There is within every relationship what we might refer to as a “gender balance”. That balance does not necessarily parallel the actual gender of those in the relationship but, for the sake of this discussion, let’s just assume that girls will be girls and boys will be boys. That said, gentlemen, a lesson we often fail to recognize is that the best way to a woman’s heart – and her bed – is not through her heart, but through her head.
Men are, by and large, physical first, and emotional second. In other words, “if you are close to me, if you have sex with me, then you love me and I will love you back.” I call this the “proximity effect”.
Women, on the other hand, tend to be emotional first and physical second — “if I have a sense of your emotional investment, then I am going to respond to you physically and sexually.” I honestly don’t have a clever phrase to describe that particular circumstance.
Now, clearly, this is not an absolute, but a situation that rests on a continuum. There is a bit of the feminine attitude in the masculine and a bit of the masculine in the feminine; but only a bit and, therein, lies the rub.
Because our own perspective is typically our primary point of reference, we tend to see things only from our own point of view. For men, this often means overlooking one of the most obvious and influential aspects of creating and cultivating a strong emotional relationship; investing yourself in your partner’s emotional life.
How do you do that? Simple – just pay attention. The grand gesture doesn’t get it – it’s the little things that are important. Remembering that she takes her tea with two sugars and no milk gets a lot more traction than that trip to the Bahamas. Bringing her that tea while she’s getting ready for work is even better (that’s the foreplay thing).
Listening without trying to “fix it” goes a lot farther than, well, trying to “fix it”. Knowing her favorite flower, making note of the small details in her style of dress, understanding her job, remembering the names of her friends’ kids, telling her she’s beautiful; it’s not the house, or the ring, or the car or the boat (which is for you anyway)…it’s really simple stuff.
Loving a woman in the way that she wants to be loved is easy – we’re the ones who make it hard; we do that by not paying attention and, consequently, not showing up. That’s not us doing something “wrong”; it’s us playing out our side of the gender balance.
Women live much more of their lives in their heads. Being in there with them is one of the keys to fostering and maintaining a solid, enduring and fulfilling conscious relationship. Understanding and exercising this notion is essential to engendering the kind of responsiveness that many women typically define as “communication”. Communication is not about words, it’s about connection. The “lack of communication” that we often hear about is not for lack of talking – it’s for lack of connecting, and connecting is a subtle, nuanced thing.
Some of the confusion here comes directly out of that “proximity effect”. For men, being around our partner promotes for us a sense of connection, while for women, there needs to be more. That more is the subtle stuff that greases the wheel that is the circle and balance of relationship.
And, if you look at our original premise – men, physical/emotional and women, emotional/physical – relationship is, indeed, a circle. Keeping that circle intact — and its momentum going — is very much, and very often, simply a matter of being mindful and showing up.
Oh, and making sure that you do the laundry “her way” really helps, too.