Guest Article by Marlo Spieth
“I don’t regret my divorce” say 73% of women according to Avvo’s 2016 Relationships Study, compared to 61% of men. Moreover, 75% of women agree that “I’d rather be alone, successful, and happy, then in a relationship where I’m not happy”. Here, only 58% of men can say the same.
We commissioned the study to understand potential clients for our online divorce service, but, the results left us with more questions than answers. For example, why the huge disparity between men and women?
These 12% and 17% gaps are quite statistically relevant. Differences this strong are not likely coincidence; there must be hidden factors that correlate. As such, I’ve hypothesized three possible reasons why men are likely to place more importance on relationships than women.
Men haven’t been trained in self-care
A coworker recently told me that he’s just a job and a few people away from being perpetually 15 years old. He cites his boss, girlfriend, and landlord as the people that force him to behave like a functional adult.
As the adage goes, “boys mature slower”. I’d like to suggest– do boys actually mature slower? Or are they merely allowed to be immature for longer, to the point of being grown-ass men with microwave dinners and dirty homes?
In the long term, this allowance could be destructive. Struggling to care for oneself isn’t the most attractive trait, and, yet, it would lead you to crave a partner even more. A relationship doesn’t solve one’s problems, but, it can help the everyday struggle—meals, stress, cleaning, anxiety, etc.
That said, several of my male roommates could cook quite well, more purposefully and attentive than myself. Even so, they were usually too apathetic to buy the ingredients and prepare the meal– unless it was for the whole household. They almost seemed to be more functional when others were relying on them. This isn’t a male-specific issue, but, perhaps women have more acute training in the intentional treatment of our mental and physical health. Indeed, “self-care” feels like a mantra of third-wave feminism.
“Masculinity” is often taught to de-emphasize emotion
Of all of these hypotheses, I’d bet that this one has the greatest impact on the divorce findings. It’s been proposed that friendships between men involve less emotional support than those between women. If a man has an emotional confidant, there is a 75% chance that it is his spouse or lover. Therefore, when a relationship with that person comes to an end, many men are left with no emotional outlet. Indeed, when asked who they would turn to first if they were feeling depressed, 71% of men selected their wife whereas only 39% of women selected their husband.
This is incomprehensible to my girl crew. We can pass hours analyzing the intricate timeline of a relationship. We’ll emphasize the depth of our friendship to compensate for the loss. Sharing sadness with my friends transforms it. A breakup results in bonding; a shitty situation becomes a positive one. My senses is that men don’t feel comfortable putting sadness into external outlets. That would render the healing process impossible.
The fact is that men’s mental health declines disproportionately to women’s after divorce. They are more likely to sleep worse, gain weight, and abuse drugs/alcohol after divorce than female counterparts. Are these horrible consequences of the lack of emotional connection between male friends? Is this the shitty underbelly of bro culture?
The failure complex
I make infinite attempts to not be too hard on myself. I don’t consider many things a personal failure, but rather, a statistically possible outcome of circumstance. Others, however, don’t take this blase approach. Considered the more competitive gender, men may feel more personal responsibility for “failure”, even in relationships.
This is probably exacerbated by men being forced into the role of the instigator. They have traditionally been expected to pursue sex & relationships. Therefore, it may feel more acutely like their fault when lacking.
Finally, as men are not generally over-sexualized, they may need more ways to demonstrate sexual desirability—which having a partner does! Being a relationship serves as a casual public testimony to one’s appeal. To lack such, especially for an extended period, could be damaging to the ego.
So, it’s probably a combination of all three of these and countless other reasons that contribute to the survey results. Indeed, you can only measure not if, but how much a result is affected by a given factor. It is interesting, however, to consider what causes men to be so keenly desiring of a partner.
What do YOU think? Leave us a comment and weigh in.
Thank you for reading,
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Guest Contributor: Marlo Spieth
Marlo Spieth works for Avvo, explaining legal issues in a lucid way.
Her days there are spent in blogging and business development deals.
She believes that “cinema can fill in the empty spaces of your life and your loneliness”.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed herein are the author’s alone and do not represent Avvo or Modernity.