Sunday, March 04, 2012

Advice for women: about men

I just got the idea to write this five minutes ago when I was in the shower thinking about a young friend of mine who is suffering because men treat her strangely and it breaks her heart.

I may not be the first person one would go to for advice about men. After all, I've been single a long time. But I was with my husband for almost two decades and have had my heart broken a few times myself - also I've been on hundreds of internet dates. Most of them were one-time-only because I had the theory, "anybody can be interesting one time," but in most cases one time was one too many.

I've met a lot of men who were heartbroken themselves and many have told me their stories. So here is my advice:

Most men, when dealing with women, are afraid. Their actions stem from fear. Or, let's say, they are riding the pendulum between fear and greed. The fear/greed continuum drives most things in this world - from the stock market to the way my chickens snatch moldy cheese out of my hand and then run away.

When a man says he wants a woman who is "low maintenance" or "no drama," he is displaying his fear. Fear that she will want too much from him - either financially or emotionally - more than he is able or willing to provide. Fear that life with her, or even a second date with her, will expose him to hidden landmines.

Just as we seasoned travelers have more and more road rage or airport rage - because we have experienced many more traffic jams and cancelled flights and lying airline employees - so seasoned daters (or, nebekh, sufferers of serial marriages) have more and more things they fear. If a man dated a redhead who threw things, now he is afraid of redheads.

I believe much of the horrid behavior men display - towards my young friend, for instance - is motivated by fear. Men are also afraid of being afraid and this can be reflected in nonsensical macho behavior.

That's my diagnosis. The answer would seem to be: to defuse the fear. To prove, in "baby steps" over time, that you are not somebody who will harm or terminally confuse them. Try not to be confusing, try not to be scary. Try to be peaceful and consistent. Baby steps.

Disclaimer: my ex-husband told me I was much better at being a sister than a wife. So anybody who has a better idea, please leave it in the comments.


At 1:15 PM, Blogger Cap'n Sylvia Sharkbait said...

I think your fear theory is spot-on. I have been in a (mostly) positive 20+ yr relationship and my guy still acts out some of his phobias. Now I just roll my eyes and say "Really? After 20 yrs you're still breaking out in a sweat over this stuff?"

Two additional key (I think) things I have observed about relationships with men over the years:
1) Almost all guys are attracted to confidence. I know it's a Catch 22, to try to feel confident after a string of disappointing experiences. If a woman is confident and exudes the "I don't really need you to be happy" vibe most guys find it kind of irresistible. Of course, one has to maintain that attitude to make it work, which means actually feeling confident.
2) People have a tendency to make bad choices a pattern. If we keep having the same disappointing experience repeat itself we might ask ourselves if we are subconsciously choosing the type of person who will always demonstrate the behavior that makes us crazy. If so, it is time to break the pattern. Just like #1, this is not easy.

Good luck to your friend. A satisfying long-term relationship takes a LOT of work. My grandmother once told me that if you feel like you are contributing 95% to a relationship you are probably at just about 50%. Turns out it was good advice.


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