January 4, 2017, San Diego- In the course of conversation today, a subject that always seems to come to the fore, when talking with unmarried young men,and sometimes with those who ARE wed, occupied a fair amount of time: What do women actually WANT?
My answer to that has emerged over about three decades- Basically, people all want the same three things: Respect, a sense of autonomy and a measure of security. No one really wants to feel set up, used or unappreciated. This seems to sometimes be falling on deaf ears, to a person who feels alone. Actually, though, the lonely man and the woman who falls into the waiting arms of a man who will disrespect her, or worse, are more alike than they each seem to think.
Sometimes, both are impatient, regarding life as something that is passing them by. The lonely man, especially if he is kind, generous, hard-working and family-oriented, sees a relationship/marriage as the one thing he needs to complete his life. The settling woman, especially if she has been sheltered, places autonomy, and an emotional challenge, over the fawning attention of one who is love-struck. Yet, she, too, sees a relationship, however flawed, as the one thing she needs to complete her life.
Both seek validation of their view of self, as well. The man who sees himself as virtuous and protective, can’t understand why women tell him that he isn’t their “type”. The woman who sees herself as either unworthy of respect, or, conversely, as too sheltered, can’t understand why men don’t present a coarser, or at least less solicitous, demeanor. These attitudes start way back in middle-childhood, sometimes earlier. They have something to do with parenting, as well as with broader socialization. (There are also exceptions to every rule.)
I learned, after so many years as a fulminating, unsettled young adult, in my late teens and twenties, that “You’re not my type” is as much of an excuse,as “Women are such jerks about relationships”. In looking for answers to my own predicament, I met, and listened to, several downcast people, of both genders. It became obvious that, if I wanted to meet one who would be my mate, for life, I would have to truly absorb her reality- past experiences, present circumstances, future dreams. This happened to me, as so often happens, when I felt genuinely ready for a relationship, while having no idea with whom. I met Penny two weeks later, we discussed all the above issues, and more, over 29 years, and I developed a real sense of what mattered to both of us.
Egos are fragile. Life is fluid. Everyone deserves respect, the right to pursue their dreams and a measure of security. I wish all my friends, especially my young friends, a wellspring of all three.