Taking the plunge and popping the question seem particularly difficult for some males. Commitment is not an entry in their dictionaries and, seemingly, nothing concerns them the least. Is it (A) a behaviour of modern times or (B) has this lack of commitment to a relationship been attached to men’s personality since the beginnings of time?
If you chose alternative B, you hit the nail. This pattern of behaviour can be found in men for at least 2500 to 3000 years as described in the Greek Myth of Heracles. Heracles is commonly known by his Roman name, Hercules. His most striking characteristic: his strength. But there’s more surrounding Heracles than a shallow display of muscles and vicious fights.
To start with, one must understand that when analysing the patterns of psychological behaviours depicted in myths, details do not matter much – I mean they do not contribute to the core message of the narrative. Also, accounts shouldn’t be taken literally.
Heracles, first of all, was hated by his father’s (Zeus’) wife (Hera), who knew Heracles to be the conceived child of yet another of Zeus’ countless affairs. Hera represents the overbearing power of the feminine in Heracles’ life – which could only come from his “step-mother”, not his real mother. In this Cinderella’s-life scenario, Heracles has to cope with the consequences of Hera’s never-ending grudge against him and grows up to be a man who cannot get rid of her influence, however much he tries.
The myth goes on to tell us of, now, a married-with-children Heracles slaying his wife and offspring. Remember: Let’s not take this account literally. What our hero kills is the commitment to bind with someone else and raise a family in the structure of his psyche. Can you see how this myth relate to today’s men who are willing to stay single?
You can bet: If a man is more than 30 and single, there’s every likelihood the power of the feminine was – and might still be – too much for him to handle. The result? Well, there are many. Some unproven speculations even claim such men may develop homosexual behaviour, but avoiding commitment is certainly the commonest aftermath.
What happens to Heracles then? Well, the myth tell us he has to accomplish a certain number of tasks (called labours) in an attempt to strip himself from all the guilt he was feeling. So, he simply finds a way to occupy himself and keep his mind busy. Have you ever noticed how busy commitment phobes are? And how difficult they are to reach?
Unless, of course, you’re a woman who doesn’t want commitment either (yes, they exist, and myths can shed light on this behaviour, too!). It seems these men sense the women who don’t need commitment and hang around with them only, leaving you as a second or third best. Mind you: Heracles wasn’t thoroughly engrossed in his work. He also found the time to hang around with the opposite sex.
Truth be said, some of our modern Heracles are in steady relationships. They too have suppressed the feminine power in their minds, but then miss the source of external authority in their life, finding it again in relationships that cater for their most immediate needs. And let’s be honest, some women have developed an expertise to be nasty.
But what happened to Heracles? Well, he managed to complete all his labours perfectly well. However, oddly enough, his very last task (the one supposed to free him) demanded him go into the underworld. From a psychological point of view, that means going on a journey into the unconscious mind. Heracles had to stop occupying himself so much and find the time to look inside him to finally get some answers. Likewise, the type of man we’re looking into also has to undergo the same journey and find out what makes him tick and escape from the vicious circle of suppressing the feminine or blindly abiding by the rules dictated by any feminine presence in his life.
Sadly, unless these men are determined to investigate “their underworld”, there’s little anyone can do to alter the pattern of behaviour described. The good news is that Heracles succeeded into his exploration, came back to life as a different man and, surprisingly, got married again, having children. If he could do so, any commitment phobe can. It’s just a matter of giving him enough time and… remain hopeful.