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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Women, Men, and their Relationships

In my never-ending pursuit to better understand human behavior, I recently attended a workshop by Dr. Warren Farrell to learn how women think. Dr. Farrell has done a remarkable job of combining Psychology, Sociology, and Biology to create pragmatic insights on Romantic Relationships between Men & Women in the US.

Following are my random notes from the workshop:

The more creative a thought is the faster you will forget it because creative thoughts by nature are out of context and the brain does not retain thoughts which are out of context. So, when you get a creative idea, write it down immediately.

The secret to happy marriage is mutual respect between husband and wife and a happy wife. There is truth in the saying, "Happy wife = Happy life".

In their pursuit to find a man, women exercise "veto power" i.e. they wait for the men to approach them and then decide, after sizing up the men, if they want to go out with the men who approached them. Most women don't exercise their "original power" i.e. if you like a man, approach him. Who is stopping you from doing that?

The most important thing you can do when you like someone is to make contact with that person.

Since men approach the women, they get rejected very often by them. To deal with the rejection emotionally, men start objectifying women because it is easier to be rejected by an object then by a person.

[I had an offline debate with the professor on this point because I don't see what the big deal is if you ask a woman out and she says no. I understand that if I like a woman, she does not have to like me back. And, this "rejection" does not make me see that woman as an object. Supposedly, I am more mature than most men:-)]

Some women see men who are jerks as heroes. Somehow they relate "jerkness" to bravery.

Usually, people who are too attached to animals are not good with people.

In their approach to date women, men are looking to minimize the risk of rejection. Women see that as a manipulation plan.

Men have one condition before they have sex with a woman and women have Nine. One condition the men have is that the woman is attractive. The 9 conditions women have are:
  1. Man's respect for himself
  2. Man's respect for the woman
  3. Man is single
  4. Man is available
  5. Both share common values
  6. Man is emotionally available
  7. Man is tall
  8. Man is employed
  9. Man can provide economic security
[I may have written down one or two conditions inaccurately]
[I am sure that many of my female friends would disagree with the 9 conditions:-)]

The nine conditions women have for marriage are same as nine conditions they have for sex. However, men have their own 9 conditions for marriage which they start thinking about after they have had sex with the woman. To learn more about nine conditions men have, read "The Myth of Male Power"

A man's primary fantasy is to have sex with a lot of young and beautiful women without fear of rejection. However, a man's primary need is love and intimacy from a woman.

A woman's primary fantasy is economic security. And, the primary need for a woman is economic security and some emotional support.

[I am sure many women will disagree]

So, when a man and a woman get married, the man is making a big sacrifice because he is giving up his primary fantasy for his primary need. The woman, on the other hand, is living her fantasy:-)

Men put all their "emotional eggs" in one basket i.e. wife/girlfriend. The only person a man emotionally opens up to is his wife/girlfriend. Women, on the other hand, have their emotional eggs in many baskets- friends, parents, children, etc. It is devastating for a man to lose a woman because he losses his single source of emotional support and women do just fine when the relationship ends because they have emotional support from other people.

Sometimes diversified "emotional eggs" strategy women have does not help the man-woman relationship because when there are problems in the relationship, women seek emotional support from other people and come to a conclusion, with encouragement from their friends, that they don't need the man.

When men talk about their feelings they are making themselves vulnerable. When women talk about their feelings they are getting emotional support.

If a man starts sharing his heart with a lot of people (like women do) then he is making himself vulnerable and hence reducing his chance of economic success. For men, no economic success means no women. That is why men don't share their feelings with anyone but their wives.

The qualities that make a man successful at work (economic security) are the opposite of the qualities that would make him successful at love. However, the dilemma is that women get attracted to the qualities that make the man successful at work and after marriage, women want men to change and start acquiring qualities that make him successful at love.

Women have other dilemmas. When a women starts making more than $70k/year, she seeks balance in life. The society consistently questions the women about marriage, children etc. So the balance is forced upon women by social pressures. For women, economic success becomes a straight jacket. On the other hand, a man who has achieved economic success does not feel these pressures from the society.

Men grow up in a society where they are not loved for not knowing the answer. Therefore, men are always trying to solve problems instead of just listening to women and providing emotional support. And, women just want men to listen and not solve the problem.

Men think that to show love you have to do something, you can't just show love with words.

For women, the relationship used to be like business because that was the only way women could make money.

For men, economic success = love.

When the relationship is in trouble, women give hints and they "over remember" things. Men can't decipher these hints and they "over forget" things.

When men see the bottom-line change i.e. they will lose the woman if they don't change, they change really fast.

Attraction between a man and a woman is created by chemistry in the brain. However, sustaining that attraction requires discipline.

Music is the best way to start/enhance the brain chemistry. People should know their partners' favorite music for different moods. And, play that music as often as possible.

After divorce or death of a spouse, the suicide rate among men is 10 times higher compared to women.

A man's need to be understood is stronger than his need for sex.

From marriage, men seek:

  1. A woman who understands them
  2. Feeling of being emotionally secure when they open up to the woman
  3. To be loved sexually very well i.e. it is more than just physical sex. It is emotional and spiritual.
And for these three things, men are willing to give up their primary fantasy.

Women don't understand the strength of desire (biological) men have for sex. It is equivalent of having various alcoholic drinks around for an alcoholic. Hence, marriage is a huge sacrifice for a man and women don't understand it.

Women get attracted to high levels of testosterone in men because high level of testosterone increases chances of success at work.

Dr. Farrell conducted an anonymous survey among the couples who were in counseling because of troubled relationships. The survey asked the following question:

If your partner is going to die and you know that you can save your partner's life but there is 50% chance that you may die while saving your partners life then would you save your partners life?
  • 95% of men responded yes and only 75% of women responded yes.

Economically successful woman have trouble finding a man because men feel that if a woman is successful then they are disposable.

After divorce, the only source of love men have is their children.

When a man opens up to a woman first time, more often he gets a punishment rather than a reward. Hence, he never opens up again.

Both sexes can't handle criticism which is given badly.

Children raised by men in intact marriages do extremely well.

Appreciation is done terribly by men and inadequately by women.

Our ability to handle personal criticism is our (human) Achilles heal.

Women are 45% more likely to connect with their parents after divorce.

People respond badly to honesty.

Our biological response to criticism is to kill the criticizer before he kills you. This is good survival mechanism but it is terrible for love. However, there is a way around it. We should create a safe environment where criticism is seen an opportunity to be loved.

There is good biological reason why men/women are not thinking when they are having sex. It used to be life changing/threatening experience. There was no protection so sex could result in a child which a man had to provide for and for women, they had a very high chance of dying while giving birth. Logically, if you think, you could not justify a few minutes of pleasure with these risks.

Power is about control over one's life. Pay is a paradox. To get the pay so that you can do things you like, you are giving up control over your time.

Fathers sacrifice their passion for their kids. A lot of men are not doing things they are passionate about because those things may not pay enough money to provide for the kids.

[I think mothers are making the same sacrifices]

The more fulfilling a job is the less it pays because more people want to do it. Teaching job is a good example.

All women are in a beauty contest all the time. And, all men are in competition with other men all the time.

Societies survive because of social pressures. For example, men are made heroes when they go to fight a war and if they don't go to the war they are made cowards. Hence, becoming more or less attractive to women based on the choices men make.

When the man is vulnerable, the woman usually pushes him away to alcohol or to more work which he knows will pay and that pay will be appreciated.

Women feel social pressure to show more skin because they see that it gets attention from men and if other women are showing skin then they won't get any attention.

Men and women in relationship should build routines/rituals because they are very powerful in reinforcing affection.

Kids without routine feel insecure.

One should find ways to give one's partner a feeling of security.

Before criticizing, think about what you want.

Couples should follow the DMA (Distort, Miss, Add) technique during arguments. Listen without interruption and then ask your partner:
  • Did I Distort anything?
  • Did I Miss anything?
  • Anything you want me to Add?
Anger is the vulnerability's mask. You only get angry with the person you care about.

Appreciation is the discipline you need to sustain the chemistry of love.

People don't like to be taken for granted. One should seek novelty with the partner because novelty creates attachment.

Men are weak on coming up with new compliments. They should think about new and very specific compliments everyday. There is nothing too small to be appreciated.

Couples should creates space related memories in the house. For example, leave a thank you/appreciation note inside the refrigerator on a juice bottle if your wife bought and served your favorite juice one day. After that every time she opens the refrigerator, she will think about you.

Forgiveness is a statement that the other person is wrong and you are being generous. Partners should be understanding and not forgiving.

There is no such thing as unconditional love. With time, love becomes more and more conditional.

The poorer the society, the more marriages stay together because there are fewer options.

The beginnings of all processes of human change are artificial.

What do you think?