Dinner Scooped Off the Floor
“We strengthen a muscle by using it, and that is true of the heart and mind, too.” ——Danielle Crittenden
“I just got an email from him and I need your help,” was the first thing she said when I answered the phone.
The guy she was talking about had disappeared for six months following a series of disappointing dates had recently re-emerged. He was attempting to get back into her life after having admitted to tossing her phone number twice.
“Tell me why you’re in doubt about what to do,” I responded.
“Well, I was going to email him back to rehash what I told him my first reply. I did what you suggested and put it all out on the table, exactly what about his behavior had bothered me and why I didn’t see any point in getting together for lunch.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“His reply ignores everything I said like it was a non-issue and then goes on and on about what he wants. My first reaction was to backtrack, but then I thought about what you said about reactionary behavior.”
If someone walks by you carrying a plate containing your favorite meal and then on the way to deliver it to someone else they drop it on the floor. You watch them scoop it back onto the plate and then turn in your direction. When they arrive to your table with that meal would you want it? Does it still seem appetizing?
That’s essentially what the scenario I started out with illustrates. And it led me to re-think a question I hear all the time. “Why won’t men commit?”
The simple answer is sex. Let me explain. Historically, why did men marry? Because the social norms (respectability) dictated that sex was tied to marriage and commitment and it also increased the chances of a family’s survival. However, as increasing numbers of children are raised in divorced and single parent homes they no longer see modeling for the behavior that created those social norms.
Today many men are afraid to take on the responsibility of family life, which at some point might require them to support the family if the woman wanted to stay home to raise their children. Yet, many men still want families, its just a lot of them want them much later in life and this decreases their compatibility with their female peers who may be leaving childbearing age behind them.
Now that’s not to say that people weren’t always having sex outside of marriage, but when someone got pregnant they married because it was shameful to produce children out of wedlock. And of course, there’s always been prostitution and houses of ill repute. However, children can put quite a damper on the life of someone immersed in the single lifestyle.
But with the advances in contraceptives and the legalizing of abortion women have the freedom to acquire their own sexual exploits without the old deterrents. This became the overwhelming legacy of the feminist movement since many women were already in the workplace. It was their ability to advance that the feminist movement assisted, yet that has taken a backseat to the presumed sexual liberation.
It’s not until women get older and are for the most part regarded as less sexually desirable that the reality of youthful behavior starts to become evident in their minds. For increasing numbers it is the reality of single parenthood that wakes them up and for others it’s the long stint between relationships or the deterioration in the quality of them. The deterioration is actually the result of attempting to impose standards that aren’t received with compliance rather than an actual change in quality. At 35 a woman who has never been married is less likely to want to settle for a relationship that is primarily sexual. But let’s put that aside for second to look more closely at how the single parent aspect of this is playing out.
In Steve Sailer’s “Analysis: Unwed moms’ birth rate up” the University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending told United Press International, “I don’t think that high levels of fatherlessness are compatible with modern technological society for long.”
Sailer’s analysis continues: “The government data showed the proportion of children born to unmarried women is increasing in the overall population, according to the National Vital Statistics System. The U.S. percentage of new mothers who were unwed hit 33.8 percent in 2002, up from 33.5 percent in 2001. That compares to 18 percent in 1980 and 8 percent when Moynihan wrote his report.
American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray, author of the influential 1984 book “Losing Ground,” said, “Illegitimacy is the single most important social problem of our time — more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare or homelessness because it drives everything else.””
We have the power to choose, so why are so many choosing that? According to Sailer’s inquiry noted Harpending: “Such families were shown to “yield sons with sharply reduced quantitative and spatial abilities, mildly increased verbal abilities, who had difficulty with pair bonding. They were much more likely to divorce, and relative to controls, they lacked drive or ambition.”
Could this have an impact on the kind of men that women have to choose from?
Harpending’s research was one of the first to focus attention on the impact on daughters. “Father-absent girls have higher rates of illegitimate pregnancy, earlier and more sex, higher divorce rates.” He theorized that young women develop expectations about men from whether their father was a “dad or a cad.” If their father was a faithful provider, they will tend to hold out for a man who lives up to that standard, he said. When they do, that encourages young men to behave in socially responsible ways. When young women fail to ask much of young men, Harpending argued, this in turn leads to antisocial behavior in not just their children, but in their kids’ fathers as well.”
Now this leads to questions about the impact of stepfamilies. In particular the trend of people leaving first families to upgrade or simply create ones that they deem more suitable. I was once an advocate for people to marry young because it seemed longer dating experiences just produced more emotional baggage. What I understand now is that most people have no idea who they are when they are young and it is truly a minority that have a clear enough idea of who they are to actually select appropriate loving relationships. The required skills of relationship valuation remain a mystery to many and the result is perpetuation of the same old dysfunctional relationship patterns that drive them to desperately, if silently, crave romantic partnership. This leaves broken hearts all the way around and demonstrates a fundamental lack of maturity in too many cases.
Recently at a gathering I heard men talk about postponing commitment and choosing older women who have their own means because they can pursue their dreams instead of sacrificing them to provide for a family. Interestingly enough, several of these men also got a degree of financial assistance from their older partners without the pressure of committing. Women in this group have frequently come to terms with lowered expectations. Some are even happy with it, until the relationship ends or turns sour.
I think that the book “Elementary Particles” by Michele Houllebecq gives some startling insight into these kinds of relationships of convenience. One of the things that disturbed me most about reading it was the brutal way in which the desperation of some women leads them to take what they could get even when it meant being in relationships that left them feeling ultimately devalued. I know there are genuine May-December romances so I am not talking about that.
According to “What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman”, by Danielle Crittenden a poll conducted in 1995 showed that most women, 55 percent actually, hoped to combine marriage, family and career, and a further 26 percent wanted marriage and children but not a career. “The women who don’t desire these things — those who like living alone or who find perfectly fulfilling the companionship of their friends and cats or whose work eclipses their need for family — may be sincerely happy, but they should not be confused with the average woman….”
Crittenden goes on to make several important points, among them that:
“It is at this intimate level that feminism has failed women… So long as a woman was willing to play a man’s game at dating — playing the field, holding men to no expectations of permanent commitment — men would be around; they would even live with her! But the moment she began exuding that desire for something more permanent, they’d vanish. I suspect that few things are more off-putting to a man eating dinner than to notice that the woman across the table is looking at him more hungrily than at the food on her plate — and she is not hungry for his body but for his whole life.”
This is not something that it seems many people are prepared to offer up. I suspect it is because they themselves have not yet experienced wholeness. They are searching well into their forties. But that begs the question of why this society is producing immature adults in such massive quantities and I think the points made in this article shed some considerable light on the contributing factors. Society is changing, but people are still fundamentally the same.
What young twenty-somethings can’t see now is that many of them will be unmarried fourty-somethings eventually, and it will be in their thirties that the full gravity of choices made in their second decade will be felt. Crittendon illuminates this future reality with this warning:
“Whatever she does, though, she cannot be blamed for believing, at this point in her life, that it is men who have benefited most from women’s determination to remain independent. I often think that moderately attractive bachelors in their thirties now possess the sexual power that once belonged only to models and millionaires. They have their pick of companions, and may callously disregard the increasingly desperate thirtyish single women around them or move on when their current love becomes too cloying. As for the single woman over thirty, she may be in every other aspect of her life a paragon of female achievement; but in her romantic life, she must force herself to be as eager to please and accommodate male desire as any 1920s cotillion debutante.
This disparity in sexual staying power is something feminists rather recklessly overlooked when they urged women to abandon marriage and domesticity in favor of autonomy and self-fulfillment outside the home. The generation of women that embraced the feminist idealization of independence may have caused havoc by walking away from their marriages and families, but they could do so having established in their own mind that these were not the lives they wanted to lead: Those women at least had marriages and families from which to walk away. The thirty-three-year-old single woman who decides she wants more from life than her career cannot so readily walk into marriage and children; by postponing them, all she has done is to push them ahead to a point in her life when she has less sexual power to attain them. Instead, she must confront the sad possibility that she might never have what was the birthright of every previous generation of women: children, a home life, and a husband who — however dull or oppressive he might have appeared to feminist eyes — at least was there.”
Now I am certainly not advocating that anyone just jump into a marriage for the sake of having a man or a family. This is another mistake that has contributed to the current situation by fueling soaring divorce rates. In the U.S. now I think it’s at around 54%. Did you know that of the over 5 million people cohabitating (according the U.S. Census) that 55% of them will break up before getting married? And we all know that marriage statistics give just as much reason for concern. More than 80% of marriages face the challenges of infidelity.
These are the results of first, not adequately knowing and understanding yourself and secondly, of the general ignorance of relationship valuation. That knowledge is vital to selecting worthwhile relationships and partnerships. It is also critical to facing reality instead of trying to paint over or ignore it.
In the end your life will be what you make of it. Making the choice to follow one path means that many others will be sacrificed. Pretending that sacrifice can be avoided is ridiculous and immature. Just as indulging in dead end relationships with emotionally unavailable (to you) partners is an insane way to get the love you want.
Have women been too distracted by partner assisted orgasms and conforming to patriarchal inspired commercial ideals to notice that integrity and respect are vital considerations in an effective life strategy or is the problem that their lives lack any meaningful strategy?
The presence of specific qualities (honor, integrity, respect, honesty, and commitment) in abundance makes it possible for a couple to work through bumps in the road to ensure that neither party feels overly encumbered or oppressed. It is possible to have a marriage and family life where each member is supportive of all the others, and this includes the wife/mother wise enough to make a mature decision about partner selection that supports her highest ideals when viewing the family as a spiritual undertaking. I don’t mean spiritual in a religious sense, but rather an experience that calls on the deepest parts of the self for maturation.