Sunday, August 09, 2009

"He doesn't value me": Students sometimes mistake professors for therapists. A woman broke down after class the other day, telling me all her marital troubles. She told me that her husband of seven or eight years didn't value her.

This brought to mind my recent post suggesting that women are the more boring sex. I'm surprised no one commented that men are the more interesting sex to men. The way I see it, one big sex difference that poses a big challenge to relationships is that men find women to be absolutely fascinating sexually. But if a woman lacks sexual attraction, I suspect most men don't give the typical woman two thoughts.

I have always disliked this quality in myself, but I don't seem to be able to avoid psychologically placing a lower value on a woman if she is unattractive. Now, if she happens to be really funny or charming, that changes, but interesting personalities just seem much more common in men.

And much of the problem is what people like to talk about, too. More often, men are fascinated with politics or sports or some hobby that involves speed, danger, and/or violence. Now, I could talk to Judith Harris Rich about kids all day long, but most women are not analytical about kids and family.

So back to my sobbing student--I suspect her husband thought she was fascinating when his mind was on having sex with her. Now that sex has gotten old, all he hears is blah, blah, blah when she starts talking about having a family, and his mind wanders to his Harley in the garage and how it needs a good polish.

Now, I imagine that you folks know all this stuff, but what is important here is, how do we resolve the problem? My answer is, acknowledge human biodiversity. Something our culture simply does not do well.

To you wives, as Tennessee Williams wrote, men were built to love and to hunt. Not to worship your soul. Don't put men at the center of how you feel about yourself. They love you, they want to be good husbands, but there are biological limits. Lower your expectations. That phrase is a wise one in many areas of life, but it sounds so un-American or something.

17 comments:

Mark said...

"I have always disliked this quality in myself, but I don't seem to be able to avoid psychologically placing a lower value on a woman if she is unattractive."

This is a tangential point, but be grateful you're not gay. Gay men do the same thing: we put less value on men whom we don't find attractive. If you think about it, it's a big problem, as it obstructs the formation of what could otherwise be very fulfilling friendships, and men - gay or straight - NEED friendships with other men to by psychologically healthy. And even if a gay man does find a good number of guys he finds physically appealing to populate his circle of friends, being friends with someone you'd like to sleep with opens up a whole other can of worms.

Jason said...

"...it sounds so un-American or something."

Maybe even a little cold.

Mr. F. Le Mur said...

Why Women Aren't Funny - Christopher Hitchens

FeministX said...

I am interesting to talk to, but I don't often meet a man that has any use for that. About half of my boyfriends were interested in me for physical and sexual reasons. They didn't mind my personality. They found things to like about my personality. But I don't think they realized that I could have been a completely different person with completely different interests and they would have liked me about the same. Men are interested in how women look and how women treat them, not who the woman is.

Even if you are a fascinating conversationalist and have a riotous sense of humor, men will still judge you based on looks and sex appeal. Believe me, I would know.

Jokah Macpherson said...

I don't understand what the problem is with being valued sexually versus valued for your personality. It's not like you "choose" your personality any more than you "choose" your appearance. Were it possible, I would gladly trade away conversational skills, personal interests, hobbies, and intellecual views to be valued more for my rugged masculine aura.

Inductivist, I think your closing thought is wise advice for any marriage or long-term relationship.

ironrailsironweights said...

Regarding the comment about how women aren't funny, I've heard - though of course without personal experience - that women can be quite funny when in all-women groups, but generally not when there are men around.

Peter

Clamence said...

"Men are interested in how women look and how women treat them, not who the woman is."

Right, and women are interested in who the man is, not what resources he provides and how he treats them.

"I am interesting to talk to, but I don't often meet a man that has any use for that."

Says who, a select group of your friends? What's more likely, the large majority of men don't care that you're interesting, or the large majority of men don't find you interesting?

"Even if you are a fascinating conversationalist and have a riotous sense of humor, men will still judge you based on looks and sex appeal."

Even if you are a great conversationalist and have a fantastic sense of humor, women will still judge you based on looks and money.

Anonymous said...

Honesty is always appreciated. We all end up indulging the beautific more than the mundane. Its just how we are hardwired.



Harleys are beautific. : )

Anonymous said...

To Mark, who said, "if a gay man does find a good number of guys he finds physically appealing to populate his circle of friends, being friends with someone you'd like to sleeop with opens up a whole other can of worms."

As a straight person, I have to ask: does it complicate a gay man's life to sleep with "friends"? When straights who are friends sleep together, the friendship and even the sleeping together are not likely to last.

Shara said...

I have to tell you, Ron, that a physically attractive guy is immediately interesting to women.

Furthermore, I think that we are much more likely to think he remains interesting (even if he isn't) longer than we think the not-so attractive guy is (if we ever thought he was at all.)

I will say, though, that women are generally more interested in people and their behavior than are men so there is validity in what you say.

Anonymous said...

How exactly would one know that one is "a fascinating conversationalist" with "a riotous sense of humor?"

I don't recall ever having met anyone -- male or female -- who claimed to be an interesting and witty and subsequently proved to be so. More typically, it is a case of "the lady doth protest too much."

silly girl said...

Doesn't this chick realize that if he liked chatting with women, he would be talking to more of them? Who knows where that could lead. I wouldn't want the headache of trying to figure out which of the women my spouse is talking to are just "intellectually" interesting. I am just glad he isn't talking to them.

You know your life is damned good, when you are inventing crap like this to whine about. I like boring. Boring means nothing bad is happening. Back when I was a teen, my mom told me about marriage, "If you want entertainment, go to the movies."

Anonymous said...

feministx said:
I am interesting to talk to, but I don't often meet a man that has any use for that. About half of my boyfriends were interested in me for physical and sexual reasons.
----
well, on one of your recent posts you said you prefer alphas (who i guess can get you to do all sorts of wild stuff in bed?) to betas, but that you're pretty nice to betas. as a total beta i thank you for tolerating my kind - a lot of women aren't.

judging by my beta friends we all care a lot more about women being interesting to talk to than the alphas. i don't expect that to change anything (ie the romantic success of betas), i'm just saying ... something to consider.

Mark said...

"As a straight person, I have to ask: does it complicate a gay man's life to sleep with "friends"?"

Well it varies from person to person of course, but I think the overall pattern is that the minority of gay men who are very masculine are more able to have long-term "fuckbuddies," probably because the male psyche is better at divorcing sex from emotion. The majority of gay guys don't mix friendship with sex as well.

One arrangement that's popular is someone who is JUST a fuckbuddy - i.e., you find him attractive and have repeated sex with him but aren't really friends. These don't seem to last, though; sooner or later one of the guys loses interest.

FeministX said...

"What's more likely, the large majority of men don't care that you're interesting, or the large majority of men don't find you interesting?"

What's on the MAXIM top 100 list? A bunch of interesting women? How many guys stop to wonder, "Is Adriana Lima an interesting person" before jerking off to her?

"Even if you are a great conversationalist and have a fantastic sense of humor, women will still judge you based on looks and money."

Learn some game, dude.

"I don't recall ever having met anyone -- male or female -- who claimed to be an interesting and witty and subsequently proved to be so. More typically, it is a case of "the lady doth protest too much.""

Well, there you go. You've finally found the exception that proves the rule. Your maxim is in good standing now.

"judging by my beta friends we all care a lot more about women being interesting to talk to than the alphas. "

It's likely. And if they don't care, at least they notice.

Anonymous said...

"Well, there you go. You've finally found the exception that proves the rule."

Based on your comments so far, I think we're all still waiting.

Clamence said...

"What's on the MAXIM top 100 list? A bunch of interesting women? How many guys stop to wonder, "Is Adriana Lima an interesting person" before jerking off to her?"

Yeah and the guys in playgirl are fascinating too.

I was trying to imply you consistently behave in a way that results in most men not finding you interesting. Vast generalizations about the mindset of another sex, like "men do not care who the woman is" may or may not be a way to do this, you decide.

How "interesting" the women in erotic images/films are is subjective and irrelevant, same for 'womens erotica'. For the record, I always imagine Adriana Lima with a Dual PhD in Linguists and Economics when I touch myself.

"Learn some game, dude."

So, I learn some game, and what happens then? The impressions/judgments women made within seconds based on attractiveness, skin quality (and other health indicators), clothes, grooming etc. are magically washed away, like a confessional?

Some women will receive attention from men who want nothing more than to sleep with them, some men will receive attention from women who want nothing more than their resources.

Most people are not interesting to talk with, attractive women (and men) are no exception. They don't even need to be interesting to have people pay attention to them, or feign interest.

Both are terrible tragedies, someone should write the APA and tell them of the plight of attractive girls.