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.
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?
I want to be understood.
I want you to tune into my wavelength.
It would be great if you could see our universe through my eyes.
Ideally, you’d know what I’m thinking before I say it.
If you could do all those things, you’d get me.
Getting me is tough, isn’t it?
I don’t think getting me is tough, but you probably think the same way.
Getting people is tricky. Getting you is what it’s all about.
Occasionally – very occasionally – I see a glimmer of hope that we have a chance at understanding each other.
At work last week, a woman blurted out:
Oh, I understand; he’s in his nothing box.
I nearly cheered.
With one declaration, one woman proved to me that she understood that her husband (the man to whom she was referring) had his mind in neutral, effectively idling away doing not much of anything. That’s the nothing box. The nothing box is the place we go to when there’s nothing much grabbing our attention. When there’s nothing worth thinking about, we do nothing. Yes, ladies, men are really that simple.
The nothing box is invaluable because of the way we think about stuff. We need that time with our minds going nowhere because of the energy it takes when we are in gear. If we were to be in forward motion all the time, we’d burn out.
But that’s a topic for anther time. The key is that the lady understood that her man being in nothing box mode was no reflection on his relationship with her; it is simply the way he was built.
And that was, and should be, enough.
Natural to us all is the assumption that the person next to us will see things the same way we do.
Can you see where I’m going to find the hole in this presumption?
That’s right; I’m a bloke, so that if you’re a woman, you by definition will think differently.
Advantage there for the taking: if you’re looking for better communication, think like the other sex. We can’t do this all the time, and it’s needed most when we’re on the hunt for understanding, but it’s a practice worth practising.
We’re not necessarily interested in unanimity, more like the recognition that what seems blindingly obvious to me will not be as clear to you, Hortense.
Perhaps it’s not so much a point of view reversal, as a listening direction reversal.