90% of the time women get to be in control of a relationship and the man is almost always doing the chasing. It’s the man who generally asks the woman out, and it’s the man who asks if he can move on to third base, or if they can call the woman their girlfriend. This has nothing to do with sexism however, and contrary to popular belief nor is it a hangover from obsolete social structures. No, the simple reason for this is that as a rule the man wants those things more and is more desperate than the woman – which instantly puts the power in her hands and the ball in her court (if she’ll allow that…).
But when it comes to proposing there tends to be a bit of a switcheroo, and suddenly the woman finds herself wanting something often before the man is interested or willing. And because it’s still traditionally the role of the man to propose, this can then leave the woman rather powerless and waiting for her guy to pop the question while she frets about the body clock.
You’ve been going out now for a number of years. You’re living together. All your friends are married. Some of them are having babies… so what is it that’s keeping him from popping the question? Let’s have a look at the answer, and more importantly, how you can work at turning this around.
An Insight Into the Male Psyche
The main problem for women comes in the form of a little hormone called testosterone. This is the male hormone and it’s responsible for many of the differences between men and women – not just the hairiness, but also man’s obsession with success, his competitive drive and his desire for lots and lots of sex.
This testosterone acts as something of a driving force for men and in the wild it was highly useful – helping them to spread their seed and so increase their chances of genetic survival, but also driving them on to gather resources and status in order to get their pick of women.
Unfortunately today society works a little differently, for better or for worse, and we’re encouraged to simply ‘get by’ and find contentment with a simple existence. While men vary, a good proportion of us just aren’t really down with that.
So what does a man want from life? The answer is success, a career, status and unfortunately sex with lots of partners. This will then make your man basically very afraid of committing because we want to get as much out of life as possible and be able to be open to all opportunities. At the same time we don’t have that same biological clock which means we’re in no hurry to settle down, and nor do we get ‘broody’ for children in most cases.
Helping Him Achieve Actualization
So what can you do about this? Well the ‘sex with lots of partners’ problem is a little more difficult to deal with, but we’ll come to that. The success and status problem however is easier to rectify if you know how to speak to your guy and to understand his problems.
What you need to accomplish first of all then is to help your guy to come to terms with the fact that marriage and children don’t have to necessarily squash his dreams. Yes, of course having children will create a financial strain, and yes getting married does mean more responsibilities. However it shouldn’t mean they can’t be a successful rock star, computer scientist or athlete if that’s what they want – and there are plenty of examples of very successful people who have children and commitments (introduce them to them). If anything, having children will simply increase the challenge and make their eventual victory more impressive. You also need to make sure that he’s aware that you’ll support him in what he wants to do, and that you won’t stand in the way of achieving his dreams. Don’t compromise yours – and of course he should support you in your goals too – but make sure that you are an asset to his plans, not a hindrance (no matter how childish they may sound).
Part of the problem with lots of guys is that they know that they want to achieve greatness but aren’t really sure how. This then leaves them in a state of flux and panic that their life isn’t going the way they want it to – and with your guy in this state you’re not going to be looking at a proposal any time soon. Something you can do to help in this scenario then is to try and get to the bottom of what he does want from life and to try and help him find his purpose and goal. There are many self-help techniques you can use here such as the ‘five whys’ (ask yourself what you want to do, and then ask ‘why’ five times), and similarly a careers advice counsellor may also be able to help. Once he’s working toward a concrete goal though, and has a plan that includes you, he will be much happier and more content.
It’s also time to demonstrate how having family can be a great form of achievement in itself, and how that can help add to their ‘status’. While guys in relationships might be scared, single guys want nothing more than to be married (a painful irony). Meanwhile as you both get older, the number of single guys to party with and the ‘cool factor’ of being a bachelor dramatically dwindle. Demonstrate this by ensuring your guy spends time in the right company – i.e. those married friends.
Making it Like Home
And at the same time, men aren’t all bad. Though I painted us at testosterone monsters at the start, we’re also rather insecure, loyal and loving deep down which is what keeps most of us around and makes us so confused in the first place. While we might act macho and yes have a gut reaction telling us to strip every woman who walks past, we also have the need to feel that somewhere and someone is home, and to create a safe and warm loving environment. While our primal side might say one thing, most of us remain steadfast and loyal because we don’t really want anyone else and because we couldn’t bear to hurt our partners or throw away that happy bubble we’ve created for the sake of a one night stand with a tramp.
Creating that happy environment then is crucial to ensuring your guy wants to settle down and this means making sure that you are happy and that you don’t grill him for every little problem. Spend quality time together and work together to make your home somewhere that you want to spend time (if you haven’t moved in yet then that would be a good first step). You have the power to make this a nice environment for him, and showing him affection and being his friend and companion will ensure that that bond only grows stronger.
Other aspects of a ‘happy home’ are outside your control and reliant on things like funds and circumstances. Again then you need to work together to be able to afford a nice home, to keep it clean, and to gather a nice group of friends. Of course if a guy isn’t happy when he comes home, his mind isn’t going to turn to making this a permanent deal – so do what you can to make sure that you’re both happy and suddenly some of those psychological barriers will fall away.
That ‘Sex’ Thing
And then there’s the sex thing. While your guy isn’t going to act on that urge (if he’s a decent guy at least), this can still be enough to make things confusing for him and speaking as a guy it can sometimes feel like you’ve been gut punched in the stomach when you are feeling really horny and can’t act on it.
The solution of course is to ensure that you have a full and happy sex life. While it might sound shallow, if your guy is satisfied in the bedroom and if everything is going well here – well then of course the prospect of committing permanently to one person is going to seem a lot less scary. You need to try new things, keep things fresh and exciting (and frequent!) and even try new looks from time to time. As your boyfriend’s long term partner you have the distinct advantage over all other women in that you know precisely what your guy likes – so take advantage of that by dressing in ways that will keep him excited and by doing those things you know he enjoys in the bedroom. It will just ensure that his mind, heart and penis are all on the same page, and that he isn’t yearning for more action – which is a big emotional stumbling block otherwise even if he won’t admit it.
The Other Stuff
And finally there are some more minor details you need to overcome that can nevertheless add up to become large arguments against marriage. These are things like the costs, and things like the concern that you might say no of course. Try to reassure your man (without being pushy which will have the opposite effect) that you would say yes if he proposed, and make sure you’re realistic on what you can achieve in your wedding. Don’t compromise on your dream wedding, but at the same time be sensible when it comes to finding ways to cut the costs.