We have all heard a variety of opinions on why men and women have a difficult time communicating. Psychologists have written volumes on the subject, and yet we still can’t seem to figure out why, in many stereotypical ways, men and women just don’t seem to “get” each other.
I am going to tell you a very simple reason that frankly isn’t that new. Here is my non-groundbreaking news flash: in a relationship, intimacy is the one thing that both men and women crave. We are in relationships so that we can feel close to someone (or, so we don’t feel alone) and so that we can feel as though there is at least one person who knows us, understands us and would miss us terribly if we died tomorrow. Gee, it seems so simple when I put it like that, doesn’t it?
Well, here’s the rub: men and women seek out intimacy in very different ways. By that, I mean that there is a chasm (sometimes a matter of minutes) between the moments when a man feels close to a woman and the moments when a woman feels close to her man.
One reason why this is still so difficult for many of us to understand is that, even though we are living in a contemporary age of relationships, we are still only two (for some, only one) generations away from a very different idea of what it means to be a man in a relationship and a woman in a relationship. While we like to believe that we are completely different from our parents and grandparents, it is their relationships that we know the most intimately and that have made an imprint on our psyches from our earliest days.
As we have learned from such greats as Hannibal Lecter, to combat the enemy, you must know the enemy (the enemy being the cause of the rift, not your partner). Going back, way back, to our more primal roots, men have been touted as the sexual chasers, while women have been the discerning gatekeepers of the seed of the next generations.
One of the major differences between men and women is that women know that, no matter how unappealing they are, they can probably get laid. The hard part for us is getting someone to stick around after the orgasm. Males are trained from early on that successful, masculine men are the ones having the sex. So where’s the problem here? Man’s goal: have the sex; woman’s goal: get him to stick around after the sex.
At this point, you may be shaking your head sadly at me. “It’s not that simple,” you may be thinking. No? In our advanced day and age, why are women, who are supposed to be able to openly enjoy sex, still feeling guilty if they let a guy go “too far too early”? Hmm, it’s probably because every other time they have, they generally haven’t heard from those men again. Women are still the gatekeepers of sex, and if men get it too early, they figure, on some level, that she’ll just give it up for anyone. And that doesn’t make them feel special. If women give up the sex and don’t get the call back, they don’t feel special. Has evolution set us up to fail?
The interesting thing is that men and women are looking for the same thing: for someone to choose them and make them feel special. Where we get our signals crossed is the how and why each chooses the other in this twisted game. Men want to be chosen, to feel worthy of being chosen, for the sweet prize of the sex. It means that they have been judged as being virile, worthy men who may have something to offer a woman; what that is really depends on the dynamic of the couple. (Of course, before all of that other stuff, it’s because it feels really good, but I am talking about getting the sex in what you feel could be a relationship.)
Women, on the other hand, want to be chosen, for the sweet prize of having someone love and respect them. Traditionally, women used sex (or the withholding of sex) in order to manipulate or lure men into commitment and relationships, as sex was, in many ways, their only access to power. At its base level, this dance comes down to this: the price men pay for sex is love and respect for his partner. The price women pay for love and respect is using sex a bargaining chip instead of as a healthy way to express and explore their physical needs. Does this reduce humans into dumb pre-programmed monkeys? Of course. It’s not the whole picture, but if you think about it, it is how we are still relating to each other in our relationships.
We know that it’s not this simple, but what are the signals that each side of this rift are sending out to signal to the other side that old rules still apply. First, many women still use sex to manipulate men; and men are still letting themselves be manipulated by sex. It feeds into the stereotype of men as base organisms who would let themselves be controlled by primal sexual urges. While men can feel a little special when a woman chooses to sleep with him, deep down, women still believe that men will nail virtually everyone (or thing) that will let them.
That men propagate this myth is really a disservice to them. If you want a woman to feel special, make her wait. Just kiss her for a while (like, a few weeks!). This will only bode well for you in the future. Remember that women feel special when they feel like what you want from them is time. And I can guarantee you that a woman who feels special is very happy to go to great lengths to make the man responsible feel very, very special as well. One feeds into the other. Sure, you can get the sex without the special, but then both of you are robbed.