Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

When A Man Loves A Woman

One last hurdle to the Honeymoon.

"When a man loves a woman

Can't keep his mind on nothin' else,

He'll trade the world for the good thing he's found.

Yeah, if she's bad he can't see it.

She can do no wrong

Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down..."

-Percy Sledge

Once the mirage man has established a relationship based on artificial intimacy and strengthened the illusion of love through approval-seeking, he is faced with one last challenge to his sham romance. Although the sky looks bluer and each snowflake shines like a diamond to the smitten man, reality soon intrudes on his dreamland of infatuation. He is forced to choose between the old realistic life he has left behind and the new Mr. Sensitive lifestyle he has adopted to woo his new lover. This is stage three in Mirage Man Syndrome: Commitment/Abandonment.

The real world and the deceptive male's fantasy world collide when his old male friends meet his new lover. These friends represent his real self, established over years of good times and bad. These primary relationships are carved out over the years to meet the man's varied tastes and needs, ranging from emotional intimacy and common interests to  shared experiences and competition.

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These friends exact a "buffering" effect. They keep the man from wide behavioral swings, just as a chemical buffer solution resists drastic increases in acid level. Changes in mannerisms, speech, style and personality are instantly challenged with hoots of derision and sarcasm and a raised eyebrow from the knowing chums who exert a scouring peer pressure that corrects unreasonable behavior. This phenomenon becomes a major problem when a mirage man presents a relationship based on deception to the real world of his friends. He knows they aren't going to buy his act.

The deceptive male will now be forced to choose between his lover  and his old life. He will feel sadness and regret when he realizes he must abandon relationships he once felt were so precious to his day-to-day existence. But his romance has priority over everything else in his life. He knows these new friends could threaten his carefully crafted new Mr.Sensitive image he has sold to his partner. He must abandon the old life completely if he is to continue his mirage romance.

Author and therapist Marvin Allen describes the results of a generation of deceptive men choosing their lovers over their old friends:"Few men have lasting friendships with other men. It is common for a man to have only one intimate relationship, the one with the female partner, and to keep other people at arm's length. He has business contacts and acquaintances, but few close, continuing friendships."

Modern men tend to be alienated from other men and have an unrealistic dependence on their wives and live-ins to supply them with all their companionship needs. In addition to their male mate, modern women usually have "eye-to-eye" female friends with whom they can share openly, which helps them get through the peaks and valleys of life and meet their emotional needs. Today's men tend to be "Lone Rangers" who look solely to their wife or live-in for personal support. When these mirage men do spend time with other men, the time is spent with "side to side" male friends in superficial activities like watching sports or playing cards, which keep things safe and detached. With their good friends gone, there is no one that these mirage men can relate to. After the thrill of the romance fades, they will find himself surrounded by strangers who think they are their friends and wives who can't understand why they are so resentful and emotionally frozen.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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