I know that some of you, especially males, are going to think that it’s decidedly presumptuous of me to even think that I know what a man wants. But I’m no Johnny or Jane come lately. Having been married to the same man for over twenty-five years and the fact that I live in a house with four males, gives me the distinct advantage of getting up close and personal with this enigma called the male-species.
Men I believe have their own peculiar set of needs. While much time and energy is spent on deciphering how to make a woman happy and how to keep her satisfied, I think the brothers may have been somewhat hard done by. Because men try so hard to come across as happy go-lucky creatures who are not emotionally needy, we may have become convinced that all a guy needs is a full stomach and some good sex to send him on his way rejoicing. In fact, men thrive on perpetuating this myth that they are in fact one-dimensional creatures.
I recently heard a radio program where a husband admitted that while his wife needed friendship, intimacy, romance and emotional support, all he needed was plenty food and lots of sex. He admitted, to the roaring laughter of his audience, that he could think of nothing else. Of course the flippant response of his listeners confirmed that they had bought his lie; hook, line and sinker. Men, from my own observation, however, need a whole lot more.
The humanity in all of us, whether male or female, cries out for love, attention, a sense of security and affirmation. This is what sets us apart from the animals. Of course socialization and global concepts of maleness and femaleness have to a large degree influenced how we even perceive or articulate our relationship needs. While I don’t intend to make the huge mistake of lumping all males together in the same mold, I believe that males generally pass through three basic stages of emotional and sexual development. These stages, to some degree, do shape or determine the emphasis on specific needs. For instance, trying to navigate a relationship with a guy while he is not yet in his “relationship/settling stage” could prove disastrous to the lady who is hoping to make an honest man out of her guy.
It is imperative therefore that we women understand the male psyche if we are to experience any peace of mind in our relationships with them. Of course there are no absolutes and some guys will by-pass stages or not dwell there long simply because of their own emotional/spiritual development or because of rapid personal growth. Regardless, these frames are perhaps useful terms of reference for assisting us in deciphering the peculiarities of the male species.
This is man on the prowl. Basically he is hunting and hoping to gather a mate to satisfy his cravings for sex. He is usually enamored by the panacea of choice before him. In other words, he can’t decide from the vast array of women he sees. Whether short, tall, black, white, big or small, Primal Male loves women and sometimes wishes there was a way for him to have them all, of course without losing life or limb. If Primal Male is smart, however, reality eventually sets in and he grows to recognize that he can’t very well have his cake and eat it too. This usually happens when one woman enters the picture and effectively convinces him that she is all he really needs. If this “love-of-a-lifetime” experience never happens for Primal Male, he may spend his years on a constant quest for a variety of sexual encounters. On another take, he may come into an experience of emotional development or enlightenment where he becomes tired of his own behavior and yearns for change. The woman, who however, tries to tame this man before he has brought his own savage beast under control, is in for the ride of her life. Primal men at their rawest levels can’t be forced to commit because they are ruled by their desire for sexual conquest. If a Primal Male does marry while still in his prowling stage, then his wife is likely to be confronted by a series of infidelities over which she will have little control.
If Primal Male thrives from the thrill of the chase, then Settling Male has chased, grown tired and wants to pause long enough to put down roots. No seriously, quite a lot is said about the maternal instinct and a woman’s biological clock. Precious little is discussed about the fathering instinct and a man’s desire to proliferate his genes in a secure environment where he can actually influence how his son is allowed to grow into a better version of himself. Yes, despite their reputation, not all men are canine in their activity and just content to spray their sperm around for target practice.
There comes a distinct time in every discerning male’s development when he does recognize that life is not all about him and that he must make active preparation for the next generation and the continuation of his legacy. And of course you will not find men sitting around in packs or groups discussing these things as women do on a regular basis in coffee shops (if you ask a man about his biological clock he’ll probably ask you where he can buy one). To admit this need is an almost unspoken code in the school of masculine initiation but I do believe that it is deeply embedded at the level of the sub-conscious. Remember, men are not prone to admit to any needs unless pure sex is involved. Nonetheless, my experience and observation tells me that the need to father is a distinct male need that more often than not, goes unmentioned.
This need then influences how males do go about selecting a mate or a life partner to facilitate their instinct for fathering. Maybe this explains (not excuses) why some men will run around with a particular woman or women for years and then “select” an entirely different woman to marry and mother the children he wants to father (and this is not a judgement call or an aspersion on women; just a fact of male sexual behavior).
Now I do believe that every man is terrified of growing old alone with no one around to clip his toe nails. As men come into their own (which admittedly does take some of them a very long time) they grow to recognize that self-exposure and vulnerability to one woman is not such a bad thing after all. Am I suggesting a diminishing interest in sex or competitiveness or in any of the things that make a man identifiably male? Of course not! There are some core behaviors that will not change even as males mature. Nonetheless, as a man exposes his bad behavior over time to one woman who will often tolerate it (leaving the toilet seat up, socks on the floor, farting loudly, ogling other women) he grows to appreciate how close to God most women are in their behavior. You know what I mean; we’re forgiving, gracious and merciful and our men appreciate that we do put up with their idiosyncrasies even if they never admit it. And how are we rewarded?
We become the companion to whom they begin to expose their thoughts; their deep fears, hopes and unfulfilled dreams. It is perhaps a fact of human nature that it takes several instances of trial and error, foul-ups, bleeps and blunders before we can really reach the potential that has been lying dormant inside of us for so long. This is particularly true of men and their relationships. In other words, the learning that takes place as a result of early relationship mistakes serves a purpose. Very often it causes the true prince to finally emerge from the frog that many are sure they really married.
Am I suggesting that all men will navigate their lives in these three distinct stages? Of course not! And yes there is a fair amount of generalization here. But those who have lived with, researched or observed men know that they can be as predictable or as complicated as the next girl. The fun part comes when some aspects of these stages are actually experienced simultaneously. For those of us who choose to love them regardless, it is important to note that reciprocal forgiveness, on-going self-exposure and the lessons learned, do serve to cement the bond. And oh yes, the sex does get better.