Friday, November 23, 2012

Red Flag #2: Man-caving

Hi there readers!  It's time for this week's installment of our series on relationship red flags.  If I sound all chipper, it's because I got my hair done yesterday and that's always a bit of a boost.  I'm a simple girl, I know! ;)

Okay, this week I want to talk about a bit of a sensitive subject to me: man-caving.  First off, let me explain what man-caving is:  it's when your man retreats to a space by himself for whatever length of time.  This isn't inherently a bad thing.  In fact, it's a good thing for both parties in a relationship to have spaces of their own.  Just like it's important for both parties to have their own hobbies independent of each other and their own group of friends who aren't completely intertwined.  So, men, don't get your boxer-briefs in a knot, having a man-cave is a great thing!

When man-caving becomes a problem is when it becomes a frequently occurring event without informing the other party.  Let me give you a personal example from a past relationship of mine:

In one of my more serious relationships, I dated a man who had some issues in his past.  They weren't bad things at all, just the baggage of life lived and he was working through those on his own.  Sure, we'd talk about things and I felt like I was never in the dark about his previous relationships or issues.  I felt like he was very honest with me in that respect and I respected him a great deal for it.  It was very "adult:" the types of conversations we had and I felt completely secure and comfortable.

We got to one particular point in our relationship (it was quite early on but things had been intense from day one and serious from about day three it seemed) though that rocked me pretty hard.  I remember us having one of our "adult" conversations and myself thinking things were fine.  Then I didn't hear from him the next day (which was unusual because I normally got text messages or emails at the beginning and end of every day saying good morning or good night and telling me about his day), or the next. I chalked it up to a busy work week for him and shrugged it off, until it went on for nearly 2 weeks.  He didn't answer my calls, texts or emails.  Then one day he called out of the blue (my heart was at the point of breaking and I had basically tossed in the towel) and apologised, stating that he had been man-caving after our last conversation.  He said that something in that conversation struck a chord with him and he needed to ruminate on it for a time.  I nearly lost my mind and then calmed myself down and said that it was okay but just to let me know because I went through a lot of emotions and fear in those 2 weeks.  He apologised again and we spent a lovely weekend in a lovely bubble of cuddles. Until it happened again and again over the course of two years.

It's a red flag, friends, when the person you are with holds back emotions that pertain to YOUR relationship and disappears off the radar for undetermined amounts of time without warning to think about things.

Relationships need trust and honesty, but they also need communication that is open and honest.  If you need time to yourself to think about things, tell your partner, let them know that you are struggling with something and that you need to think things over.  One of my friends (hope she won't be mad at me for sharing this) did just that with a pretty serious decision with her partner.  She is a grounded person who likes to think things through and pray them through to be sure.  So in her situation (see how vague I'm being?!), instead of hopping up and down and leaping forward, she stood still and told her partner that she needed time to think about their relationship.  She gave a specific amount of time, asked her friends and family to respect the solitude and she prayed and thought about what should happen.  Her partner knew where she was, what she was doing and about how long they'd have to wait to discuss the issue again.  The partner then also had time to collect their thoughts about it.  It was like a gift to them both and that's a beautiful thing.  My friend communicated her need to woman-cave, said how long she thought she'd need and was open and honest about it with her partner.  I didn't know it then, but she set the example for what man or woman-caving should look like.  If your partner disappears for a length of time to think about things but doesn't alert you or include you somehow, it's a red flag that you should discuss.

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