Friday, January 17, 2014

Fight or Flight: The Break Up Reflex

Orginally published on SingleBlackMale

My break up – was over sex and religion. We’d had the conversation several times before - even before we got together, but we kept going back to the bedroom.  I started feeling really convicted over the sex. The last time I approached her about it she knew I was serious (for the moment), she said it was fine and she wouldn’t leave – that she understood, that would be OK. Within 3 days, things got rough and we broke up. She said the only reason a man stops sleeping with a woman is either he is cheating, had something (STI), or religion. Her final words were, “This is not what I signed up for. I don’t want to come between you and God.”  - She literally gave me an ultimatum between sex and God. I chose my God. So here I am reflecting on past relationships.

The survival fight-or-flight instinct is an automatic reaction that occurs in response to a harmful attack or threat to survival. It’s a really cool theory; it protects us from being hurt - and I think it also applies to relationships. I won’t claim to be a relationship expert, but I have experienced my fair share of them, and when they are ending you have two options: Either you fight for the relationship, or you fly and walk away from it.

We’ve all been through relationships and breakups. It’s a part of life. Most of us will have more failed relationships than successful ones. We have to go through a few Miss RightNows before we find our queens. Failed relationships teach us a lot – what we will and won’t put up with and what we do and don’t like. They are a learning experience and we should hope not to repeat the same mistakes. But what’s really important is why we break up. Last time I was dumped – after the raw emotions subsided, I took some time to think about why the relationship ended. When people break up I believe the reasons fit into two main categories: things you are willing to change and those you can’t.  Based on the reason you can decide rather to fight – and fix the problem, or fly – because the situation is beyond you’re control.

As a man, my natural tendency is to fight, regardless of the reason of the breakup. It’s the “how dare you dump me” reflex. There’s absolutely no reason behind that other than male ego and pride. However, in reality there are only certain things that are worth fighting for – the things you are willing to change and are worth changing. The worthiness of those changes is based on your commitment to the situation. If your girl tells you she needs more attention, needs you to listen, or needs a commitment – those are things you can change, if you wanted to. She’s crying out for you. More than likely she doesn’t want to end it; she just wants you to step up.

Now if she starts talking about personality traits, your appearance, your kids, or your faith – there’s only so much you can do about those things. You could try to be a different person and change your personality – be nicer, kinder, funnier, meaner, etc.  You could lose weight, dress differently, and grow hair. Kids - I hope you wouldn’t disown your off spring over a woman, but I’ve seen that done too. And faith? I’m Christian and I refuse to compromise on that, but if your woman gives you an ultimatum between her and your faith that’s a choice you have to make on your own. I chose my God.

So you can choose to fight or fly and your choice will hopefully protect you. And if the situation ends, make sure you learned something from it. There’s no reason for us to repeat mistakes.