The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Truth …
And What To Do About It
“The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”
– Sigmund Freud
While Freud was venting his frustration about what a woman wants, Mrs. Freud was in the kitchen lamenting with her friends about how to get Sigmund to quit smoking cigars, play with the children more and occasionally take her out for a romantic dinner.
What Freud was not able to grasp is this:
Women want an “us”
The reason Freud missed the boat is because, at the time he was writing, women were not considered equals, so any sense of an “us” that he might have been able to form would have been conceived as more of a hierarchy than a partnership. Mrs. Freud, like other women of her era, was not encouraged to speak the truth about what she was thinking/feeling. That truth speaking that society once discouraged is now being touted in every self-help book and therapist’s office across the land.
The more open, honest and caring you are with your partner, the more effective you’ll be in creating an “us.”
A man eventually does come to learn that the more he relates to and interacts with a woman, the more she is going to like him. Then he realizes that the more she likes him, the better off he – and they – will be.
Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2005 underscores this in a nuts-and-bolts element of relationships – arguing. Couples who used the words “you” and “me” while arguing tended to have more negative outcomes, while couples that used “we” and “us” had more positive results and a higher level of relatedness.
Men, if you want to be a better lover in mind, body and spirit.
If you want a woman to take good care of you.
If you want some peace of mind and an occasional decent Saturday night.
Then you are going to have to learn to:
Speak your truth in a caring inclusive manner
Share power, control and decision making
Be an “us”
Give her what she wants while not doing anything that you truly do not want to do
Learn that loving her means loving you and that giving to her means giving to you, too
These are things you can learn. They are skills and mindsets. You should have learned them in school, but they were busy teaching you things you have long forgotten.
The reason you can learn these skills is simple:
Men are Trainable
I mentioned previously that we men are in some ways just like dogs. And like our canine friends, if we are fed well, given regular sex and treated decently, we’ll willingly do almost anything.
OK, I know I called you a dog. And I know I started the book suggesting that women can train you. Let’s be real here: You may be able to motivate yourself to eat less or go to the gym more, but it’s harder to motivate yourself to work on your relationship with a woman, even though there is plenty of room for improvement. You also know that if there is work to be done to improve things, you are the one who is going to have to do it. Sure, it would be great if she would just change her ways, but I don’t have to tell you what you already know: She is not going to change.
The good news is that you can do it. You can make the necessary changes, learn the basic skills and actually improve your relationship.
But you have to learn the skills. In one sense, your relationship is a job, and as with any job, to get a promotion, you’re going to have to learn to do it better.
As you read along, agreeing or disagreeing with me, try to get into the material as best you can and make of it what you will. See what gets evoked for you and what you think/feel. Of course, I would like it if you agreed with me, but what I really want is for you to interact with the book.
You don’t have to do anything else. You don’t even have to do that. However, research indicates that people get more out of life when they take the time and energy to focus on how their life is proceeding. If you did it all the time, it would drive you insane. But if you do it more often than you currently do, you’ll be able to shape your life to make it more rewarding and fulfilling.
It all boils down to this: If you want to be a better lover you will have to:
Learn new styles of communicating
Learn new ways of speaking
Learn new ways of listening
Learn new ways of thinking
Learn new ways of doing
Learn new ways of being
It will be:
All of the above plus, occasionally, a major annoyance
Yet, the more you open yourself up to being a better lover, the better one you will be.
Ugly Reminder - While you are busy becoming a better lover, you will have to continuously deal with the nasty fact that she is not going to change.
Yes, as I said previously, women put more time, energy and money into self-improvement. They go to therapists, buy self-help books, attend workshops and endeavor to improve their lives and their men’s way more than men do. I am sure that on those occasions when you are honest with yourself, you know that you are a better man because of her. And if you are really honest, you also know that you could be an even better man. If the relationship and you are going to upgrade, you are going to have to be the one to take things to the next level. You are going to do the work, learn the skills and walk the walk.
Let’s cut to the chase: Like it or not, there are some things you are going to have to do that you really don’t want to do to. She can tell you or I can tell you. You aren’t going to like it any better from me, but at least I’m not going to cut you off if you don’t listen. And as I mentioned previously, if you really don’t want to do something, don’t do it. But sometimes you need to get off your butt and exercise even though you don’t want to because you know it is best for you.
You are welcome to complain about why you have to be the one to make the changes. But be honest: The only reason to make the effort to make the changes is to make life better.
Not for her. But for you.
Before we go any further, I want to challenge you to think in a new way. I just wrote that if you make things better for her, she will make them better for you. While this may be true, it is not the whole story.
Any time you do something for another person in hopes of getting something in return, you are playing a losing hand. Unfortunately, most people raised in Western culture think this way. There is even an old Latin phrase that describes it - Quid pro quo: I do this and in return, you do that.
The problem with doing something for another in the hope of getting something in return is that you are not doing what you want. You are doing what you think will earn you a reward. You want the reward, but what you are doing for it is not coming from your heart.
We all do this all the time. You are nice to your boss so that, hopefully, you’ll get a raise. You compliment someone, hoping that they will be nice to you. You invite someone to join you for dinner in the hope that there will be a return invitation.
Most of the time these exchanges work out. When they don’t, people say, “The hell with them” and stop “giving” to the other person.
The reason these exchanges are not healthy is that they come wrapped in expectation. If you lend someone twenty bucks when they are short, you expect they will return the favor when you are in need. Usually they do, but when they don’t, you think they are cheap and resent them.
When you were lending them the money and they were thankful, you neglected to spell out the terms of the deal. Had you said “By the way, when I am short I expect you to help me out,” they might not have taken the money. But no one says that. It is implied in the giving. Sort of an “Ill scratch your back if you scratch mine” arrangement.
The reason it is implied is that we live in a barter nation. Consumerism is the backbone of our culture. We have been raised on buying and selling to the point that not only do we approach the purchasing of products as consumers, but we also approach one another in the same way: I give you this and you give me that.
While this kind of exchange happens all the time and is a recognized and accepted way of behavior, it does not work so well in romantic relationships. People do not want to think that just because you did this thing for them, they need to do that for you.
When I was in high school, guys used to think that if they took a girl to Disneyland, she owed them sex. How much sex was not exactly clear, but guys thought that if they spent a lot of money on a woman, she owed you. Women, however, did not take to this unspoken rule, and a lot of guys would get upset and resentful if they did not score some action after doling out their allowance.
This is not love. This is bargaining. This is sexual commerce, a form of commerce that many couples engage in with less than rewarding results. While bargaining may serve you in some ways in the world, it will not serve you in your romantic relationship.
I think you will see as you go through the book all sorts of ways you do things in the hope of getting a return on your investment. I think you will also see that the returns you are getting are not really what you want. Hopefully, by the time you finish the book, you will have discovered better ways to interact. These ways will come from your heart. The more you can get your heart involved in your exchanges, the more you will see your returns improving. Not because you are aiming for that, but because love begets love.
If you are able to elevate your skills and minimize your bargaining and also come from your heart, you will probably want her to applaud your accomplishments and reward you in some way. Which, of course, is just more of the same.
Truthfully, you are most likely going to want some recognition and appreciation for all that you are doing.
And you will get some.
Not as much as you want.
If you want more than you are getting, you can give it to yourself because she is not going to dole it out in the amounts you want. No one ever does. It won’t feel as good to have to sing your own praises, but if you don’t pump up yourself who will?
You can argue, moan, lament and whine about her (and everyone else) not giving you your due. It is a universal reaction. Go ahead, get it out of your system.
But when you’ve finished, you still are going to be the one who has to make it happen. The sooner you stop expecting the world to recognize how wonderful you are, the sooner you will be able to provide that recognition for yourself. If you want to be loved more for who you are and the things you do, begin that journey in your own back yard.
The next time you want some appreciation, instead of moping around and grumbling, try this simple technique. Go up to her and tell her what you did and that you would like some appreciation for it. Of course, this will not be as great as when she spontaneously gives it, but it will be better than not getting it.
I know you are loathe to ask for what you want, but if you don’t start asking in a respectful and caring way for what you want, how are you going to get it? And, yes, it would be wonderful if she just gave it, but while you are waiting for that to happen, why not take a step forward and ask for what you want?
And, here is the most important part: Thank her for what she says regardless of how unexciting it is. There are lots of reasons why her appreciation is not going to provide you what you really want, but for right now, try this exercise and see if you can ask for what you want and be thankful for what you get.
As we go through the book we will modify this and understand it more thoroughly, but right now, let’s focus on Asking For What You Want 101.