(In the Garden of Eden)
Eve: Adam, do you love me?
Adam: Who else?
Every day you go out, you see hundreds of attractive people. If you’re single, doesn’t it make you wonder how are you ever going to find the one that’s meant for you? As a hot-blooded male in my younger days, I used to think, “I could go with her…or her… or her. Arrgh! How do I decide?” As a man grows older, if he is fortunate enough, he learns how to look beyond exterior beauty because all women are beautiful nowadays, aren’t they? So it can give a man one hell of a headache to identify a woman who is truly compatible with him in mind, body, and soul. Women understand that men are born to think with their smaller heads. So being the intelligent creatures they are – they use visual stimulus to appeal to the male instinct. Thus a man, who does not make fine distinctions into character and personality, may find that many women appeal to him. But if he learns to go a step further and say, “Yes, she’s attractive to me. But what’s she all about?” Then he goes beyond seeing women as visual objects, and more as people,
Desire is bad for you?
The attraction between men and women is biological, it is inherited and it is unstoppable. You don’t need to make an excuse for your desire. One reason why we do not approach those who are attractive to us is because we are religiously and culturally programmed to believe desire is ‘baaaad’. A pious man who has the opportunity to meet an attractive woman may tell himself, “No! I must not give in to temptation! The desire is too strong!” But really, it’s just an excuse for himself because he’s afraid of rejection. And unless he can come to terms with his desire – see it as a guiding force, rather than an urge to be oppressed – he may never end up with a woman he truly wants. Members of the opposite sex, who are more genetically compatible with you, will spur a greater sense of desire in you. It’s natural. If you suppress the biological instinct when selecting a partner… you probably won’t have a happy sex life.
Men and Women: Different Creatures?
People like to believe that men and women are really different, but by nature they aren’t. We grow up imagining the opposite sex is some great mystery because everything about them seems different, and so we think it’s difficult to talk to the opposite sex. But really, men and women are very similar. They are anatomically different, but it’s not that big a difference. The human sexual organs are simply the inverse of each other. Penis and clitoris are made from the same embryological tissue. What forces the difference is the action of testosterone. Male seeds hang outside (testicles), while female seeds are kept inside (ovaries). It’s just one big reversal.
“Okay then,” you say. “What about the difference in the way men and women think? They don’t like the same things; they don’t talk the same, walk the same or wear the same clothes! (Well… actually some do.)”
Although men and women act differently, that’s not so much a biological instinct as it is a cultural role they are taught to play. Men don’t automatically love soccer, beer drinking, or going to the gym – they are culturally programmed to adopt these behaviours because it brings them greater social approval. “A man who does not watch soccer is not ‘one of the boys’; a man who does not drink beer is not real man; a man who’s muscular earns the respect of his peers and is more attractive to women.” These are beliefs so deeply ingrained into us, that most people will tell you it’s a fact. Just like how women learn about the importance of being beautiful from magazines, television, and friends. What creates such a great difference in thinking and behaviour is not nature, but the enculturation of newborns into their gender roles. Blue for boys, pink for girls; toss the boys around, but be gentle with the girls. From young, everything about our culture teaches the sexes to differentiate themselves. From the clothes we wear to whether we can fart in public.
Being too focused on the exterior of a person, you only see the physical and cultural difference – the accessories and behaviours created to differentiate the sexes. But look past the surface and you’ll see that each person, male or female, is subject to the same laws of emotion, logic, reason, and motivation. They have wants and desires, dislikes and hates; they communicate through language; they have two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two ears, ten fingers and ten toes. They have many times more in common than they do in difference. So it is a folly to believe it is difficult to relate to the opposite sex. Just talk to them as you would any casual person, and you’ll see that even the most attractive person is easy to chat with.
Now that brings us to an important point.
Physical Attraction is Not Enough
Many people are drawn together only by physical attraction, and there is little compatibility to make the relationship worthwhile (I thank our reader, Phyllis McBryar, for this). In response, I quote Nikki Giovanni, the African-American poet, who wrote:
“Most of us love from our need to love, not because we find someone deserving.”
And that’s the case for many of us, isn’t it? The need to be loved is a basic human desire. We don’t really need it, but we want it. In fact, we may want it so much, we don’t screen hard enough for character and compatibility. And that is where we fall into a trap because once two people become intimate, it creates strong emotional binds that can be difficult to let go of. It follows the old Chinese saying, “You can pick it up, but you can’t put it down.” And that’s why we must be selective of whom we choose to be intimate with. What may look like a happy, well-adjusted person may turn out to be a nightmare in disguise. And I have seen some nightmares in my days, both male and female (no, I’m not bi-sexual).
*In the Mail Bag*
Last week we had a chat with Mr X about his office-love relationship. This week we have a Mr Y who writes in asking about whether he should confess his feelings for a girl who already has a boyfriend. His original email and my reply below:
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:40 PM
Subject: Question for you.
I saw your website and saw that you gave advices to the troubled hearts. Can you also advise me on a problem I have?
Is there such a thing call ‘Permanent Pain’? I met this girl in a school, (where she works) and we used to chat on MSN often. She is pretty and also has a caring heart.
I read your article on All About Love, and I think, like you said in the article, I think she is interested in me that time. Although I knew her because I was checking on a course, and she is friendly and helpful. But even after that, she still keep in contact with me, and is still friendly and helpful even if it is not about the course that we are talking. We exchanged msn and mobile no.
We still keep in touch after she left the job. She has been busy with a study course and it is difficult to arrange dates. Now that her course is completed, I think I can work on this relationship. And I think she still likes me, because she will respond to my sms, email promptly, and she always help me deal with problems at work or personal.
However, I learnt that she now has a boyfriend, I feel a sharp pain in my chest. I know I still like her. In your opinion, do I still stand a chance? I am sure she is the right one for me. Do you think I should take the ‘social risk’ and confess my feelings for her? I know I miss the golden opportunity, but I am confident I can care and love her throughout her life-time.
Also, I tried to sound her out in our conversation, what she thinks about me. She gives good feedback. When I asked her if she thinks I will make a good boyfriend or husband, she replied that I would be an ideal partner. Doesn’t that means that I am her ideal type of partner?
I appreciate if you can help me solve this problem.
From: Lance Ong [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 6:40 PM
Subject: RE: Question for you. Dear Mr Y.
I understand that sharp pain feeling. It feels like you are about to lose something very important. Although we mentioned in the previous article that taking a social risk is necessary, timing and social restrictions also apply. Sad to say, when a girl has a serious boyfriend, there is the bind of an ‘exclusive mating contract’. If her boyfriend finds out what you’re saying to her, or chances upon one of your romantic messages, he has every right to pull her away and make her promise never to see you again… As gentlemen, we must respect the social contract of a steady relationship.
What you can do, however, is to stay in contact with her and only use subtle gestures to communicate your interest. You’re lucky because there still seems to be a romantic attraction between the two of you. But you have to be careful because you’re treading a fine line here. Never overtly tell her how you feel about her while she’s still with her boyfriend. One of the thoughts that may go through her mind is, “Can’t you see that I have a boyfriend?” And her boyfriend may think, “Can’t you see she’s my girlfriend!” It does not reflect well on a man’s character to approach another man’s girlfriend.
However, since you are sincere, stick close and keep talking to her. Just because she has a boyfriend does not mean she’s not interested in you. As you’ll see in the next article, women choose the men they want to be with. If she decides she likes you more than her boyfriend, she will switch when the opportunity arises. But she has to wait for her boyfriend to slip-up (make a mistake) before she can break-up with him. If she just dumped him without good reason (e.g. to be with another man), she would have to bear the psychological guilt of being an adulterer. And nobody wants to be the defaulting party in a serious relationship. We always say it’s the other party’s fault, and we’re the victim. Plus you must also consider that she probably has a lot of deep emotions tied up with her boyfriend. It takes time to let go of the binds we create.
So my strategy for you is simple:
- Keep close contact (under the umbrella of friendship)
- Hint your interest with subtle gestures
- Wait for her to break-up with her boyfriend before you admit any feelings for her.
What is a subtle gesture? You’ve demonstrated one already – you asked her in a conversation whether she thinks you’ll make a good boyfriend or husband – very smart. Use exactly those kinds of questions. All the other actions will happen naturally since you are already interested in her – e.g. looking at her a little too long, the increased tear fluid in your eyes when she’s nearby (makes your eyes shine), and the energy you’ll give off when she’s around.
I believe all is fair in love and war, but it takes two hands to clap. Two people have to choose each other. I’m worried that if her boyfriend is really good, you might have a long wait in front of you. I suggest you follow a controversial but effective philosophy: “Let go of that which you desire the most and allow it to come to you.” By grasping too hard for that which we want, it slips out of our hands and into the arms of another. What you should focus on is building yourself into an attractor rather than an attacker. Become the kind of man who fulfils her image of ‘ideal husband/boyfriend’, and she will naturally want to be with you – that’s being an attractor. On the other hand, if you grasp really hard for what you want, thinking of ways to win her over from her boyfriend, that’s being an attacker. I always recommend attract over attack because in the end, women choose the men they want to be with. So if she really loves her boyfriend, it doesn’t matter how hard you attack. You stand a better chance using attract. That brings to mind a good question you can ask her, “What do you look for in an ideal guy?” Follow what she tells you; it’s the roadmap to her heart.
Wishing you luck in love,
From: xxxxxxxx [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Saturday, July 01, 2006 11:27 AM
Subject: RE: Question for you.
Thank you for reply my email.
You can use my article, and please remove my particulars, especially my name. I think she reads your website, because I think she is your friend.
One more question, from your experience, how many chances do I have if I wait for her to break up with her boyfriend? Your approach is more passive, does that mean that I may have to wait very long, or what if her boyfriend propose to marry her?
Since love is fair, as long as she is not married, she still can choose right? Then I must fight for my own happiness also.
I admit, in our conversation, I have the urge to try to prove her boyfriend not good enough for her.
I really like her, and each day, when we talk in MSN, I get to like her more. I am very sure that I will not like someone else. Actually there is a girl in my workplace who shows interest in me, but I can’t bring myself to like her, as I already have someone in my heart.
She is not meeting up with me, but she is a [occupation removed], so can I use this factor to ask her out? I think she is more willing to meet up with someone who needs help. And I think that is the only way I can find reason to meet up with her. Maybe I can also tell her my give problem, but not telling her she is the girl I like.
Yours sincerely Mr Y
From: Lance Ong [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 4:38 AM
Subject: RE: Question for you.
Hmm… Mr Y, your situation is a tricky one. If you’re talking about who I think you’re talking about, then her boyfriend loves her very much. Of course that does not mean you cannot try to woo her… but be careful because the one you risk hurting the most, is yourself. I believe in life, the perfect partner is not one you win over, but one who chooses you and loves you with all her heart. Still, I encourage you to go for what you want. In the end, she’ll have to decide who she wants to be with.
Good luck Mr Y.
Sincerely, Lance Ong
From: xxxxxxxx [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 7:52 PM
Subject: RE: Question for you.
Thank you for your encouragement. After talking to you, I am now more confident with this problem. I am sure I will love her more than her boyfriend. I will follow your advice which you told me on the first mail, that will make sure that she choose me in the end. She will know that I am the right choice for her.
You know, some friend I talk to before you, all don’t understand my feelings for her. All of them just tell me to forget about her, and not give up the whole forest for a tree (in chinese). Thank you for your time and advice. I am now more confident and know what exactly to do.
I take the chance to wish you all the best for everything you do, and be successful.
Best wishes Mr Y