The Rubber Band Theory

I hate self-help books because they’re cheesy.  Then,  a few years ago, the cheesiest self-help book of all landed on my lap:  Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The analogies are excessive, but quite a few of the theories in the book seem  applicable to my own life.  The theory that most applies in this very instant is—The Rubber Band Theory.

The theory states the following: Men have an “intimacy cycle” where they get close to their girlfriend, enjoy the intimacy, and then need to back away and get some man time. They eventually become saturated with man time and come in for more intimacy.  It’s a cycle.

Women respond to this cycle in one of three ways:

1) They get it and relax during the stretch part of the relationship because they know things will be okay on average

2) They freak out and chase after him, which only makes him pull away even further to get the man time he wants. Sometimes the chasing/pulling away gets so extreme that it sours the whole relationship

3) They get angry and promise to not make the first move. This works as it gives the dude his space, but, the woman doesn’t enjoy it and can become bitter/jaded.  This is the bucket that I always land in.

G.I. Joe (my boyfriend) is a man’s man. He’s also a teddy bear.  I have always appreciated this juxtaposition but never connected it to the Rubber Band Theory until right now.

Teddy Bear: I have never dated anyone quite as affectionate as him.  He is the first to say that he wants to stay in and just hang out with me…”I’m in a you mode,” he’ll say.  He doesn’t care what people think and is never shy about public affection when we’re at school (I’m getting my MBA, remember?).  He lets me in on his crazy stream of conscious thoughts.  When he’s like this it becomes abundantly clear that I am his favorite person.

Man’s Man: Loves xbox. Loves playing  Rugby with the boys. Loves working out and lifting weights.  Loves his beer. Loves watching sports on his huge TV.  When he goes out with the boys (I’m usually there with other people…it’s a small town = not many bars) I notice that he’s just talking in a corner with his 4 buddies drinking beer.  He’s a veteran for Christ’s sake and literally made a living blowing things up.

Right now, he’s in man’s man world.  I was getting really f-ing angry about this until I remembered the rubber band theory.   I like the teddy bear in him, but the only reason that teddy bear part exists is because he balances it out with man’s man time.  Also, one of the draw backs of dating in business school is that you see your partner all the time. There is no space which must have an accelerator effect on normal relationship behavior.

Crap. I’m sounding like one of those cheesy romantic self-help books but it’s true, I’ve had this epiphany and I wanted to share it.

Lets see how it goes…I have lots of homework to do anyway and lots of plans set up this week.  I’ll make this lady week and reevaluate in 7 days to see how tense/lax the rubber band has become.


13 Comments so far
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I just stumbled upon your site after doing a little search of my own on the rubberband theory and BOY! Sounds like you’re having a rough time with the old relationship. My boyfriend has recently broken up with me because “he wants to be alone, doesnt want to be in a relationship with me” but it’s weird and strange because it came about so quickly, and there are a lot of interesting side lines to it that don’t make sense.

Which of course leaves me wondering if he’s currently in the stretch of the band, just waiting to ping back.

I guess I can only wait and hope 😦

Comment by Kass

Hi there. Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear that you’re going through a breakup. I experienced something similar, and in my case, the “sudden” breakup was closely tied to his own stress level than anything in the relationship itself. I suppose you have to ask yourself whether he’s been going through anything that is exogenous to your relationship.

Comment by bluntlysaid

hey iam a 15 year old girl and i am as out spoken and i blunt as you i really like your blog and i hope this is something you like doing and im glaed i am not the only one that is not blunt.

in loving words izzy the out spoken nobody >o<

Comment by isabella

Izzy!!! How could you say you’re a nobody! You’re 15 and already know that you’re blunt and unapologetic about it. That’s a good start. I don’t blog as much as I used to, but your post motivated me so maybe i’ll start again:) Thanks for getting in touch. Best – Bluntlysaid

Comment by bluntlysaid

thank you but most say that i am to blunt i am doing a school podcast of the rubber band effect and i find it that most say that its true and i hope when i make the podcast i can send it to you

Comment by isabella

He sounds just like my guy.. wonderful as can be.. then POOF! he’s gone! How often does G.I. Joe pull back? And how long does the phase usually last?


Comment by mk


Comment by isabella

This makes SO MUCH SENSE its unbelievable. I dated a guy for a while then we broke up, because apparently distance is a huge problem. then about 7 months ago we started talking again and he’s been all flirty and then just recently he disappeared off the face of the earth. But after reading your blog everything makes sense!!!

Comment by JJ

push and pull in extreme is a sign of a person incapable of being emotionally intimate.Beware that you don’t confuse normal “me-time” with people who have excessive fear of intimacy….

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[…] between men and women were a revelation to me.  At the time, I thought I was undergoing the rubber band theory that men need to retract in order to regain his sense of self and independence again.  As I reflect […]

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