Aren’t any older women out there explaining men to young women? Don’t women gain any sense of wisdom about men after years of experience?
The popular Modern Love feature in today’s NY Times style section was disappointing. I just read it. It’s about a young woman who can’t get a man to commit. (It was ever thus, and thusly, disappointing.) She’s not sure why she wants this, but she just sort of does. In the article she reeled off a list of, at least, a dozen different hook-ups of one degree of seriousness or another.
Here’s my advice to that young woman and others like her:
Men and women are different. They want different things. In general, men want sex. Lots of it, with lots of different women. Particularly when they are young. Now men will often commit to a woman to get a regular supply of sex (and the companionship), and men, too, fall in love. But banking on these random, and in the case of the former, unsavory, possibilities is strategically foolish. Trust me on this: men can see you as nothing more than an object (look at pornography if you don’t believe me), and they can have sex, in fact, strongly desire sex, without a shred – and I mean nothing – of emotional intimacy.
To get sex, men will lie to you in a way that will make you curse your gullibility later. They will tell you that you are beautiful, that you remind them of their grandmother, a famous celebrity, whomever. They will let you think you’ve figured out things about them so that you’ll fall more deeply for them. And then they’ll get the hell out of there.
Now, why do they do this? Why won’t men commit?
Ultimately, because commitment forecloses male options. In short, it reduces the likelihood of sex with other women.
And that, right there, is the entire rub.
The fundamental purpose of our existence is procreation. I won’t go into a long disquisition (nor am I qualified to) about male evolutionary biology, but the basic dynamic of an abundant resource – sperm – seeking a relatively rare resource – the egg – means that the best bet for men to procreate is to spread as much of the sperm around as they can with the hope of fertilizing an egg. This makes intuitive sense and there is significant research to support the conclusion. Any appeal to reason, feminist logic, or modern contraceptives cannot stop the male’s unconscious, “genetic” perception of sex.
He simply wants, on a deep, instinctual level, more than one woman.
This truth, however, doesn’t mean that men won’t commit and it doesn’t excuse cheaters. It just means that, on balance, if men could, they would sleep with multiple women instead of just one. Accepting this fact about men, without excusing any bad behavior, will make your life easier.
(Now here’s a qualifying remark for those women who take exception to, or who are doubtful about, this biological reductionism.)
All people evaluated on all scales fall on a bell curve. Some women don’t want commitment and desire sex like a man. Some men want stability and desire commitment like a woman. But these people are on the extremes of the bell curve. Most people are in the middle. Most women want commitment and some sex, and most men want sex and some commitment. If you’re a woman, it’s up to you to find out where you are on the bell curve. What do you really want? What do you really value?
If you really value commitment, then what can you do to find a man who a) is on the extreme (or nearer the extreme) commitment end of the male sexual bell curve, or b) will fall in love with you?
Now, here’s the hard part. The part every woman I’ve ever said this to hates. Make them WAIT.
I know women need sex too, but again, for most, it’s not the kind of sex that men need. So have that fling with the hot dude if you know that’s all it is. Go for it. Bonk his brains out! But don’t expect him to call you. Don’t expect him to commit to anything. Accept that you’re just fulfilling a physical – not an emotional – need.
Otherwise, you’ve got to make men wait. Here’s what that will do. It will improve the odds that a man is either an (a) or a (b). If he waits around for six months while you freeze him out, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll call the next day.
I don’t want to go on forever, so I’ll just wrap up by saying this:
If this sounds terrible to you, don’t do it. You’ll very likely end up falling in love with someone and getting married (though not necessarily to the same person). The only thing that you will gain by doing what I have suggested is that you will be less likely to get hurt.
But if you feel the pain is worth it, that experience builds character and you’ll be better for it, do whatever you want. Just know that anticipation can be amazingly hot, and give you plenty to obsess about too.
In either case, that’s the advice older women should be giving to younger women.