Stickman Readers' Submissions July 19th, 2014

Love, a Western Myth?

Ishiro's recent poetic essay about what it means to love, reminds me of some concepts I have been working on over the years.

In my own experiences and failures at love, I have grown a lot and certainly developed a set of nuanced ideas about the fairer sex. Indeed the subject of relations between the genders, intimacy, and coupling prove an endless source of fascination.

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Carl Jung's theories on archetypes of the unconscious psyche come to mind. He posited that within each of us we have a masculine (for women) and feminine (for men) inner personality. Tumultuous romantic experiences in life might belie an inner conflict with one's 'anima' or 'animus' (as Jung called them).

I need to do more research but as I understand it, ancient civilizations may have looked upon romantic love as a state of mental distress. This makes sense to me. As an anecdote some my darkest hours have occurred during times of loss of emotional control due to intense romance.

The Greeks (allegedly, I don't read ancient Greek so this is hearsay) surmised that romantic love effected people because at one time, eons ago, men and women were not separated but rather a fused, hermaphroditic organism (biological science supports this evolutionary history). One fell in love because one longed for this time or yore, before distance, before conflict, before separation.

I think a bit of infantile behavior accompanies intense romance. The kissing, the cooing, the soft caresses. All not much unlike the relationship between a mother and her toddler, no? Mothers of various species train a baby to wean onto coarser fare by initially masticating a bite then passing it on to their brood. That kind of reminds me of French kissing, an activity I enjoy but nevertheless still scrutinize.

At times in my relationships I have felt more like a boy than man. A needy wreck, almost castrated by my dependence on the subject of my desires. And I did wonder 'could this indicate some mommy issues?' After all my upbringing and family life was far from stable, and I might just suffer from residual separation anxiety.

I believe it's worth consideration that romance might happen as a sort of socio-cultural neurolonguistic program, rather than an inherent, biological mechanism. In many cultures throughout history, romantic love was just not a thing.

Romance as we define it in the English language (some languages simply have no equivalent) really gained footing in medieval Europe, and had much to do with longing for what one could not obtain. The knight who longed for the princess who was already betrothed to another, for instance. It started with courtly love.

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In the East, romance and kissing as an act itself can seem foreign to the natives. Such cultural divides likely contribute to misunderstandings and conflicts between Western men and Thai women, the latter of which do not tend to base a long term partnership on some ethereal, esoteric concept of love but more practical matters such as finances.

Sure, romance can add passion to sex. But it can also add an air of juvenile drama. As of late I have taken my previously 'vanilla' bed manner in a more 'chocolate' direction, and forgive me if I divulge too much but I believe it pertains to this discussion. For generous, caring romantic sex I believe does not always turn women on and sustain their interest.

The frequency at which women sexually fantasize about ravishment calls the whole concept of romance into question for me. Surely kinky sex and light (or heavy) bondage would not qualify as 'romantic' to most people, men or women.

But most 'romance' novels (also called 'bodice rippers') include quasi-violent scenes where the woman says 'no' but the man insists anyway due to his heated state. And romance continues to sell better overall (to a mostly female demographic) than any other fiction genre. This is exemplified by the best seller '50 Shades of Grey' where a dominant man grooms a young woman for reluctant sexual slavery.

Personally, slapping my girlfriend a little, pulling her hair and spanking her all seems more mature and adult than pawing at one another like a couple of teenagers. But then again, when she says 'I've been a bad girl, daddy' that kind of refutes my entire point.

I guess if I were to lighten my view for PG-13 audiences I would simply say that role play is an absolute necessity for a healthy, sustained sexual relationship. Who wants to live on gruel for the rest of their life? Monks and nuns, not the rest of us. If a couple can't keep things spicy, they will likely stray and cheat.

No, I don't think there's a whole lot 'sexy' about consent. Does that make me a rapist? Will the Gestapo come for me if I put forth the hypothesis that perhaps, just perhaps, some grey area exists around the fine line between consensual and non-consensual fornication?

Women do not want to be asked permission by a man. They don't want a man to ask them 'can I kiss you'. I believe that across the board, a man who says to her 'I want to kiss you', then proceeds to do so will get a woman more turned on. They want a man to take action, because audacious bravery piques their interest more than caution.

Recent research has cast doubt on the view that women 'have sex to get love'. The journalist Daniel Bergener wrote a book about this titled 'What Do Women Want?' and he alleges that female sexuality is base, animalistic and ravenous, accusations traditionally saved for male drive.

Female anatomy seems to corroborate such a theory, as women possess the capacity for many more multiples of orgasms than men. And women, when ovulating most especially, can certainly entertain more different partners than men.

As a perplexing paradox of the female gender, I believe women possess not only a higher sex drive but a better ability to stifle their desires. Women can go without sex without much discomfort, save perhaps for some neurotic impulses due to repression. Men however can begin to suffer anatomical health problems due to lack of orgasm, such as prostrate issues.

Now in my 30's I wish I would have just skipped the whole romance thing altogether. I believe women prefer a coarse, dominant male to an understanding, emotional one. A few days ago I was at work and a colleague mentioned he had to go pick up his girlfriend at the airport.

'I need to leave early so I can shower and clean up,' he said (we work outside, in the sun).

'Ladies don't like that,' I said, 'they don't like a man to preen himself but rather prefer a guy who doesn't apply products and doesn't care what women think of him.'

But I was wrong in making such a statement. Because a woman does prefer a sensitive man who makes an effort to please her. It's just that she prefers such a guy for commitment, not for sex.

The word 'metrosexual' came to mind. Straight guys who groom with meticulous precision. Such is what Thai ladies absolutely demand from their dates. So much importance in Thai (as well as other Asian and Latin cultures) gets placed on physical appearance and neatness. Thai ladies don't want a gruff barbarian with hair on his chest.

But maybe, just maybe such women also suffer from inhibition. After all, post-marriage sex tends to die down. Perhaps when a woman wants a neat, mild-mannered, agreeable guy, she wants him as a long term provider, not a passionate sexual partner.

Though it's not a paradox solely native to females alone, I do believe they want to have their cake and eat it too. The good partner for a long term relationship is not necessarily the good partner for a feverish, sweaty tumble in the hay.

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