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?

Strong and Silent

In the past, I was an over-complimenter.

This stilted way of opening conversations with women started, I think, after I read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a book everyone should read. Just don’t take the part about offering positive comments too far.

Sidebar: Carnegie suggests using people’s names when talking to them, because we like the sound of our own name. Good morning, Hermione; Wassup, Hortense; again, the key is less is more. End Sidebar.

When offering unsolicited compliments to women, this advice oftentimes works against you, and here’s why: women have a sixth sense for the phony. If you say:

“Gosh, your hair looks great,” they’ll counter with “Oh, you think so? Why?” For which we have no answer.

Or we’ll smile and say “I loved that Tweet from yesterday” and the comeback will be “Really: I decided I didn’t like it. What’s wrong with you?”

None of which is a criticism of women. What men need to understand is that our depth of thought about almost everything will be unimaginably more shallow than a woman’s, especially when talking about themselves. Women think so long and so hard about so much, we cannot hope to match them. So a compliment isn’t a compliment unless you have pre-thought back-up logic with supporting arguments.

Which explains why the strong silent types do so well. Non-verbal men rarely find themselves in the position of justifying their statements. Women then are not in a position to crack open the superficiality of their thinking. Ergo, women like those men who look acceptable and don’t talk themselves out of it.

 

Girls, Goddesses and GaGa

Goddess

If Giada de Laurentiis calls now and asks me for three kilos of best Scottish salmon, you know what I do? I drop everything and speed dial the Edinburgh fish markets. Or London. Tokyo. Wherever I can find what she wants.

If Samantha Cameron aka Mrs British Prime Minister texts and asks me to tea at #10 Downing Street tomorrow, I see there’s still enough time to make the British Airways flight to Gatwick.

On the other hand, if Lady GaGa’s handlers emailed wanting me to participate in her newest video, I’d be resentful of the intrusion. Who wants to be in a GaGa shoot?

Let’s be clear. Guys and girls both have a fantasy life, driven by our imaginations. That’s normal, with the one caveat that we don’t act on our delusions. There should be an inviolable wall between daydream indulgence and real life. If not, you’re psychotic. Please seek help.

My real life has no intersection with either Giada or SamCam. Or Germanotta, happily. I’m sufficiently self-aware to understand that the first two are but a passing fancy. Catalogue-browsing. Window-shopping. Nothing more. And, fundamentally, nothing.

The woman for whom I really would drop everything to find Scottish salmon, or travel around the world with no notice, is the woman who might actually be in my life, for whom I want to give my life. She’s the person to whom I aspire, the connection for which we all thirst.

That’s also what she would understand. She’d laugh at my dopey thoughts about unattainable women about whom I know nothing anyway. Likewise I’d (lovingly) mock her “thing” for Bono. Or Prince Harry.

Giada’s just a girl to me, even if she is currently on the pull. GaGa’s less than zero. SamCam’s happily married. But whomever that mysterious non-famous special woman is, she’s the goddess.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Hearts RabbitWhen Alice looks into the mirror, does she see herself?

Or does she see the bizarre world she’s about to explore?

Perhaps the view changes with the day. Or with the time of her cycle. Or if she’s in company or not. Or if the car’s low on petrol.

Being a male with an interest in an Alice is our own version of going through a looking-glass. To most of we guys, the world of women is odd. Things change quickly. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today. Clarity garnered in similar circumstances earlier turns to misunderstanding the next time.

When we do find a moment of mutual meshing it never seems to last. Such a balance is fragile, rapidly dissipated and replaced by the eternal riddle…what did I do wrong?

At a certain point, males discover that we are a relatively fixed point in space-time, and women are an energy field. (Time for some hard physics in the coupling sphere, don’t you think?)