Saturday, May 13, 2017

Do men and women love the same way?

It seems to me that men and women love differently. When a young man forms feelings of love for a woman, he tends to idealise her. He experiences love as a finer feeling within himself; a feeling that makes him want to dedicate himself to the object of his love, which then means that the young woman has to be thought of in positive terms as beautiful, as good, perhaps even as pure. This elevation of women to match his own elevated feelings sometimes gets out of hand, and leads to a pedestalisation of women, sometimes in Western culture to absurd proportions. It also helps to explain why, in traditional Western cultures, there was a particular emphasis placed on women to live up to certain ideals of beauty, goodness and purity - and such a disappointment when they didn't.

(You only have to look at Western art up to 1914 to get a sense of this distinctly masculine love for women. Note too that when Western artists began to turn destructively on their own civilisation, one of the first things they did was to do the very opposite of traditional culture and portray women as ugly, malformed, diseased and slatternly - see German art of the 1920s as an example of this - Otto Dix springs to mind. It's interesting too that the small number of Western women who are now trying to reclaim love and family are instinctively beginning to uphold the values of beauty and purity in women. It is also why the red pill is such a difficult thing for men: once a man comes to believe that "women are not all that" he tends to turn away from marital love as a major focus of his life and turns instead to some form of self-development or self-completion.)

It is possible for women to love their husbands in a way that is difficult for men to comprehend. A man does not want to store up infractions committed by his wife in his mind, because this would undermine the picture he has of her that is necessary for him to love at all. But a woman can, in a certain way, live with both. She can store up infractions, but still allow a measured amount of affection toward her husband - enough, at least, to keep the relationship going.

Let's say that a woman has her first child. Her husband does his best to work to support her, but she feels stressed by the experience nonetheless. She forms a negative judgement about her husband regarding this, which is then placed in a compartment of her mind and stays there forever. At times, she will complain to others about the deficit of her husband. If a man were to do this (store up infractions), it would spell the immediate end of any affectionate relationship on his part. But not so for the wife. She can still allow a certain "line" of affection toward her husband, whilst holding back a certain amount at the same time. Typically, it seems, the woman is likely to hold back initially in the bedroom, either by limiting the amount of sex or perhaps by allowing the physical side of sex to take place but not the emotional bonding (she withholds some aspect or quality or depth of love).

This kind of thing can go on for the entire duration of the marriage, with the marriage still ultimately being successful. However, it can also go wrong. Usually, it goes wrong when the bank of infractions grows so much in the woman's mind that she decides to end the marriage. Oddly (from a male perspective) she might still allow the line of affection to continue right to the end (she can "love" in a certain way even while planning to dissolve her marriage) leaving her husband blindsided.

But it can also go wrong in another way. If the "line" of affection thrown out by the woman is too light, a man can get to middle-age, having worked decades on behalf of his wife, and feel that the marriage has been one-sided and that there has not been the pair bonding he expected. His children will have grown more independent, his wife will have aged and he might then no longer be able to sustain the idealisation of his wife - it will tire him mentally to try to hold to it (there are other reasons too for a man to reach this point, such as depression, ill-health, work problems etc.)

It's interesting that the main type of infraction that women hold onto relates to time and money. If a man works long hours and earns a lot, he might be thought to spend too much time away from home. If his job allows him to spend much time at home, then a wife might think he should be out earning more money. If he has a good balance, his wife might then think he should both be out working more as well as spending more time at home. If a man spends any of his time neither working nor at home (say, volunteering for something) this might be thought of as a nuclear level infraction, even though a woman might also view a man without a good social network as lacking status and attractiveness.

So it's generally not possible for a man to avoid infractions. The best he can do is to choose a wife who is relatively forgiving, relatively stable in her relationships, and who has not become jaded in her ability to pair bond.

I also think it would be better if a society made it clear that a man's true purpose (his telos) is both domestic and civilisational. Part of his role is to provide for his family and to be a husband/father, but he should also be able to devote some time and energy to contribute to the larger community he belongs to. It also seems reasonable that he might have some leisure time to spend with other men.

You can see some of all this at work in a piece at Slate titled "You will hate your husband after your kid is born" by Jancee Dunn. It is about how stressful having a first baby can be for a new mum and how mums will take it out on the person doing the most to support them - their husbands. She is still trying to get over it seven years later.

It seems to me that it is possible, when it comes to the newborn child issue, that the real problem is that we are trying to replace grandmothers with husbands. A husband can work either a great or a small amount to support a wife with a newborn and it doesn't seem to register either way in terms of a woman feeling supported. A woman really does seem to need her mother in this situation (even a sympathetic mother-in-law might be a more effective option than a husband in providing a sense of support).

12 comments:

  1. Men started to idealise women when romantic love replaced religion as the dominant force in society. In making romantic love the idol, with sexual intercourse its holy communion, women were elevated to the status of goddesses and keepers of the holy grail. One has just to review movies of the early 20th century to show how the female stars were usually shown illuminated with golden lights conferring a mystical glow to their bodies giving them a god like status. The subliminal message of these films was quite clear. Men were brainwashed to idealise women and seek their approval. This emasculates men and keeps them childish, in an arrested state of development. Female empowerment and male arrested development prevents successful marital bonding.

    Religions do not idealise women or men. Both are flawed human beings with weaknesses and foibles. The romance myth takes male power and gives it to women using women as agents of social subversion. When men idealise women, they remain children and cannot assume their civilisation role. Humans are intended to marry, procreate and then move on and do other things. The infatuation with love and sex prevents that.

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    1. Anon, I agree with your message but I don't think your history is right. Courtly love arose during a high point in medieval Christianity; you see another high point in the idealisation of women in the 1800s when Christianity was relatively strong in the West.

      It seems that when culture is spiritualised, this potential within the mind of Western man is most likely to be expressed - perhaps because men themselves are more likely to recognise and value what they experience as spiritually transcendent in this experience of love, or perhaps because women are more likely to act in ways that inspire this kind of love in men.

      It seems to me that we have the following problem:
      i) what you write about men failing to assume their adult role when they idealise women is true
      ii) Western men will tend to idealise women as part of how they experience marital love - it is an aspect of how they are constituted

      So there is a fine line when it comes to civilizational success. Women need to behave in ways that will inspire male love and commitment (beauty, goodness, purity). Men need to commit to marriage and family, but not allow this to run awry:
      1. By not making romantic love the idol - culture should not be as dominated by romantic love as it was, for instance, in the 1900s
      2. By insisting that men be given the time and opportunity to devote to the "polis" rather than being held to the role of provider/workhorse
      3. Those men pedestalising women to be reined in - the aim is a culture which makes women worthy of a man's commitment, and which therefore recognises feminine virtues, whilst at the same time retaining knowledge of women's foibles and vices. As part of this, a need to resist black and white categories, e.g. the virtuous vs the fallen woman - not because it is wrong to criticise women who behave badly, but because of the pretence that one class of women are going to be innocent of the kinds of foibles typically found in women as a sex.
      4. Women should not be given the kinds of threat points within marriage as they have today.

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  2. So essentially the archetype works thusly: a man will look to idealize the women in which he invests, irrespective of her infractions; the woman will look to criticize the man on which she depends, irrespective of his sacrifices made for her benefit.

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    1. Yes, that's a good summary. A man has to see his wife as Good, Beautiful and Pure in order to love her. So he will screen out those things which go against this sense he has of her. It doesn't mean he has to see her as perfect; he can see her as human and with personality flaws, but somehow he has to preserve in his mind an experience of her in which she arouses in him a sense of the Good, Beautiful and Pure (men can see this in women as a kind of potential even, when the woman herself is unaware of what is there to be expressed). Some women make this relatively easy for the husband, and he can do continue to do this for decades; some women exhaust a husband's capacity for this relatively quickly.

      It's more typical of a wife to hold to a sense of a husband's infractions. She can do this even while still holding out a line of affection and loyalty to him, in a way that would be extremely difficult for a man who was looking for wifely infractions. As long as she still basically respects him and wants to keep the marriage going, and as long as she judges correctly how much to withhold and how much to give, then the marriage can be a success.

      The typical wifely approach is a pity, though, as it means that women can be most critical of the men who actually commit to them, love them and do most to support them. She would probably withhold less for a man who made it clear that he was not going to be seriously involved with her.

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  3. Courtly love in the medieval years was an elite phenomena which arose in the secular realm and was not of Christian origin. It never reached the masses in Europe, which, at that time was dominated by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches both of which viewed romantic love and lust as sins and threats to the hierarchical social order and family stability which were essential for the preservation of civilisation. This is still the view in the areas of Europe where the church remains strong.

    Romantic love arose in the 1800s following the reformation and enlightenment, as an individual right and secular basis for marriage which gained dominance as religious faith weakened; and it weakened greatly in the century of Karl Marx and Darwin. By the 20th century, romantic love replaced religious faith as the driving force for culture and with its principal brainwashing media, Hollywood, which brainwashed men to seek fulfilment in romance, love and sex. The natural order was overthrown and women became dominant in the emotional and sexual manipulation of men who were enslaved and infantilised. Civilisation collapsed.

    Western men, similar to other men throughout the world, did not idealise women prior to the collapse of their religious faith. Their atheism encouraged them to seek replacement idols and fantasies. The idealisation of women is a subconscious projection of a fantasy of an ideal woman on to a real human being. As the relationship progresses, the fantasy is defeated by reality and disenchantment follows.

    Women cannot be held to unrealistic and unachievable ideals of beauty, purity and goodness. This too is idolatry and fantasy. Most women are not beautiful, none are pure and most are not entirely good. Women will always attempt to manipulate men emotionally and sexually to their advantage if given the opportunity. Young men are naive about women and often afraid of them. They are easy prey. If women chose their husbands and a man waits passively to be chosen then the woman is dominant in the marriage and removing the threat points in the marriage becomes impossible because the wife is the boss and the husband the child. He passively accepts her decisions whilst refusing to assume responsibility himself.

    One cannot remove romance and sex as secular religions because they are tools of subversion used by the elites. The only path is resistance to them. One cannot expect men to have time for the "polis" when the economic situation of most countries is declining. The only way in which civilisation can be restored is by return to Christianity as the basis of civilisation and the traditional Christian way of arranging marriages as detailed in the Bible. Fathers take brides for their sons and give their daughters in marriage. Marriage and family life should be based on things other than love, sex and romance and then husband and wife can develop a lifelong productive relationship with a real imperfect human being.

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    1. Western men, similar to other men throughout the world, did not idealise women prior to the collapse of their religious faith

      I'm not sure about this. The most supplicating husband I have ever come across is Endymion Porter who lived in the early 1600s. The second would be David Blair who lived in the mid 1800s and was a Presbyterian clergyman.

      My own view is that marital love is a thing; that it does bring men to a sense of a transcendent good; that it does bring men into a commitment to marriage and family and via this to society; and therefore it is to be regarded as a significant good in life.

      But there are a lot of qualifications to this. First, men need to know that women won't reciprocate with the same kind of love - and that for women to love their husbands in an enduring way is a difficult challenge. A culture has to encourage women to show restraint in storing infractions; to not undermine the marriage through withholding; to respect their husbands - including by putting the husband in the family hierarchy above the children. A woman should know that if she succeeds in this she is likely to be loved into her old age.

      Second, where I strongly agree with you is that men should not allow marital love to be the one focus of their lives. Wives push for this for obvious reasons, as do the commercial elites for obvious reasons. It pushes men toward just one role in life (the provider role); it separates them from any meaningful bonds or loyalties with other men; it overrides the significant other loves and loyalties and commitments that men should have toward community, nation and church; it narrows the moral horizons of men, until something like "successful subservience toward wife and employer" becomes the moral fulcrum of a man's life.

      Men's liberation will look nothing like what was offered to women by feminists. It will not be a "do your own thing" or "be independent." It will instead be a return of the wider sphere of life that has been taken from men in modern society. It will be an enlargening of a man's spiritual horizons; a return of the greater masculine virtues; a retaking of masculine spaces in which men unite together for important common purposes. Most of all men will be brought back toward their greater role of providing a larger protected and ordered space not just for their individual families, but for their communities and, for some men at least, for their nations (i.e. a wider leadership role, morally, spiritually, intellectually, culturally).

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  4. Both men and women experience limmerence early in a relationship. I think the difference arises in their response to the end of that period.

    You bring up the role of extended family which is important. If none are available this need could be met by close freinds, neighbors, or fellow church members. But some form of community ties need to exist. For many, it is the atomized husband, wife and child. The reality is our emotional and social needs extend beyond that. So people end up expecting their spouse to take on all roles (lover, best freind, mentor, support system, good-time acquaintence) in one person. It's too much to ask of a single human so ultimately leads to disappointment.

    Modern life is isolating for many people but I don't think they realize wah at they could do to find more meaning and contentment.

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    1. Flavia, that's an interesting other angle to all this. I had a relationship when I was a university undergraduate. We had no real obligations or commitments to each other, so there was no context for her to withhold. It was limerence on both sides - and I agree that in this context women are capable of grand romantic feelings (she used to write things in the margins of my university books like "Without you I could not breathe another breath"). But whereas limerence led me over time to form a more stable attachment, it did not with her - she was addicted to the emotion or feeling of limerence itself. After a couple of years, when the limerence faded, she moved on to someone else, and after him someone else and so on. She lived as a serial monogamist, but is now sinlge and childless in middle age.

      When it comes to marriage, though, I think women have expectations that switch them to the "store infractions" mentality pretty quickly - and with children, this will almost certainly be the case.

      I do agree with you that with the atomised family there can be an expectation that the spouse will meet all the needs that perhaps were once met from a variety of sources. This is especially true for women in my experience. Most men can be made content if they are able to express physical affection toward their wives; have loving, responsive sex with some regularity; and if their wives are sweet enough and devoted enough as mothers to uphold the male need to see them as worthy of love (as beautiful and good).

      These days at least it is more likely to be women who have high expectations of what men will provide. Sometimes the expectation is that the husband will provide things that men are not highly qualified to provide, e.g. intuiting needs, thoughts, feelings and anxieties. Sometimes there is an expectation that men will provide metaphysical goods, such as spiritual happiness, that belong more to the realm of religious practice and observance and self-knowledge and self-discipline.

      I do think too that an element of entitlement has slipped into the modern female mindset. When a man submits to spending most of his waking life in an office doing relatively humdrum work, he himself thinks of this as a considerable sacrifice he is making for his wife and children. There are wives, though, who don't see this as a sacrifice at all - they see it as just something that men do and that therefore raises no credit with them. The very idea of male sacrifice has become invisible to them, or else it is seen as just "normal" and not to be credited.

      I suppose it's a result, in part, of living in a wealthy society with generous welfare systems in which male labour no longer means the difference between comfort and well-being or real poverty and distress.

      It's another reason for men not to put all their efforts into the provider role - it's too easy to get to the end of a long working life and find that neither wife, nor children, nor society really sets much store by a man's efforts to financially support a family.

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    2. Yes modern women are extremely entitled. They absolutely believe "having it all" possible. So if they don't have everything they want it is due to someone impeding them. Modern husbands fit this role as they vessels of all their wives' desires as so-called soul mates. Many infractions laid at his feet are likely completely imaginary but there is no one else around to blame.

      It's a heady combination of feeling you are owed a level of satisfaction few will acbeive and caustic feminist rhetoric. How could this lead to happy stable marriages?

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    3. Flavia, your point about husbands being the "vessels of all their wives' desires" is particularly good.

      I would add that what you describe is made worse when girls grow up in single mother families and so never observe the day to day reality of marital life.

      Even when women do not directly blame their husband for their sense of discontent in life, they blame a deficit in marriage or family instead, and think that the answer lies in some reconfiguration of their relationships - a sort of Eat Pray Love reaction.

      Better if women were raised to understand that there are certain goods to be found in marriage and family to be defended, but that marriage and family are not the bringers of some total kind of happiness and fulfilment - that there are always compromises in what we choose and that our efforts to order our lives as we ought to is a lifelong undertaking involving many different spheres of life.

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    4. That is true but the culture of romance which has brainwashed western society creates the expectation that women will be rescued by Prince Charming who will surmount of all of life's problems and create a life of wedded bliss. Hence the irritation when he cannot and will not.

      Western films censor the routine drudgery of marriage in favour of an idealised vision. All of this creates highly unrealistic expectations which will inevitably fail to materialise.

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    5. Anon, could not agree more. There has to be a way to represent family life in films and on TV which manages both to represent the sacrifices involved but also the goods embedded within family - the support in times of trouble and so on. It's odd that women get a highly romantic narrative of courtship and then the story ends - as if this is the point at which nothing more needs to be said, things have all worked out happily. Again, it's worse for women who did not grow up in intact families, as they don't even have their personal experience of family life to draw on - they don't see their parents negotiating difficulties and having to struggle through at times.

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