Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On the mating dance

Psychology Today has always been a magazine more commonly polluted with faux-intellectual relationship foppery than discerning analyses of psychology issues. The magazine is to psychology what Newsweek is to news, but less informative. Relationship Rules is a good example of what one is likely to find. It's a 25 point edict on the rules of a relationship, with important must knows like:

* Cooperate, cooperate, cooperate. Share responsibilities. Relationships work ONLY when they are two-way streets, with much give and take.
* Stay open to spontaneity.
* Maintain your energy. Stay healthy.
* Never underestimate the power of good grooming.
* Sex is good. Pillow talk is better. Sex is easy, intimacy is difficult. It requires honesty, openness, self-disclosure, confiding concerns, fears, sadnesses as well as hopes and dreams.
* Never go to sleep angry. Try a little tenderness.

So much for psychology. Once in a while however the magazine comes through. It's not always chicken soup for the soul stuff. Kaja Perina has a nice long read on Love's Loopy Logic.

Men have a notoriously elastic take on women's romantic receptivity. You might call it a "take-all-prisoners" approach to flirting, so frequently do men presume sexual interest on the part of a potentially available woman. The "She Wants Me" bias serves a convenient purpose for men—it actually increases their sexual opportunities. Because men invest less of themselves in offspring relative to women, it is in their genetic interests to reproduce as much as possible. Therefore, perceptions that promote sexual assertiveness tend to be functional. This inclination doesn't mean the average guy is delusional about his sex appeal, it just means that if he has a great date he will probably report more interest on the part of his consort than she herself reports.

Women, for their part, are biased right back. They skittishly insist that men are more keen on no-strings-attached sex than is the case. This "men are pigs" bias pits suspicious women against oversolicitous men in what Geoffrey Miller, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, labels a "never-ending arms race of romantic skepticism and excess." It could lead to great repartee: Think Bacall and Bogie, Josephine and Napoleon, Condi and Kim Jong Il.

Much better scholasticism, and advice.


Blogger oceanwhale said...

It has always intrigued me when people talk about love. When made opaque, however, it, more often than not, becomes vulgar. Here is another, much more caustic take on the subject of your post ; )

"Most women are so artificial that they have no sense of Art. Most men are so natural that they have no sense of Beauty".
-- Oscar Wild


4/02/2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger Scot said...

How is it that a gay men can offer such insightful observations on male/female relationships? That's a good quote, here's another:

"Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed."

4/05/2007 2:28 PM  

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