Relationship advice for men tends to focus on building up attraction – how to make more money, how to have a better body, how to make the first move.
That’s what will GET you a woman’s attention; it’s not what will keep you in a happy relationship. More money and better bodies don’t equate to compatibility.
If I were a coach for men, I’d teach them what women want but often neglect when choosing their partners: the importance of listening, validating, checking in regularly, and making you feel safe, heard, and understood.
Alas, I’m a coach for women.
And if conventional self-help for women consists of telling you to lose weight, apply makeup for better selfies, master these 7 hot techniques in bed, and “love yourself,” I’m going to teach something else: the importance of making men feel accepted, appreciated and admired – as opposed to constantly criticized.
It’s the disconnect – and the belief that the opposite sex is “wrong” when they disagree with us – that causes a lot of friction.
Enter the latest validating article by Stephanie Coontz about how gay marriages are happier and healthier than straight marriages. No surprise. Women understand women better. Men understand men better. It’s the disconnect – and the belief that the opposite sex is “wrong” when they disagree with us – that causes a lot of friction.
Coontz focuses on gender roles at home as the source of disconnect but I think it neatly overlaps with what I wrote above. If a man comes home from work and expects his working wife to have dinner on the table AND to do the dishes afterward, he is certainly not making her feel “understood.” And if a man DOES cut the vegetables and does the dishes but only hears that he did both “wrong,” he’s not going to feel particularly “accepted.”
It’s about finding a balance and fairness that works for both members of a couple. If a wife is constantly swallowing her feelings about the emotional labor of running a house and the man is constantly being told that his best efforts to help out are never enough, you can see why a more egalitarian homosexual relationship may be a little easier.
“The researchers John Gottman and Robert Levenson found that gays and lesbians who discussed a disagreement with their partner did so in less belligerent, domineering and fearful ways than different-sex individuals, possibly because they did not bring the same history of power inequalities to the table. Same-sex couples used more affection and humor while discussing their disagreements, became less agitated and calmed down more quickly afterward than different-sex couples.
Even in ordinary daily interactions, people in same-sex unions use more positive methods of influencing a partner, studies find, than individuals in different-sex partnerships, offering encouragement and praise rather than criticism, lectures or appeals to guilt.”
And it’s not just men who are at fault here. “Women, for instance, have long been socialized to believe that providing and receiving emotional support is a routine obligation in partnerships, something that, like putting food on the table, must be done every day. The University of Texas sociologist Debra Umberson says that women tend to be “all in” when it comes to anticipating, reading and responding to their partner’s emotional and physical needs.” That’s a lot of emotional work – especially for a man who doesn’t have the same emotional needs – which is to say, most of them.
Please read the original article, which is long, thoughtful, and well researched, and let me know: do you think it would be easier to date the same sex? Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.