Adding to this commentary of male identity, Allan and Barbara Pease say in their book ‘The Mating Game – Why Men Want Sex and Women need love’, that men these days have few male role models especially amongst teachers
‘It all adds to the confusion new generations of young men feel when thinking about what it means to be male.’
They go on to say
‘Unfortunately the bar for what women expect from men is raised almost annually by the media and Hollywood to the point where many men have simply given up trying.’
As a result, in the absence of understanding relationships and knowing how to please their partners, many men are trying to avoid the emotional ‘roller coaster’ of partnerships.
From talking to men and from observation, they are also making the decision to focus on their sexual needs in the future, which they often felt were not met in their previous relationships. As a result a significant number of them are tending to ‘opt out’ from having a relationship and are just on the look out for finding sexual partners or what they call ‘fun’.
I can’t tell you the number of men who have said the equivalent of ‘yes I would like to meet you but I want to have sex with you’ or ‘I like to have sex first and if we happen to get on and it turns into something else that is just a bonus’
In other words they don’t want to invest any energy on a woman or man without at least being sure that they get to have sex. So trying to find a man is like having a continual sexual audition unless you decide to opt out yourself and choose a different route. This stance of course has a ‘knock on’ effect to women and men who would like to find a life partner but are unable to.
As a generalisation men tend to be more logical and problem solving than women and I believe that if men knew what to do differently to achieve a relationship that worked for them that they would be prepared to change their behaviour. I learnt this when attending a seminar on relationships. The facilitators pointed out that a lot of men want to hear feedback from women when it comes to their romantic lives. I was very surprised when two young men were prepared to stand up in front of a group of women to receive their comments and suggestions on what they could do differently to become more attractive to them both in their appearance and their behaviour.
As a complete aside to this story about giving feedback to a man, the facilitators of this course reminded me of the children’s TV characters of ‘Pinky and Perky’. For the next exercise they asked the women in the group to say what they did not like in their men. As the participants were happily engaging in this process and saying things like ‘I don’t like it when men leave their clothes on the floor’ or ‘I don’t like it when they don’t look after their appearance or personal hygience’ the group leaders were enthusiastically charting their responses. Until that is, I said ‘shagging other women.’ Apparently that was not one of the answers they were looking for.
If this book was just about women not being able to find relationships, I would not address this book to men as well as women. The reason I want to talk to men as well, is that I believe that ‘deep down’ men as social human beings DO want relationships but they don’t want to experience the emotional dramas and financial tangles that they have been involved in the past. They also want to have reasonable access to regular sex and adventure.
I was once in the company of a group of bright and developed men who asked me about the ideas I had for this book on relationships. As I was describing the Continuum of Love and the Psychological Bingo Board, which I will talk about later on in the book, they were engaged and enthusiastic. Until that is, I mentioned getting to know someone for a while before they had sex with them. At this point they fell about laughing and then I knew that I had lost their interest.
This suggestion is not made from a puritanical stance but rather from the psychological perspective that as Alain De Botton says in his book ‘Love Essays’
‘We can perhaps only ever fall in love without knowing quite who we have fallen in love with’.
This is an idea supported by Neil Strauss in his book ‘The Truth’ when he writes
‘It takes time to let go of our projections and unmet developmental needs so we can see our partners as they really are and for them to see who we are’
‘We hadn’t truly seen each other that night – just reflections of the stories we were telling ourselves’
So if you want to find a partner who can love you well and you can love back try to read the rest of this book before discounting this suggestion.
In this book, I am addressing men directly because I believe they hold the key to changing relationships. If they genuinely want a safe, stable, loving and evolving relationship that includes sex and adventure in the future they must start approaching themselves and relationships differently.
Besides the group of men I mentioned earlier, over the past few years I have shared the ideas in this book with a significant number of men and I have found that they like the logical thought process behind the book, appreciate and understand the ideas, and find them relevant to them and their romantic lives. However nearly all of them said the equivalent of:
‘If you want to talk about men in your book, be kind*
If you are a man, I hope you will regard the book as sympathetic to you. I also hope that the book will give you, if you are a man or a woman the permission, the structure and the language to reconnect with yourself and your needs. In the process, I hope that this will allow you to be able to connect with a man or a woman, in a paired relationship at a deep level.
*As I was writing this book, what struck me most was that nearly all the authors and artists quoted in this book were male and offering a male perspective. In this book my aim is to bring many of their thoughts about themselves and relationships together in one place.
With thanks to Jo Grant for permssion to use her photograph
If you would like to follow the whole story of The Evolution of Love please go to the contents page below which includes links to all the chapters.
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