Did you hear the one about the relationship columnist who ruined his own relationship? Oh, trust me – it’s a doozy.
Somewhere along the line, it’s important to realize that you and your lady are matched because you complement each other’s traits well. The two of you are not the same. You (hopefully) share values, ideas and plans. But many times, sharing friends is another thing entirely. Men and women both look to bond with their genders for different reasons. I’m going to delve DEEP into the world of gender-based stereotypes, so bear with…
As I see it, women bond to do one of a few things:
a) Collect and/or horde items. Many of us call this shopping, but sometimes it comes in the form of its cousin: “window shopping.” Fair enough. I look at it as practicing the vital nesting skill that is typically linked to creating a comfortable home environment.
b) Compete with other women for the attention of men in a collective social setting while under the influence. I call this one “clubbing,” as in, we should go back to the Neanderthal days and skip the two-drink-minimum-small-talk in favor of a thud over the head and drag through the door.
c) Communicate about their life’s goals, fears, dreams, relationships, family values, and trifling-ass men.
Conversely, men bond to do almost the same things that women do, but in different forms:
a) To collect items. We usually collect tools, toys and gadget made for selfish amusement. Furniture may extend the limits of our “eye for design,” but when you go into four out of five single guys’ cribs you’ll often see the same black/brown/white leather couch and a version of the same “entertainment center” to house his DVDs, video games and remote controls.
b) To compete with other men for the attention of women. Our competition often involves the display of aforementioned toys in a collective social setting, or The Modern Day Clubbing that we employ when we buy drink after drink after drink for said women’s UNDIVIDED attention.
c) To compete by way of sportive activity on a field, court, or brown/black/white leather couch over video games.
I bring up these bonding activities as a point of diversity. Although we rarely share in them across sexes, they quite resemble each other. The chemistry of mixing them will never work. If I go out to shop with you and your friends, ultimately I’ll be choosing between the yellow blouse (that’s sooooo cute but out of season) or that blue skirt (that would look great on your friend but not you; you two deliberate on that…it’s fine…I’ll wait). Or, I’ll be subjecting myself to a lot of “woooooo girl you know that’s my song” if I take the clubbing trip, wondering if I met you and saw this same behavior as absolutely desirable at a point. And, yes, I did. I could, in theory, be a passive observer in the group-think session women do, but I would either be the what’s-the-male-perspective on an issue I care little about or the defend-every-man’s-crude-ways person. Pass.
The same goes for my girlfriend in my settings. First off, she’s got to be able to withstand the (ahem) human fumigation that goes on when I hang out with a group of close friends. Assuming her lungs are strong, she still may not be able to withstand the arguments over Madden or NBA Live. To a woman, I imagine this must look like a bunch of screaming apes beating their chests and throwing their shit around. If we’re at the basketball court, I scarcely expect her to understand or tolerate why my one homey will show the extent of his bitchassness by arguing over foul calls, which delays the game about 25 minutes on average and looks almost identical to the Madden/NBA Live argument. As people, we understand some of the nature of the opposite sex but it goes further than our natural sense of empathy. So if you want to understand your partner as an individual and thrive with her as such, do not observe her behaviors in a group. That’s social science at work. It has less to do with who she is as a person than who she becomes when it makes sense to bond. The important thing is that you each have time to do those things, whether it be blouse comparisons or chest-beating. Combine them at your own risk.
Think of men as comparable to these guys: