When Mike Mutua met Julia Kamau, it was love at first sight.
She was his type; tall, brown and curvy. She was social and outgoing, a 26-year-old career woman of good moral standing. Being 32, Mike felt that Julia would make the perfect girlfriend. After all, both were single and searching.
They would have endless chats as hours slipped by and the swirl of chemistry, that spark of I-really-like-you seemed to slowly grow inside.
Even though Mike invited Julia for dates in social places he could not hide his physical attraction towards her. She was, however, not feeling his vibe and would shoot down his sexual advances.
Mike grew impatient and sexually frustrated and slowly started drifting away. He felt like Julia wasn't returning his feelings and his efforts to woo her were all in vain. Contrary to this, Julia was taking things slow, studying her potential mate. For her, a long-term relationship is based on friendship, not satisfying immediate carnal needs.
By the time Julia was warming up to the relationship and ready to move things further, Mike had grown disinterested. Devastated, she couldn't understand how a guy who was head-over-heels for her was now looking the other way. Julia had missed all the cues especially when the connection started to fade.
Heartbroken, Julia's ego was crushed and her self-esteem was damaged. It was too late to salvage the relationship. To Mike, Julia's standards had been too high and he felt he wasn't good enough for her. On the other hand, Julia only never wanted to be easy prey. While she was busy laying the foundation for their relationship in the safe confines of friendship, the man of her dreams was slowly slipping away.
Many a time, like Julia, women get men who would have been their life partners pulling away. And while the big question remains whether the man was in the first place worthy of them - if they were not patient enough anyway - just why do men throw in the towel and end up putting women in the friend zone or simply disappearing when made to wait?
- People despise me because I am shy
- Looking for responsible, mature friends! Anyone?
- My life purpose is to work with the dead
- Do you always feel bloated? Here is why
According to a study by Abertay University, men have a lower attention span than women. According to the research, women are more likely to learn from experience than men, who are often quick to assume they know everything.
"Males are very eager to explore new things. Certainly, in humans, women find a kind of risk-taking male very attractive. Males are very quick to rush in. But once they experienced it and discovered there is nothing really to be gained from it, they pretty much ignored it," Clare Cunningham, a lead researcher of the Gibbon Conservation Centre is quoted by Hindustan Times as having said.
"Females were slower in general. They were much more cautious, which is something we would predict because really females would have much more to lose if the situation turned out to be dangerous," Ms Cunningham says in support of the research report.
According to Ronald Mkachala, a relationship psychologist, men and women are emotionally tailored differently. Their approach to romantic relationships is worlds apart. While many men are more attracted to women because of their physical looks, women go for more details like getting to know their personality traits and level of intelligence.
"Men lose interest in a woman when he discovers that their primary goals such as sexual desires are not likely to be met. He loses interest when he feels he is pushing too much and she is relentless. Many men easily feel like he is not worth her salt and since most men believe in winning, that no-win situation sees them take off," Mkachala says.
"What women don't know is that they have so much magic that can keep a man waiting. See, you don't have to accept his sexual moves but you can avoid that cold off-putting. Instead of playing too hard to get, you can embrace him warmly while still keeping that distance. Let him know that you value him and that there is so much you can achieve together. Unfortunately, the truth remains that everyone isn't meant for everyone," he adds.
He adds that during the infancy stages of a relationship, men normally have a lot of expectations and when the expectations are not met, they simply pull out and move on. Mkachala says sustaining the attention span of a man is something women should learn; he advises that women should be able to identify the motive and the possible end game of any given relationship.
"The truth is that men get to ignorantly overlook many aspects when it comes to relationships. Sometimes, a woman is into you just for attention or for that casual friendship. She might even have a boyfriend and simply hang around you because of other personal attributes she likes about you. Men do make that mistake of assuming they can get all they want from her after a little flirting," Mkachala emphasises.
Besides, women do give more thought to a relationship than men. They know where to place the boundaries. They are sensitive and would demand that once you go some length, especially in terms of getting intimate, there shouldn't be retreating. Intimacy, for a woman, is enviably treasured and if a man wants to take that road, he should think deeply about the resultant expectations.
"If you, as a man feel that you are not ready for her, then you would rather kill the thought altogether. It is better to let her off even if it hurts than sticking on for what could end up being a messy life," advises Jacinta Leti, a psychologist and life coach.
A man might switch off because he has so many things going on in his life. It could be a career issue, family problems, financial challenges or even a mental issue. It is not that he does not care. He is probably just not in a position to handle romance at the moment.
It is not always bad that a man decides to scale down his ambitions towards a woman and put her in the friend zone after having a high of building a romantic relationship with her.
Sometimes, men come to the realization that they can't handle some responsibilities as would be expected of them if they get into a committed relationship. In that case, they would opt to have the woman remain a friend rather than position her as a lover.
"Sometimes men revert from having her as a girlfriend to a friend because they value her friendship more than a romantic relationship. I have had incidences where some of my friendships with a woman have been more valuable than romantic ones. Not that these lady friends are not my kind. In fact, sometimes they could be those gorgeous girls everyone is dying for. Friendships a really valuable. You will be shocked to know that these friends are the ones who come through for you when your romantic affairs come down crushing," says Emmanuel Ndichu, a 32-year-old investor.
"I have had incidences where I have a deep feeling for a girl, but after getting acquainted and seeing the value she could be to me as a friend, I decided to put her in the friend zone. When I say friend zone, I don't mean I'm trying to make her lesser important to me. I do so to protect our interests as close friends instead of pursuing a relationship that would have ended nowhere, but only compromise our interests," he adds.
According to Chris Hart, it all comes down to bravery. However, there are different kinds of bravery even though women prefer brave men.
"Bravery is really seductive, maybe because in the past a woman needed a brave man to protect her and their children. And even now, all the activities that bring status and wealth are inherently risky. So going for a brave man still works. Especially professionally brave men, because they are self-disciplined and dependable. For example firemen, entrepreneurs and financiers. Rather than someone who is just out for a buzz, like bungee-jumpers or skydivers," Hart argues while responding to a woman's question as to why she is never attracted to men who never push her buttons.
"The trouble is that brave guys come in two flavours. 'Dad' types are brave, but considerate and kind. They stick around and look after you. But then there are the 'Rogues'. They are brave but selfish. The sort of guy who is confident enough to seduce you, but who loses interest as soon as he has had his wicked way with you, and heads off looking for another conquest.
"Kind guys always win if you are looking for a long-term partner. But for anything else, the rogue type really is far more seductive, which is why they make you go weak at the knees."