Fitting the Curve

Likely as not it’s a natural tendency for both sexes, although because we are significantly different from each other, we go about it in different ways.

Males learn early on that some behaviours work in their favor when it comes to attracting females. Extroversion, willingness to accept risk and physical prowess are amongst the characteristics worth cultivating. Of course we’re mostly talking about early on in our adult lives, which means that we’re still teenagers and barely meeting the minimum grown-up requirements, but it continues in albeit muted form until we die.

We’re also talking extremely generally; exceptions are as thick as bamboo, but guys understand that even if you have hidden charms, the more obvious ones – such as those listed above – get you places quicker.

Which gets me to my point. Although we rarely see it this way, we modify and accentuate the stuff we think the other wants. So desperate are (in this case) guys to be attractive, they’ll go way beyond the boundaries of their character and values to be the person they believe will attract (insert female name here).

It’s a semi-conscious/instinctive project. I overheard Hortense mentioning to a friend that she liked guys who rode motorcycles, therefore I must get a motorcycle. Thoughtless and ultimately ridiculous (who knows whether it’s really what she thinks?) we are driven to do almost whatever it takes.

Such is the need to couple.

Boundary Rider

I can’t imagine what it’s like inside the head of a modern woman. On one hand she is propelled by her biology, her DNA and all that flows from that.

Then she has to integrate the expectations derived from the modeling of her parents and the lessons of growing up.

And on top of it all she has the day-to-day influences of peers and media.

What stands out in my big-picture description are the differences of time-frame; biology operates over thousands of years, and they become progressively short-term thereafter.

Looking at it this way gives us a perspective on the nature of change in women in the last few decades. Pushing boundaries of their behavior – towards a more male-associated pathology – means lots of uncertainty and chaos. When we operate at the edge of experience and knowledge, there will be success and there will be tears.

And there will come a time when pushing a boundary begins to operate against us. Going too far oftentimes results in self- as well as collateral damage. Unfortunately, knowing when to slow down, ie: knowing the limits of change, is a skill that can only be learned. It’s not innate.

Mob Rule

Being a male does not mean I’m responsible for the past actions of my sex, nor the current actions of other blokes.

The notion of an individual representing the entire history of a group to which he or she belongs (by default) is the kind of conceit that’s widespread and not useful.

Here’s a way to look at this. If you’re a female with bad experiences of men in your past, that’s not a good thing. Your natural bias is to project such a history upon both all other men and your own future. That skew isn’t helpful to you, and it isn’t accurate.

The fact is that the actions of a small, finite number of men treating you poorly isn’t a male fail;  it’s a number of people who did so. Women can treat you in just as rotten a way, but it’s the nature of the interaction that’s different.

On other words, any female-to-male relationship is loaded, no matter its length or intensity. Because humans look for patterns, the reaction is: I’ve been wronged by four men, therefore all men are going to wrong me.

A more logical way to think is to look upon each interaction with a member of the opposite sex as a spin of the roulette wheel. There are certain parameters within which the game is played, but the outcome is independent of what went before.

Except that in life outside the casino, it’s not. Can you spot the flaw? In roulette, each spin has no link to any previous events. In relationships it’s the common denominator that will influence the outcome. What’s that thing that’s the same in all of your relationships?

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?