Love, acceptance, respect, to be desired, security, passion, are all things a woman may want in her relationship. As a matter of fact these are basics that probably everyone wants. There are certainly others and each person has specific desires. What I want to focus on here is the specific aspect of emotional safety in relationships.
The challenge in satisfying this desire is that the feeling of “safe” is sometimes generated from opposing dynamics, and this can create conflict. How a woman feels with a man can change moment to moment depending on these opposing forces This can lead to confusion about what she wants. It can also confuse the man as she appears to want two different things. If we become aware of the conflicting beliefs paradigms this can begin to make a lot more sense and clear up the confusion.
First let’s understand some of the aspects that create a feeling of safety in a relationship. A man’s unconditional acceptance of a woman means that there is no judgment and criticism. She can communicate honestly, be herself, and feel emotionally safe. There are also physical and financial factors that can appeal to a woman’s sense of safety. Sometimes a woman will trade one of these comforts for another in her relationship. It is emotional safety that I want to address. It is the one that creates a great deal of confusion.
A confident man creates the feeling of trust with a woman.
A woman will feel emotionally safe with a man who is emotionally available, honest, trustworthy and authentic. These are emotional character strengths she can respect and admire in a man. A man of character and emotional depth is a man who knows who he is and likes himself. His love for himself is so strong he does not need to gain the acceptance of others by trying to be something he is not. His strength is not physical so much as it is in the clarity of his mind and emotions. These are character strengths that a woman not only admires, but feels safe with. He is not a weak man that will bend to the whims of other people. She can trust him to be who he is. I describe this kind of man as being in his emotional integrity.
A woman feels safe if she believes the relationship is going somewhere.
A different factor for women that creates safety is her trust that the relationship is solid and will work out. When a man spends time doing activities as simple as cleaning house and cooking together it sends a message that he is committed to being with her. It is wasteful to invest her time with someone that may be gone soon. You want to know if your prospective partner has the capacity and willingness to match you for a deeper emotional commitment.
There is also the fear that if after getting emotionally invested in a man there will be a break up. It makes sense for us to wonder where the relationship is going. Sometimes a woman wants to be “safe” from the potential pain of a broken heart. She wants to avoid the emotions associated with being alone. This kind of safety is really about protecting herself from the painful emotions that come from her fears of break up and being alone. When a man is distant emotionally or physically from her it may bring up feelings of loneliness, or fear of a break up. Seeking this type of emotional safety can lead to emotional drama.
Fears and insecurity in relationship takes a woman out of her emotional integrity.
In order to avoid her fears of being alone the woman may make efforts to keep her man close. It might be a criticism for going out with the boys for an evening. By discouraging him to do other things she is increasing their time together. A critical comment is a means to reject his behavior so he would avoid criticism in the future. Becoming sad is a way for the man to notice her and get what she wants. If there is a lot of emotional charge the dynamic might include anger or jealousy. It is possible the man ends up feeling guilty for having done the “wrong” thing that caused her to be upset. The man may want to avoid the night out with the boys just so he doesn’t have to deal with her emotional reaction.
The Downside of getting what she wants
If a woman engages in such efforts and is successful in controlling her man she will have influenced his behavior by her emotional reactions. With influence over his emotions she will have influence over what he does with his time. He will learn to avoid the activities that bring emotional reactions and criticism and do the things that she approves of. They will spend more time together which will help her to feel solid in the relationship. It also distracts herself from the fear of being alone. In one part of her mind she has helped their relationship, but she has unknowingly created a separate feeling of not being safe.
When a woman see’s that she can modify her man’s behavior she might perceive him as not being as strong. She will see him as someone that gives up his interests, runs around trying to make her happy. He has stopped being his authentic self and started being what she wants him to be. At some level she perceives him as no longer being his own man. She could perceive him as having weak character and could lose respect for him. More importantly she will not feel safe with a man she sees as having a weak character. Some women will conclude that if they can influence or control their man then other women will also be able to control and influence him as well. All of this adds up to losing respect and trust in the man.
One assumption sometimes deep in the mind is that the stronger person controls the weaker person. If she can direct him then he must be weaker than her. This image of weakness is amplified if the woman already considers her self as weak to begin with. The loss of trust in her man’s strength may not be conscious to her, but at some level it affects her feeling of safety with him.
On the one hand the woman has driven her man to be near her so that she can feel secure in the relationship. On the other hand because she now perceives her man to be controlled by her emotional reactions she no longer sees him as a solid foundation of strength.
Desire for closeness is from our emotional integrity but can also be from fear
A woman’s desire to be in close companionship with a partner can come from her emotional integrity. The desire to spend time with a partner to have fun and create together can be completely authentic. When in her emotional integrity the sense of safety she feels is normal because together they are a stronger force than if she were alone. She is out of her emotional integrity when her motivation for time together is for protection from fears of being alone.
A woman in her emotional integrity is free to ask for what she wants, and that includes spending time with her partner. It can sometimes be very difficult to discern whether we are acting on behalf of what we desire, or on behalf of fear avoiding. One way to measure is to observe the emotional reaction when we don’t’ get what we want.
The situation looks impossible. If the man acquiesces he may appear weak to her. If he doesn’t then it appears that he doesn’t care. For the woman it is also impossible. If she doesn’t make an effort to bring him close she may feel fearful and uncomfortable with being alone. If she works to keep the man close she is acting out of fear and runs the risk of being controlling and losing respect for herself and her man.
Giving up limiting fear based beliefs
It only looks impossible if we limit our options to the compensating strategies of control. If we are to find true happiness in our relationships it will require dissolving the beliefs and assumptions that create the painful fears and controlling behaviors. We will have to seek an emotional solution beyond what the mind offers as safety from fear.
Great Love in Relationship is present when there is no fear.
The fears of being alone are coupled with assumptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves. Those beliefs usually involve not being good enough, unworthy, self rejection, and other people rejecting us. This is the painful emotion that people are seeking protection and safety from. These beliefs are lies and only exist in the mind. Just for starters there have been many times when we have been alone and been happy. We have just learned to associate being alone with misery. When core beliefs of self rejection are dissolved there is no longer any fear of being alone and there is ample room for self acceptance and self love. Changing beliefs also eliminates the need and behavior of being controlling to our partner. Great Love thrives in the absence of fear.
What motivates the man to be with his woman?
There is ample material here to talk about the man’s half of the relationship. The man’s motives and his integrity with himself are completely unknown. He might respond to the request of his woman just because he loves her and desires her to be happy. In this way he is completely in his emotional integrity. However a man that is uncomfortable with her reactions or feels guilty may be out of his emotional integrity. Even though his actions to be with her are the same the motivations are different. What is happening in the man’s mind, beliefs, and emotions is a completely separate dynamic. This example has more to do with the woman’s perception of her man, than the man himself.
In my perception a small percentage of men actually live in their emotional integrity. It is the man’s loss. Not only is the emotional quality of life much more beautiful, but it imbues to a woman something that is very attractive to her. In the depth of her emotional integrity a woman desires to be with a man of emotional depth. Not all women are comfortable here but at some level they are yearning for a deep emotional connection.
A woman can choose to wait for a man with the character and integrity that she respects and wants. But as she waits she should prepare herself as well. Being with a man of integrity will not be like being with other men. He will be seeking a partner that will treat him with the same level of unconditional love with which he treats himself. If she brings her judgments, fears, and emotional reactions to the relationship, he may decide that he would rather be with someone else.
When a woman asks where the relationship is going there are often different parts of her asking. Authentically she will want to know if the man has the emotional depth for greater commitment, or if fear keeps him trapped. But she might also be asking because her fears are driving her mind to search for symbols of safety in relationship. In this case her motivation to know may be more about fear than about depth.
As you begin to evaluate these elements in your relationships, begin by asking what your own motivations are. To do this effectively you will need to be aware of your emotions and not the story in your mind. The story in the mind is too often the denial system or one of the transient voices in our head. You will be much more effective in being aware of another once you become self aware of your own emotional motivations, and beliefs. Whenever you evaluate your relationships, begin by looking at your half.
To gain mastery over your half of the relationship, including your perceptions, expectations, thoughts, beliefs and emotions, begin by practicing the exercises in the Self Mastery Program.
My perspective comes from working with women clients over the years to identify and change some of the core beliefs that sabotage their relationships. Any description of a group is never completely accurate as each individual is different. I share this here for people that find it valuable in understanding their emotional dynamics or that of their partner.
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