Deep love never ends suddenly. It is a gradual process of a breakdown in communication, a sense of not being valued, of feeling unappreciated, unloved and unlovable. If a woman concludes that a man isn’t giving her the support, attention, and love she needs, he will lose her. And he won’t even get a chance to kiss her goodbye.
To try and understand why women fall out of love (and for men trying to make theirs an everlasting union), I asked several women for their opinions. I’m not going to cite the obvious reasons—abuse, addiction, pornography, or infidelity. These are generally a given. But what we’re discussing here are the seemingly inconsequential everyday behavior patterns that men don’t seem to give a second thought to, but that will make a good woman walk away.
1. Small Criticisms: He thinks they are suggestions to help or improve her. No big deal. For the woman, this is like a continual dripping on a rainy day. These constant criticisms (without at the very least an equal amount of appreciation) create in her nagging doubts that she’s just not good enough. One day, she’ll figure she’s had enough of feeling belittled, and will end the relationship.
2. Sarcastic / Condescending Behavior: Sarcasm and mockery convey contempt. The man may be filled with insecurities or feel that he’s not good enough and will resort to trying to tear down the other person, often couched as a joke. Other times, the man is your typical arrogant narcissist. Enough said. Added to the mockery is a condescending attitude conveying that he thinks the woman is stupid. This type of constant “Hey, don’t take it so seriously,” or “You’re being overly emotional,” slowly, but steadily, kills her love. Unfortunately, the mockery will last in her mind a lot longer than the relationship. Her only regret? That she didn’t walk away sooner.
3. Constant Negativity: This is a relationship killer—a man who is never pleased about anything and finds in everything a reason to complain. He doesn’t think he’s being a joy-killer, he’s just being frank and “stating the facts.” So when you’re out on your special date, he whines and complains about prices and is ungrateful and peevish about everything around him. Soon, it becomes about the woman. Why didn’t you…? Why don’t you…? And she thinks, you’re right. Why don’t I just end this right here and right now?
4. Disrespectful of Her Faith (or politics): I’ve seen love work in relationships where the man is respectful and considerate of the woman’s values, even if he disagrees. This includes on social media too—posting or reposting articles or memes on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media stream that mock her values and ideas only prove that you care more about pleasing your friends and winning their approval. If you know it can cause friction in your relationship, why do it? When you hear the slam of that door, be assured that she has walked away.
5. Domineering Attitude: We’re not talking here about a verbally or physically abusive, controlling man. Just a man who has to have the last word. He has to be in charge and the woman needs to be submissive, as he always reminds her, citing his favorite Bible verses on the subject. He has a problem accepting any blame and it’s always the woman’s fault. These men can also retreat into silence or avoidance until the woman eventually gives in just to save the relationship. Unfortunately, the woman gets tired of being blamed and seeks a way out.
6. Neediness: Here is someone who is clingy and always needs your attention. It starts off with his saying and doing all the right things. He showers you with attention, talks about marriage, names the children you’ll have together—and even likes all your photos on social media. It might cross your mind that he seems a bit obsessive or even stalker-like, but he’ll do something very caring and you’ll put those thoughts out of your mind. But once he’s sure that he has reeled you in, then will start the, “I need you to…” Selfish and self-oriented, everything is about him and his needs.
7. Jealousy: Similar to being domineering, jealousy can kill a relationship. Maybe he’s insecure and needs constant reaffirmation, but the persistent questioning of the who, why, or what places an enormous stress on the woman. His possessiveness drives her crazy. Or, he may not earn as much as she does, or he just doesn’t have great finances. He then resents the fact that she is making more than he is, and this latent anger can destroy the love.
8. Being Uncommunicative: In an age of instant communication, this is a genuine challenge. How long should you wait for a response? There’s a fine line between a busy schedule and simply being ignored. If a couple has known each other for a while, the time to respond can vary based on your intimate knowledge and understanding of each other. But if he makes the woman feel like she’s not worth his time, she’ll grow tired of waiting for him to express care, and turn to someone who does.
9. Lack of Attention: A woman will fall quicker out of love when she feels like a man is not paying her enough (or any) attention. He never compliments her, but is always ready to talk about other women. He points out how “Chelsea just joined our office. She’s beautiful and fun to be around. I can’t wait to get know more about her.” Other women are more fun, understanding, and “get it.” James Cordova is a Professor of Psychology, Director of the Marriage Checkup Program, and Chair of the Psychology Department at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a leading figure in the field of Couples Research and Therapy. In his article, “Attention Is the Most Basic Form of Love,” he says, “Attention is the basic food and water of a living and breathing relationship. Attention is how we nurture and feed. Attention is what we need and crave. Without attention, no relationship, no matter how strong, can survive for long. The roots of connection simply shrink and whither.”
10. Apathy and Taking Her for Granted: Most relationships can weather many storms, but there is one problem that is like a tsunami. In her article, “Can Your Intimate Relationship Survive This?” Barrie Davenport, founder of Live Bold and Bloom, writes, “There is one relationship problem that can be very difficult to overcome. In fact, it can spell the end of the relationship if it isn’t acknowledged and addressed early and promptly. What is this insidious problem? It’s apathy… Apathy shows up as unconcern, indifference, lack of interest, lack of physicality, and lack of emotion.” When a relationship turns lukewarm, it signals the end. The man doesn’t care about the feelings of the woman—he’s indifferent to her concerns, unmoved by her distress, uninvolved in her interests, and has removed himself from any emotional intimacy. More than sexual intimacy, the lack of emotional intimacy destroys a relationship.
Closely related to apathy, we find what may be the biggest killer of all relationships—taking her for granted. A man treats her like a dependable piece of machinery. He doesn’t feel the need to appreciate her, tell her how valuable she is to him. He rarely (never) makes plans to be with the woman—comes and goes as he pleases. There are no special dates. There is no sense of gratitude on his part. He rarely expresses thanks, and generosity is a forgotten virtue. Soon the relationship enters the no emotional intimacy zone. Communication breaks down and there is no more physical intimacy. The woman feels unattractive, unworthy, and unappealing. Several years ago, I heard the story of a devoted wife Hannah. For years, she put up with her husband’s bossiness, temper, and criticisms. She couldn’t do anything to please him. But one day, in a fit of anger, he said, “I could replace you with a 5 cent phone call.” He had put a value on her—a value she couldn’t live with and left.
One Added Bonus:
By now, you are probably thinking no one will ever be able to go the distance. And you’re right, you’ll never be able to make it on your own. Here is where you turn to God and ask him to grant you the wisdom and grace to understand what it means to be a loving and encouraging person. You can’t do this on your own and without the power of his Holy Spirit.
Men, when you find a woman whom you treasure, you will want to do all you can to ensure a strong and lasting relationship. You don’t want to lose her. If you read and put into practice 1 Corinthians 13, you’ll grasp an understanding of what it means to truly love and value a person:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(P.S. Yes, I know this goes for women, too!)