I’m referring back to the post from a couple of weeks ago in which Dee from Sexywhispers
threatened offered to interview me. Because she asked such very good questions, the kind to which I wanted to devote more than a couple of tossed-off sentences, I’ve decided to take them on individually. Here’s the second one.
2–Where do most men go wrong with women? And, where do must women miss the mark with men??
I’m going to start off by saying that this begs the question of whether things go wrong in the first place. The way I look at it, 99% of relationships fail – and a good thing, too. That is, almost none of us marry our first crush, our high-school sweetheart, the playmate next door. Most of us, married or otherwise, have had dozens, perhaps hundreds of relationships ranging from dates to “steadies” to “Friends with benefits” to co-habiting to. . . you get the idea. My point is that we have multiple relationships because it is in them – and through them – that we are able to learn about ourselves and about how to get along with other people.
That said, it was probably not helpful as far as her question was concerned, so I’m going to answer what I think she was asking.
Once you are in a relationship, or indeed, are teetering on the edge of one, where do men get it wrong? In thinking that women are men with boobs. Likewise, women get it wrong in trying to make men into one of their girlfriends.
Using the analogy that we’re from different planets is amusing, but ultimately not very helpful. The central issue (as I see it, which naturally, is the correct way) is that we are all socialized to communicate differently. Not just men vs. women, but all of us. Indeed, there are hundreds of books in the Self-Help shelves that stress the importance of communication, some of which seem to help some people some of the time.
Books and talk-show gurus take especial pains to describe how we could or should communicate better so as to get our points across to our loved ones, mates, spouses, family, friends, cow-orkers, and colleagues. I have a different take on this. I am more and more convinced that we spend most of our time trying to avoid good communication; that is, we become more adept at masking what we’re really feeling, and we become more skilled in manipulating than in expressing what we truly would like to do. That’s not to say that this is a totally bad thing – in commercial transactions we don’t want to appear vulnerable, but in intimate relations it’s counterproductive.
Some of us learn that we need to pick just the right time and choose just the right words in order to get our desire across to a partner. We justify it by assuring ourselves that it’s necessary in order to get what we want, but is this really communicating? I’m becoming convinced that what we are teaching ourselves to do is to use these kinds of justifications as a way to avoid dealing with our own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy and fear. Truly, we laud a person’s use of tact and diplomacy; but what is that, except communicating in a way that allows the other person to avoid confronting their own fears and insecurities?
And what does this have to do with “getting it wrong” in a relationship? Men and women (and I’m talking in general here) have different perspectives because of cultural and societal pressures, but it’s very difficult for either of them to start off a relationship expressing their feelings of vulnerability. Every “I want” carries a risk that your partner will not only deny, but will make you feel uncomfortable for even asking. Personally, every time I suggest something that I’d like something that’s not “vanilla,” I worry that Mrs. Edge will not only say “No,” but that she’ll say “Eeewwww, no friggin’ way! What are you, some kid of sicko?” And indeed, there were times when she reacted either negatively or ambiguously, so that I became very insecure about expressing myself sexually with her. On her part, Mrs. Edge has made efforts to be more affectionate, and at times has done so in such an indirect, roundabout manner that I’ve completely missed the signals. In her mind, though, I was avoiding her, making her feel inadequate.
Sure, you could chalk that up to me just being a typical, insensitive guy. But really, how much better for both of us if we could simply ask for what we want without worrying how it reflects on us as a person, or without all the perceived prejudices and judgments which make us feel more insecure?
Where we all get it wrong, therefore, is not with each other, but in being so overly protective of our own psyches that we fail to allow ourselves to grow – emotionally, intimately, spiritually. We get it wrong by giving to others the power to make us feel inadequate, and then resenting them for having that power. We get it wrong when we make assumptions about the state of mind of our partners and about what they’re thinking, when we should be more focused on what we want and how to express it more clearly. We get it wrong when we become more concerned with the manipulation and machinations of communication than in actually getting out of our own comfort zones and risking the hurt.
And we especially get it wrong when we believe what the other insecure, fearful people tell us about how to have a relationship, instead of taking the opportunity to learn and grow.