is not on their radar, or even explicitly left off the list.
This isn’t meant to be judging or to belittle you. My intention is to help highlight a huge gap on both sides of the relationship fence I see all too often. It would be remiss of me to not talk about one of the largest obstacles that all of us face in our relationships with other people – ourselves. And so, is it possible that you are doing things that are making things harder? Here are 7 things that push the good men away.
#1: Saying publicly that you don’t know any good men
Okay – this is the biggest killer of potential relationships I’ve ever seen, and I see it a lot. Social media is great, but when you’ve put up a post or two or a hundred saying why men suck, or why men aren’t any good, or how you don’t know any good men, you’re killing your chances. Even more so when you’re saying it in person.
Because men are reading and hearing what you’re saying, and they’re feeling included in your statements. It’s like complaining about the company to the boss while you’re expecting to get promoted, or even applying for an entry level position while telling the interviewer why you don’t want to work there.
I remember hanging out with a small group of people a few years ago at a shopping centre. We were all single, and just hanging out. One of the girls in the group after one of the guys bought her lunch and another was holding the door open for her said “I don’t any good men hey, it seems men don’t do nice things for women any more”. Ouch. I’ve seen this said in dating relationships, I’ve seen this said in marriages, I’ve seen this said before guys were going to ask girls out (even that day!). The effect is always the same – pain, shock, disgust, and a clear flag to a man that you’re not interested or that you are not open to having your mind changed.
Men hear what you say, not what you mean. And if you keep saying that you don’t know anyone, you’re going to push the good men away until your statement becomes true and you don’t know any good men any more.
Nothing is harder to work with than someone who keeps changing their mind. Guy Sebastian’s tribute to Elevator Love may be a bit cute to think about, but in reality it is unsustainable. On again off again eventually becomes never on again.
Scripture tells us that a double minded person is unstable in all their ways. The more I live, the more I find it to be true that how you treat one thing is how you treat everything.
When I see a man who refuses to hold down a regular job or keep other regular commitments, for instance, I see a man who is going to treat the woman in his life with the same instability, and to me it’s a giant red flag. I rarely see employment inconsistency without also seeing an element of relational and emotional inconsistency along with it.
I also talk to many men who become frustrated with the yes and no, will we won’t we, hot and cold, over an extended period of time. As TD Jakes points out in Before You Do, eventually a waiting man gives up in the face of such behaviour and then is often labelled a dog. “But not all of them were dogs at first – they just grew tired of waiting”, he says.
All of us need to work on our consistency in life. A potential life partner is looking for someone with whom their heart can be safe. Someone trustworthy. Instability and inconsistency sends a very clear message that you’re probably not the safest place.
#3: Not having enough other strong relationships
If we don’t have enough strong relationships in our lives that aren’t our spouse or our potential partner, we’re going to put so much pressure on that person.
I love my wife, but she can’t meet every need in my life. There are certain needs that only she can (or should) meet for sure, but for me to expect her to be all my friendship needs, all my emotional support, all my dreams and outlooks in life, all my hopes and all my desire for connection, I’m setting her up to fail.
Because no one person can do all those things for you.
Imagine if I expected all my needs for shelter in life to be met by an umbrella. A single support covering me. If the umbrella failed to cover me fully or broke, I would turn to despise the umbrella. But my expectations were unfair and unrealistic – I should have found shelter featuring multiple supports to ensure the weight of my need was evenly distributed and achievable.
Likewise, when we expect a partner to be the fulfillment of absolutely every need in our lives, we set ourselves up to fail. Watch how quickly men and even the good men will run for the hills when they realise that you’re expecting them to be every friend you don’t have, every strong relationship you haven’t built, and the healer of every insecurity you haven’t addressed.
#4: Looking for men in the same places
It’s hard to find a good man if you’re not looking in the places where good men are. There was a study a number of years ago about how to marry a millionaire. The top finding which seems obvious is that people wanting to marry someone rich need to look and spend time at places where rich people go, as well as doing what rich people do. It seems somewhat obvious, and is so true for multiple other things in life – if you want to go fishing, you need to fish where the fish are; if you want to get a job, you need to apply where people have need; if you want to grow a garden, you need to plant where the seeds will grow.
Likewise, if you want a good man, you’re probably not going to find him in the places where good men avoid. If you’re looking where men go just to pick up, you’re going to find men who don’t want to commit. If you’re looking where men have divergent worldviews to yourself, you’re going to find someone who will likely clash you with you regularly.
As one pastor puts it from the story of Ruth, you also want to be found in the field. Living out your best life to the level you’re expecting Mr Man to be doing also.
If you’re always looking and finding the same types of guys who aren’t any good for you, it can unfortunately send a message to the right type of guy of what you’re looking for, and in seeing your preferences and actions, he may dismiss himself from the list. When people of faith who say they want someone of faith but go after people with differing beliefs, that’s confusing. When people who say they value social justice in a partner are perfectly content to flirt and hook up with people who aren’t, what is the sort of man you’re after supposed to think?
Life partnership is exactly that – a partnership. As Amos puts it, how can two walk hand in hand unless they’re in agreement? If you’re really after a partner who you can walk the journey of life with, you need to be looking in the places you’re walking already, or at least where you would like to walk.
#5: Thinking that rejection hurts men less
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the expectation that men shouldn’t get hurt by rejection, I’d be a rich man indeed. I’d be even more rich if I had a dollar for every time a man has told me how deep rejection has hurt him – either in the past or in the present. I have watched the best men you can think of break down in tears trying to deal with the pain of it.
There’s always an element of rejection in every relationship. Even once you’re finally with someone, we all do things that can leave the other person feeling left on the outside. So there’s an element of expectation on all of us to get better at how we handle this. David Schnarch, author of The Passionate Marriage, calls for mastering the art of “self soothing” in relationships in order to prevent this festering worse than it is.
But even with self soothing mastered, even the best man will crumble under reinforced rejection. In the Song of Solomon, a man is knocking at the door of his lover, asking to be let in to spend time with her (use your imagination). She is someone who has already opened herself to. This time however, instead of opening the door, she sits in bed thinking, “Oh but I’ve just taken off my robe and you want me to get dressed again?”, “I’ve just gotten clean, do I need to get dirty again?”. She hesitates and hesitates until eventually her man leaves the door, and then is nowhere to be found. She herself ends up getting hurt in the process.
I see this scenario play out so often in relationships. People knocking and seeking through a closed door and then there being an expectation that people should put up with it. But the reality is that most men don’t.
Men have bigger but more fragile egos than women. Constant blows to the confidence eventually push the good men away, not matter how good they are.
#6: Not saying what you mean
One of my favourite movies about relationships is the movie Something Borrowed. I freaking love this movie. The first time I watched it, I absolutely hated it. It made me so angry, but about 20 minutes after the movie finished I realised why I was so angry – it’s because this movie is so real about how people behave.
It’s a movie about a girl who turns 30 and finds herself regretting the state of her love life, feeling like she had wasted her twenties. During her uni days, she really loved a man named Dex, but on their first “date”, Rachel tells Dex and her own best friend that they’re just friends and that there’s nothing going on. Dex takes that as a sign that there’s no future in that relationship and both of them make a whole bunch of life altering decisions as a result, finally discovering the truth years later, wondering why they both didn’t fully say what they meant from the start. There are also other people around these two who haven’t been saying what they really mean or asking for what they really wanted. It’s a total mess but a powerful picture of the damage we can cause in our lives and the lives of those around us by not saying what we mean.
Jesus said to let your yes be yes and your no be no, and that anything else comes from evil. It sounds a bit extreme, but oh what damage we cause when our words aren’t actually what we mean.
To say what we mean requires all of us to become decisive and effective in how we live our lives. We can’t be inefficient or unsure all the time – we need to make calculated decisions where we properly count the cost, and our followthrough needs to be just as strong.
I’ve seen too many women push the good men away by not recognising the power of their words, and in truth, all of us are guilty of this to an extent. We should all endeavour to be people of our word lest we suffer the consequences of indecision and hesitation.
#7: Misunderstanding or belittling a man’s need for respect
The true heart of every man cries out for respect. We want to be respected for our ability, for our vision, for our focus, for our contribution to the world. We want to be your hero. Look at just how demanding and angry a man gets when he feels disrespected. We become entitled, power-mad, Napoleon complexes that are very unpleasant to be around.
The letter to the Ephesians charges wives with this – respect your husbands. Revere them. The Greek word used is a passive version of “to fear”. That is, not that you’re terrified of him, but it conveys such a deep sense of respect. Now don’t worry ladies, I’ve charged the guys with their part multiple times and I’m on your side – men should unconditionally love their wives. That said, it is still the unavoidable truth that a man lives and dies by the reverence of his significant other.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of the book Love and Respect, Michele Weiner-Davis of the program Divorce Busters, the Feldmans of best seller For Women Only, Willard Harley of His Needs Her Needs – even the prevalence of men’s porn addiction – and many others provide case after case of men dying inside without a sense of being respected. It really is so important for men as to call it a need. This is true for every type of man – even the men you know who you would hold in the highest esteem.
Men are people too. We’re insecure too. We’re frail too. We’re trying to find our way too. And like you, we have our own set of deep seated needs in the world of relationships. Failing to recognise the importance of respect in his heart can make or break a great relationship, or a potential one. We’re very aware of how a man’s lack of love can destroy a woman and how his love can make her flourish – I wonder if we can all be more aware of the equivalent need in a man’s heart?
I could’ve almost as easily addressed this post as things that push good people away rather than just the things that push the good men away as many of them apply to both genders. It just seems to be my current experience in life that men don’t really complain about the lack of eligible women out there near as much as women complain about the lack of good men. Maybe I’ll write the companion piece for the fellas another time.
But I hope you’ve found it valuable to see the other side of the conversation. I think women are often surprised to hear that men actually do have awareness of how things affect them and that they really do get affected by the way they’re treated. I think that even though there are a lot of horrible men in the world, there are also a lot of great men out there who sometimes get overlooked or pushed away by behaviour such as the above.
Maybe if we can each do less of what pushes each other away and more of the things that unite us and bring tender closeness to relationship, our world would be a better place.
How about you? What are some things that you’ve seen push the good men away? Did you agree or disagree with anything that you read?