Why Men Leave Women

It can start with a small crisis – an illness, job change, traffic accident, children going off to college, a friend getting ill, parents aging, worries about finances or a business setback.

The man of the house gets irritable, his moods are unpredictable, the formerly Mr Nice can turn suddenly Mr Mean. His wife or partner doesn’t know how to interpret the changes, but many are quite unprepared for what comes next. He walks out on a long term relationship with no apparent regrets or remorse.

He won’t discuss it, he won’t agree to counselling, and he’s gone for good. For the woman in his life it can be a bewildering experience.

So why do men leave? Jed Diamond PhD has done extensive research on men’s emotional and physical health and is the author of several books on the impact mid life changes can have in men’s lives.

In this interview he answers the questions women living with someone who is turning into a grumpy old man want answered.

1) Is there any way a woman can tell the difference between her mate “just being a grumpy old man” and something being seriously wrong?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if he is just “normal” grumpy or whether he has Irritable Male Syndrome.  In the research that I did for The Irritable Male Syndrome:  Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Aggression and Depression, I developed a diagnostic questionnaire that enabled us to assess the degree of irritability and how it impacted the man and his family.

Our initial study was with 1000 men and 1000 women, mostly in the United States.  Once the book was published I posted the questionnaire to the web and now we have results from over 60,000 men and women from all over the world.  You can take the questionnaire at www.IMSquiz.com and find out if IMS is a problem for you or someone you love.

2) What reasons do men give for leaving?

Most of the time, when men leave they aren’t aware of the real reasons.  They say things like:  “I need my space;”  “I just need some time to sort things out;”  “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”

3) Is there any research which shows whether these reasons are the “real” ones or not?

The real reasons that emerged from our research show men are dealing with mostly unconscious issues:

  • Hormonal changes and drops of testosterone make them more irritable and frustrated.
  • Changes in brain chemistry make them more depressed.
  • Increased stress levels make them look for a simpler life.
  • Changes in male role identity make them go looking for a relationship that recreates some of the old familiar roles such as sole provider or protector.

Men are looking for something, but often act like confused homing pigeons that fly 180 degrees in the wrong direction.  They are really feeling that their stable identity is coming apart and are afraid if they stopped to look at what was really going on inside it would overwhelm them.

4) Do most wait till they have a “replacement woman” to fill the gap?

Some men wait to find a replacement woman who will calm his fears.  But most often the men are just walking off into the unknown, or as I say in a one of my books, they are “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

5) Are there any “warning signs” that tell women her man is going to leave?

There are a number of warning signs including the following:

  • Increased restlessness, irritability, and anger.
  • Increasingly seeing the wife as someone who is “out to get him.”
  • He changes from Mr. Nice to Mr. Mean or as some have said from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.

6) What is the best way for a woman to deal with the situation? If he refuses to admit to any problems – or take any responsibility for the difficulties himself – what can a woman do?

A woman needs to learn all she can about The Irritable Male Syndrome.  On my website www.TheIrritableMale.com and on www.MenAlive.com I offer support and information.

Next, she needs to reach out to someone she trusts and talk about what is going on, how she’s feeling, and what she needs.

Often there is a code of silence that develops within families when Irritable Male Syndrome, IMS, is a problem.

He may become possessive and not want her to talk to anyone.  It’s his way of fending off his shame.  But she must reach out.  Finally, she needs to take care of herself emotionally and physically.  Before she can help him she must help herself.

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  • Interesting analysis of some of the literature out there. I am intrigued by this same topic and have a few of my own ideas which are just that. I deas. Grumpy ios one that really gets to me. Can I justsay as a male..men are not “grumpy” it does make me grumpy whn women call me that..(that was a joke) …men are grumpy because the feel and cannot articulate…it broods simmers and festers yes..but it is symptomatic of much of the way we raise our boys, and develop as men..emtional quotent bereft certainly doenst help us. Grumpy is the first of many signs that stuff is happeneing. Get someone safe and able to hwelp process those feelings because this is the seed bed for drastic change and not always good change if it is not addressed..just my view and a view brought about aby talking with lots of other men about this exaact same thing. I really do thinkw e need to start scripting our own story.too many people speak on our behalf because of that vacum we have created.I wish you well on your journey and will keep dropping in.Cheers Thomas

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  • Darlene tower

    I just want to say that I have been married for 33 years and in October of this year my husband told me word for word the things you are saying . I was devastated , never saw it coming. I didn’t know how to deal with everything that was going on. I couldn’t understand what was going on with my husband. We had been so close. I found your book , surviving male menopause, and could not believe what I was reading, it was all about my husband. I got half way through and told him to read it. It has changed our lives. We stil have stuff to work on but it gave him the answers he didn’t know he needed and opened his eyes. He is now willing to go to a counselor and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However long that tunnel is , I at least have hope for our relationship. I think every man and woman should read about male menopause so they at least have an idea if and when this terrible time in a mans life will hit them. Thank you so much for your books! Darlene

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