National Understand the Opposite Sex Day

My fellow Americans,

I hereby declare this to be “National Understand the Opposite Sex Day”.

You may never have heard of this holiday since you don’t get the day off of work. But Hallmark is working on cards as we speak, and grassroots organizations are forming in cities around the country. Because as the divide between men and women continues to grow, we must put aside our differences and love one another.

Look around. Look around this blog, in particular. We have become two Americas. There are men. There are women. And we have never been so far apart. This friction threatens our well-being, as partisan politics tear apart the very relationships that bind us together.

At this critical point in our rich history, we need a uniter, not a divider, to lead us into a new era of consciousness. An era in which men understand women, women understand men, and homosexuals don’t get upset when I don’t include extra pronouns to be properly inclusive.

The tenor of our rhetoric has become fierce and cold. The accusations slung against the opposite sex have been slanderous and broad. And, worst of all, both sides have tuned each other out, instead of listening closely to what knowledge can be gleaned from the “other” half.

This behavior, continued, may well be the death of us. And I’m not gonna let it happen on my watch.

Now I know that I can be a bit of a bubble burster. I talk a lot about how the world is, instead of how we want it to be. I mention taking responsibility for our issues instead of blaming the other side. I’m sort of like the uncle who tells your children that there is no Santa. My job here is to get us out of our dream states and present to reality.

I’m sort of like the uncle who tells your children that there is no Santa. My job here is to get us out of our dream states and present to reality.

So dig this reality check.

There IS a Santa. And the opposite sex believes in it.

And that’s where we’re all going astray. Women think that the men who bitterly express their disappointment at women are delusional children. Men think that women who complain about insensitive commitment-phobic men are cry-babies. In fact, both of them are wrong.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS AN OPINION BASED ON HIS/HER EXPERIENCE HAS A VALID OPINION. If you’ve had your wife leave you, take your kids, and take half of your money, that’s a traumatizing experience that will impact your view of women. If you’ve had a man sleep with you for six months and then stop calling you suddenly, that will impact your view of men. Is it foolish to suggest that ALL women are golddiggers and ALL men are pigs? Of course. But that doesn’t mean that those experiences aren’t very real and perspective-forming for both genders….

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  1. 1

    Re: Lori Gottlieb

    I wish I hadn’t read that Lori Gottlieb essay.

    Something I took away from it as a man in his late 20s is that I SHOULDN’T settle now. If high-quality women are going to be lowering their standards at age 30 then if I wait women who now blow me off might be interested in me in a few years.

  2. 2

    Well said, Evan

  3. 3

    Why are we so determined to find things that we don’t like, don’t accept, and don’t understand in others?

    It is more pleasant than accepting reality as it is and it appears to be easier than working on our problems.

  4. 4

    Amen, Evan! The boards have been a bit dicier of late, and thanks for telling all of us to cool it. I hope I haven’t given the impression of attacking any of the people on the board, but if so, I’m sorry! Looking forward to the return to civility in the discussions!

  5. 5

    Evan, I think you’re completely wrong here…

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist the impulsive sarcastic retort. Great post!

  6. 6

    Evan, I agree therefore you are right! (clearly kidding). Great points made.

    I’ve recently been struggling with the ‘agree to disagree’ philosophy in my ‘relationship’ (if we agreed with each other, there wouldn’t be quotations around that). I have no problem agreeing to disagree, but the truth is that some of his opinions make me uncomfortable and because of this, I don’t think we can have a successful relationship. He disagress. I think it all just depends on what you are disagreeing on; if the issues are important to you, then a relationship with someone who disagrees may not work out, even if you love each other.

    But for the purposes of a discussion board, yeah we can definitely agree to disagree 🙂

  7. 7
    mrs. vee

    Something to help us better understand each other:


  8. 8

    Jennifer brings up a good point.

    If your points of disagreement are ones which make you uncomfortable because they are outside your value system (i.e. he thinks stealing is ok, you don’t) then there certainly ARE things that you shouldn’t compromise on by agreeing to disagree. They’re too important and in the long run would make you very unhappy with yourself.

    However, if the difference is whether the toilet paper should unroll from the top or the bottom, put it in perspective, come up with a silly solution like whomever changes the roll puts it in the way they want. Agree to disagree.

  9. 9

    Evan, I love to read your posts. I appreciate your insight and sense of humor.

    I am a single, successful, older, online and otherwise dating woman. I am also a couples therapist.

    I know burnout when I see it, read it,and you, my friend, are approaching burn-out. You are doing so in a kind, even-handed, “can’t we just all get along” kind of way – but it is still battle fatigue from the gender wars.

    If men and women understood each other, we’d still have to work with the inevitable power strudggles that all couples engage in as a stage of growth in their relationships. But in the dating world, we have a higher than average percentage of folks who clearly have had trouble with the opposite sex (and if they have not before, they inevitably will while dating!)

    So it is your job, and mine too, to be able to tolerate the dissonance.

    If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen! (By this, I do not mean to quit – you are far too good at what you do, not to mention too popular, to do so). Besides, I believe that you have a real calling and that you truly enjoy it.

    But read the telltale warning signs and take a break. All those questions will wait while you sit on a beach and meditate, subathe, or snorkel. ANd the war of the sexes will still be on when you return, leaving you a lifetime of work ahead.

    I was once told therapists need at least a four day weekend every 6 weeks. I believe that it applies to dating experts, as well (because, in truth, you are doing relationship therapy, en masse.

    And have a Mai tai on me, while you are at it.


  10. 10

    “Let’s start by talking to women, who are still the majority of the readers here. Imagine a world in which men understood you fully. Imagine they pick up on all the subtleties and nuances of being a woman. They know when you’re upset and need comforting. They know when you need to be alone. They know when you want excitement. They know when to be strong, when to be sensitive, when to be gallant. Imagine that men really GOT your worldview how you want to be successful, how you want to be nurturing, how you want to be yourself, and feel understood and how difficult it is to pull it all together in this crazy world. Imagine that.”

    – They wouldn’t be men! 😉

  11. 11
    Sarah G

    I was kinda thinking what Jenna was saying — that you can’t really police a blog except for bad words. People get along sometimes and people fight sometimes, and it’s all just because of emotions. And romanic love and mating are highly charged emotional issues for most people, so off go the fireworks with the least little spark of provocation. I do find that over time I get immune to the ranting, though, and that serves me out there in the real world. If I hear it here first then I don’t get set off out there as easily. I just think, “Oh, there’s that stupid idea again,” and go on my way. Whereas I might have been blind-sided by it if I heard someone expressing it in my workplace, for instance, and gotten into an argument. But more and more I’m finding that I don’t really want to respond to the provocative stuff in any part of my life — if I’m not in a close relationship with someone, why do I care how that someone else is living his/her life? In other words, I find that blog writing helps me to learn how to let it roll off my back, even if it doesn’t seem that way on here.

    At the end of the day I have to live with the decisions I make and the words I speak/write and so do other people. If none of us wanted to be in the fray we just wouldn’t be here. No one is forced to participate–not even you, EMK.

    But maybe you don’t want to do this anymore–maybe you’re happy with your love and you are moving beyond the dating chatter and into deeper discussions of commitment and how to build a life with someone rather than who should pay for the drinks and appetizers and how many dates you should have before you have sex and who trades up and why and all that other crazy single stuff, which must seem very, very silly after you have choosen your mate.

  12. 12

    Before you read a little bit of this and say to yourself “who hurt this guy”, read to the end please…..

    I think Evan is wrong and Vino is right! If that were the case, men would be women! Ladies, we’re not your girlfriends…we’re men. We’re not especially sensitive so please don’t expect us to be. We will never understand you, but don’t let that bother you, you don’t either. In my opinion (and that is all it is btw) we need to get back to men being men and women being women. I advocate men being men all the time…strong and aggressive like we’re meant to be; but not idiotts! We are supposed to exercise gentle leadership right? But what women, these days anyway, wants that? Or will submit to that? Not many. The problem as I see it is political correctness. Whatever is politically correct at the moment…the opposite is almost always truely correct. The problem with politically correctness is it’s faddish. Right now it is faddish for there to be equality between the sexes. There is no such thing as equality. That’s PC talking, and remnants of the womens movement frankly. We are wired for a Patriarchal society, not a matriarchal society. Men have their roles and women have theirs. Which btw, we REALLY need make clear and get back to. Not that I’m for women (or men I suppose) being oppressed at ALL…men are to be the protectors and anything short of the males not protecting the women and children is nothing short of unmanly. I see it all the time and it makes me sick. There has been so much divorce in this country for such a long time that most men nowdays have been raised by women. Men simply don’t know how to be MEN anymore. Not real men anyway. Not the kind of men that takes care of things and does what he is supposed to. And the more we listen to this dribble that we are to be more like women, the worse the situation gets. People didn’t argue about this stuff nearly as much 50 years ago did they? Nope! Hmmm…maybe they knew something we didn’t? Maybe we should go back to…no, I guess that would be too politically incorrect now wouldn’t it.
    Excuse me if i sound sarcastic, but I am very passionate about this stuff. Girls, we love ya. Always have, always will, but please, honor us as MEN !
    As an aside, according to Gary Smalley in his book “Keeping Love Alive”, the three most important things in a relationship are 1) Honor, 2) Deep levels of communication, and 3) Filling each others love bucket.

  13. 13

    Sarah G Apr 16th 2008 at 04:07 pm 11
    I just think, Oh, there’s that stupid idea again, and go on my way.

    That comment altered my response to something I read after it, thanks! LOL! 🙂

  14. 14

    Mrs Vee; Post #7, great video! I sent it to a few friends:)

  15. 15

    I love the idea of Understand the Opposite Sex Day, and I’m not sure why some people have an issue with it. How can the plea that men and women try to listen to, and understand each other be so misguided a suggestion that it means that Evan needs to take a vacation?

    Personally, I want to make peace with men. For me, it’s been a rewarding journey to discover that when I let go of the belief that my truth is THE TRUTH and carefully listen to what men are saying, I can actually see why they might feel a certain way. Does that mean I that I always like their truths or agree with them? No, but I understand why they might feel the way they do. Having more insights into men helps me to have a less adversarial relationship with them. I don’t want men to be my enemies. I want them to be my friends. I want one to be my lover. Understanding what men think and feel will make those goals much easier to accomplish!

  16. 16

    I’d like to respond to two ideas here:

    1) If people understood each other better, then they’d get along better.

    I disagree with this. I think much of the conflict stems from the fact that men and women want different things, not because men and women don’t understand each other. For example, I think Russian and American strategic analysts probably understood each other perfectly well. But neither this understanding, nor special red telephones connecting their leaders prevented a nuclear holocaust; rather, it was the threat of mutual annihilation. If you want to argue that, in fact, this *is* a sort of understanding, then I would ask you to imagine what would happen if people could read each other’s minds. It would be chaos. Relationships would have even more trouble getting off the ground because it would be incredibly hard to ignore any bad attributes or stray thoughts. I’d much rather think someone is kind of cute and funny, get to know them gradually, and grow to love them than be trying to judge someone as a whole, right off. Of course, better understanding shoots both ways: just as knowing someone would really be offended if you made comment X would make things go better, knowing that your partner likes you, but has never liked your oddly shaped nose might make things go worse. Also, I think conflict arises because it’s difficult for the dating “market” to match up people with partners which would be perfect for them. Inevitably, many people end up dating someone they certainly wouldn’t consider perfect to start with. Even if they could, it’s not clear they’d be happier anyways. This takes me back to the beginning of my argument: I think couples, even those who are very well-matched, will fight just because both people want different things.

    2) In gender issues, opinions should not be considered right or wrong; all viewpoints are valid.

    I’d sidestep this and perhaps borrow a line from Evan. I’d say it’s actually *irrelevant* (from the dating perspective) whether you consider someone’s opinion right or wrong. It’s really more of whether you can accept it or not…in other words, if you want to be in a happy relationship, maybe demanding they have the exact same views as you isn’t very effective.

  17. 17
    Jill/Twipply Skwood

    “I grew up in a reform Jewish household without a strong concept of God. My girlfriend went to 12 years of Catholic school. I could spend all of my time trying to convince her she’s WRONG. But what for?”

    Yeah, what for? Save that until AFTER you’ve had kids!!!!! KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well, SORT OF kidding…other than that I think you have at least one good point, not just between genders but between people in general – that almost non one ever changes their mind just because someone happens to beat a dead horse to smithereens right in front of them. At least that’s what *****I***** got from the post. And if anyone else took away anything different, they are WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KIDDING (for real and totally this time!)

  18. 18

    Paul and vino: Try reading Evan’s piece again. He isn’t saying that men ‘ought’ to understand women fully; he’s just using that concept to persuade women that it is worth trying to understand men a little bit better. As so often, Evan shows how well he understands women, using our desire and empathy to change our perspective on men …. I’m pretty sure he would have worded this very differently if most of his readership were male!

  19. 19
    mrs. vee

    Evan –

    Like Jenna pointed out earlier, I sense frustration on your part with what’s been going down in your comments sections as of late.

    I think there are at least a couple things you can proactively do to ensure a more productive discourse going forward:

    1) Lay down some ground rules. Here is a simple set of guidelines taken from the popular Second Life blog:

    The goal of this blog is to create a complex, nuanced, civil discussion. Comments will be posted when they contribute by adding information, opinions
    and ideas. Negative or contrary opinions are welcome as long as they don’t violate the common rules of netiquette. Those that do will be deleted.

    Comments are subject to deletion if they meet the following definitions of flaming, trolling, or personal attacks:

    flaming – messages which are hostile or deliberately insulting

    trolling – making incendiary comments intended to induce an angry response or disrupt the flow of discussion

    personal attacks – derogatory, profane or offensive messages directed toward a specific individual.

    Due to time constraints, we’re unable to reply to questions about why a comment might have been moderated, or why someone blocked for posting multiple inappropriate comments.

    That way, when someone steps out of line, you can conveniently reference the rule that was violated.

    My own addition to this list would be a rule against overgeneralization. While it’s
    true that stereotypes exist for a reason, their broad brush strokes tend to evoke responses from those who feel offended that they were unfairly lumped under the same umbrella with persons from whom they feel fundamentally different, the net effect being that the anger quotient goes up in your threads.

    2) Embrace the challenge of becoming a better moderator. You are already a wonderful diplomat, Evan. If you want this blog to help men and women better understand one another, you could make it a goal of yours to synergize your audience. I’m afraid one post dedicated to understanding one another will not be enough to restore civility to the dialog. You may need to take a more active hand in the discussions. Extract good information out of the comments by rephrasing, summarizing, or clarifying what people have said. Feel free to point out where a comment is inconsistent or detracts from the collective focus of the group (especially if the comment is mine). Avert tension by being more selective with the comments you choose to allow.

    Most importantly, locate the common ground between two differing points of view. Did you notice, for example, that amidst all the controversy and blame-laying surrounding Lori Gottlieb’s article, virtually all of your commenters disagreed with her and moreover expressed an underlying desire for a deeper level of authenticity
    between a man and a woman? As a moderator, it never hurts to remind or clarify for the group their set of mutual goals.

    Thank you again for continuing to care so much about your readers.

  20. 20
    openly jay

    One rhetoric mistake that I see a lot of with this group is the Straw
    . This is my absolute least favorite form of “blogical fallacy”. Take the time to read the link if you’re a frequent commenter on this blog.

    The other nuisance practice I’ve seen on Evan’s blog a lot is the occasional commenter claiming victory when no one attempts to prove him wrong. Assuming so precludes the possibility that one’s arguments are just so logically convoluted, or grounded in dogma rather than evidence, that refutation becomes more effort than it’s worth. It also goes against the notion that all points of view are valid. I want to see your commenters police themselves more against this.

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