- Gender and Relationships»
- Relationship Problems & Advice
Women vs. Men (The Real Deal)
Can a man have a real friendship with a woman? Well, this isn't something you can reduce to a mere generalization. Some men can, some cannot.
In talking with male friends, they explain that sex gets in the way. I interpret this to mean that either a man is sexually attracted to a woman or he isn't. If he is, then he becomes focused on that issue and consistently tries (or wishes to try) to bring the relationship to a more intimate level. Okay, that makes sense. Men have raging hormones and it defines a lot about their behavior. But, can a man who finds a female friend attractive adjust to just being friends?
My answer is yes... sort of.
For men it isn't easy. So many men are ready to hump a tree stump because they cannot control their sexual drive. Evolution designed men to impregnate as many women as possible. Sometimes a tree stump is all they are afforded. For women this may sound grotesque, but it isn't. It's just the balance/dance of nature. Men are given a high testosterone level to ensure the survival of our species. Men will forfeit food and water in order to procreate. In some cases they will kill other men just to be with a particular woman. The story of "Troy" is supposedly about the fight over a single woman -- in its most romantic aspects... you know "the face that launched a thousand ships" and all of that.
But what about having a lady as a pal or best friend?
It's difficult to say at the very least. Men and women use different parts of their brains and thus see reality in often drastically different ways.
I don't think I'm going too much out on a limb to say that men are basically afraid of women. In parts of the Middle-East, a woman is barely able to show anything more than her eyes. The reason? It may seem absurd to people of the West but those cultures in the Middle-East that insist a woman cover herself and never go out in public without a male escort are terrified by women.
If you unleash women, as we've done in the West, they can (and do) reduce men to slobbering imbeciles. Those in the Middle-East who will stone a woman to death without being properly covered are in fact trying to kill off their own impulses.
I read that a woman must cover her head because her hair alone can reflect the sun's rays and basically hypnotize a man. The damn thing about that is it's true. Every physical feature of a woman is a possible turn-on for a man. Falling in love is a West-born invention, but it encapsulates what happens to a man who is dazzled by a woman's hair or any other feature. Not to give women short shrift but it really doesn't take much. Fat, ugly women are just as likely to bear offspring as some film goddess. Fat, ugly men (and even some regular types) don't seem to care where they put their penises. Other men are more discerning, but as long as there are men who do not care, the propagation of fat, ugly men/women will continue.
So, you've got the sexual problem. Men (largely) see women as sexual objects -- regardless if you are a civilized Western man or an orthodox guy who still adheres to 12th Century beliefs living somewhere in the Middle East. Men MUST dominate and subordinate women because they are more powerful or at least equally powerful. And it's not just a matter of sex. As I alluded to earlier, women think differently than men, and this is threatening. It may not have been proven yet by science but women have much greater intuitive abilities. They are closer to their emotions and feel things that cannot be defined more keenly than most men. Nowadays we call this Emotional Intelligence. Where Emotional Intelligence is concerned, women make men look like nincompoops.
Men dismiss Emotional Intelligence -- unless a particular man happens to be an artist of some kind. Men tend to rely on hard logic for their guidance. And this is not just unfortunate, it's tragic. Women feel things -- often inexplicable things, and men dismiss all of it as superstition or failed logic. Better to burn the creatures at a stake than take any of their rubbish seriously -- or so it once was. The ancient Greek heroes often consulted with the Oracles -- a band of women who supposedly had insight into the future. Modern man will only listen to a woman if she can put forth a logic-based argument, and they are adapting to this pretty darn well. And are men adapting to accept Emotional Intelligence? Not hardly.
In addition to the sexual problem, you also have this different way of regarding reality. In a one-sex-dominated society, you can only curb some of this by having women cover themselves and shut them out of politics.
Making friends with a woman on a long-term basis has proven very difficult. I don't care if a woman enjoys football, basketball, rugby or any other sport. You can have a beer with her, but if she's attractive, the game is already lost (in most cases). You may even be able to talk to her about quantum physics, but if she's attractive, it's about the same thing. If you're on a date and the woman expresses her feelings about politics (for example), most men (with any dignity) will repress a smile and make a mental note to scratch her name off his smart phone list. He may listen politely to what she has to say, but all of it just bounces off his ear drums. She'll get categorized as another dim wit. End of story.
However, some men are complex enough to appreciate a woman's insight and even take it seriously -- as they should. Herein lies the hope of the world. Despite the odds against them, women are gaining a foothold in male-dominated cultures. They are using their own special innate gifts to work around the walls in which men have tried to imprison them. Just imagine -- dumbbell women using their Emotional Intelligence (ha ha) to compete and often succeed against their male counterparts. You don't need a huge "Woman's Movement." Individual women on their own are figuring out ways to escape from their dungeons. They have started to control global wealth and are making serious inroads into the political landscape. In the situations were reversed, would men be smart enough to do the same -- or would they just remain genetic providers? Makes you wonder.
On a personal level I've always been more attracted to women as friends than other boys. The boys always wanted to play rough, and even the nice guys seemed like cry babies. The girls seemed more mature, more intelligent. Even at an age when I was unable to discern a sexual distinction between girls and boys, I preferred the girls. Generally, they were just so much more polite and pleasant to spend time with. That all changed by the first or second grade. I still liked the girls, but they started putting distance between us. I guess it would have appeared unseemly for a young girl to be best pals with a simpering boy-child. They were advancing into society while I was left behind, wondering why I was abandoned, feeling perplexed, mystified and rather heart-broken. Happily, I had a really good boy pal in the fourth grade. He was my entry into the male world in a way by introducing me to the male-centric land of DC Comics -- most notably Superman and Batman. He let me borrow his comics and I became a fan of comics. He already had an amazing ability to mimic George Reeves (from the TV series), so he (by default) was Superman, and I became the caped crusader.
Unfortunately, by the fifth grade he disappeared. I retained my comic book interest, but I started looking more and more often at girls -- of course, one girl in particular. And she really became the first love of my life, although I was just a midget at the time (as were most of the boys), and I never said a word to her. But I felt those early pangs of wanting what you cannot have. I still knew nothing about sex, so my attraction to this freckled young lady was a complete abstraction.
But it was real and caused me to endure what seemed like an endless punishment. If I had only been able to hold her hand, hug her, kiss her on the cheek, I would have gladly died then. We call this sort of thing a "crush" nowadays but that's really dismissing the power that these early fixations can arouse. Again, there was nothing sexual about the attraction. I hadn't even experienced my first erection. No, I loved her on some ethereal level. The exhilaration was real. The pain was real. (She should have been covered in black robes, I guess.)
In adult life my friendships with women have been hit and miss -- about the same average as with friendships with men. A lot of them were work-based. Once that work base stopped, the friendship usually ended.
Now, my best friend is also my wife -- with all the complications that go with that. We have major differences on a variety of subjects, but normally give each other a fairly wide berth. Once you are married, having friends of the opposite sex becomes complicated and an area of suspicion. The best way around this snag is introduce your friend to your spouse so that he/she can see this is a person of integrity and that nothing unsavory is going on behind the scenes.
Can a man have a woman as a pal? Yeah, I think so. But you have to be the kind of guy who really respects women and isn't just trying to get into their panties. If you admire and respect a woman -- even if you find her attractive -- men can (if they will) just cut off the sexual instinct and react to her as a fellow human being. If you really love your wife or significant other, this isn't a world-shattering kind of limitation.
This is easy for me to say because I don't dare develop or cultivate relationships with other women. My wife would have a fit. And if she were to do the same, I'd have a fit. (We're both insecure, I guess, or just naturally jealous types). So, sadly, my advice if purely hypothetical.
This is written from a male perspective because I can only surmise what women are thinking.
Nonetheless, it appears that women have much different criteria than men. Women only produce a finite number of eggs whereas men have the potential to impregnate hundreds of women.
Thus naturally, women must be more discerning. They are generally skeptical of men who fall in love too easily. Women seem to have a natural resistance to purely romantic love -- a heartbreak for many men who just hope to find their Juliet.
Women are more concerned about the long-term aspects of a relationship. Can a man provide them and a potential family with security -- particularly financial security. This is practical -- actually more practical than the passions of men.
Not every woman is a "gold digger," but she wants some assurance about the longevity of the relationship, and part of this is built around the stability and capabilities of their male partner.
They want to build a solid nest, and who could forgive them for that -- even if they have to shun a number of admirers. Women would rather take their chances with an older man who has built his foundation than some arousing, young hunk who fulfills them sexually.
In Russia women have spurned their male counterparts because men have adopted a very long history of partying, becoming alcoholic, and dying at an early age. This leaves women with the burden of raising a family on a solo basis, and it's not appealing. So, they avoid marriage altogether -- and even seek companions in other countries. This is causing a population crisis in Russia. I suppose it won't get fixed until the government figures out what to do with this male culture of merely seeking oblivion. Until the government can get at the root cause of men in the country preferring a vodka-fest to commitment, nothing will change. From the outside looking in, it appears as if most men feel as if they have no real opportunity in life (from an occupational standpoint) and adjust to this by a lot of intoxication.
Women want their "nest" to be as secure, safe and long-lasting as possible. They depend on men to be major contributors to the family. If they don't get this reassurance, they will keep looking, give up, or look for men in other parts of the globe.
Lastly, men have this kind of weird penchant of fixating on a particular woman, spurred on (perhaps) by a kind of instantaneous friendship, and maybe with the quiet, inner-hope/expectation that it's going to lead to more.
I guess I'm basically addressing unconfident men who are just thrilled to spend time with the opposite sex. I cannot end this Hub without a disclaimer. Buyer beware. It's not just men who are totally messed up. Women are just human beings also. If you think you can elevate your life by finding a gal pal who may one day allow you to kiss her, you're missing the boat. It's easy to idolize a woman and overlook signs of something being amiss. It isn't always about you. You may think you're messed up and a good woman is going to cure something within yourself that you cannot do on your own. Forget it. Any kind of relationship is only going to distract you from the main problem -- yourself. Loneliness is painful, but my friend, you've just got to develop ways of dealing with it without seeking companionship because, in reality, you bring nothing to the table. Picking up the tab for dinner isn't sufficient. You need more than a wallet.
In this respect women are not very different from men. They often will seek companionship just to avoid dealing with their own shit. There are plenty of women who will pounce on a "nice guy" just to distract themselves from their own level of pain. In other words there are plenty of female head cases roaming about, and you may not even realize that your associate has really deep psychological problems until you've already found yourself committed to her -- either just loving her on a basis that you've invented or being such a good fellow that you feel you cannot abandon her despite her serious flaws. People with alcohol or drug addictions are pretty good at covering up. So, if/when you discover that your female pal is a head case, what do you do? Sorry, but I don't have a universal answer to the question.
If you secretly love your gal pal, you are in for a torturous ride. And you'll be hooked until the full measure of the problem starts to take its toll on you. Gradually, your feelings of love will turn into something quite the opposite. Don't berate yourself. It's self-preservation.
If you feel committed to the friendship but aren't in love, my suggestion is to bail ASAP because a damaged psyche will drag you down into depths you cannot even imagine.
Remember, this isn't a marriage. In a marriage, you may have to visit the center of hell in order to help out your spouse. Not everyone has this kind of nobility. Sir Lawrence Olivier divorced Vivian Leigh -- most probably because of her schizophrenic problems. Sometimes, I guess you can only take so much -- no matter how beautiful your counterpart.
The short of it is that friendships between men and women can and should occur naturally, and there shouldn't be any hidden agendas. This is the ideal case, and in real life things are rarely ideal.
In some way or another, all women seem rather insane to men. There have been volumes written about what women expect from men, and it all seems fairly reasonable as you're reading. But reality is very different from all the advice you may or may not gain from reading such material. I think most would agree that women are more emotional (for better or worse), and sometimes this emotionalism just seems like madness to an average male. They seem to worry and obsess about things that seem trivial or illogical. Well, you have to take their point of view into consideration -- even if at first it just seems like hysteria. Because women think differently and have different control points in their brains. What may come out as hysteria may be extremely important. So listen -- with as little bias as you can muster.
But more than anything else, don't look for a woman to solve anything you have been unable or unwilling to address yourself. If you find yourself alone and just wanting a gal pal, don't despair. Deal with the loneliness and be thankful that you're not embroiled in a relationship with a certifiable head case.