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Why Some Men Embrace Their Short Leash

Better a bad relationship than none at all?

by
Helen Smith

Bio

December 11, 2013 - 8:00 am

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I saw that at Psychology TodayDr. 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.”

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / auremar

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I wanted to add this, but the edit feature timed out.

That,

You sound like you might be an adult, a person who understands the word 'bond.'

I can only add that, whenever possible, marry for love because you can build on that. It's a leash if the relationship is wanting or impoverished. You probably haven't heard the term 'mutual leash,' very often. 'Leash' is a word most often heard in reference to dogs.

My wife and I are not dogs, nor do we have tails.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
You sound like you might be an adult.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think this conversation is very old and I think it applies to men and women, straight and gay alike.
Almost everyone wants autonomy and almost everyone wants a relationship with sex and love. Those are conflicting drives and we all have to compromise both to have both.
The difference between cooperative and a short leash is highly subjective. The lines between accepting clothing that your partner picks out, putting up with clothing that your partner picks out, and having to wear clothing that your partner picks out are hard to see.
I'm sure some people have given up more autonomy than they expected in order to form a relationship. I'm sure some people who gave up just as much autonomy are happy with how things are. It's very hard to judge who's on a short leash and who is feeling secure and bonded.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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I disagree with you on one thing. There is no acceptance without respect. If your significant other is dominating you, they're NOT accepting you.
Other than that, I'd rather be miserable alone than miserable and in a relationship with someone who's making me miserable. I've seen too many friends with lousy relationships. I'd buy a motorhome and live in a KOA for a few years, then buy my own house outright.

Luckily, I was very choosy with who I married. No problems here.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder what the 'Failure' of heterosexuality is that he is referring to ? We have no shortage of population and I thought there was 'Nothing Wrong With That'.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It happens to all genders. The tougher, and more manipulative call the shots and the needier goes along for the ride.

As a general point, a lot of the female agenda now is wanting but it is not universal. If you keep your integrity you don't have to settle.

Ola olera legit.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
For most people, their primary relationships have an inertia that tend to make them stay versus breaking apart. There are always some good things and a certain level of comfort. And then there is the fear and difficulty of starting over and facing the unknown. There are some really bad situations in which people stay for some messed up psychological reasons, but fundamentally for most, the tendency to put up with things isn't much more complicated that that, IMO.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I refuse to be kept on a leash! After years of being blackmailed for sex, I took control! I chose to abstain from sex with her! I said no to sex! Made her move out of the master bedroom! She has changed drastically, into a nicer person! She is very attractive, but I still cannot fathom having sex with her again! And I like sex. She hurt me deeply! I guess I do not trust her with my need for sexual intimacy. She is a very good person, in most ways!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
guess you may have learned that external beauty is wonderful, but external beauty can be seriously damaged when the person isn't kind and loving.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Well, what have we got here? Will you look at her? Those flashing eyes, those flushed cheeks, those trembling lips. You know something Princess? You are *ugly* when you're angry."
-Lone Star
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sometimes the light goes on. Your wife probably didn't know that she could be a good person. Sounds like you might miss her. Sounds like someday you might accept her gifts rather than begging for them.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I place the blame squarely on the infantilization and demasculinization of men over the last 30 years.

They don't want to be in control or want a long leash. They want to be married to their mommies, who will feed them, clothe them, pay the bills, and let them play with their buddies in their man-caves.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think this conversation is very old and I think it applies to men and women, straight and gay alike.
Almost everyone wants autonomy and almost everyone wants a relationship with sex and love. Those are conflicting drives and we all have to compromise both to have both.
The difference between cooperative and a short leash is highly subjective. The lines between accepting clothing that your partner picks out, putting up with clothing that your partner picks out, and having to wear clothing that your partner picks out are hard to see.
I'm sure some people have given up more autonomy than they expected in order to form a relationship. I'm sure some people who gave up just as much autonomy are happy with how things are. It's very hard to judge who's on a short leash and who is feeling secure and bonded.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
You sound like you might be an adult.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wanted to add this, but the edit feature timed out.

That,

You sound like you might be an adult, a person who understands the word 'bond.'

I can only add that, whenever possible, marry for love because you can build on that. It's a leash if the relationship is wanting or impoverished. You probably haven't heard the term 'mutual leash,' very often. 'Leash' is a word most often heard in reference to dogs.

My wife and I are not dogs, nor do we have tails.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
My father supported the family as sole breadwinner while my mother refused to work for 23 years, despite my father's continual insistence that she do so. My father secretly prepared legal documents, accounts, and eyewitness testimony under the advice of a divorce lawyer for six months before finally standing up to the "If you don't do this, I'll divorce you" threat that had kept him in line for those 23 years. She filed for divorce on the grounds of "irreconcilable difference" the next day.

Things the threat had procured in the past:

*A custom built house to my mother's specifications
*Six marriage counsellors, each dismissed in turn for the offense of agreeing with my father.
*New and "eco-friendly" cars.
*My father being force to take a job on the other side of the country for two years without the family moving with him.

As these things go, it didn't turn out so badly. He only lost the house, his savings, the working car (he got the clunker with no windows), and the kids. Luckily for him, he was also provided with the opportunity to pay $1500 a month to my mother for the next 276 months, as well as for sending my brother to the private school of her choice.

To this day, she is still furious that he managed to keep all of the retirement fund he had built up through his employer.
(show less)
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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