Back in my bar band days, I often had to play Morris Albert’s Feelings:
I can’t begin to express how much I DETEST this tune, and I will NEVER play it again, not even to eat. But based on my experience, the popularity of this tune with women was due to a guy lamenting his loss of a woman too late to do anything about it. The whining lyrics expressing the dichotomy of “I wish I’d never met you” juxtaposed against “I’ll never have you again” must resonate with the distaff side of life in some meaningful way.
Most men end up in this position at some point in their lives, and they don’t necessarily actually lose the woman in question, at least not physically. A common complaint of newly-married men concerns how his new wife isn’t the girl he married, isn’t as interested in sex as she once was, and doesn’t seem to respect him and his life very much.
Now maybe this is seen as being due to youth and inexperience, but statistics say otherwise. According to divorcerate.org: “As per the ‘Americans for Divorce Reform‘, [approximately] 40-50% of marriages in the U.S. would end in legal separation if the present trends … continue.” But those who remarry fare even worse: “50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.” So the idea that age and experience improves one’s marital prospects is hereby debunked.
The popular media doesn’t tend to focus on the male side of the issue very well. Being myself dissatisfied with my marriage, and finding little-to-nothing which spoke to me about my situation, I’ve had to wade through a lot of detritus passed off as knowledge. To begin with, such detritus tends to blame men for the problems. We don’t FEEL enough, we aren’t open to INTIMACY and we don’t let ourselves be VULNERABLE so that our relationships with our women can flourish.
I’m going to tackle the last BUZZWORD first, as we just discussed this here on Spawny’s. It’s hard to be VULNERABLE when dozens of women have rejected your advances in less-than-charitable ways, and the few acceptances you might have won didn’t necessarily end any better than a marriage does. It rarely ends like Gwinneth Paltrow’s recent alleged “conscious uncoupling”, where rational actions replace the expected emotional uproar. There end up being plenty of FEELINGS, few of them pleasant. Not wanting to risk repeating the experience tends to make men avoid them, especially as the expectation grows that it won’t go well on any subsequent attempt. Any cursory cost-benefit analysis will tend to show far more cost than benefit.
Such scar tissue is seen as preventing INTIMACY, defined exclusively (by women) as being open to a partner, to share what feelings and emotions occur as life happens. It’s been my experience, however, that no man can achieve the particulars of what women say they want out of their men when it comes to intimacy, and that is because the genders have a different meaning for the word intimacy.
For men, to be blunt, this means sex. For women, based on what they write, this isn’t at all what they seek. They want shared feelings, “emotional intimacy”, and a sense of security before sex ever enters their minds in a positive way.
As I previously quoted Barbara Cartland, “Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.” Considering that women control access to sex, this means men have to get through the intimacy barrier before they get any. This isn’t an easy thing for men, as it goes against everything we were raised to be. “There’s no crying in baseball!” is but one of the legion of adages we’re raised to observe.
I introduced the term “emotional intimacy” a bit earlier than I originally intended, so now I go back to offer the official explanation of its meaning as I interpret it from the amount of verbiage offered: “Emotional intimacy is a psychological event that happens when trust levels and communication between two people are such that it fosters the mutual sharing of one another’s deepest selves…Emotional intimacy is being able to communicate your feelings to show how much you care.”
AS IF! Isn’t this where most guys stumble in their attempts, if women are to be believed?
There is a rather too-long-to-quote “discussion” intended to demonstrate what emotional intimacy is supposed to sound like, which wastes a lot of time getting to the point of the discussion. Even the reviled Shiela Gregoire has better advice than this (I looked at her site) when it comes to expressing a lack of closeness!
The honest truth of this is expressed in a comment by “Max”:
“Unfortunately, it seems like everything I read regarding the matter, it is the man who is lacking and the woman who has unrequited needs of her man. Were it reversed, as it is in my case, I am on my own….. My wife actually told me I was tripping when I tried to initiate conversations about how we felt about each other….It seems women are conditioned to believe that men have little or no or even trivial emotional needs compared to [themselves].”
But there is no site worse than the Good Puppy-man Project. I won’t even link to them, as I find them incredibly distasteful for advocating that any self-respecting man put himself in the position of the family dog, beta orbiting in the hopes of getting a little attention (much less sex). I almost expect to hear Barbara Woodhouse proclaim “Wookies!” every time I bother to waste my time there.
So hear the dog whimper: “Even sex in my relationships was casual because there wasn’t a deep enough emotional connection to make it intimate. I wasn’t unique….at 50 I began to notice [women] weren’t rejecting sex with me, but rather preferred to be sexual with me in the context of an emotionally intimate relationship. I was lost.”
Considering that sorry description, so am I!
He continues: “I had to meet a woman I could trust unconditionally before I could open my heart.”
As Josef Stalin once said, “I trust no one, not even myself.” A more expansive declaration is made in the fantastic I, Claudius once Claudius is made emperor by the Praetorian Guard upon Caligula’s assassination:
“Trust no one, my friend, no one. Not your most grateful freedman. Not your most intimate friend. Not your dearest child. Not the wife of your bosom. Trust no one.”
Consider this in light of the divorce rates I cite at the head of this post.
One of the best relationships I know is hardly conventional. A coworker -a widower due to his bipolar wife’s suicide- became attached to a neighbor, the mother of his daughter’s best friend. They maintain separate houses, and probably don’t sleep over during the work week. They claim to not be able to marry due to her terrible credit, but I suspect that if she was to sell her own house, she could settle her finances. So I expect -as she is divorced herself- this pose is to PREVENT that allegedly necessary emotional intimacy from becoming too binding. It’s worked for years, so why change it?
It may be that the claim that marriage makes two people one doesn’t work. Two people have to have their own lives to be able to share anything without irretrievable loss. Anything else -especially that bound through benefit of clergy and licensed by the law- prevents that from happening equitably. The one “partner” who knows the rules of the game better than the other ends up dominating and controlling the relationship as it is no longer completely voluntary.
Coercion isn’t intimacy. Not by either definition of the word.