In love the paradox occurs
that two beings become one
and yet remain two

Erich Fromm

January 22. Tuesday.

Everybody wants the sensitive side. Women believe a man will be more understanding, a better partner, a better father and a better person because of it. Men believe it will help them be more appealing to their partner, it will help them to understand women and will keep them out of trouble. Women love it, men inherently hate it. Even men such as myself, whose purpose in life is to love and to cherish their significant other, who strive to understand the pillars of human psychology, who work hard at opening their hearts and minds to the feelings and motivations of others hate the cost of the sensitive soul. You see, the cost of sensitivity is the risk of hurt feelings. Hurt feelings provoke a reaction that has to be released in some way, and the paradox of the sensitive male is that he can’t lash out against the hurt because of his respect for the feelings of others. That in short is a prison from where there is no escape.

Let’s take me for an example (since that’s what we are here for) and let me explain what I mean. My commitment to Nicole and our relationship is absolute. By that I mean that a commitment I make is cast in stone, it’s the beneficial side to having a mildly obsessive compulsive personality. Quitting drinking was an instantaneous decision, as is my participation in my diet and exercise regimen. Relationships are the same black and white decision for me, either you are in or you are out… No room for maybes or might-do’s. So what do you think would be the worst kind of comment or joke to make to a person like me? Well, that’s pretty easy, just take a shot at my fidelity or my honesty and I will guarantee you that I will wince with the pain from my injured soul. Why would someone do that? Well, it happens every day, purposeful or not, something will attack that thing which I hold dearest to my heart, my commitment to the relationship.
Example: I have become somewhat distant from my female friends since Nicole and I stared going out. However, there are times during good natured banter that a comment will be made about my contact with ‘other women’. These comments, although designed as an attempt at humour, hurt my feelings. I know it probably sounds a little crazy, but my mention of this is as much to explain it to myself as it is to shed light on an issue that I am sure plagues a great deal of men out there. That issue is how to maintain friendships and relationships with people of the opposite sex without allowing it to infringe on your relationship and how to handle good natured ribbing about it without worrying that you are under suspicion. The two sides of this issue are easy to distinguish. The insensitivity of one partner acting in a fashion that may promote suspicion and the insecurity of the other partner in believing that there may be another motive other than friendship to the acts. I myself am guilty of subscribing to the notion that there is no such thing as women and men being “friends” however that does not preclude me from being able to behave in an appropriate manner with women I know or meet while in a relationship.

Oct. 9, 1998.
It is incredible that people will accept numbers and propositions with such ease when there is no reason or intent to follow up on this “sign” of interest.
Do women not understand that if you accept a number, you are in effect saying that you are open to the idea of an evening out? Do they think that it is harmless to allow the guy to think he has a chance at getting a call when in fact all he has is the chance to wonder what is wrong with him that the nice woman he spoke to refuses to call him? Here’s a thought, if you aren’t interested, or you aren’t going to call, DON’T TAKE THE NUMBER. Do you really think that you are going to hurt a guy’s feelings because you say “no thanks”? Please understand, in my estimation (and to be honest I am probably not typical) I would be far more impressed with you as a person if you were honest and said no rather than lie to my face. If you disrespect me, you disrespect yourself and you are completely degrading the value of your “relationship” if in fact that is the reason why you are not going to call. It’s funny that women get so mad when guys don’t have the guts to break things off face to face, or to end it before moving on, or even to end it themselves rather than look for a way to force the woman to make the choice. But if you are going to be mad, make sure you have your own mess sorted first. Don’t expect respect and fair treatment if you can’t handle dealing out the truth on a daily basis. So there you have it. This one individual waitress managed to show me that in this messed up world, there are people who have respect enough for others to be up front with the truth, but more importantly to act according to that truth. It is such a great sight to see people doing the “right thing”. Her boyfriend should be very proud.

November 5, 1999.
I am convinced more than ever that men and women are friends for one reason only and that is attraction. In simple terms, I am convinced that men target women with one thing in mind and that is sex. If a man is attracted sexually to a woman then, as long as he is smart enough to recognize the different shades of emotions, he presents to her the type of person with whom she will identify the most. This ensures that he places himself firmly on her good side, and preferably behind her wall of defense. Of course, many men are not bright enough to recognize some or all of these nuances and go through life setting up for battle in the traditional sense. Those who are smart develop what appears to be a ‘friendship’ with the woman to whom they are attracted and in this way manage to spend great amounts of time with her, do lots of fun stuff with her and at the meager price of denying their sexual urges. This, as it happens, is actually the best way to develop a relationship that will last, and that is not what is up for debate here, but rather the question of the possibility that a man can have a relationship with a woman without that baseline attraction. You see, take a look at any guy you know and then look at the women he is closest to and you will notice that mostly the compatibility between them is related directly to the man’s attraction to her on a sexual level. I would say that 90% of the time this is true and in my own life I have seen this to be true almost exclusively. Does this mean that the relationship is fake or that it is shallow? Absolutely not, in reality all I am saying is that men and women choose their contacts in different ways. As the discussion went on, she asked about how I thought women chose their friends and it was at that point that we came to a point of revelation. Women tend to choose their male friends based on the emotional reaction and degree of comfort they feel. Men tend to choose their female friends by the amount of sexual attraction they feel and the degree of responsiveness they can illicit. For the most part I have found that men respond to very basic urges and mostly don’t care to discover the myriad shades of colour that make up the human emotional spectrum. They respond to fear (fight or flight), hunger (the basic human need to survive) and sex (the need to procreate and affirm their masculinity). Women on the other hand spend the vast majority of their time responding to very different urges such as safety (the need to feel protected), creation (both the mental and physical aspects) and emotional stability. Without risking going too deep into technical psychology all this means is that men and women search for different things when they look for both a mate and a friend. None of this is news to any of you I am sure, but in essence what I am saying is that our conclusion was that indeed if a man and a woman are friends, the likelihood is that if you asked him honestly he would tell you that given the chance and the right circumstances that he would gladly have sex with her (although not necessarily a relationship). If you ask her the same question you are more likely to get a puzzled look, a lot of hums and hahs and probably a question as to why that is an issue.

The risk of quoting myself here is that I am exposing myself to a misunderstanding, however I am fairly sure that the basic message is clear. Men and women are attracted to one another in different ways, and as such, place different emphasis on certain aspects of their relationships. No matter what the basic psychology says, we count on our self-control, our honesty and our values/morals to keep us on the right path. The whole point of this entry was not to send a message to Nicole about how my feelings get hurt, but rather to explain that in order to survive any relationship, we have to be aware of our own sensitivity. It is a simple truth that there are two significant sides to this, with any friendship outside a relationship there is room for suspicion and doubt, however, once again, we return to trust as the cornerstone of any successful relationship.
I do remain, however, at the mercy of my hurt feelings. The good thing about all of this is that I have learned not to put so much stock in my sensitivity and to treat joking as joking without prejudice. The biggest obstacle to that lesson is our protection of those things we hold most dear. For me, honesty and fidelity are two very big issues. Those of you who have followed my progress over the years will know that having been burned several times, sometimes quite severely, I am painfully aware of some women’s inability to see what is the “right thing” to do. But more than that, I pride myself on my commitment and honesty, I am fiercely defensive of my actions and fully expect the same in return.
So what is the lesson of the day? What have I gleaned from this past year that will help me through this quirk of mine? Simply put, I have to learn that with people like Nicole and I who survive on laughter and the misfortunes of others (more on that later) that we must learn that often the easiest way to handle our most sensitive issues is with a little gentle humour. One of the funniest MadTV skits I can recall shows a psychologist whose cure for his female patient was to yell “STOP IT” at her when she confessed her neurotic behaviour. I feel like I need that little yelling voice in my head sometimes when I start to get a little sensitive about things. Bottom line is that I have learned and am learning not to assume that an off the cuff comment means I am being accused of a crime.