Honey...I mean CFO...I mean...
Why do men treat women they court as a deal, a transaction, a competition? Can we trace it back to the days on the savanna? Can we blame Chuck Woolery for forcing competition on The Love Connection? What about Hallmark? Should we blame them for creating holiday after holiday to supplement dumb men who forget to communicate their love on a regular basis?
…and we haven’t even talked about competition between men for women! Are my muscles bigger than his? What does he drive? Do? Where does he live? I have a better head of hair! He has bad teeth, manners, hygiene, and is a sloppy drunk! I listen, shop when I don’t feel like it, mow the lawn regularly, know about and take care of both nose and ear hair…pick me!
How Can You NOT Call it a Transaction?
It can be very competitive for men and we, as a gender, have been trained to understand the value of money and the art of the transaction in the sea of love. We are pretty good at scoping out the future value..i.e. what it will be like to be in a relationship with you after successfully navigating the gauntlet. And, it is for this reason and the right to be the Silver-Back of the group that we allow some pretty odd and outdated traditions to take place…
Why else would we allow ourselves to be poked and prodded by your family and friends? From getting approval from dad, to polygraphs for Raymond Focker, the landscape may have changed but the supporting characters and media fodder have not when it comes to pursuing love. We have been shaken by centuries of doubt, judgment, and gossiping. The impact has been significant…
Mrs. Degree? How Much Will That Cost?
In fact, we are actually quite dainty hunters…even a tad moody. We don’t like to feel pressure. We don’t like to feel rushed or told how to hunt. We want to be celebrated for every effort we make because…well…quite frankly we have very thin skin. Men of all dispositions, Normal and Nut-Job, hear the calls from women and their mothers wondering when they will step up to the plate. We have been conditioned to think that money and material goods are the way to your heart. Are we wrong? Should we take another approach?
Maybe…maybe not. Women…if I might say…you have also played a role in the manner with which we court you.
We pay attention even if for a brief moment between video games, belching, and adult kickball games meant for males to recapture their testosterone crown and understand the seriousness with which you approach love and commitment…shoot, we even hear some women talk of getting their Mrs. degree.
An actual Marriage-Hunting Bra?
We see commercials that spew messages like cold weather, blustery nights, diamonds…and then hugs. We get it. You get it…and the struggle is breaking the transactional approach once we both have committed to each other.
Normal Males understand the barren wasteland of actual good men or should I say candidates for women today. We will concede to our other halves. The question I pose is this:
What role do women play in transactional love?
How can we keep the notion of value and competition for something precious while also valuing the effort and the man for who he is and not what he can do for you?
Trust me when I say that most Normal Males would be just fine if the expectations and practices of courtship changed…even slightly. It can be overwhelming to even the best men. And, I believe that the current system actually sets couples up for failure. Women are led to believe, from media and those around them, that love is something you buy and it is about both quality and quantity. I have heard this over and over with the couples I used to work with…”John used to buy me flowers, buy me gifts, etc.” The woman has every reason to feel let down and the man every reason to feel under water. She fell in love with a man who understood the currency of courtship, equated it to land ownership and attainment of goods, and brushed off his hands as if to say, “ok…what now?” She felt beautiful and special. He felt like a winner…and each waited for their gold medal ceremony to begin and never end.
Love is a One Step-at-a-Time Venture
He felt like he had earned something. Something akin to buying instead of renting. This may sound crude or brash, but men’s brains think and act like this. To rent means to constantly pay or fear being kicked out…i.e. “What have you done for me lately?” Owning a home symbolizes hard work, a history, and fruits of his labor. Why would a man want to subscribe to a relationship where, in his mind, he has to constantly prove himself for fear that he isn’t good enough.
It is no wonder why men fear commitment. Many men peer into their future and fear an unwieldiness of love, money, proof of life, and bottom-line economics. Daunting to be sure when you add in the little tidbit that males struggle to share their feelings and experiences with other males–we often fail to see that we are not alone and that what we are thinking, feeling, and experiencing has been felt by other males for centuries.
Both genders contribute to the problems associated with transactional love and it will take a constant and steady flow of thoughtfulness to break fear-based love, negative gender stereotypes, and family patterns. As we approach Valentines day, I wish all of the women well and hope that your days are filled with romance, conversation, and activities not based on money, but honest appreciation for each others lives. Guys…leave some flowers and a clever card for yours truly as I have yet to purchase the holiday necessities.
Remember the TRUE meaning of love?
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male