Tsach Gilboa believes it’s time to evolve the unspoken rules of dating and relationships.
As a man who always has, does and always will love women (love the way they look, move, feel, smell, think and are), the current state of men/women transactional dynamics is perplexing, annoying and distressing.
Dating–in middle age after a marriage–is like living in an episode of the twilight zone. It feels like an alternate universe where the “rules” are full of double standards that don’t promote deep, loving and lasting relationships. In this mating dance,” “equality” is a subjective ever-changing concept based on nonsensical out-of-date social norms, convenience of the moment, and twisted “chivalry,” which now means the imposed obligation on men to fund the relationship instead of the voluntary personal instrument of civil intercourse, which is what it should be. Although high school is ancient history, I find myself back there, only without the raging hormones and low standards, while burdened by and struggling to overcome years of baggage and insecurities.
A popular distortion of this predicament is presented beautifully in the 1977 Francois Truffaut film “L’Homme qui aimait les femmes” (or the less sublime 1983 American remake by Blake Edwards “The Man Who Loved Women”) where a womanizer’s life is recalled and explored at his funeral by all the women he “had” during his life. It is a sad story of a man who thinks he loves women too much, but is simply a collector of female conquests and “objects” without the ability to actually love them
Equality of humans regardless of gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, belief and economic status, is and should be non-negotiable. Variety and differences are a natural part of being sentient and should be cherished and encouraged. They enrich our existence and give us art, music and a plethora of technical, scientific and social advancement and pleasures, to name but a few benefits.
And yet, when one ventures into the dating pool with women who appear and profess to be of maturity and substance (same age group, attractive, successful, together), one finds himself liable for most of the energy and financial sponsorship of the dates/relationship.
Just to be perfectly clear: I am all for chivalry and enjoy deeply choosing to spoil and treat my date/girlfriend/wife. However, chivalry is a choice and part of the life-long maintenance of romance in a relationship. It is not and should not be an entitled expectation and axiomatic part of a distorted transactional framework for dating and relationships (it reminds me of a humorous– albeit true–metaphor of the great American breakfast of bacon and eggs, where the chicken contributes but the pig is committed! Guess which is which?)
It was not that long ago that women were literally second-class citizens without the rights to vote and participate in the political process and considered the property of their fathers and then husbands (and in many parts of the world some of this still is the case, inclusive of the US, especially in the area of reproductive, abortion and contraception rights, as well as with careers and professional opportunities.)
Although not peer reviewed or the result of an official clinical trial, my observations, conclusions, discussions and personal experience over the last 50 years (I consider the first 6 years of my life to be blissfully ignorant on this issue) result in the following conclusions:
(1) A good to great and sustained relationship has its roots in how it is launched as well as in how each person views the other. If you start with an unequal foundation where men have a built in tax and women have a built in credit, your home will lack the proper foundation for stability, longevity and depth. Equality has to be practiced to become a reality. It is not a theoretical concept. If you want equality you have to be equal, talk equal, behave equal and demand equal.
(2) Balance of needs and desires in a framework of consideration, respect and tenderness mixed in with passion and regular physical/sexual fun is essential for the survival of the union and its health.
What needs repeated clarification is that although money is important (one should not be forced to spend a larger and larger portion of ones’ disposable income on the quest for love just because one is male–another word for that, taken to its logical conclusion, is prostitution), this is not about the money. Instead, this is much deeper and much more meaningful than money. This is about starting a relationship on equal footing, without expectations or preconceived notions. Women and men desires for intimacy, love and sex are equal, and the unequal biological playing field (obviously only women get pregnant) is equalized now by contraception and major participation by most men in childcare.
Why then is it that men are stereotypically still expected to chase and “purchase” women’s affections and “favors?” How is it not clear that arbitrarily introducing unfair gender based rules and standards would only result in eventual disappointment, resentment, the perpetuation of inequality and end of the relationship?
Each couple must have the freedom to find their own balance based on their needs, abilities and comfort level. Once that foundation of equality is established, TLC and chivalry, funding and supporting, sharing and building will be natural progressions for eventual deep and satisfying unions.
We are hopefully moving to the next level of human interaction and relationships. This is a call to action to attractive, independent, bright, fully grownup women (I still love you!). A call to women who appreciate and desire men, seek a healthy deep involvement with them as equal partners and desire to share our short journey on this planet together. A journey made much better, richer and more rewarding with the right women by our side (not behind us or in front of us). Just as we have an ancient need to protect and take care of you, we also value your strength and want to be able to depend on you. The joys and sorrows of our short human journey are better and easier with the right partner and in the right mutually loving relationship.
–Photo: Library of Congress/Flickr