Within hours of posting my last blog I received some concerned feedback from a (male) friend of mine.
“Many men have no difficulty in performing the act of ritual praise, interest, affirmation, and affection, which many women so greatly desire! “ he wrote. “These men do it with a religious zeal, genuine hypocrisy, and such consummate cunning and skill.”
Was I honestly supporting women in their need for verbal reassurances? And was I honestly chastising more honorable, yet silent, men for their reticence?
“Actually, I was trying to provide encouragement for greater verbal connection between the sexes,” I replied. Plus, don’t you know, the (no longer quite so silent) men would be the first to reap a bountiful harvest of affection from their women in return for being more forthcoming?
Which is, of course, why the snakes and other predatory reptiles are so swift to pay compliments and utter the “I love you” words so important to almost every woman in the first place. Unless the words come too quickly to be believable (say in under two hours or so) it’s an efficient ploy as ancient as, well, probably sex itself. The fact that it continues to be so successful after thousands of years of predictable repetition is indeed a matter for much head scratching.
Are women really so stupid that we’ll accept words any actor can utter as truth? Accept caresses any gigolo can provide as testimony to lasting affections?
Um … sometimes?
Insecurity, a socially ingrained chronic need for a man, and lack of discernment lead the huge list of reasons for this. Then there’s childhood sexual abuse and low self-esteem, general permissiveness and even boredom. A far more interesting question than why we are this way is, I think, if words and sex can’t be trusted as indicators of love, what can?
The only answer I can come up with is so staggeringly old-fashioned I almost hesitate to voice it, but here goes: Consistent actions over the course of time.
I can hear the groans now. What kind of actions? And over how much time? I’m not sure what actions indicate true affection. It varies for each individual. But things like respect, being there when needed, and taking the other person’s sensibilities into account when making decisions that affect that person are a fair start.
And the time frame?
Well, everybody’s into instant gratification nowadays. First date dialogue is swiftly followed by steamy sex scenes in movies and on TV. But does hopping in the hay first thing (with or without smarmy compliments), making life decisions based on sexual chemistry really work?
The staggering number of divorces, single moms and abandoned children in the West indicate a resounding “no!” But surely all this can’t be blamed on shallow, self-serving relationships and a lack of strong silent John Wayne types espousing honor, respect and responsibility at all costs … can it?
Surely not! Odd, though, that those kinds of guys went out of vogue just as all the other problems surged to the fore, isn’t it? Hm. Maybe I’ll dial up Netflix and see what The Quiet Man has to say.