Battle Lines

Surprising, even for a partial cynic like me, was the depth of feeling.

We were a group of seven men in a group discussion, separated from a group of 13 women in the same room. Each sex had the same task, which was to figure out what we wanted and needed from the opposite sex, both today and in the past. Wants and needs, then and now. This was the foundation of the exercise.

Amusing was the different ways in which the men and the women went about the task. The men began working individually. To a man, we saw the empty boxes in the grid and felt compelled to fill them. The women immediately worked co-operatively, by which I mean they began talking about it.

Talk about metaphor alert. If a clearer illustration of the difference between the way we operate exists, I don’t know what it is.

However, after a while, the guys drifted into a community discussion, but as usual it was less about the community than projecting their own point of view. And what clear-cut points of view they held. One guy voiced it for all of them with: (paraphrasing)

What gets me is that when the slightest problem comes along, the women vanish. Because things don’t go perfectly all the time, they think it’s easier just to walk away rather than to spend time and effort to figure out what’s happening and what we can do to work things out.

Here’s the modern coupling dilemma: Women think they don’t need men any more. Up to a point that’s correct, but only in narrow and material ways. Deep in our core lies the yearning for the complementarity that only the energy of the other – the other sex – can provide.

As a female friend reluctantly said:

It’s the edge that I enjoy. When I’m with a man, the slight friction that comes from different ways of looking at life- at anything – gives me a better view on things. It’s satisfying.

The question remains. What exactly do we need from our coupling mates, and what do we want? And after we resolve that, which from which list should we be selecting our mates?

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