For Women Only
It’s time to share a little love-life secret with all my female readers (and I’m going to assume a lot of you already know this). My old friend Ben, whom I believe understood love better than most, used to say to me, in this world women ‘sensitize’ men in a love relationship.
To ‘sensitize’ means, a man in love with a woman can develop certain sensitivities about giving and receiving love from being in love with her. Women often get a head start on being able to identify and verbalize the ‘feelings’ that occur in love and need to help their men catch up.
When a man can keep an open mind about ‘learning’ something about love from the person he is in love with, everyone benefits. (Of course, men have a few things to teach women about love but that’s for another post.) Because the world expects men to be ‘hard’ and in control, they don’t get a lot of practice with the ‘soft stuff.’ Being able to work with the soft stuff, however, is precisely what’s needed when you’re in a love relationship.
Now this is not saying anything bad about men (being a member of that group myself). Like I said, this kind of thing is designed to make a man a better lover and person all the way around. A love relationship has always been a great place within which to learn things that make us better people. We only need to know that it is possible and be open to the experience.
I think women should understand this particular need enough to get the job done during the course of the relationship. Of course there are obvious pitfalls to avoid and this post will address some of the most important ones.
For instance, you have to expect a little resistance. People usually don’t change unless they have to. So the best times for this kind of learning will take place when there is conflict, disagreement, differences of opinion, and hurt feelings. This is the time when people realize that changes may be needed in the way they are relating in love.
Next is the issue of personality or character. How ‘defensive’ a man gets when feelings are on the table depends upon his personality or character. Men are all different. Having feelings, identifying feelings, and talking about feelings are experiences that each man will do differently according to his particular personality. You’ll need to keep that in mind in order to keep your expectations realistic and attainable. Unrealistic expectations will surely interfere with what’s possible.
Don’t start sounding like a ‘parent’ or ‘teacher.’ You have to be a lot more subtle than that. If you go in that direction, resistance and defensiveness increase and the whole thing will get stuck. Stay on equal footing with your man while introducing him to feelings as they come up in you, and him. For example, sometimes he’ll feel things he can’t easily verbalize, but you know he’s feeling them because you feel them too. With care and patience, help him put them into words.
Most men have an ‘ego.’ It’s what they had to develop in order to meet the challenge of having to be in control. If you accept this about him, you’ll know when to approach and back off when he’s hurt and having difficulty letting go. Your love for him will guide you the best.
I’ve been using the word ‘feelings’ to describe the ‘sensitivity’ I’m talking about. To fill it out a little for you, feelings include not only emotions, but the experience of vulnerability when a person is not in control, and what we naturally communicate to each other. To be in love you have to tolerate a degree of vulnerability. You have get out from under your defensiveness and risk being open.
When you love someone you feel what he or she feels sympathetically. Mother Nature will see to that. Learning how to talk about and directly communicate your personal feelings, while feeling and understanding the feelings of another, strengthens the ability to give and receive love. Ultimately, we all meet at the same place regardless of gender.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan