If I could wave a magic wand and change just one thing about love…
I would make it easier for women to walk away from men who can’t or don’t love them.
Sometimes I think we’re suckers for punishment. 😉
We are willing to scale mountains for the man we love—we will do anything for him—and yet we don’t blink an eye if he won’t even trudge up a hill for us.
Much of the science shows that good relationships hinge on HIS willingness to put in the work.
When I first learned that, I was surprised.
I’d grown up believing that the quality of a relationship came down to the woman’s skills. Women who were really good with dealing with men had better relationships, surely?
But, in fact, you can make a good guess as to whether a relationship is going to thrive by paying attention to whether the MAN takes his partner’s thoughts and feelings into account.
Men who try to listen to their girlfriends and understand her, men who try to be better partners, men who are willing to try something new if it makes the relationship better… those are the men who are most likely to end up happily married for life.
So the clearest sign that the future of your relationship is happily wedded bliss is not how much you love him, no matter how much we wish it were so.
Rather, it’s how well HE treats YOU.
If he gets defensive, if he doesn’t listen to you, if he argues with what you say, if he does his own thing, if he doesn’t take your wishes into account, then you’re headed for heartbreak.
No matter how intense the passion or how good it is when things are going well, he just doesn’t have the skills to love you in a lasting way.
Keep reading to learn two more signs that a man is going to break your heart.
The first sign that a man doesn’t have the capacity to love you is that he doesn’t respect your thoughts and feelings enough to change how he does things.
The second sign that he may not know how to create lasting lifelong love is an insecure attachment style.
These are men who have a habitual pattern of sabotaging emotional closeness by either withdrawing or becoming anxious.
You might have the very best date of your life and stay up all night talking and sharing your feelings, only to find that he leaves and you don’t hear from him for days.
It’s like he’s having an intimacy hangover.
Getting that close to you felt great in the moment, but afterwards he found himself overwhelmed by uncomfortable feelings. Keeping you out and spending time on his own reminds him that he’s still a free agent and not controlled by anyone.
Other men, though, get emotionally close really fast. Closeness fuels their anxiety. They start to scare themselves with the fear that it’s not going to last or you don’t actually love them like you say you do.
Their anxiety comes out in behaviors like texting you constantly to ask where you are and why didn’t you text. They say weird things like, “It seems like you’re getting tired of me,” or, “Everyone thinks I’m boring in the end.”
Their anxiety is so off-putting that it actually makes you want to leave.
The common thread in these cases is an inability to trust the emotional bond you’ve created together.
These men just can’t trust that your bond is safe, loving, and reliable. Either they think they’re being smothered, or they think you’ll leave them in the end.
Luckily, there are plenty of men who experience secure attachment.
Securely attached men form emotional bonds easily, and they feel confident that they can handle whatever happens, good or bad. These are the guys you want to look for.
The final sign that you could be headed for heartbreak is that he’s never truly grieved.
We’ve all experienced loss. We’ve lost relationships. We’ve lost things we really wanted. We’ve lost dreams we once had.
We respond to those losses in different ways. Some people let their grief crack them open. They sit with it and eventually come to terms with living life with this hole inside.
Other people respond to loss with anger. They treat loss as a personal attack, and they come out swinging.
Others react with victimhood—life should be fair, and it wasn’t.
Still others slam down their emotional walls and claim it didn’t affect them.
You can see the way a guy processes loss by the way he talks about his exes.
He might talk about an ex-girlfriend and how breaking up with her really tore him apart. He tears up, but you notice that the narrative centers on him. He’s the victim of the story. He was the good guy; he did everything for her. They’d have been together forever if she hadn’t done what she did.
Grief is different.
Grief makes us hugely vulnerable. It exposes our soft underbelly.
To grieve is to know that you are not invulnerable, that life doesn’t always listen to your prayers, and that what has been broken can never be fully repaired.
We become the walking wounded, sensitive to the impermanence of life.
What is beautiful in this moment won’t last. You can’t step into the same river twice. Inside every joy is the seed of sorrow.
A man who’s lived with grief knows that he may hold you tight today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. He is prepared for the possible outcome that your love might not last, and he responds by treasuring today.
A man who’s denied or fought back against grief reacts to the possibility of loss as a threat. Loss means taking away from him what is rightfully his. Real men never lose; they always win. That’s a recipe for a toxic relationship dynamic.
A quote I repeat often is from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who wrote:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
That’s why I believe that there are more and more beautiful people as we get older.
Part of being an adult is making space for grief. Grief comes to us all.
So if you’re getting back into dating in your 30s or 40s or 50s and beyond, know that you’re getting much more accurate information about the man you hope to be with.
By this age, he has settled into who he is.
Either he is the kind of man who invites and appreciates his partner’s thoughts and feelings, or he isn’t.
Either he is the kind of man who can create a secure attachment bond, or he isn’t.
Either he is the kind of man to treasure life’s brief and beautiful moments, or he isn’t.
I hope you look for the good ones.