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Dr. Helen

Continuing the “short leash” discussion

December 10th, 2013 - 5:31 am

I saw that at Psychology Today, Dr. J.R. Bruns takes a stab at answering the question I asked in a prior post about why some men put up with being on a short leash in their relationship. Here is what he had to say:

Many American men have ceded control of the relationship to their wives and their girlfriends. This acquiescence of responsibility in the union occurs early in the initial courtship of the couple. Quite frankly, many American men don’t mind being controlled by their lover in return for acceptance and romance. They bury their needs, feelings and goals to accommodate their mate’s. They surrender unconditionally due to their natural desire for sex and their fear of being alone. They would rather be in a poor relationship than NO relationship. But there is a terrible cost to their short-term pathway to romantic bliss. This century-long trend of submersion of the male in love and marriage is a major cause of the unprecedented failure of heterosexual relations in 2013 America.

Dr. Bruns goes on to make some good points but he does seem to put much of the fault with this behavior on men. While they are certainly responsible for their own noose at times, I think the omission here is the societal and legal realities that put women at an advantage in marital–and even non-marital relationships. Husbands often put up with negative behavior because they know that they could lose their home, the kids and a portion of their income. Women, for the most part, have no such worries. Yes, there are exceptions of women losing these things, but it is mainly men who do so. This knowledge must play some part in the willingness to let women call the shots.

Combine this with a society that gives men no other guidance than “go along with the woman” and it’s no wonder men go along to get along. Of course, it doesn’t work and breeds resentment as the good Dr. Bruns points out, but it is easier for some guys to play along than risk losing in court and “love.”

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