Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Women Fake It

Sorry, I'm not talking about orgasms.  I'm talking about faking a personality.

I saw this silly ad on Facebook that nettled me.  I'm not throwing furniture over it, but it got under my skin.

Let's leave aside the fact that an ad like this implies that making the relationship work lies solely in the woman's domain.  Where's the male version of this workshop?  Oh, yeah, they get workshops on how to hypnotize women.

What bothered me is that this ad suggests that there are checklists that will "fix" women so that they no longer engage in annoying behaviors that drive men away.  It's preying on all of the worst stereotypes for each gender.  Women are insecure, annoying, and downright dumb.  Men are all cheaters who don't know anything about communicating their feelings.

I have a hard time believing that relationships work because one party used a checklist in order to trick, manipulate and seduce the other.  I have this wacky idea that relationships work because, in general, all human beings are similar.  And where we're different, we make an effort to embrace those differences because we see how our diverse talents complement each other and make the world a better, more interesting and balanced place.

How about tossing out the checklists?  How long can manufactured attraction last, anyway?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Art Of Compromising

I have a friend - let's call him Rudy - that I sometimes consult with on relationship things so that I can get a male perspective.  By "consult with", I really mean "argue heatedly and good-naturedly."

Recently, Rudy and I were discussing one of the keys to a good relationship  - The Art Of Compromising.

Rudy: Women need to do the compromising in a relationship to make it work because men don't compromise.

Me: I think you're confused about the meaning of the word "compromise."

Rudy: No, I'm not.

Me:  Yes, you are.  A compromise involves both parties getting part but not all of what they want by giving up some of what they want.  You are talking about capitulating or giving in to your partner's wants.

Rudy: Yes, fine, whatever.

Me: Thank you for capitulating. 
There is a big emotional difference between compromising and capitulating.

For one thing, the word "promise" is part of compromise.  It means that each person is entering into an agreement and that they each promise to hold up their end of the deal.  If both sides meet the agreed-upon terms of the compromise, then going through the process together instills trust between the partners. There's no clear winner or loser, so no one loses face or gets to gloat.

However, when you capitulate, you give in and agree to your partner's wants while giving up on your own.  Sometimes, it's for good reason - you genuinely change your mind because you are persuaded.  Other times, though, we do it because we just don't want to argue or because our partner's happiness is more important than our own.  In capitulation, one person is a "loser" which builds resentment towards the "winner."

Let me toss out a scenario.  He bought two tickets to Sunday's football game and wants his best girl to go with him.  She bought two tickets for Legally Blonde: The Musical for the same day and time and wants to make a romantic date of it.  It's a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story from here:

Turn to page 18 if you choose to give up your tickets, go with your partner and spend the day sulking, making pointed comments about how much fun you're NOT having and withholding sex/affection for the next week.
Turn to page 27 if you choose to invite a friend to join you instead of forcing your partner to go.  Then, you will discuss your partner's negative traits in great detail throughout the day and arrive home spoiling for a fight.

Turn to page 31 if you call up the ticket office and try to change your tickets to another date for a small fee so that you can do both activities.
Turn to the Last Page if you choose to manipulate your partner into doing what you want through pouting and tearful threats.

How would you handle the above scenario?  How often do you compromise?  Is it easy or difficult?

How much of the time do you feel you capitulate?  How does it make you feel?

There are no two people in the world who are going to agree 100% of the time, yet we make our relationships work... somehow.  Sometimes.  Kind of.  When we want to.  Don't we?