Something I’ve mentioned before, but not directly on here, are the different dynamics you will see in your standard “post-honeymoon” relationship.
Obviously the highest tier is the most healthy kind. This is the couple that is warm, affectionate, respectful, and who — if they even have issues — communicate through them relatively calmly, and allow the other emotional space without reactivity.
You see a lot of love in these relationships, and overall they tend to move along smoothly, handling problems constructively as they arise. Both parties feel understood; their needs are met, and sex is relatively frequent.
These relationships, however, are unfortunately rare — because to get to this point, you need to be very in touch with your own needs. And you must have cleared out enough shame that you can honestly and reasonably communicate them.
Which is why, while there is often a level of natural compatibility with these relationships from the outset… in nearly every case they must be forged. You need to either “do the work” with this individual — or have done it in a past relationship so you can bypass most of the challenges. About 10-20% of 5+ year long relationships fall into this category (depends on how strict you are, it is a grey area).
That this high-intimacy, low-conflict relationship would be the ideal, however, is not particularly surprising. To paraphrase Tolstoy, “all happy families are happy in the same way; all unhappy families unhappy differently.”
Where people get caught up is in gauging the relative health of the other kinds relationships out there which are a bit less obviously happy.
For instance, most people tend to think the worst relationship out there is the high-conflict relationship.
You see them snap at each other. Maybe even get into humiliating, vicious public arguments. In the worst cases, there is some level of violence — stuff gets smashed, doors slammed, and perhaps even people get hit.
Make no mistake this is bad, and when it deteriorates to the physical it is especially damaging. This is usually a breaking point for a couple, where one party concludes they are done with it.
However, while your standard high-conflict relationship may not be great, it is not as bad as you might think. And there are two reasons for this.
The first might seem toxic, but it’s true: you wouldn’t fight if you didn’t care. In high conflict relationships, underneath the spats is love. There are often highs along with the lows, and there is a genuine desire to make the relationship work… although of course, over time too much fighting does wear the couple out.
But the second reason is perhaps even more important: conflict is communication.
Just like war is simply politics by other means, a couple who is fighting might be crude and ineffective about how they discuss their issues… but they are at least telling each other how they feel. There is some dialogue. Which means that raw stuff from the unconscious is being brought up, and there is a good chance for the relationship to break out of this gridlock.
Surprisingly, the worst and most precarious relationships are the ones where conflict is low, yet so is intimacy and communication.
These are the relationships where one or both parties feel so detached from the other, or are so caught up in their own shame, that they don’t tell each other how they feel. These relationships are filled with resentment, and one party usually dominates the other (not in the fun way). Cheating is not uncommon; indeed, it probably occurs at some point in easily half of these.
The tragic thing about these kind of relationships, however, is that the guys in them are often the hardest to help. They tend to be “nice guys” who struggle to admit or acknowledge their needs. Because they won’t communicate their problems with their woman, or even accept they have a real problem, they are nearly impossible to help.
When a couple is fighting with each other, I consider it a positive. The desire is there; the guy just needs an ego-check so he can see his own contribution to the problem, and to learn to “fight” better. Drama is frankly easy to deal with.
Dealing with a man in denial is much harder. He’s not used to speaking up for himself, and he’s not used to conflict. I try to prepare him for the fact that he will need to have fights with his woman to improve the relationship. But deep down he is terrified of the tension with her. He’s afraid of making her upset, and what that might mean for him.
He’s not yet prepared to walk away, and so he’s not yet prepared to go to war.
The sad truth is guys in these sort of “meh” relationships, where the intimacy and emotions are dull and infrequent, usually are not ready to jump in to work with me. They need more time to suffer.
They have been avoiding feeling their pain for a long period of time as it is, and so it is inevitable that 80% of these guys will continue to do it.
But that 20% who decides to face their fears, and lean into the process?
Amazing things happen.
They start to rediscover themselves and their masculinity. And start to rebirth their relationships in the process.
Anyway, no results are guaranteed. It always depends on how much the guy leans into the process. And not every woman is prepared to grow with her man.
But for those who men who prefer an uncertain future with intimacy and freedom, instead of one with certain pain and misery…
And who want help in cultivating this new life for themselves as fast as possible…
They can apply to work with me here: www.patstedman.com/application