Saturday, September 22, 2012

You Don't Need a Mars and Venus Story

(I'm writing this from a heterosexual POV: for the gays, you'll have to change the he's and she's as necessary and the truths will vary slightly, but this article can help you, too, I believe).

I see couples of all ages shaking their heads.  The man tosses his hands up when he's talking to his friends and says, "I don't get it?!"  The woman does the same, talking to her friends, saying, "He's impossible!"

We are either at a very strange point in an adaptation process as humans, perhaps moving toward asexual alien-types or some greater force had a sick sense of humor to make men and women need each other and then dislike each other, all on the same day.  Sometimes within the same minute.

I'm going to break down two common things that are happening--not the whole answer to the woman/man crisis, but the two biggest ones, in my opinion.

1.  Testosterone

Guys have it.  We have it in high levels, too, depending on age, and women have it in lower levels with few exceptions.  Our man-nature tells us (and most of us have no effing clue that this is even what's driving the desires) to go dominate the gene pool with the most fit women--the ones most likely to have healthy babies that allow our genes to spread on.  It's kind of a selfish natural tendency if you think about it.  And both men and women share the desire to find the mate with the highest likelihood of passing on the "good" genes, even though men alone, with few exceptions, carry enough testosterone to want to try out as many partners as possible.  And even as men look for the ideal partners to spread their genes with, they will settle.  Oh, child, listen to me: they will settle on any given night as the chemicals flow.  Settle they will.  ANY genes that involve 50% of their own genes moving on is good; if theirs can move on with good genes, that's great.  If they can toss their seeds into a chance of moving on with great genes, that's nirvana.

As men become older, the testosterone drops, and, in a surprisingly high number of cases, maturity grows.  We men back out, sit down on the park bench instead of running those laps, chasing desirables.  If we have a good lady in our life with whom we have a good relationship--a definition of which will never be the same between two men--we respect her.  But the testosterone remains, clinging with its nails into our veins, hanging on for dear life, forcing our heads toward the 21-year-old girl washing the car even if we couldn't give her anything more than a gasping whisper and a request for an aspirin.  Even if all we can offer her is a ride in our non-tricked-out, half-rusted Gremlin with it's non-thumping AM radio, we'll damned near wreck a car and break our necks to get that glance.

That's nature.  That's not anything else--it's is a very, very strong force in human nature.

For the younger man, it's what he does with that nature that defines his will and constitution; what is he made of?  With nature throwing him around like a baby sock in an industrial dryer (and you're damned right it's that bad), can he avoid a hoot and a holler if he's in a "committed" relationship?  It really comes down to his beliefs.  Does he believe in monogamy?  Men can "justify" tossing a seed out into any garden if they can just think of one thing their girl did wrong--if they can just convince themselves that maybe she has already cheated?  It comes down to his honor, and in a young man, strong honor can be defeated.

I like to believe in older men that strong honor cannot be defeated, usually.  Mine can't.  You can find whoever you think is the prettiest girl in the world, put her in front of me with a bikini on and have her tell me to have a blast, and I'll walk away.  Now, a man who has never had such an opportunity will have his honor challenged.  At that point, for him, it's not just the waning-but-ever-present testosterone at work--it's not just his honed honor and the knowledge that he has a good woman in his life in a committed relationship--it's curiosity jumping into the now complex mix.  Maybe he's never been that close to a "perfect" body, set aside for a few nights out in which he came home with very few dollar bills left.  "Is it that good?" he may ask himself.  "Should I throw away my good relationship [at this point in his life, he knows she'll find out--he's no longer naive enough to think it can stay hidden] to get just one evening with this elusive type of lady with a "perfect" body that millions of women around the world long to have?  That millions of women have surgeries to try to get, because they know that the results equal flat-out power?  Is it worth it?"

Women may find themselves challenged nearly as much as men, though rarely to the same degree, and they may succumb for different reasons.  As nature was tossing us baby socks around in her industrial-sized dryers, it is a different force working on women.  Any of the following can produce the break in honor with women: revenge, lack of attention from her man (or if she doesn't have a man, lack of attention from any man), finding a desirable, an unfulfilled need for shoe-shopping, a surge in testosterone caused by any of 100 different things, often from that biological clock's alarm going off at unpredictable times, or any of 1,000 other complex things.  What, you thought I could fit what might make women cheat into one paragraph?  I couldn't fit the reasoning behind women's ink-pen preferences into one paragraph.  Give a brother a break, man.

 If you cheat (for men or women) it will come out.  It will.  It always does.  Always.  Just know that if you do it, the clock starts ticking for the countdown of the other person knowing.  Good luck with that.

2.  Thing X

It's very complex.  Sometimes it's a growth away from each other in interests.  Or in political or religious beliefs,  Sometimes it's the inability to forgive things that may be said in haste during an argument or a misunderstood word or action.

Ultimately, though, as I try to describe Thing X, which I'd bet you ten cents you thought was going to be about exes, what I'm describing is a failure on one or both members of the couple to identify, understand, and respect what is important to the other person.  Please, trust me on this, and I believe it so deeply and care enough about my fellow humans that I need to repeat it: you have to identify, understand, and respect what your other half finds important if you want your relationship to succeed.

Women, your men may love a sport, or cars, or collecting coins.  If you want to do your half, you have to first identify (not hard; just observe and learn) what they are interested in outside of yourself, then understand it.  That means read a little about it.  Go on the internet and you'll probably find that your man's interest isn't so uncommon.  You'll probably find that very normal people have the same fascination with his interest(s) as he does.  So, learn a bit about it.  Find out what the attraction is.  If he's a car nut, find out why he loves the car that he loves so much (the one he talks about buying when he gets rich).  Be able to hold a 5-minute conversation with him about it.  Do not act.  Men aren't as stupid as you think we are--we'll pick up on it in half a second.  We've had to act from the age of 13 on.

Now that you have identified it and learned a bit about it and, HELL, maybe even had a conversation with him about it, respect it.  Respect that he has an interest.  Respect that HE respects it, and if you mock, ignore, or otherwise marginalize the importance of that interest to him, it will hurt him.  Literally.  It will punch him in the heart, it will invigorate the fuck-you part of his ego, and it'll be the beginning of a lot of silence that wasn't necessary.  His thoughts from then until (when?) will be, "Bitch," or, "She just doesn't get it," or, "I sit there and listen to her talk about fucking Tupperware for twenty minutes and she can't listen to me explain a car I saw at a show for 30 seconds?"  This is where it starts, couples.  This is where silent couples are born from.  It can alllllllll be traced back to this.

Men, all of the above goes for you, too.  Don't act; women always know. And for us, since our mind works a bit differently, we may have to actually burn some brain power to discover what she finds interesting.  But we're pretty good at researching/learning about it once we find out and we'll do that if we care about her.  As for showing respect, same as above; you never belittle her, her interests, or her beliefs.  Her interest is just as real to her as yours is to you.  You respect that in any person that you hope to remain close to.  If you don't, you're simply saying an early, subtle goodbye.

In closing, you're probably pissed that I didn't produce some one-line answers to solve your relationship problems.  Well, if that's so, I'm about to piss you off some more; there are none.  It's a big, complex ball of emotions, thoughts, and actions.  If you can only take one thought out of this article to remember how to do as much as you possibly can to make your relationship survive, remember to RESPECT while DEMANDING EQUAL RESPECT.

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