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17 February 2008

Mating Growl, 3 of 6

"No man is capable of self-improvement if he sees no other model but himself. "
- Conrado I. Generoso

In my early 20's when my familiarity to harley and bops barley and hops was, shall we say, common, my friends I learned an important social lesson. I bet you did too. There was always one guy (or gal) in the crowd who defended their excessive drinking with the refrain: "but drinking amplifies my personality!". We learned of course that their theory was correct for both gregarious, fun people....and assholes. And nobody likes an asshole to start with, much like one who is, uh, amplified and who has beer farts.


Astute and attentive D3 readers know that my dislike for arrogance is well documented. When we become too busy congratulating ourselves, we leave no room for perspective, service or improvement. Men that fall into that category are the least likely to recognize that there is a need for improvement in their life; much less do anything about it. They will however express their perceived, albeit shallow, needs in a Janet Jackson-esque "what have you done for me late-ly" kind of way.

Needs

Mentioned in Part 2, we all have needs. Sexual needs are often presented as among the most basic, but there are others. And since sex produces a healthy dose of the feel good hormone dopamine, sex for men is often a proxy for the unfulfilled needs that lie beneath. We don't typically have a lot of tools to know how to ask for those things, so we have, think and/or talk about sex instead. It increases our dopamine production and helps us to feel good without the trouble of having to step outside of our comfort zone of stoicism, exposing our perceived weaknesses and our, uh, small tool boxes. Things we need but don't typically do a good job asking for are: a need for more confidence, a need to be needed and a need to win.

Competition

Men are competitors. Whatever competitive fire that is not present at birth from our long lineage of genetic warriors, is honed by our consistent environmental expectations to compete. Our sports, our toys and our media is designed to cultivate the competitor in us. And so we're clear: competition is good. It works. Like the life we live, it prepares us for winning and losing. It helps us appreciate the value and importance of thoughtful preparation, after action lessons and in overcoming humility. Competition has its place. And men in competition insure we are bettering the breed.

So let's not be surprised when men bring that same competitive fire from the boardroom into the bedroom, okay? While you are gazing into each other's baby blues, he may very well be thinking: Was your last dude better than me? What do I have to do so that I dominate your thoughts? And even, I can't believe that I let Dingler drive past me to make the game winning shot at the rec today. Besting the other demon, co-worker, your former boyfriend, maniac driver who cut us off last Thursday, etc. is a varying, but ever-present part of most men's psyche.

The underpinning of what makes us competitive of course is our desire to not end up a loser. Few would argue the manliness of professional athletes, but during any championship game, (Super Bowl, NBA Championship, etc.) the 2nd place team (or 1st loser as the case may be) will be overrun with grown men crying and in despair over their lack of success. Never mind that they beat everyone else but one team on the whole planet...they didn't bring home the hardware when it mattered. And that hurts. Some may mock the 'softer' side of these players, but their emotion speaks very much to their male authenticity, their true inner Lion.

Validation

Winning is validation. And losing removes that validation. See where we are headed friends?

val·i·date (vāl'ĭ-dāt') ; to make valid; substantiate; confirm.

Men need validation. Not coddling. Not pity. Not condescension. Validation. Are we expert at folding those annoying fitted sheets? Probably not. Can we passively sit through an hour long, uh, soliloquy about a drama at your work without injecting some type of Lion-like strategy? Unlikely. Yet some effort getting some validation will lead to greater future effort. Basic principles of reinforcement. Need effort? We usually have plenty. Right or wrong though, it is often buried underneath a historical blanket of INvalidation, ergo, losing. And like a 3rd generation lion born in captivity, we eventually lose the edge to hunt, to provide and to be the regal, virile, full-maned leader we are often expected to be.

When we identify what motivates our mates, we can go a long way in making our relationship happy, harmonious and full of hubba hubba.

More male perspective ahead. In the next part of the series, we will look at the male ego trying to survive in a relationship and how to keep it balanced for mutual success. Thank you in advance for tuning in and for telling your friends!

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4 comments:

Dana said...

Just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying this series - especially coming from the male perspective in a "blended" family.

Michael M. said...

Thanks so much Dana. Blended families create blended experiences fer sure... Thanks again for your nice comment.

Kat Wilder said...

Yeah, validation.

I always tell my kid that I'm proud that he keeps trying, even when things are hard for him.

What I've learned as I've gotten older (wiser?), is how much hurt, insecurity and fear many men have inside that is often masked by bravado and, yeah, arrogance. Scratch a little below the surface, though, and ...

Michael M. said...

Kat: insight and experience talking. No doubt that your son is better because of it.

We have the bravado market cornered and like you said, it is often to cover up our inferior tool boxes... thanks for sharing!