Monday, September 08, 2008

Long narcissistic ramble about I, I, I, me, me, me…

Disclaimer: the following are some things that I believe about male-female relationships. Truth may lie elsewhere in female-female or male-male relationships, and also I might be wrong. If you disagree, feel free to say so.

So anyway, I was a huge pussy when I was married, and it wasn’t Hannah’s fault.
I didn't know how to own what i felt, say what i meant, and not be ashamed of what i wanted. i never understood til later that for women, it tends to be mostly about attraction, not about who’s the most accommodating or buys the most flowers -- almost no women are attracted to wussie guys.

Not that flowers are bad, but they’re a garnish, not a main dish. Women *say* they want a nice, sensitive guy. They probably even *think* they do. But deep down, most really just mean a guy who treats them with respect and isn’t an asshole. Past that, most women want a *man*, not a boy. They may *complain* about our maleness: we’re insensitive, self-centered, independent, stubborn, aggressive, physical, unrefined, overly and overtly sexual, not overly communicative, socially oblivious, verbally unsophisticated, emotionally obtuse, etc (basically, we’re not women), but if they do succeed in civilizing (ie, feminizing) us they usually find they no longer get butterflies when they look at us.

Not that metrosexual traits aren’t attractive to women. There’s nothing wrong with knowing how to garden, cook, wipe your feet, clean your fingernails, etc – but if it’s an either-or choice between a weak guy who knows his bath soaps and a confident cro-magnon, 99% of women will pick the caveman.

Some women want a man they can dominate, but most don’t. Most want a guy who is interesting, who challenges them mentally, who will stand up for them – and *to* them when appropriate: one woman said to me last week after an exchange in which she was bossy and I made fun of her for it: “You crack me up... I like a man who can put me in my place and be funny and sweet at the same time.” And yeah, that exchange could be more about Manipulation 101 (ie, telling guys things they like to hear) but the fact remains that most women want a guy who knows what he wants, where he’s going, and isn’t ashamed or embarrassed about it.

I can tell you from personal experience (over the last 3 yrs) that women respond about 1000 times more positively to a guy who teases them or challenges them – who says what he believes without being worried about her approval/agreement – than to a guy who is 100% accommodating and self-censors in an attempt to win her approval.

Here’s the thing: good-looking women get attention from men all the time. And most men try to win a woman's attention/affection by being trying to please her, by being accomodating, by complimenting her, by never contradicting, by being "nice". Women don’t have time to wade thru all that to try to find which ones are authentic and have actual character, and which ones just want to get in their pants. So they gravitate to guys who demonstrate their strength/confidence/authenticity by not trying to please all the time.

a) confidence is alpha behaviour (more about that in a minute); and
b) A guy who doesn’t appear to need her attention is a challenge for a woman; a good-looking woman especially will be tweaked by a guy who appears indifferent to her charms, and almost can’t help trying to get him to act like all the others who are falling at her feet.

And besides which, neediness is not attractive. When someone constantly acts like you're going to kick them, pretty soon you almost *want* to. Women don’t want a man who is cowed or intimidated or hurt by them; they hate a puppy dog. In other words “Nice guys finish last.” (Most likely alone, in the shower.)

The self-confidence thing is also true in reverse, of course – men like confident women – it’s just not *as* true. Some men actually want a doormat, someone who seems weaker. Or at least, someone who seems cute/adorable. But most of us want a woman with some attitude: someone who can think for herself and call us on it when we’re full of s***. Security tends to be an attractive trait no matter who you are…

And for women, I think it’s at least partly biological – before the modern era, women needed a guy who was chingón enough – alpha enough – to protect them and their babies from sabretooth tigers or giant hedgehogs or whatever. (Note: and by “whatever”, we partly mean “other aggressive males”.) That residual instinct is so strong that many women will sacrifice the “nice” part in order to get the “strong” part. Which is why lots of women are with guys who are assholes, while nice guys look on, confused. And why certain guys -- celebrities, guys in uniform, doctors, guys in a band, CEOs, rich guys -- get lots of girls: those are all trappings of leadership, authority, power, alpha status.

I’m not saying that men are supposed to be in charge of everything, or tell women what to do with their lives. I’m saying that men need to have their s*** together: they need to be confident, reliable, directed, decisive, able to take care of themselves. At the same time, they need to be self-secure, which means flexible, even-tempered, and able to take criticism.

And if a guy fails to step up to that role, it makes many women feel uneasy, like there’s a power vacuum, and they will feel the need to step into that role themselves. Since a lot of guys do their competing at work (or are just laid-back by nature), they just want peace and quiet when they get home – they want a rest from being aggressive and competitive and in charge, so they end up letting/making their women determine the weather in the home, and may appear to their women as unmotivated, uncaring, or weak.

So anyway, yeah. I was sensitive, insecure. I was a wimp. I was weak. And I don’t blame Hannah for that.

And over the last few years I have changed radically. I hardly recognize myself sometimes. I now permit myself to be who I am – ie, male – without apology or embarrassment. It’s amazing how great it is to no longer suppress things for fear of not being what women think they want men to be, to break free from the vaginization that I underwent in my liberal college-going years. (Women said they wanted Alan Alda, but guess who they dated? Hint: not guys like Alan.)

I’m not saying I now fart freely in mixed company, or leer, or spit on the rug. I’m just saying that I embrace the stuff that makes me male -- the good with the bad -- and am happy to be who i am. So I listen respectfully to women when they talk and respect their right to be who they want to be, but i always walk on the outside, open doors, carry the heavy s***, investigate noises downstairs, and usually end up paying for dinner. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to approve -- I wasn’t doing it for you anyway, I was doing it because that’s how I do it.

i don't insist on making all the plans just because i have an outie and someone else has an innie, but neither will i stand in the mall holding a woman’s purse like i was neutered and have no life. i'm not embarrassed or feel bad in any way that I sometimes choose time for hockey or backpacking or parkour over time with a girlfriend, or that i occasionally get drunk with the guys and sing rude songs and flirt with the waitress, or that i'm not always thinking about [insert girlfriend name here]. if a woman asks me were there strippers at the bachelor party, or have i ever thought of her sister naked, the answer will be yes.

i'll ask women (or gay men) for fashion advice, but in the end i wear what i want, do my hair like i decide, and i don't ask permission to buy a gun or a motorcycle. i am competitive, sometimes unnecessarily aggressive in sports or traffic, and i pee outside when i feel like it. I love to eat meat, I don't get too agitated about harp seals, and i have been known to say the s-word in mixed company. i wear boots and drive a big shit-kicker pickup truck, but my bumper sticker says Obama2008 -- i guess a person could make whatever they want of that.

I'm still kind to animals and old people, and I like almost everyone I meet, but I found that when i grew a pair and learned to be up-front and stand my ground about what i want and what i won't accept, that i didn't lose all my friends -- both men and women respond more positively to alpha behavior, which I spent most of my life suppressing (or not even having). And yeah, I know this is a huge no-brainer for most guys, but it took me a long time to figure out...

Being with Camila – with a lot of exposure to Latino culture – was definitely a part of me letting go of a lot of wussie behaviour and becoming more alpha. I'd like to think I took from that the good parts of being a man -- responsibility, hard work, self-respect, unapologetic masculinity, manners with women -- without assimilating all the machista BS that makes so many Latinas here prefer to date white guys...

Some of the above has to do with attraction as it pertains to newish relationships. In a committed, loving, long-term relationship, a man can afford to be much more vulnerable. However: I believe the basic alpha-ness that created attraction in the first place still needs to be there in some measure so your S.O. continues to get all misty and butterfly-y – and passionate – when she looks at you.
Also: women whose fathers were sensitive, loving, nice guys tend not to view those traits as weak; they are more likely to appreciate a guy who isn't overtly alpha, but has those qualities. Men who are less aggressive and more accomodating by nature will probably be happiest with the women who fall in this category - and who knows, maybe those relationships would represent the more healthy and less biology-driven ideal...

Having typed all of the above, I can hear my mom’s voice in my head “Look, isn’t it sweet how Bryan thinks of himself now…” And yes, one could make the point that guys who are *really* alpha don’t think about it or talk about it – and they certainly don’t write long boring blog posts about how gosh-darn alpha they’re feeling today. But one of the benefits of being how I am now is that I don’t give a s***. Other people’s opinions no longer run my life, so feel free to think what you want. I enjoy blogging, especially about myself – doesn’t mean I can’t still kick your ass…


At Mon Sep 08, 11:03:00 AM PDT, Blogger heatherfeather said...

I had an outie until I was about seven. Then it turned into an innie.

But somehow I don't think you were discussing navels. Also, uh...wait, I forgot what was coming after the "also." So there is no also.

At Mon Sep 08, 06:00:00 PM PDT, Blogger Extrem4 said...

After I read this I felt like I should go beat up somebody and maybe drag my wife around the house be her hair. No more Mr Nice guy. But at the end of the day I am driving a cute beetle convertible with a Mc Cain bumper sticker. (Just kidding about the Mc Cain sticker) Not kidding about the beetle but it does have a 5spd with a Turbo and kicks asphalt. I'll take on your big truck with its dingleberries swinging underneath it any day of the week. BTW come see us sometime and I will take you out behind the woodshed big alpha boy.

At Mon Sep 08, 08:33:00 PM PDT, Blogger Lisa said...

when are you gonna write a book? I promise I'll recommend it to all my male clients!

At Tue Sep 09, 08:29:00 PM PDT, Blogger Extrem4 said...

Lisa- As far as publishing a book. All you have to do is print off all of Bryan's posts re: "male/female relationships" or "what testosterone has done for me lately" and you would have an encyclopedia. All in good fun Bryan and some of your points are well taken (meaning you don't have to come down to Boise and kick my hind end to prove your manhood)I think I will just stop right there and leave the subject of your manhood alone.

At Tue Sep 16, 09:05:00 PM PDT, Blogger SoozeSchmooze said...

here I sit tonight...feeling sad and on the edge of a melt down...
and I dare to read your blog..for the first time in a while...what an education!!! You have quite a few valid points..most I can agree with for sure...some of the personal just that personal...but I think the real key for you Rob is the honesty... we all need to live honestly...
both with ourselves and others..
and lets face it that takes courage! So I congratulate you on the honesty...I thank you for a few of the chuckles...and I promise to now get over myself!

At Sun Oct 26, 01:40:00 PM PDT, Blogger alleykat said...

I'm really really glad you found out who you are and all that. Now where are you going? And when are you going to break down and get a GPS? You really really need one.
I'm with Soozeschoomze, your honesty may save the day in the long run. And I join in with our friends to tell you thanks for the laugh. I read this last night before going to bed, and woke up with this feeling of having had a great visit with an old friend! My abrupt comment above is what I've more or less been thinking of all day.


Post a Comment

<< Home