J. Peirano: Relationship test phase – and why women suffer more from it

Henrike’s ex-boyfriend took four months to realize that the test phase had come to nothing. As it happened to her before. Now he wants to change something. Only: what?

Dear Mrs. Peirano,

I (34, artist) finally met a man a few years ago who I thought might be something. We’ve been meeting for four months and we wanted to see how things were going. It makes no sense to make decisions in advance.

He was very attentive and engaging, he listened carefully and remembered what I told him. At one point I asked him what was going on with us and he said he wanted to wait until next weekend when we had tickets for the festival.

I was a little confused by his answer. But the weekend came and it was very nice.

And then, the next time we met next time, he got to the point and told me that he hadn’t developed any deeper feelings for me and that he was very sorry but didn’t want to continue.

I was shocked even though I was afraid of something like that. But now I wonder why it was. Am I not looking good enough? He didn’t like bed? What is it about me that he couldn’t choose me?

It has happened to me before and I feel more and more insecure. What should I do? Don’t open me at all? You don’t date men anymore? Be even more careful?

What are you advising me?

Many greetings

Henrike G.

Dear Henrike G,

maybe it won’t help you if I say it. But your story is now a classic. Time and time again I hear stories in my practice or in my private life that are happening in exactly this way. Getting to know each other, mainly online, then the casual testing phase, which the man usually perceives as really casual, and the woman after a while wants to wait and bear it. He is waiting for a binding statement about what it means to him and that he means interests. Shortly thereafter, the man usually breaks up and says that he has not been able to develop enough feelings.

It’s sad and very stressful for affected women (and of course it would be just as stressful for affected men the other way around)! Mostly because after a few such experiences there is already some kind of self-awareness and uncertainty in getting to know each other as a constant companion: “When will I leave again?” It doesn’t help you to be relaxed, mindful, and calm. On the contrary: you become restless and tense, you regulate your feelings so as not to get hurt. All in all, these are not good conditions for building trust and playful composure.

Helps you deal with social causes and connections. I recommend the book here: “Why Love Hurts” sociologist Eva Illouz. Here, too, you will find out why it is mainly women who suffer from such situations.

In my practice, men are also usually more relaxed when it comes to dating. If they don’t write in their profile that they want a committed, long-term relationship, they usually don’t want it either. And think it’s clear. When I ask why they are dating women (and often several at once), I often hear: I’m not done with my ex-girlfriend yet. Or “I want to enjoy my freedom” or “I fear commitment” or “I want to be free but I need female attention and approval.” And often it’s just an interest in sex.

Most of the time, men don’t realize how much they are hurting the women involved. And since women often don’t show how much they are hurt with self-defense and how seriously they understand it, neither can men be blamed. So my advice to women is: admit that you are only interested in serious deals. Unless they really think a loose connection is okay!

Obviously my practice is not representative and there are of course men who feel rejected and fear being abandoned. But this is not my personal experience in my practice, I have heard your story one way or another very, very often and without exception from women.

What You Can Do Now I recommend that you do yourself a favor and get the response you need to process your breakup and understand your reasons.

Imagine a child who is suddenly abandoned by an important caregiver (e.g., a teacher, godfather, friend, or even a parent). Children tell each other something like this and also try to blame themselves. Therefore, it is important for adults to take the time to research and explain the situation from all sides.

And suppose there is some childish, wounded part in you that also feels vaguely guilty (for what exactly?) And is disappointed that it has not been loved enough.

So my suggestion is to release the adult part of yourself to get an answer for the child. If you’ve sent an injured child to a man, he may cry, cuddle, plead, and beg. That would be understandable, but obviously not sovereign. I advise against. But her good inner mother might write to the man and say, “Of course, I agree you chose not to contact me. However, I have a request for you to end this better. you have an hour to tell me yours Can you list the reasons for this? It would be very helpful for me to have a closer look in the future. I would be happy if we could meet again. together and it would help me if you could solve the mystery for me.

This letter would be good for their self-esteem, as the inner mother stands by and examines the child’s feelings. The child wants an explanation, so he asks for it. The tone (of my wording, for example) is appropriate and friendly. You too can be proud of such a big style, especially in a stressful situation! And, of course, it would also be a relief if it turned out that the reason for the separation was on the part of the man, for example that he was not ready for a relationship at the time (then it would be better to ask another person about it).

Even if he criticizes you, you can focus on assessing it. Do I want to change what the other person is criticizing at all? For example, if someone criticized me for being a psychologist and that I like to talk about interpersonal matters, it would not be a criticism for me (because I became a psychologist on purpose and with great effort and I think that’s good), but it would mean that it just doesn’t fit this man. But if he had told me, for example, that I talk about problems too often and that I can’t relax enough, I might check this point and, if necessary, be more aware when I cross the line.

Basically, you can only win by trying to get feedback.

Best wishes and courage!

Julia Peirano

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