Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Page From Men: The Missing Owner's Manual
At and To and With.

Where are all the good men? We sigh, we lament, and we ask.

The answer is: everywhere. And nowhere.

The first thing to realize is that the "soulmate perfect forever" thing is as much a porn fantasy as the gorgeous woman who will show up at an anonymous sex place, engage in every fuck flick act you can name, and then settle down instantly and forever with one guy. It not only doesn't really exist, it doesn't even make sense as a construction. There is an entire fauxmance industry that is sort of the equivalent of the porn industry, selling an airbrushed version of what you don't really want in the first place.

Every man, and I mean every man, is imperfect. That's because, dear reader, you are too. So am I. And even if you were perfect, and he were perfect, that does not mean you will be perfect for each other. Now, we all want to convince ourselves otherwise, that this is perfect, that this will last forever. That's the hormones talking.

On the other hand, we don't need perfect, and forever? That happens one day at a time, one conversation at a time, one plan at a time, one kiss at a time.

So that's why I am going to say that the most important skill you can develop is the ability to live in the moment, and not live in your moment. What do I mean by this?

Well, let's face facts. Most people create a little fantasy bubble. They move in, put their furniture in, and drop their emotional baggage there. I've done it. You've done it, and the temptation will be.

To do it again.

When we get into our own bubble space, we stop talking to, or listening to, the other person. Nagging comes from there, so does chattering on about something small while he really needs to say something but can't. So does not seeing the signs of an affair. So does blowing up in a temper.

The two mistakes feed on each other. Forever only exists in that head space, and that head space is the surest way to kill the hear and now where we actually live. Even if what we are doing is planning for the future, we do that right now.

That means that there are two challenges. One is to live in the moment with him, the other is to get him to live in the moment with you. He's got his own head space, his own place where is frustrations and self-generated fantasies live. Turning that space into two involves knocking out some, but not all, of the walls between the two parts. That's the analogy a friend of mine uses: a relationship is like turning an two family into a one family.

So how to turn that two separate spaces into one space?

Realize that he is not you, and that is something that is going to be a constant pulsation. Sometimes we will feel very close, sometimes we need our distance to focus on other things. There is no perfect place that is good all the time, and without the times apart, the times together are not going to produce the amazement and surprise. If we are with him every minute, he can't sneak out and buy flowers.

Realize also that not everything he does will be about how it makes you feel. He's going to forget that you exist more often than you forget he exists. It's sort of something to expect. Lots of times you are going to feel "How could you do this to me!?" And the answer was, he wasn't thinking of you, he was totally focused and wrapped up. Now. We get that way too. The paradox is that often people get that way face to face. A person starts taking at the other person. That's the difference between talking to, and shouting at. We throw something at something else.

So the real way of creating connection, is to avoid, as much as we can, living at someone else, and talking to someone else. That means there are two parts. Don't talk at him, train him not to talk at you.

Let me start with first part. When you are talking at him, you blood is going to flow to your face. It's like a wall that you body puts up. You are thinking out of parts of your brain that are the same as moving objects around. He's no longer there. Whether happy or angry, that feeling of a wall of blood in the face, is the sign that he's not there any more.

The other bad sign, is when your eyes are looking inwards, but your words are are outward. The word you will start using in a sing song voice is "we." "and then we will get married, and we will move to suburbia and have lots of kids." You know the tone of voice. Now that fantasy life is important. You can't, shouldn't, mustn't stop it. We all need to try on our lives, feel how a particular plan will work, what will happen. We need that.

So what to do?

Everyone needs a magic phrase. A phrase they say to themselves when it is time to shift from fantasy, back to reality. Now, many people choose a bad magic phrase, one that deflates the fantasy. This means, paradoxically, they are more vulnerable to the fake fantasy, because they've despaired of ever getting it, and all that floods in, elbowing aside good judgment. You know like "as if that will ever happen."

So it is important to choose a good magic phrase to end a fantasy arc. One that keeps the floating energy, but focuses it. One like "Now let's see what I can do to make that happen." Or how about, "Yes, I'm going to do something about that today." The best is to have a plan, and to end the dream with a step towards the reality.

Now let's talk about him.

Men are also prone to living at someone. They've got their fantasy life, they have their real life that they take out on their partner, they get absorbed in their own selves and their own space.

Now if you punish him for having that fantasy space, it is bad. How can he do something if he doesn't dream? Sexual arousal is, as well, very dependent on the ability to visualize a fantasy. Without his fantasy space, some of which is going to be filled with things that you don't like, he's not going to be able to follow through. Sure we would all love to have a man who fantasizes about where to move the couch... but it's not going to happen on its own. I have one married friend, when ever she wants to rearrange furniture, she makes sure that the proceedings end with cuddling or erotic action on something that has been moved. She says that sweaty is sexy, and having her man work up a sweat for her, is sexier still.

It's also true that we are going to have to be the warmth and softness he will so often need. The world is sharp, it bends him and bruises him. He needs that. One of the best things to remember is the testosterone is sex and aggression, and the best way to get him to stop venting about the day, is to give his hormones something else to do.

But this is only a blunt way of doing the larger, and more important skill. Turning at into with. He vents, you can't yet offer advice. Instead, find something that he is feeling, and say something that shows you understand and approve, or accept.

"My boss is so stupid, he's got me doing shit work..."

(You bite back the impulse to talk about all the house cleaning.)

Embrace him. Speak softly.

"I wish I could change his mind dear... You knw we have important things to do together here. I'm sorry your boss doesn't appreciate you as much as I do."

It doesn't have to lead to the bed, to be very sexual, and very much an approval of him. Let him vent a bit. Then do something that will positively make things better in your shared life. And then do something fun. Pleasure feels good. Pleasure is how the body teaches itself to do the right thing. Make sure that pleasure is part of your life together, and he will learn to do the things that lead to it.

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