Photo by Toa Heftiba from Unsplash
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist nor an expert about women and men’s behavior and relationship in general.
As February is fast approaching, you are probably looking forward to Valentine’s day and the expectations that come along with the annual occasion like everybody else. Unfortunately, this is the first Valentine’s day you’re celebrating while barely surviving through a pandemic so it’s not exactly a romantic way to spend it. Everybody has been going through a lot mentally one of those people might actually be your partner, while you have no clue.
For the month of hearts, it’s wise and sensitive to not only search for material gifts to give your boyfriends and girlfriends but to help them in ways that money can’t buy. Changing bad behavior and improving your communication skills — these can be great, underrated Valentine’s gifts that you can give to your partners for your entire lifetime (not only for a day lol). Since before, there has been a long-standing societal pressure for men to be brave, decisive, and strong which invalidates the presence of emotional, physical, and mental weaknesses. Men need to be all these in front of their wives, daughters, and women in general. They’ve been carrying this burden ever since.
Call it ego or male bravado, but most men tend to cave in when they’re hurt or in pain. To them, being vulnerable is a sign of weakness and they don’t want anyone to see them that way, especially their partners (whom they have the burden to be always strong and dependable with). As girlfriends, wives, partners, we shouldn’t be passively participating and supporting these hierarchal expectations about men and their emotional capacities.
Men have a different way of handling emotions than women, so you need to have a different approach when reaching out to them. Of course, not all men are the same as one another but they do have similar habits, thinking, and behavior. Regardless, we are all human and we all have feelings, so we should be understanding of that.
8 WAYS TO BE THE GIRLFRIEND YOUR BOYFRIEND NEEDS WHEN HE’S FEELING DOWN:
BE A GOOD LISTENER
Be gentle when asking him what’s wrong. Don’t rush to him inconsiderately when he’s sitting alone in a secluded room nor demand him to open up his problems to you right away. It’s not easy to be the one carrying the burden and it’s not easy to be vulnerable. Some men are comfortable with expressing their feelings to other people and their partners, but some men aren’t. They want to handle the problem by themselves and don’t want significant people in their life to get tangled up with his mess.
DON’T ASSUME THINGS
This is most certainly not the time for your petty, made-up assumptions about why your boyfriend is “acting up.” Just because your boyfriend is not explicit when telling you his feelings, that doesn’t mean he has something fishy to hide. It’s important to give him reasonable doubt before jumping into accusations and baseless conclusions. Little do you know he may be dealing with issues at work or a life crisis.
KEEP YOUR CONVERSATIONS PRIVATE
Even if you have good intentions when asking for somebody else’s input, it’s not your call to make. If he wants you to keep it a secret, then respect his decision. You shouldn’t have to tell your friends or your family about your partner’s problems because they’re not part of it. He trusts you and only you so you better value that.
DO SOMETHING HE LOVES WITH HIM
Whether it’s playing his favorite video games or watching sports the whole day, show your support for his recovery by paying attention to his hobbies. Ask him what he wants to do and offer to spend time with him. When your partner is feeling blue, adjust your requests by minimizing asking too much from him. Understand when he’s not able to fulfill your daily routine together like picking you up from work.
UNDERSTAND HIS COPING MECHANISM
When we’re feeling blue, there’s only one thing we want: to heal. We want to move on as soon as possible and get back on track. We don’t want to be in the phase of vulnerability for too long; not everybody has the luxury and privilege to be protected when they’re not prepared. Men tend to isolate themselves from those he values most because he thinks he’s being a burden to them. That’s their way of keeping you out of his problems and showing you he cares apparently (but I don’t agree with this kind of thinking).
GIVE HIM TIME TO HEAL
Time is the most important factor when it comes to healing and moving on. It won’t be as sincere and as genuine if the entire process of practicing self-awareness up to accepting the outcome is rushed and manipulated. Give him enough time to heal his wounds. Don’t force him to return things to normal because you have no idea what he’s dealing with.
SHOWER HIM WITH ATTENTION AND AFFECTION
It doesn’t hurt to spoil him with extra cuddling and make him feel even more loved especially in his darkest times. Reassure him that you won’t leave by his side. Reassure him that you will still accept even the ugly, hidden parts of himself and love him the way he is. Every nurturing and reassuring word counts to someone who’s been deprived of them.
STAY WITH HIM
Above anything else, choose to be with him. Words are cheap when they’re not backed up with action. Don’t leave him on his weakest days because he’s broken. Humans, in general, are meant to be broken so they can experience a breakthrough. Your relationship isn’t true and strong if you leave because you’re not open to this side of him. He doesn’t have to be always strong and manly for you, and vice versa.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
When you have done all these, understand that there’s nothing more that you can do but to pray for them. A woman can only do so much, and there comes God. Sometimes it’s better not to help someone beyond your capacity simply because you’re not in the position to. Whatever he’s going through, there’s a reason for it. If you constantly interfere with the process, you’re either holding him back from transforming, growing and living.
Pray for him and for what he’s going through. Pray that he will be given the courage, wisdom, patience to overcome the challenge he’s been given. Letting him take advantage of your kindness is a different story. Being manipulated by another person is never right nor does it end well. However, if this happens, don’t cut him out immediately as this happens to all of us — every day we take advantage of God’s love for us.
As humans, it’s normal to feel entitled to a feeling that makes us good about ourselves when it’s shown consistently and sincerely. But we should learn to be in control of this by not expecting anything. We don’t get understood and pampered all the time, and it’s good that we’re not. One way or another, you need to get your life together and help yourself first.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”Bernice Johnson Reagon