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  • Nick

"Hell is paved with good intentions" or why men act and don't talk.

Over the past few weeks, I have had discussions with a number of male clients and the same problem is occurring; the same simple yet difficult issue has come from two very different situations and two very different personalities. One is an alpha male, runs a successful business and the other is a people pleaser who doesn’t really know who he is (he will once we have finished therapy btw).


Both have done the same thing, and I must admit here, I have also done it in the past. They have made a decision to change their behaviour, to get more involved with their partners; one was to get more involved with a relationship and to go all in, and the other was to take responsibility for a positive life event.


This all sound good doesn’t it? Men taking more interest, men taking responsibility and stepping up to do the right thing, and that is exactly how they felt about. They were doing the right thing.


The problem was their partners didn’t see it that way. Their partners saw it as a change of behaviour and was suspicious as ‘no one changes without a reason’. The businessman’ partner thought he was cheating on her, as his change meant he was paying more attention to her, he was paying her compliments, and he was being more intimate with her. All things that he said she wanted. So, what could go wrong?


The other chap’s behaviour when he changed, was him not taking, him taking responsibility for the partners problems and basically being silent and distant because he was busy planning and doing extra work. His partner asked if he was having seconds thoughts and was worried about the future of the relationship.


Both chaps had a sense of injustice, both of them thought they were being treated unfairly and that frustrations at their partners for not seeing and therefore not appreciating the extra effort they are putting in. You can probably predict what happens next can’t you; ‘why bother if she doesn’t even notice?’


Both failed to do one important action and, and the one thing from my perspective was obvious – they didn’t bother talking through what they were doing with their partners. They just changed. It sounds silly but their partners saw change without knowing what was going on and were worried and concerned. Because the new way of acting wasn’t discussed, they looked at the new behaviour with concern and their own mistrust took over. You can see that the vicious cycle could then take hold.


My job for both clients was to show a different perspective, to give the chaps the idea that just because you think you are doing the right thing, how the hell is your partner supposed to know. It is very normal to come up with a plan in your head and be sooooo sure it is right thing to do, but your internal voice is very skewed to your own perspective that you end up with what start as good intentions but end up in a place they weren’t expecting. Maybe, just maybe Samuel Johnson was right about ‘Hell is paved with good intentions.’


The negative emotions that both men felt were after doing a good thing and the intent being misread to something negative and ending up so far away from their original purpose to spoil and to corrupt, that is hard to roll back and see others’ views. It is hard to hold the ego in check and ask what is going on, but to become whole again, that is exactly what needs to happen. If they had discussed exactly what they were feeling and then talked through their plans, then their partners would have understood, and I suspect would have wholeheartedly embraced their new behaviour.


The key is real and honest communication, and it is hard (even impossible) if you have never been honest with other people. It means that you have to be vulnerable, open and brave enough to say what you want and what you are feeling, while fighting the little voice (and big fears) that you might get rejected.


Help is hear, book a session or give me a call on 01386 571 114.

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