Tag Archive | "love"

What Women Want

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Late in the day yesterday, I ran to a nearby location of a major drugstore chain to pick up two items.  Yesterday, by the way, was Valentine’s Day, 2011.  With my items in hand, I headed toward the cash registers only to pull up short at the greeting card section.

There, men from college age to upper middle age jockeyed for position like pedestrians on New York City’s midtown streets.  At the eleventh hour, these dudes were all hoping to find the perfect card for their sweeties or wives.  The devil made me cast my eye down the aisle, where hundreds of pink and red heart-shaped candy boxes had stood just last week.  That aisle had been picked clean, as if army ants had marched over it.  Instinctively, I hurled, “You guys are all clueless!” at the card jockeys, who ignored me and continued to paw frantically at the greeting cards as if the secrets of life lay within them.

On Valentine’s Day, and on any day of the year, this is not what women want.  The last thing we want is to be relegated to a drugstore card and a total lack of creativity in wooing us.

What then, do women want?

In the film, What Women Want, starring Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson, uber macho Mel’s character is suddenly gifted with the ability to hear women’s thoughts.  This, he sees as a vile curse until a savvy shrink, played by Bette Midler, explains to him that he has won the emotional lottery, and why.  With the ability to hear how women think, Mel’s character gains a genuine understanding of what makes women tick.  Thus, he enters — and cherishes — his first adult relationship with Ms. Hunt’s character.

So … what is it that women want?

First and foremost, like the women in the movie, we want to be respected.  Men, please read that line again, for it’s the not only the truth, it’s the bottom line.

We may tell you that we want to be loved.  And in fact, all normal people, men and women, do wish to be loved by a significant other.  But love without respect is hollow and even dangerous.  Love cannot begin to sprout until we know that we are respected, that our feelings count and are taken into consideration.  Like the women in the movie, we want to be heard — even though we may not feed you guys information directly.

For instance, if we walk around the house muttering, “I need to get the latest Neil Young album, the one he cut with Daniel Lanois, and Robert Plant’s newest outing, too,” we expect you to listen — even though the bills are due and there’s no spare change for Neil, Daniel, or Robert.   We expect you to absorb this information so that, when … oh, say, Valentine’s Day … rolls around, we aren’t presented with compilations of artists whose work we already possess, or a lame box of heart-shaped candy.  We want to tear off the wrapping paper and see Neil, Danny, and Robert.

And if you’re thinking that Neil, Danny, and Robert don’t make very romantic presents, think again.  A present like this means that you have heard us; it means you have honored and granted our wishes.

Sometimes, we don’t want traditional gifts. Sometimes the best present of all is the gift of time.  And the essence of romance, in case you were one of those men elbowing each other out yesterday at the card display, is not hearts and flowers or even dinner out at a fine dining establishment.  The essence of romance is doing something unexpected for your lady, something that will quietly or perhaps not so quietly thrill her.

Under this category falls:

1. Taking your woman to see a “chick flick” that is so not your bag.  Sitting there, actually watching the film, and not grousing about it.

2. Giving her a pedicure (yes, a pedicure), just after you hand her a cup of her favorite tea, unasked.

3. Going for a ride on a sunny day in an area largely untouched by man, when your idea of a grand ole time is to bat around a bucket of golf balls on the range.  Packing a picnic for her, as an added surprise.  Oh, for heaven’s sake … call the local deli and have them do it, and then just go pick it up!

4. Cooking dinner, serving her, cleaning up, and doing it all with a smile

5. Telling her, “Yes, my mother is completely insane.  I must have been left on the doorstep by elves,” when your woman rails yet again about some slight you know was intended, delivered by your dear old mom … because you know your dear old mom!

6. Reliving a childhood memory for her and with her; i.e., visiting the zoo where her daddy used to take her to when she was little, flying a kite by the water, or dressing up for Halloween, even though you both may be staring retirement age (whatever that is, now) squarely in the face.  

All of these things, and so many more, spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   To quote the wise lyrics belted out and immortalized by Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”

Hey, respect does not mean cussing me out for airing this article the day after Valentine’s Day!  Print it out, keep it close at hand, and refer back to it when necessary.  Yeah, I know, that paper is going to be as wrinkled as your great Aunt Teresa’s face.  Don’t worry about it; it’s only paper … it’s not a human heart.   Paper is made to spindle, fold, and manipulate; human hearts are not.  Refer back to this advice, and you can make many days during the year unofficial Valentine’s Days for your lady — who will, in turn, shower you with lots of love and respect. 

Rules of Attraction: Infatuation or Love?

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Dating is the process by which one person gets to know another better.  It begins with physical attraction, for if the parties are not attracted to each other, what is the point of dating?   Because it is often hard to hard to judge a book by its cover, and because even the prettiest and most handsome looks fade, it is imperative to take the time to look beyond a person’s appearance if one wishes to forge a happy, long-term relationship.  A healthy sexual relationship is wonderful, but if it is the sole glue holding you together, that bond will crumble sooner or later.

A critical factor in any relationship is the treatment that you receive from the other party.  Do you communicate well?  Do you talk about meaningful issues?  Does he genuinely respect you?  Does she view your aspirations and opinions as valid?  Do you judge each other based upon peripherals, or are you able to grasp a deeper view of each other?

For instance, many men seem to enjoy expensive cars, and many women are drawn to such men.  If we discard the theories about what cars are supposed to be extensions of, a woman is apt to assume that any man who can afford a pricey vehicle has a large disposable income and so, will treat her generously when dating.  Some people, however, live beyond their means just to impress others.  On the other hand, there are guys who prefer well-used vehicles because they simply like the cars, they prefer to spend their money on more important things, or wish to save for future needs.  Just because they drive an older car, it does not necessarily mean that they are strapped for cash.

It’s exciting to fly away to an exotic locale for fun, expensive weekend dates.  But unless your love interest was born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, this is not going to be the norm over the course of your relationship.  Simpler pursuits can provide you with genuine quality time together: the time that you need to get to know each other and understand if you are truly compatible.  In keeping it real, you can take turns cooking dinner for each other, munching popcorn while enjoying a rented movie, going fishing, or taking long walks together.

After spending a little quality time together, it will become apparent as to whether or not you are forging a true connection.  And it won’t take long, if you’re honest with yourself.  Infatuation can be fleeting; what remains beneath and beyond a person’s gift-wrapping is what is real.  Before you take marriage vows with that person, he or she will demonstrate the very sentiments in those vows.  Your partner will stand by you and support you when you most need it, through the loss of your job, illness, or any other hurdle placed in your path.  Remember how, as a kid, you hated to eat sandwiches unless your mom had cut off the crusts on the bread?  Well, people are like sandwiches.  To know someone properly, we have to look beyond the exterior to see what is inside.

A beautiful description of true love can be found in the words of St. Augustine, further embellished in the 2001 film, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Starring Nicholas Cage, Penelope Cruz, John Hurt, and Christian Bale, the film takes place in Europe during World War II.  In the tale, a fisherman leaves his home to fight with the Greek army while his fiancé, who is left behind, begins to fall in love with a local Italian commander:

“Love is a temporary madness.  It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.  Because this is what love is.  Love is not breathlessness.  It is not excitement; it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.  This is just “being in love,” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.  Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.  Your mother and I had it.  We had our roots that grew toward each other underground.  And when all of the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches, we found that we were one tree and not two.”

To cultivate the growth of such a beautiful tree, don’t try so hard.  Don’t force love, for real love refuses to be forced.  Keep your heart open to the one who will hold you when you cry, laugh at your bad jokes, and slay your dragons, the one who will allow, without reservation, you the “me time” that you need now and then, the one who trusts you, the one that you trust above every other soul on Earth.  This is the person with whom you’ll want to spend the rest of your life.  Forget the fantasies and fairy tales of love that you may have pursued.  Just love and be loved.  Therein lies your true happiness.

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