Friday, January 23, 2009

How to gauge your odds of being cheated on. Lesson 2.

To follow up on the other day's discussionor to "get down to cases," as I put it thenI could probably list a hundred things here, especially if I drilled down into nuances and sub-categories. In the interest of brevity on a busy day, I'm going to confine myself to Four Routine Female Behaviors That Do Not Bode Well for Male Fidelity.

Women: Are you always spending money (yes, even if it's your own money, that you personally earned) in ways that you know would upset your man, especially if he grasped the full extent of it?
When you go out to dinner together, for example, do you find it necessary to squeeze in a little clothes/accessory/cosmetics shopping along the way, maybe afterwards? If so, you're pushing the needle five degrees farther along the "my man will be more tempted to cheat" scale. (Yes, I know, you came home just last w
eek in those great new shoes with the red soles, and modeled them for him, and he smiled and professed his admiration. He even said, "Wow, looks great, baby." Doesn't matter. That's not how he was feeling inside.*) And no, he does not consider his new two-seater or home-theater system in the same category; those are "necessary and proper expenditures." Again, I'm not saying any of this is fair, or right. I'm just saying that I think this is how a good number of men look at the marital partnership: "Why is she always wasting money on 'stupid stuff'? That's disrespectful of my feelings." He wouldn't put it in those terms, exactly, because men, still today, do not generally express hurt as hurt. Half the time they don't even recognize it as hurt. Which is part of the problem. A man feels obliged to deal with any malaise he's feeling in a stereotypically male way: by hitting something or screwing something.

Women: Do you indulge in those "fun" little girl-talk sessions wherein everyone gets such a kick out of making jokes about how dumb and generally incompetent their man is? No, he probably won't hear about it (except maybe from one of your "friends," who's "just goofing around" when she "hints at" what you said "in confidence"). But if you act that way around your GFs, chances are you're projecting/communicating some of the same contempt around him. Speaking of contempt:

Women: Do you actually manifest that contempt by talking about his ineptitude at [fill in the blank] in public, when he's right there to hear it? Let's hope you know enough never to fill in the blank with "sex." It can be anything, though: plumbing, household chores, burning the food when he barbecues, etc. This is a biggie; high odds of retaliation-by-vagina.

drum roll please!the biggest transgression of all:

Women: Do you act more like his mother than his wife/lover? This is actually an umbrella category rather than a specific transgression, and as such, it's a place where I could list dozens of examples, if I had time. But the real point is, do you have any idea how many women would have to answer a resounding YES! Especially in relationships that have gone on for more than a few years? Think of the women depicted in sitcoms. The wife on King of Queens? Mother complex, majorly infantilizing; likely would be cheated on, if, that is, her overweight, mall-cop-playing hubby could find (a) his testicles, and (b) someone to cheat with him. Debra on Everybody Loves Raymond? Mother complex, condescending and belittling (despite her obvious love for him), likely would be cheated on. All of the wives depicted in TV commercials
were these marriages realwould run a super-high risk of having husbands who always had to work overtime or were suddenly being summoned to mysterious meetings. And by the way, if you're a woman and your gut response to this question was an unapologetic, "Well, lord knows he needs a mother!", feel free to disregard everything else said here (or anywhere else) about building a solid marriage and push the needle all the way over to "he'll definitely cheat." In fact, he's probably with someone else right now, as you're reading this.

The real takeaway here is that unlike men, who, when they screw up, tend to do it in colossal, monstrously hurtful fashion, a woman is more apt to kill her man's spirit with a thousand small cuts
at least as he sees it. None of these sins, examined in isolation, amounts to much, certainly not in the mind of the woman. (Confronted, later, she might even profess to have no idea what he's talking about.) And as noted, what guy is going to run around saying things like, "Yeah, my baby really hurt my feelings last night, boo-hoo...."? But it adds up, each little wound eroding his sense of duty to his wife and the marriage.

To be continued...?

* The one obvious exception to this rule: lingerie.


Anonymous said...

Are you going to follow it up with a list of male routine behaviors that do not bode well for female fidelity?

Steve Salerno said...

1. I haven't studied that problem.
2. The most common complaint is that "men are pigs; men cheat." Is that not the historic gripe from women everywhere? I'm simply trying to address that issue, as a man, and as someone who has explored the problem from the male perspective.

If your question was an honest question, Anon--a simple request for information--then so be it. I accept that. But if it was some sort of sly rhetorical "statement," then I ask again: Why do we always feel the need to do this? If someone says, "You know, you overcooked the roast last night," then why does the response have to be, "Oh yeah? Well you ruined the pasta dish you made for Mom's anniversary that time when you put too much garlic!" What say we just focus on one thing at a time, and address it on its own merits...

Anonymous said...

The most common complaint is that "men are pigs; men cheat." Is that not the historic gripe from women everywhere?

Wow... I am really surprised, Steve. Suffice it to say that no, this is not the most common complaint. In fact, it's a complaint I have never heard in this form in my entire life, save for the media, where for some reason it thrives. The notion that men screw up big and women kill by thousands of small cuts is another myth, btw.

Perhaps your readers will have to fill in the gap here and come up with the list of routine male behaviors that lead to female infidelity. To help facilitate this process, let me start (you can thank me later):

1. Men: Are you always criticizing her behavior (shopping, cooking, anything) and never express your appreciation for her efforts? Are you rude, curt, controlling and/or dismissive?

2. Men: Do you forget her birthday, your anniversary, other important family dates and occasions?

3: Men: Do you think foreplay (and being affectionate) is unmanly or a waste of time?

4. Men: Do you consider watching sports (building robots, playing with model trains, reading sci-fi, etc.) more important than spending time with your wife/girlfriend?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then, lemme tell you, she is already looking for somebody who'd appreciate her -- and express it -- more than you do. In fact, she may be with him now.

The list goes on and I hope SHAMblog readers will contribute to it as a form of public service, if nothing else. :)

Oh, please note that I did not even mention cheating and "being a pig," whatever it may mean.

Jen said...

And I thought my husband was a handful! You, my friend, are quite a project. ;)

The "marriage dance" is quite an oddity, isn't it? My experience is that very often, I inadvertently "project" my own (wrong) assumptions about what he is doing or thinking. Happened again yesterday, and I came to the conclusion that thinking the worst is self-sabotaging behavior.

I actually love being foiled by my own misguided thoughts, but only wish I didn't have so many of them!

Noadi said...

Your argument seems to boil down as cheating as revenge and I'm not sure that holds up. You essentially just said that men are selfish, uncaring, pigs who think crushing their wives emotionally is the perfect solution. That may not have been your intention but that's absolutely the message that came through (I've got enough respect for you to think you didn't also mean that women deserve that sort of treatment).

literary lioness said...

How about women who treat their husbands like fathers? What are the chances of us getting cheated on? I was accused of this, since my husband is eleven years older than me. I say it is a Big Brother Complex though, since my husband is not old enough to be my father :)

I don't do the "mother route," but I confess to brat behavior. Stuff like always asking "why" and playing Devil's Advocate on a regular basis, in the privacy of our own home. I don't think my husband would cheat because of those traits though, since I was this way when he met me. He can't have buyer's remorse now :)

Debbie said...


Why would we treat our spouses with less respect than, say, our co-workers? Rarely, if ever, would you call a peer out in front of other staff. You pull them aside privately and converse with them.

Some of my friends (not all), do some of the things you discuss in your post. Especially the girl-talk sessions. I find I just can't take part. I cannot open my mouth and joke to my friends about my husband's perceived shortcomings. For so many reasons, but most importantly respect. And I really don't care to hear that kind of stuff about their husbands/partners either.

I think that's why I mostly hung out with guys when I was growing up. I never "got" girl-talk.

I don't think I can make it any more clear or simple. To me, respect is at the base of it all.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is going to be one of those threads... ;)

Steve, you say:

If someone says, "You know, you overcooked the roast last night," then why does the response have to be, "Oh yeah? Well you ruined the pasta dish you made for Mom's anniversary that time when you put too much garlic!"

LOL!!! And therein, ladies and gents, is the rub. Please refer to no.1 on the list from my previous post.

To make a long point short (ha!), there is no reason to say the above about yesterday's roast other than needle your partner (say, wife) with not-so-thinly veiled aggression and put down her skills (i.e. her). And if you do that (and please look inside, I'd suggest, to find out WHY you feel the need to do it), you will get a defensive and/or equally hostile response like the one above.

You may be surprised by it, or even hurt, thinking, "But I was just sayin'! What, can't a man say what's on his mind? She is so oversensitive, gawd... Women, you know? I'm gonna go out for beer with the guys."

But if you examine your motives really honestly, you are likely to find out that your "just sayin'" was not so totally innocent and, in fact, was likely a form of retaliation, in your mind, for something she did or did not do. So do not be surprised that she responds to your hostile intent rather than an apparent merit of your statement.

Ah, and so the wheel turns... :)

A couple of SHAMblog Anons, bless their individual and collective wisdom, observed, at different times, that in order to have a good relationship, sometimes you should keep your mouth shut (and employ some self-reflection before you decide to open it). Wise words, IMO, vastly underrated.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I think you make some important observations here about male behavior. At the same time, you have painted a really bleak and dispiriting image of men as fragile, egocentric sissies devoid of empathy and compassion, as well as a basic understanding of women and their needs (and/or requirements for a mature relationship with a woman).

Starting with the "revelation" that men cheat on their wives in revenge* for not meeting their, in your description at least, narcissistic needs. Because what else can you call a man's offense, described here, at his wife's purchase of, say, a lipstick or a new belt?

[Helpful hint to all men: It really is not about you. Women like to shop. Just like men like to look at pretty women. It's what we do. Shopping is an emotional and aesthetic experience for women. (And I'm not talking about excessive spending or shopping addiction here, btw.) If you do not understand that, or you do not "approve" of that, please do not get married. Preferably stay away from women in general.]

If this is what a man considers disrespectful of him, then I'd say his relationship has much deeper problems than it appears on the surface and/or to this particular man; and, quite possibly, the man has problems with women in general and not just his wife/partner. His cheating likely will only teach him that "all women are the same" (= bad), because he is not able to look at his own unrealistic and egocentric expectations as the source of his disappointment and resentment.

BTW, the off-putting image of men you presented here is not much different, IMO, from the toxic sitcoms that perpetuate the one-dimensional stereotype of women as controlling shrews and men as clueless doofuses (doofi?:) whose actions in life are mere reactions to women's behavior and who do not possess mature and emotionally independent characters.

Sad, even if somewhat true. Or even more so if true.

*The worst possible reason for an affair. Not to mention staggeringly immature.

Steve Salerno said...

1. This post is not about me, per se. So I think it would be helpful if people did not interpret this as some sort of "alibi." Now, have I "slipped"? Yes. But my wife is a wonderful person--probably the nicest and most caring human being I have ever met--who deserves much better than me. (And yes, I have told her that. At times in our marriage I have begged her to leave me so that she can be happy. She thinks I'm nuts.)

2. What Debbie said: Respect is the key.

Anonymous said...

What Debbie said: Respect is the key.

Indeed. But where exactly is respect in the egocentric and immature expectations and behaviors of men you have described here? (Starting with sexual acting out in retaliation for not meeting his narcissistic needs.) I am all for respect, but respect is a two-way street.

Steve Salerno said...

I stand by the post. I'm not passing judgment; I refer you to the title of the post. A woman who makes her man feel small, day after day, in way after way, is asking for trouble. Just as a man who repeatedly belittles his wife's appearance (which many men do, without even realizing it) or finds it necessary to ogle every cute girl who goes by (in his wife's presence) is asking for trouble.

Anonymous said...

Steve: TMI.

Anonymous said...

You are right, Steve, the post is not about you, obviously -- and yet it is about you, of course. :)

Those are your observations and perceptions of the male-female dynamics, including the one about men screwing up big time and women killing with a thousand cuts, and the other on women's chief complaint about men as cheating and being pigs.

BTW, I don't do girl-talk either, never had -- it does not interest me at best, and often repulses me. Nor do I discuss my marriage with my female (or any) friends. I have never called men (or a man) pigs (or a pig), nor do I have a need to do so, ever.

But, boy, these last posts of yours surely do not help improve the male image in women's minds, as it may be. Luckily (for me), I happen to know enough men who are indeed different from those you described here, so I can retain some faith and hope for the (male part of) humanity. :)

Anonymous said...

"But my wife is a wonderful person--probably the nicest and most caring human being I have ever met--who deserves much better than me."

She must be. You better hold on to her. :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

Wow! Looks like you wet in a whole buncha folks' Wheaties with this one, Steve! The following is submitted for topic-police approval: :-)

My 2 cents worth was actually contributed by Debbie. If we have even a modicum of respect for our partner, we're not going to intentionally do or say anything to make them feel bad. Now, i the heat of an argument, we might speak indelicately, but if we cross the line and try to hurt them, such as by belittling them for their flaws, the respect just isn't there, and all the other behaviors become secondary elements.

Even worse, if we broadcast such information beyond the sanctuary of our marriage (or equivalent), we're indicating that we have no respect for our own integrity. That being the case, there's no way we could respect another person, or even ourselves.

Every one of us is at one time or another every bit as needy as a frightened child, and we look to the person we hold most dear to fulfill our needs. Unfortunately, we frequently bypass the step where we admit to ourselves - and our partner - that we need something more from them, and we end up feeling resentful when they aren't able to read our minds. It's at times like these, I believe, that we are most susceptible to that allegedly greener grass on the other side of the fence.

When I need extra attention, the dogs & cats actually seem capable of sensing it, and are extra affectionate. And I've been known to feel resentful when I have to get my "pat on the head" from a pet, rather than a mate. In the past, I've often held off actually expressing my needs until I was in a foul humor (Last week does qualify as the past, right?), but I don't think I ever let those moods be expressed as put-downs. At least, not consciously.

To me, the core of the problem some of us males have is that we cling to the notion that feelings - especially a need for tenderness - is a weakness. Rather than address the actual need, we look for guy-approved band-aids, like going after a little strange. We still have the original problem, unchanged and unresolved, but now we have the guilt thing and the broken trust thing to make the original problem worse. Of course, if we really feel bad, we can always cheer ourselves up with another little distraction. And the cycle perpetuates.

Jen said...

Steve, you wrote: This post is not about me, per se.

That's a good way to put it, especially the "per se" part. ;) I mean, you are after all a married guy talking about what married guys do. And I hope and trust you know that my (previous) response was largely in jest. At the same time, I was reacting to my own experience reflected off of your interpretation of the male perspective. You trying to speak for all men (or all marriages) is as absurd as me speaking for all women, and thank goodness for that.

You say each little wound a woman inflicts upon a man erodes his sense of duty toward his wife and their marriage. Do you think women in general intend to inflict wounds upon men who they love? Is it easy to tell the difference between intentional and unintentional wounds? And what is the best way to respond to an unintentional wound? Or an intentional one, for that matter. (That would have to be another case by case study.)

When speech that was not intended to wound comes across as mean, hurtful, or just plain antagonistic, what is the best way to repair the damage?

Partner 1: "I'm sorry for being such an ignorant ass. Please forgive me."

Partner 2: "Okay."

(And that might or might not be the end of that, depending on the severity of the transgression.)

Or ...

Partner 1: "What a shame that you took what I said in such a negative way when it was intended as [state intention]."

Partner 2: "No, shame on you instead."

(This definitely would not be the end of this one!)

I'm no fan of shaming, not at all. And yet here is one thought I had about what you wrote: That you seem to place a lot of blame (or is that responsibility?) on women for "making" men stray. You seem to be giving men ready excuses for having affairs and, at the same time, chastising women for their role in "encouraging" those affairs. What if the shoe is on the other foot? It certainly can be! (Experience is a harsh teacher sometimes.)

What you are talking about is important. The death of spirit. Women kill men's spirit "with a thousand small cuts" whereas men "tend to do it in colossal, monstrously hurtful fashion." This may very well be true; the opposite could also be true, that women are capable of dealing one fatal blow while men can opt for a more slow and painful death.

But do men and women (in general) really intend this? I don't think so; I hope not.

It ain't easy, never has been, and probably never will be. And yes respect is key.

Jen said...

Ron, you really said a mouthful here: Even worse, if we broadcast such information beyond the sanctuary of our marriage (or equivalent), we're indicating that we have no respect for our own integrity. That being the case, there's no way we could respect another person, or even ourselves.

Don't many affairs start because one partner finds someone who sympathetically listens to marital or relationship woes? (I think Steve pointed this out in so many ways.)

You are so correct here, about personal integrity and also about the integrity of a marriage or long-term committed relationship.

Steve Salerno said...

Jen: There is so much of value in what you just wrote that it's hard to know where to begin. But without getting into the details (and also, it would be rather presumptuous of me to assume to address your questions as if I even had answers), I think the key is to open an honest dialog. This goes to Rev's point, too: I think by this time in American socio-gender evolution, we too often speak to each other (meaning one gender to another) through a protective veil. We males are so afraid of appearing vulnerable (and I think this is increasingly true of women, as they try to compensate for centuries of being regarded as "weak" and "needy") that we speak and relate to our partners through a conjured persona, rather than simply baring our honest feelings. And I do think, Jen, that the wounds women inflict are often unintentional. One of the sadder realities of intimate relationships is that what women often intend as "nurturing" comes across as "mothering." And there is a difference.

Hey...maybe there's a book in this? I think I'll call it...Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus... ;)

wife said...

If he acts like a boy and treats me like I'm his mother, I will behave like one.

If he acts like a man and treats me like his lover, I will behave like one.

Anonymous said...

First of all, if you (women) feel you need to act in the ways that Steve listed because of how your guy is, you shouldn't be with the SOB anyway.

Secondly, I think there's a major difference in intent here, even if both types of actions/reactions are hurtful. Look at what the women's faults are here: spending money on clothes, cosmetics, etc. (which, btw, they do in part to look good for you men, though God knows why, since they'll get cheated on anyway), venting to their friends, insulting their man directly or indirectly, and being motherly. Especially the last one, you said yourself, Steve, that women's intentions are to be nurturing. So let's see, at best, the women have good intentions. At worst, they make remarks in jest and don't realize how hurtful they are. Those intentions are a bit different than the ones required to pay for a motel room, remove another woman's clothes, and so on. In the woman's case, if confronted, she can sincerely say, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize it affected you so much. I didn't mean it that way." What's the man's excuse? "Oh, I thought I was going into the bank, but then there was a naked woman on a bed instead, and then I tripped onto the bed, and it was an accident really..." Come on, there's no evading the intent there. You don't just "slip"; that's BS.

But what's the point? You already achieve your highest odds of getting cheated on when you decide to be with a man in the first place.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: You make good, well-thought-out points. There's no denying.

Anonymous said...

Many women are not good team players. There, I said it. Guys are better team players, and a strong marriage is about being a strong team. And women haven't seemed to figure out that they should not compete with their husband.

When women display the behavior you've noted, men seek other teammates - they hold tryouts with new "talent".

RevRon's Rants said...

"at best, the women have good intentions. At worst, they make remarks in jest and don't realize how hurtful they are."

While you do make some good points, anon, I think this one sounds a bit more to individual bias than to the preponderance of troubled relationships.

From my own observations (and thankfully, not in my current situation), the "worst" is when *either* partner feels the need to diminish the other, and does so verbally and even physically. This kind of behavior is not limited to males, either, however many (most?) males tend to react with more passive-aggression, by complaining to friends about the "shrew," or by seeking some positive reinforcement in the form of an affair.

Even in the case of physical abuse, it has come to light of late that some women assume the role of aggressor, though for any number of reasons, most males are hesitant to admit having been victims of such aggression.

I think you'd find that most men are every bit as motivated as women to provide nurturing to their mates. The biggest obstacle to their actually doing so is their (our) incompetence at showing that nurturing side. We have historically been taught that "real" men don't show tenderness (or pain), and few of us were given "permission" or the skills to do so. There was a period during the '70s when men were given tacit approval for showing their "sensitive" nature (a la Alan Alda), but as it turned out, that approval was half-hearted, at best. The SNAGs quickly discovered that they were viewed by most women as good friends, while most women preferred a "real" man as a mate.

This is by no means an attempt to paint men collectively as "victims." There were plenty of us who played dirty at the relationship game. However, I think that the only way we will ever improve the dynamic of our relationships is by acknowledging that *both* sexes have exhibited their fair share of negative behavior, whether borne of social incompetence, societal pressure to fulfill specific roles, or individual pathology, and have shared pretty much equally in the responsibility for the failure of our relationships.

Anonymous said...

To add to the list which Elizabeth started:

Men: Do you expect your wife to be your mommy--cook for you, clean after you, pick your clothes, schedule your doctor's and other appointments, arrange your social life, take care of your children, parents and other family members for you, nurse your boo-boos, boost your self-esteem, tell you how special you are no matter your screw-ups, have sex on your demand, and have her life focussed on you?

Men: Do you act like a baby--pout, clam up and 'get even' with your wife by abandoning her physically and emotionally when she fails to fulfill the motherly duties you expect of her?

Men: Do you blame your wife for your 'slip-ups' and egregious mistakes? Do you believe that if only she were different, you would not misbehave?

If so, you are driving her into another man's arms.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking this: If you "slipped*," as you say, Steve, even though your wife is the nicest and most caring person you know, then doesn't it negate, at least in your case, your premise that men are driven to cheat by their wives' "disrespectful" and "uncaring" (or "overbearing") behaviors?

*First, I assume that by "slipped" you mean strayed in some fashion -- a conclusion that, rightly or wrongly, presents itself in the context of this discussion. Second, this is obviously very personal and nobody's business, so please do not feel like you have to answer and/or even post this comment. I'm just struck by what appears to be a logical inconsistency here.

Anonymous said...

Steve: WOW. I'm guy and have to say that you have some ancient notions of male and female behavior. Not all men are vindictive, hapless morons compelled to act out their marital frustrations in sex with other women. It is derogatory to men to try and justify their wrongdoings by shifting blame onto their women. We are each responsible for our own behavior. My wife can no more 'make' me feel or do things I do not want to feel or do than I can make her. Admit it, you 'slipped' because you were horny, she was attractive and available, and you thought you could get away with it. It had nothing to do with your wife's behavior. If you think it did, you are kidding yourself. And when it comes to marriage, for both men and women, what you put into it is what you get in return. Usually.

literary lioness said...

Maybe it's just me, but what you described in your post sounds very juvenile and immature. I am in my late 30s and all of my friends are quite a bit older. They do not act like this. I have about two older women friends and we never discuss our husbands' faults with each other. We also do not get excited about shoes and clothes. I think a lot of this is about having a level of maturity.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, Eliz (or whoever): How many times must I say that I am not writing about me, per se?

Lioness: I'm glad you and your friends aren't like this. But have you watched Sex and the City? Or Friends? Are you unaware of what cultural phenomena those shows were? I think it is reasonably safe to say that those shows "speak for women." At least to some degree. And the mentality/ethos expressed in those shows is what I'm writing about here.

If I missed anyone, I'll try to get back to it soon. It's been a long day and I'm tired and frustrated.

RevRon's Rants said...

Damn, Steve... You been corresponding with the whacked-out twilight zone guy again? :-)

Anonymous said...

OK, Steve, per se it is.

I think it is reasonably safe to say that those shows "speak for women."

Hm. I would say that it's generally unhelpful to get knowledge about the opposite gender from TV.

I agree with Lioness here. I've searched my memories to uncover even one instance of the alleged girl-talk where women would trash their male partners/husbands. Nope. Nothing. Not even when discussing their exes. I've actually realized that when we (any and all women I know) get together, there is no "girl-talk" at all -- at least not like the one you describe here "as seen on TV." Intimate partners and details are just that -- intimate and private, to be respected and protected. If there are "man troubles," yes, then we do talk about them, very selectively, but this never (never) involves male-bashing or derision. And I don't move in some exclusive circles, I know women from all walks of life. If there are indeed women who engage in such girl-talk -- and they read SHAMblog -- I hope they speak up to confirm their existence. But it just may be that this is another instance of false reality created for mass consumption and/or TV ratings.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'd say that using "women's" TV shows to get to know real women's lives is akin to drawing conclusions about real men's lives from, say, James Bond movies.

Steve Salerno said...

So we can't draw inferences about how women behave in real life from highly rated shows that depict women in real life. We can't assume that those shows may be wildly popular in the first place because the themes and attitudes resonate with viewers.

That strikes me as a very different situation from a James Bond movie, whose entire mission is to evoke unreality and escapism.

Yekaterina said...

The shows you mentioned DO NOT speak for women. They speak for a certain (very small) percentage of women. Same goes for your so called Four Routine Female Behaviors. I engage in none of those behaviors, my husband routinely engages in two.

Yes, I've listened to my girlfriends complain about and belittle their husbands, but it's my brother, a male, who really takes the cake in that category.

Maybe if you would have kept this post gender neutral, as in Four Human Behaviors That Do Not Bode Well for Fidelity I could relate better to what you're saying.

Steve Salerno said...

Fair enough, Yekat. I'm going to drop this line of inquiry (as well as several others) anyway.

Thank you to all who have participated.

RevRon's Rants said...

I think the strong reaction to this post is probably borne of the desire to dismiss the behaviors Steve describes as being mere clichés, rather than being representative of typical behavior. Before we altogether dismiss the examples, however, we might want to consider that they did not become clichés in a vacuum. The behaviors described do exist, and are apparently fairly widespread. That they do not reflect the experiences of some doesn't make them false, any more than their existence on a somewhat limited scale makes them universally true. Not to presume to talk for Steve, but I think he's challenging us to look objectively at a series of phenomenon, rather than our own experiences (or lack thereof) of the phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

No, Ron. The strong reactions to this post have to do with other factors, already expressed in this thread in a sufficient manner, I think, so there is no need to go over them again, in my case at least.

Nobody argues that some of the behaviors Steve has described apply to some people in some situations. But if you call it an "objective" look, then I don't know what to say any more. Yes indeed, women shop, women talk (not trash their partners, in my experience, but hey -- what do I know, I'm only a real woman with intimate, decades-long knowledge of other real women, and not a TV character which, apparently, is a standard of womanhood), women act motherly; men see these behaviors as signs of disrespect and excuses to cheat, and then blame women for their infidelity (have I been fair enough in my summary of here? No?)

We got the lesson loud and clear, no need for additional explanations.

Anonymous said...

So we can't draw inferences about how women behave in real life from highly rated shows that depict women in real life.

Whose real life, Steve? I don't know any woman (or man, for that matter) whose real life would resemble "Sex and The City" or "Friends" or any other crappy show that passes for "women's TV." Do you? Are the lives of your wife, daughter, other real women you know anything like those TV shows?

We can't assume that those shows may be wildly popular in the first place because the themes and attitudes resonate with viewers.

They resonate with viewers precisely because they offer a hyped up, glamorized and escapist version of reality. It is a mistake to assume that just because they depict situations that on the surface appear to be realistic (say, a character likes shoes, has a one-night stand, or cancer) that it must be "real" reality.

That strikes me as a very different situation from a James Bond movie, whose entire mission is to evoke unreality and escapism.

Frankly, I don't know why.

You have real women here on your own blog (and yes, we are real) telling you differently, but you disagree with us -- why, because you know better -- after all, you've seen it on TV. LOL(?)

In a spirit of friendly concern, I have a piece of advice for you: less "Lifetime," more life. Or at least PBS. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

"But if you call it an "objective" look, then I don't know what to say any more."

You missed my point, Elizabeth. I was not implying that Steve's assertions were an "objective look" at all. He offered an *observation,* not a universally applicable assessment, IMHO. I *was* suggesting that responders take an objective look at the phenomenon Steve was describing, rather than offering summary, wholesale rejections that seemed to be based in their own experiences and issues. Big difference.

Perhaps the "volume and clarity" of the lesson some heard was as much the product of listeners' issues as of the ideas expressed in the initial post. Summary dismissal of the validity or necessity of further discussion would seem to reinforce that point.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Yanno, I was going to ignore your comment and stick to my decision to recuse myself from this discussion...till I got to the end. I'm going to wade back in because we're not talking specifically about infidelity anymore, but about the culture, or lack of same.

Our culture is not PBS. Our culture is Lifetime. Our culture is not this blog. Our culture is Dr. Phil and Oprah. We are the exceptions here; we are the outsiders. Your comment reminds me of the famous Pauline Kael remark after Nixon's election, which I've mentioned before: "I don't understand how he won; I don't know a single person who voted for the man!" The line came to symbolize the detachment that typifies the eastern liberal elite, who neither represent, nor speak for, heartland America. Don't misunderstand me; I'm not trying to sound like Sarah Palin, talking about how I'm a real American and you're not. My own intellectual leanings are closer to PBS than to Lifetime, which I keep on as white noise, and to keep tabs on the pulse of America. But please, please don't tell me that America is PBS. You know how you can tell: LOOK AT THE ARBITRONS AND NIELSENS. Look at how many people watch American Idol as opposed to Bill Moyers. That's your first clue.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I don't know any woman (or man, for that matter) whose real life would resemble "Sex and The City" or "Friends" or any other crappy show that passes for "women's TV."

Do you personally know anyone who has committed murder, Elizabeth? If not, would it be accurate for you to state that such people don't exist, and in fairly significant numbers? While we can agree as to the distastefulness of such behavior, let's not allow our distaste to obscure our acknowledgment that the behaviors do exist, at least to some degree. That's all I'm saying.

And for the record, I have known people who have exhibited the behaviors Steve described - as well as a murderer. They aren't everywhere, but they do exist.

Anonymous said...

I was catching up with your blog today and had a few thoughts. I, too, think Michelle Obama is plain old homely, though her husband and kids are very attractive. I've actually given this some thought, and believe that it's a combination of her hair, which always looks awful, her Queen-Mother-style clothes, and her mouth. Were I her fashion consultant, I'd have her wear her hair in an elegant French twist, sport more contemporary, flattering clothes, and smile with her mouth closed. But I also think it's Michelle's obvious Blackness and self-identification as such that contributes to Barack's identifying himself as Black, for what that's worth. Loyalty.

I'm also in agreement with you about the reasons for male infidelity. Though my own father managed to refrain from infidelity, in part because he remained in awe of my mother and in part because he had to work like such a dog to support us and didn't have any free time, my mother's obsession with us children definitely ruined their marriage, starting with me (the oldest). I think Father still views me with considerable ambiguity as a result. And I fear that I agree with you that, as regards the general populace, biology is destiny: It takes someone with the moral fiber of a St. Thomas More to rise above the biological imperative.

That's why we call them saints.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I see the correlation between "what America watches" and "what America is." I would think there'd be no entertainment value in essentially watching your own life. I know if my life were on TV, no one would watch it. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I'd think that the interest would be in the escapism/fantasy type life or at least a Hollywood version of real life that takes the basic average life and adds a ton more drama, comedy, and overall excitement. A lot of those "reality" shows are "guilty pleasures" to people. Is their life a guilty pleasure? No, it's boring, so they watch something on TV that's unlike them because it's more entertaining.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, I agree to some extent; all "art" (making the huge assumption that TV is art) is caricature. But it comes down to a question of being relatable (which is another one of those wince-worthy latter-day currencies that should be tied up together with empowerment, non-starter and a few others and set ablaze). If the material on TV was foreign to viewers--if it didn't make people nod and smile and say "yep, yep"--no one would watch. (This, incidentally, is a 180-degree turnabout from early TV, which did indeed rely on the absurd and non-relatable, e.g. I Love Lucy, etc.) Now, of course, these TV glimpses of our life are taken to extremes, and then thrown together into a stew of bizarre circumstance that few of us encounter in real life. Still, we identify with the girl who got dumped via text-message, or the guy who was already reaching for the remote before he'd finished climaxing. We "know those people," and recognize what lives inside us that resembles them.

Same thing with the great comics like Carlin, Rock, and others at that level: They shine a light on the absurdities of our behavior that makes us see things in a more clarifying way. If we didn't "get" the joke, or understand how it applied to us, we wouldn't laugh.

RevRon's Rants said...

"they watch something on TV that's unlike them because it's more entertaining."

I think that, while many people watch TV for its escapist potential, many also watch out of the narcissistic desire to see a caricature of themselves and/or a parody of their own lives. We are drawn most to those situations and characters with which we can identify. Even the most evil antagonist must have *some* qualities which we share at some level, even if only in our most guilty hidden pleasures or deepest doubts. Lacking any such qualities, the character never rises above the level of a 2-dimensional cartoon.

Charlie Sheen's character in Two and a Half Men is a good example (for me, anyway). How many times have I been tempted to respond to another person's heartfelt expression with some callous retort, even if only in jest? And even Sir Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal character was as compelling for his admittedly evil genius as he was repulsive for his actions.

Steve Salerno said...

P.S. This does not contradict what I said earlier about comedians who imply that all men actually are unfaithful. Comedic routine should not be taken literally. They're metaphors and allegories. But do they accurately depict human nature, especially the taboos and "things unspoken"? Yes, I believe that the better ones do.

RevRon's Rants said...

Just for the record, I hadn't seen Steve's last comment before submitting mine. I guess we were "predestined" to offer similar reflections. :-)

Jen said...

Elizabeth wrote: In a spirit of friendly concern, I have a piece of advice for you: less "Lifetime," more life.

I couldn't help but laugh at this because my almost 18-year-old daughter mocks me for enjoying the offerings on that particular channel, although she (not so secretly) enjoys watching it, too.

Would you call Lifetime a self-help channel?

Steve Salerno said...

"Lifetime: Catharsis TV..."

Jen said...

Steve, why do you suppose we like to broadcast our views? Whether in these blogs, in conversations with people on the phone, in our living rooms with our family members, or just anywhere people congregate, we just can't seem to get enough of talking.

Yesterday, my daughter insisted I watch a movie with her, "Black Snake Moan." Have you seen it? Beautiful (in the full sense of that word) portrayal of ... I don't quite know how to put it other than just life, in general. The metaphors, especially of the chain, go a long way toward describing self control.

Steve Salerno said...

Jen: Haven't seen the movie, and from what I hear it's my loss.

I suppose we "broadcast our views" because it's how we validate ourselves: "I declaim, therefore I am..."? That would also explain why we interpret attacks on our views as attacks on our persons (even though I believe, more and more, that our conscious thoughts may be the least of us).

RevRon's Rants said...

"why do you suppose we like to broadcast our views?"

I think our varies from forum to forum, and perhaps even day to day. Sometimes, we want to hear someone agree with & validate us. Other times, we want something that challenges our perspective and forces us to either hold it more dear or modify it... sometimes, even abandon it altogether. In short, I don't think there's any single, all-encompassing answer as to why we prattle on so. Maybe we're just bored sometimes... :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Steve. You are saying, basically, that men feel disrespected and are moved to cheat by women being women and doing what women do. It's a pickle, isn't it.

Anonymous said...

Ladies of the forum, please, what do you mean by not having girl talk? Have you heard the way men talk to each other - you cannot tell me that it sounds the same as when women talk to each other. Therefore if you have had a conversation with another women with the topic of conversation being your man - its girl talk. Own it rather then deluding yourself that it isn't happening. I have my married friends talk to me about their husbands all the time, sometimes funny, sometimes exasperated, sometimes serious but all the times they love him - they just need to talk about it with someone in order to feel better - Its what women do. Men, go fishing or running or hunting etc

As for Sex in the City, again, I don't know if you ladies are married or not - in which case then your life would not resemble anything like sex in the city but for us single gals - its actually very similar. Of course you gotta take away the millions she's spending on Jimmy Choos or the stick thin figure they've got but the rest is pretty much the same. We go to work, hang out with friends and go on dates with Mr Wrong and Mr Desasterous while trying to manifest our Mr Big. Really I can't see the difference.


Steve Salerno said...

Londoner: Thanks for your input--which I will admit that I welcome, not necessarily because one woman's experience proves anything, but because sometimes my voice does get a bit lonely out here in the wilderness.

In fact, I'm not sure that any of us can claim to be "speaking for the gender," let alone the species. But I'm struck by the way in which some female contributors seem almost to characterize themselves as "post-gender," as if they're purely rational essences that have no socio-biological underpinnings. Now, if this is true, it's a good thing, I suppose. I just question whether it's true (in part because of the stances they've taken on other topics), and also whether such people are being honest with themselves. Then again, I've had similar allegations lodged against me, so who knows.

Jen said...

Londoner, you wrote: "As for Sex in the City, again, I don't know if you ladies are married or not - in which case then your life would not resemble anything like sex in the city but for us single gals - its actually very similar."

I love to watch Sex in the City! And it's one of those shows that I probably never would have gotten interested in if not for my daughter. :) We enjoy watching it together. I can tell you those women's experience didn't exactly mirror my own as a single person (in another lifetime, it sometimes seems), but I can sure relate to the humor and friendship they share. And (this is for Ron) watching is great entertainment when you're bored!

Steve, for you: As for whether this show or any show on television "mirrors real life," I would just say think of it this way: When those actors are up there on stage doing their acting thing, it's just work. Another day on the job, for them. That's the reality. They are workers in the field of entertainment!

And that, my friend, is entertainment. ;)

Jen said...

Steve, you wrote: "But I'm struck by the way in which some female contributors seem almost to characterize themselves as "post-gender," as if they're purely rational essences that have no socio-biological underpinnings."

Who are you talking about here?

Come on, name names!

Steve Salerno said...

Jen: You mean...all single women aren't doing the Xerox guy under their desks in midday?

As to your second comment: Now, now. Be nice.

Jen said...

" Now, now. Be nice."

Hey, I was just afraid you were talking about me!

I sometimes like to think I'm above all the melodrama, but alas....

Anonymous said...

Oh, please, Steve. "Be nice?" Don't be boring all of a sudden. It does not suit you. (Jen, Steve means me. Mainly. But not exclusively.)

Now. Oh dear... Where is Aunt Edna when you need her?

But, Aunt Edna aside, I have a feeling that you did not quite "get" everything I said here, Steve. If I read you correctly (and I may be wrong) you act hurt and offended by, what is in your eyes, an unexpected and unduly harsh response to a post that describes reality as you see it (not you, per se ;).

There is nothing "post-gender" in my objections to your post. In fact, they are very gender-y, so to speak. But I think that saying it is not going to matter anyway. Maybe when the emotions calm down a bit (in several months or so:), you'll be able to re-read this post and the responses and arrive at a perhaps different conclusion. Then again, maybe not. No problem either way. Or maybe not? OK.

P.S. Jen, what melodrama?

Anonymous said...

A final rejoinder, still in the spirit of friendly concern, so as not to waste a post that was written, one has to assume, in good will.

The Steve's Circle of Marital Woe, presented here, looks as follows:

The husband realizes, Oh, no! She shops! She talks!! Maybe even about ME! Probably about me -- what else would she talk about, right? It's only natural that when women get together, they talk about men. Their men in particular. And especially about how lousy we are as husbands and especially as lovers. I'm sure they make fun of our you know what! And, oh no, gasp, now she acts motherly!!

Yes, of course I want her to shop, clean and cook for me, and take care of all my daily needs -- after all, that's one of the reasons I married her, but, for godsakes, she should know when to stop -- when I want her to act mistressy to fulfill my sexual needs. Why the hell doesn't she know that? She is so disrespectful! And selfish. But I won't let her emasculate me, oh no. I will have an affair -- that'll show her!

So off he goes (after punching a wall first, because that's what men do when upset -- they hit or screw :), so off he goes to screw. Another woman, that is.

And she is, like, awesome! Totally hot, mistressy, none of that daily annoying stuff that grinds my masculinity down. She is there when I want her and not there when I no longer do. And it's fantastic. For a while. Because...

Oh no! Gawd! She shops! She talks! And I'm sure she talks about me -- what else would she be talking about? And now she is starting to act all motherly! Aaaargh! Please tell me it ain't so! Gosh darn it (a euphemism, admittedly) -- I'm gonna teach HER a lesson. I'm gonna have an affair -- that'll show her!

And off he goes...

And so it continues, with a couple of possible resolutions (or none at all), depending on the man's ability to 1. learn and 2. develop self-criticism and 3. grow a heart (i.e., empathy and compassion). It is possible that when this happens (if it happens), he may end up back with his woman no.1, aka wife -- either as a revenge on his last mistress, or after getting exhausted by his futile search for the impossible, and/or wanting to settle and actually missing the comforts of his motherly wife. He may even do so because he could realize that he was driven, all that time, by his own insecurity, his egocentric needs and/or hostility toward his mother (and his wife and women in general). He may even feel humbled by the realization, guilty for his pig-headedness, and ready to make amends. That would indeed bode well for his marriage (with wife no.1 or 2, depending on circumstances) and, dare we say, his life.

Wait, what...? No, you should not hold your breath.

A final note: perhaps the men vs. women relational harping we so self-righteously and un-compassionately cultivate is not entirely our personal fault, so to speak. Perhaps the problem is... monogamy -- no, really -- and its chafing constraints on our sexuality, which create miseries that we (or some of us at least) seem compelled to unload on the other sex, without realizing that the other sex is not really responsible for this state of affairs. Just a thought after reading What Do Women Want? (Yes, they mean sex. And yes, there are surprises.)

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: I did not mean you mainly, and certainly not exclusively (as you surmised). In my "post-gender" reference I was thinking more of our sniping anonymi who may or may not be more than one person.

Anonymous said...

P.S. In case it is not immediately clear, the first part of my last comment was written with my tongue in *my* cheek. I think. (Hm. Or was it my foot? Ah... Those hot and confusing Monday mornings...;)

WV: femmbi. (LOL! As above!)

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Your 12:46 hadn't yet come through when I wrote my 12:55. I must say, that's pretty good; entertaining and sarcastic.

May I just point out--consider this Exhibit L in my ongoing endeavor to stress that this isn't "about me"--that I never needed a woman to cook, clean or "take care of my daily needs" (except for one need, which is affection more than sex, per se). I think I've said this before, but I cook and do windows, baseboards, toilet bowls and laundry. (I don't do the laundry in the toilet.) I wipe floors and other wood surfaces as well as the stove burners compulsively and am always "straightening up." I will also decide to paint things (moldings, windows sills) in midday. I get down on all fours and play with my grandchildren, who, when they're hurt or scared or otherwise need comfort, seek me out, if I'm available, before their mothers or Kathy. So there.

Anonymous said...

Londoner -- ha ha ha!! Funny.

You know, I belong to a small group of women (7 of us), who meet every month or so just to talk. The story of our group is quite interesting, but besides the point here. We have been meeting for 10 years now. All of us are married, some multiple times, and have children (and very interesting personal histories, if I may say so myself). During the first several years, my husband used to ask me, after I came home, what we talked about. He was curious each time and each time disappointed when I told him. He was convinced we were talking about men, *our* men, but, alas, we were not. Really. (He doesn't ask anymore.)*

It seems men really think that we women talk about them so much. (Or at least about sex, dang it. Something really interesting, IOW. And what's more interesting than men and sex! No?)

Well, not all of us do. And you seem to act surprised and, in fact, you disbelieve those of us who say we don't do that and have no experience doing that. Now, why is it so hard to accept? No, really?

*This is the extent of my "girl-talk."

Anonymous said...

I never needed a woman to cook, clean or "take care of my daily needs" (except for one need, which is affection more than sex, per se). I think I've said this before, but I cook and do windows, baseboards, toilet bowls and laundry. (I don't do the laundry in the toilet.) I wipe floors and other wood surfaces as well as the stove burners compulsively and am always "straightening up." I will also decide to paint things (moldings, windows sills) in midday. I get down on all fours and play with my grandchildren, who, when they're hurt or scared or otherwise need comfort, seek me out, if I'm available, before their mothers or Kathy.

Oh, stop bragging already. ;)

Besides, you thought you got some heat already? If you continue in this vein (as quoted above), you'll have all the men writing nasty comments here, 'cuz you're spoiling their game (and image).


Anonymous said...

Jeezus, Steve, YOU DO WINDOWS??!!!

I'ma get me a break. I gotta. That's waay too much to handle for my feeble mind decidedly not used to such revelations. It's worse than porn!

To use Roger's favorite acronym, TMI!


Anonymous said...

No, I haven't recovered yet (probably never will -- thanks, Steve), but have to add something to my response to Londoner.

L, you said:

Have you heard the way men talk to each other

OK, where would we hear that? When we (women) are present, obviously (and by definition) men do not do "men-talk" (whatever it means). So we wouldn't hear the way men talk to each other UNLESS we eavesdrop, no? (I tend not to do that and/or perhaps have not had opportunities, which roughly accounts for the same thing.)

Or unless we take as "men-talk" what we see on teevee, in which case we may be duped into believing something that's not quite true.

Alright, now back to (my attempt at) recovering.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is definitely one of those threads -- highly educational, in addition to its, er, emotional richness (which comes across as melodrama, go figure!;)

The educational part comes in observing, among other things, how stereotypical we tend to be in our assumptions about members of the opposite sex (and the opposite sex as a whole). Steve does windows (and toilet bowls, gasp!:) -- who knew, right? Debbie, Yekat, Eliz and Lioness don't do girl-talk -- imagine that! (Don't know about Jen, she has remained wisely above the melodrama. :))

In fact, we learned that Yekat (and Eliz, I should add) don't use any of the four horses of the marital apocalypse (though I'd confess to shopping, if tortured), as unthinkable as it may seem.

Some of us, women and men, reacted here in a motherly fashion -- trying to smooth out the discussion's edges and strive for understanding, while others reacted like the hot-blooded people they are (men and women) and got, well, pissed off (a little).

And one just has to note, with a bit of wicked glee, that, after all, some of us preferred the soothing motherly responses, while others seemed to enjoy (or at least support) the intense and hot-blooded ones. Ahem. :)

So doesn't it all tell us that we, as real individuals are much more complex and defy stereotypes,* certainly those cultivated in the media?

BTW, I was in thrall of "Sex and The City" for a while, but it got boring pretty fast -- too cutesy and self-absorbed. It's hard to care or be interested in these people. That is my main gripe about women's shows, BTW. I do not watch "women's TV," I also do not read so-called women's lit (I may be weird, that's true, but I know many -- OK, some -- feminine women who are not into this stuff either). I do like movies, though, with interesting, complex female characters -- one of my all-time favorites is "Antonia's Line." (Don't worry, almost no one else has seen it either.:)

*Yes, I know there is always some truth in stereotypes, but we are dealing here -- and elsewhere -- with individual people who not only do not fit the mold, but quite often break it open. (Is there even a mold to speak of?) Thus the disclaimer typically found in the SHAM products -- Results not typical. Individual results may vary; many restrictions may apply -- should always be used when we attempt to draw general conclusions about human behavior, especially when it comes to gender. JMO.

Anonymous said...

About Antonia's Line.

literary lioness said...

I read Sex and the City and was appalled by how badly it was written! Candace Brushnell went from first person to third person within the same paragraph. Why didn't her editor reign her in? I was confused through most of the book with with whether or not Carrie (lead character) or another character was taking the cocaine and drinking.

The television show was nothing like the book, which was very depressing and nihilistic. If the book had been adapted faithfully, it never would have made it to HBO.

By the way, the television show was written primarily by gay males. Darren Star (bought the rights/creator) and Michael Patrick King (lead writer/producer) are both openly homosexual. I guess homosexual males know more about what "girls" talk about than we do ourselves.

Steve Salerno said...

Not by coincidence, I guess, do especially femme gay men in groups call each other "girls," or do women enjoy taking a gay "walker" with them when they shop, etc.

Anonymous said...

One more comment and then I'll shut up, before anyone accuses me of talking too much (hard to fathom, I know, but stranger things have happened).

Steve, you used the term post-gender. If there is just one thing I'd like you (and others, God willing) to take away from my rambling here is that I, like many others, did not get that memo. In fact, I've never been in-gender, if you will, so I can't claim the honor of being post it. Judging by your mind-blowing confessions (windows, toilet bowls AND baseboards! and you loved reading and music as a kid), you too have not quite fit the "in-gender" category, at least as far as the stereotypical notions of gender go. So my rhetorical question (for you, but not only) is, Why must we torture ourselves so, with those strange stereotypical requirements, expectations and prejudices for being "properly" male and female? Yes, there is basic biology, but beyond that, as even this thread has demonstrated, the type-casting may not work all that well.

Lioness, sorry, I've realized that you too do not do the Awful Four -- should have included you in my name-by-name summary above.

And, Steve:

Your 12:46 hadn't yet come through when I wrote my 12:55.

LOL! Sounds like we are talking about a train schedule. :)

P.S. Do read the review of Antonia's Line if you have a moment. Or better yet, rent the movie. You will not regret it. I promise. These are the characters -- people -- I can easily relate to; in fact, I think I know each of them personally.:) And there is nothing special about them, BTW, other than the fact that each of them is lovably (and usually lovingly) quirky.

Sigh. Alright. Enough. No? ;)

Anonymous said...

Two relevant (and brief) articles:

New Research on Why People Cheat:

(...)"Infidelity could be a regulatory emotional strategy used by people with an avoidant attachment style. The act of cheating helps them avoid commitment phobia, distances them from their partner, and helps them keep their space and freedom."

(...) these studies were followed up by two other studies that asked about the motives for infidelity. The will to distance themselves from commitment and their partner was the number one reason cited.

(The) studies revealed no differences between men and women. Just as many men and women had an avoidant attachment style and the correlation with infidelity is just as strong on both sides. "Contrary to popular belief, infidelity isn't more prevalent in men," (the researcher) says.

And Men Talk More Than Women Overall, But Not In All Circumstances:

(...) The authors found a small but statistically reliable tendency for men to be more talkative than women overall -- especially in certain contexts, such as when they were conversing with their wives or with strangers. Women talked more to their children and to their college classmates.

(...) with strangers, women were generally more talkative when it came to using speech to affirm her connection to the listener, while men's speech focused more on an attempt to influence the listener. With close friends and family, however, there was very little difference between genders in the amount of speech.

"These findings compellingly debunk simplistic stereotypes about gender differences in language use," conclude (the researchers). "The notion that the female brain is built to systematically out-talk men is hard to square with the finding that gender differences appear and disappear, depending on the interaction context. The results of the meta-analyses bolster arguments for social rather than strong biological influences of gender differences in language use."

Anonymous said...


I got one question to ask you - and please take it in the jest that it was intended -

Do you use your whole 20 000 words per day on this blog or do you spread it around??


literary lioness said...

"Not by coincidence, I guess, do especially femme gay men in groups call each other 'girls,' or do women enjoy taking a gay 'walker' with them when they shop, etc."

Well, I have a good gay male friend who lives in New York and he thought the show was bad for gays, because it portrayed them that way. I do not have a "gay walker." I must get by on my own fashion sense. I know I still do a lot better than Carrie did. She always looked like she got dressed in the dark. She was the worst dressed of the quartet.

I always thought that show was very over the top and not believeable. Who can run around NYC in three inch heels without falling? Who really believed a hunk like Chris Noth (Mr. Big) would want not too attractive Carrie? How does a writer get any writing done by being around so many people so often? How does a writer afford Jimmy Choo shoes on the salary of writing a column for a free rag? I need to get me a job with a free rag if they are paying that well! No wonder they can't break even.

If any woman took that show seriously, she's got bigger problems than her man cheating on her. She needs to see a good therapist about her fantasy life. She might be seeing little green men in her apartment too. Heck, her man is probably imaginary so she does not have to worry!

literary lioness said...

I forgot to state why I do not discuss my husband's faults among others. First, it's mean. I try to treat others the way I would like to be treated and trashing my husband behind his back would be cruel. Second, whatever I have to say to my husband, I say it to his face. Finally, my husband is a reflection of my choices and trashing him is actually trashing me. I was the one who married him. Besides, I can always discuss my husband via my writing.

When I get together with my friends, which is not often, usually children is the main topic of discussion. The shows Steve mentions were not too big on children; at least not that I can recall.

I read blogs and occasionally comment, because sometimes it is interesting. It also distracts me from the work I should be doing and every once in a while, I need that breather.

Anonymous said...


Do you use your whole 20 000 words per day on this blog...?

Yes. :)

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, I've seen "Antonia's Line." I agree that it is an unforgettable movie. Warm and humane, but not syrupy. Realistic, above all, even with its touch of magic.

Anonymous said...

'why people like to broadcast their views?'

That's a condescending way to put it.
If we did want to 'broadcast' our views, this blog and others would not exist.

'I declaim, therefore I am' makes sense: we are looking for validation, but also for meaningful exchanges of thoughts with others, even if the exchange component is not always there. We want to be heard and acknowledged. Each of us wants to matter, to others. Ultimately, for many of us, it is about seeking human contact and being less lonely.

Dimension Skipper said...

Elizabeth, I know that the good folks at Language Log have spent significant time debunking the usually assumed stereotype that women generally talk more than men. Unfortunately I was unable to quickly hit upon a useful search phrase for the topic on their site and I don't see anything obvious in their list of categories. I suppose if one is more diligent about trying various search phrases, one could find at least some of the relevant posts eventually. I know it's not important and probably no one cares (or necessarily should), but just thought I'd throw it out there.

BTW, I've still been following the threads here as usual, but it just so happens I have no opinions one way or the other on this particular topic of infidelity, and nothing to add in the way of information either. However, as usual I've found the various perspectives of interest. Sometimes I just like to watch. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear Anon (of "Antonia's Line"), if you are not my husband (hi, Paul?), then you are only the second person I "meet" who's seen it (apart from Roger Ebert who apparently is a fan too and wrote that beautiful review).

No matter. I'm happy to hear that -- and welcome to our little (oh-so-exclusive ;) club. Don't you just love those characters? Can't help it but be moved by their lives. I can identify with them, particularly with little Theresa and Crooked Finger (LOL, yes). My own life has had many elements of the different characters' biographies. These are "my" people. But then that's the beauty of the movie, I suppose, that most of us can say that. Although this one feels particularly close to me -- I know its landscapes, the interiors, the rituals; it feels like... going home.

Actually, I should go out and rent it again -- I'm overdue for a boost of warmth and whimsy (though I will skip the rape scene this time).

Another all-time-favorite and similar to AL in its humane realism (as you put it) is Orphans, a Scottish film about four working-class siblings whose mother dies and whose grieving we follow throughout the day before the funeral. It's heart-wrenching and hilarious at the same time. You laugh your ass off, while biting your fingers and weeping for and with the characters. I think I'ma put it on my list again as well.

DimSkip, will check the LL. It is important, and I care. Thank you. :)

Sometimes I just like to watch. ;-) ?!

The more we know, LOL! But then who doesn't (like to watch, something, sometimes :). We are all voyeurs, in one form or another.

Which brings me to my last but not least...

Anon 2:40 -- well said. I agree.

Jen said...

This is already an ancient thread, heavy with comments, and yet if Elizabeth ever comes back here, maybe she'll see this:

Jen, what melodrama?

Birth, death, and a smattering of events in between. ;)

Jen said...

Anonymous 2:40 PM responded to something I wrote, 'why people like to broadcast their views?' with:

"That's a condescending way to put it."

Wasn't meant that way. I am guilty, too, of course. And yes all those reasons you list are valid.

What I was more or less doing was addressing my own tendency to talk. Which reminds me how grateful I am to have people in my life who rein me in when I need it, and sometimes even when I don't. ;)

Anonymous said...

Jen, what melodrama?

Birth, death, and a smattering of events in between. ;)

Oh, you mean that same ol', same ol'... Come closer and I'll whisper a secret to your ear:
You are not above it, Jenny girl, m'dear. :)

Anonymous said...

'And one just has to note, with a bit of wicked glee, that, after all, some of us preferred the soothing motherly responses, while others seemed to enjoy (or at least support) the intense and hot-blooded ones.'

Isn't that the truth! We have men complaining that women treat them 'motherly', but the same men run to the nearest mother figure when faced with the slightest criticism or when not getting the love and admiration they expect for themselves.

I don't know, but it seems to me you can't have it both ways. If you don't want a woman to act like your mother, be a man, not a baby. Also, don't marry a motherly woman. Not all women are this way. If you chose one that has strong maternal impulses, think about what attracted you to her in the first place. Maybe you cannot handle fiery females, you are afraid and intimidated by them--that happens. Often. But don't blame your wife for it.

Anonymous said...

Good points, Anon. "Fiery females," LOL! Hey, we could continue this thread happily for weeks to come. :)

In fairness to Steve, I agree with him on the unattractiveness of mothering one's man. I find it emasculating and strongly unappealing -- and I'm a woman.

But it is true that many men, even if not outwardly attracted to this mothering, really want and desire it, at least at some point of their relationship. They feel more secure with the mother-types. Not all men, but many -- or at least some, in my experience. They may deny it, but it is sufficient to look at their insecure and needy behavior to see how they would evoke those motherly responses even from women who are not so inclined.

I do not look or act motherly, never have (just ask my children ;). And I do not intend to. The idea of mothering "my man" is as alien and unappetizing to me as macaroni and cheese. Even in 20 years, if I'm still alive, I don't think anyone, male or female, could confuse me with a mother figure. I just don't have it in me. I also plan to be a hip grandma when and if my children commit the sin of propagation (hope not any time soon, knock on wood). That does not mean that I cannot be nurturing when needed (I'd hope), but it is definitely not my first response, so to speak. And I have always been attracted to much older men, thinking that they would know better "what women want" and be able to deliver that (my "first" was twice my age).

But experience has taught me that age and male maturity do not go hand in hand. Some men never grow up (i.e., become man enough for a relationship with a non-motherly woman) and they gravitate toward and couple with mother figures, even though they may complain about and rebel against the mothering.

What's funny (in a sad way, perhaps) is that these men are often attracted, when already married, to "fiery females," who are livelier, more stimulating, more adventurous and responsive, sexually and otherwise, than their wives/mommies -- but they cannot "handle" them, as you put it. Nor do the non-motherly women put up with them (the boys) for too long as they show themselves to be, more often than not, the bottomless pits of narcissistic neediness. So the affairs between such men and non-motherly women fizzle out, because the men simply cannot meet the woman's expectations (and the men usually learn in the process that their motherly wife was what they wanted in the first place -- a good thing, too, which could only be better if they realized it before creating emotional drama and messes for everyone).

"Fiery females" look for and require strong, confident men who can rise to the challenge (no pun) and "handle" them in a proper way (if you know what I mean, you know what I mean; if not, you are not one of them ;). So a piece of advice to any man contemplating an affair with a "fiery female" in order to get away from or get even with his motherly wife: Think twice before you start it. You may not be up to this challenge. It'll likely be too much to handle for you, after all.

To Jen, if she comes back here:

You know, my "What melodrama?" question was meant as WHAT MELODRAMA?!?!?!?! ;)

Anonymous said...

Eliz, you should write an advice column, "Dear Fiery Female"... ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

Hell... My own mother wasn't the "motherly" type, but a fiery lass who ultimately morphed into a "crusty old broad." My own reaction to being "mothered" is one of distrust; it just feels condescending, and would probably be one of the few things that could potentially lead me to seek greener pastures. Nurturing is fine (and occasionally essential), but it has to be real, rather than feigned.

Eliz the fiery said, "experience has taught me that age and male maturity do not go hand in hand. Some men never grow up (i.e., become man enough for a relationship with a non-motherly woman)..."

What about those of us who never grew up, thanks in great part to having fiery moms? Anyway, maturity isn't always everything it's cracked up to be... and neither are relationships with them motherly types! :-)

Anonymous said...

Ron, my friend, good points.

Eliz the fiery... Ha ha ha! This may be a bit of an overstatement. Not quite fiery, me, but definitely not motherly. I'm of a strong belief that you mother your children but *not* your man. I like him strong, decisive, dominating (yes) and in charge in all -- OK, in most -- situations. I'm rather traditional this way (if not old-fashioned), despite occasional appearances to the contrary.

P.S. Y'know, my thoughts here are not about me, per se. ;)