Archive | March, 2011

Why Women Wait to Wed

Are women waiting to get married? Are they defying the custom we believe to be truth–snaring reluctant bachelors into wedlock? Are they now the ones saying, Not Yet?  Yes. Long thought to be the ones pushing those balky bachelors, women are no longer doing so.

For years I’ve been hearing about the “delay” in marriage insisted on by many women, who are simply not as eager as they once were to be wives. For one thing, these young women have greater resources. For another, they don’t have the time, nor feel as inclined as they once might have, to put their all into  intimate relationships. As one 23-year-old guest on my local television show, “The Love Goddess Show,” put it,  “I don’t want to be the one in charge of maintaining relationship. I’m too busy. So right now, I’m lying low.”

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Why The Least Interested Loses in Long-term Love

A reader reminds me that, in my blogs about the Power of the Least Interested, I forgot to speak about how the phenomenon plays out in long-term relationships. Does the least interested maintain power over the more interested partner, once romantic attraction moves into love?

Not for very long.  The usual set-up years ago was the familiar eager-to-please woman endlessly trying to engage her distracted, disengaged, or plainly disinterested husband. Her heartbreaking, losing techniques:  Asking questions. Repeating questions. Attempting to be seductive, funny, young, pretty. (Just saying these in print makes me mad and remind me of all those magazine articles: “Ten Surefire Ways to Make Him Happy!” and all those songs about how to please, win back and stand by that cheatin’ guy.)  One study showing that husbands and wives speak to one another an average of 13 minutes a week (and then, only because they have to arrange childcare and meal issues) says it all: Interest in one’s partner is at risk over time.  And if that partner happens to be a woman, well, poor dear. Continue Reading →

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Exit Donna Reed and Father Knows Best

On my last television show–a cable-access show in Connecticut called The Love Goddess Show–I had two guests, a woman and a man, Louise and Tracy, opposites in every way except  that they’re both past middle age and both single. Louise is busy with her career, refuses to go online to date, and wouldn’t make”dating,” per se, a priority if her life depended upon it.  If she meets someone, great. If not, great too.

Tracy, at 60, is divorced, and like so many recently  divorced men, wants to be involved again asap. He works alone. He is, by his own admission, needy–not in the way women have been accused  (read: too needy), but just in need of a solid, sexually exclusive relationship. It’s what he wants and he says so. He goes online to meet women and hopes not to date them all but to find one to be with. Oh, and he likes women to be as assertive as he is–in fact, maybe more. This is not a man afraid of women’s assertiveness, aggressiveness, anger. Continue Reading →

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Advice or Abuse?

Why do we suddenly  love experts who scream at their quivering audiences? What is it in us that wants the Glenn Beck experience with our self-improvement?

Who made it fashionable among advice-givers to shriek? Was it Dr. Phil, whose relationship tips are shouted out so roughly  to troubled couples? Was it Jim Cramer of “Mad Money,” ridiculing his audience for not investing his (often disastrous) way?   Judge Judy, whose wisdom on the bench increasingly became over the years slicing and dicing the plaintiff? (Granted, that plaintiff is usually odious.) Or  Jillian Michaels, hollering at the obese on “The Biggest Loser”? Suddenly, tyranny is cool and verbal abuse, a promising recovery technique.

“You wouldn’t like the weight-loss guru Jillian Michaels when she’s angry,” reads the blurb under a piece entitled “THE FIGHTER” in today’s New York Times  Magazine, accompanied by a smirking Michaels. Continue Reading →

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Whose Laundry Do YOU Do?

Women of all ages tell me that they want evolved relationships with enlightened men, men who know that developing intimacy skills is part of the job of being a 21st century guy.  And I ask these 21st century women, “Okay, cool, but who are you in this? Are you playing the role of a 20th century woman?”

The story of intimacy in college dorms reveals that the new paradigm of hooking up–which was supposed to free women to make sexual choices without waiting for a commitment, or even a relationship–has some really tired old baggage. It’s still men who decide whom to see again after the inital hook-up. It’s still men who earn a cool-guy reputation for hooking up a lot, and yes, it’s still women who are called “sluts” for doing the same.

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The One Who Can Walk, Wins: The Power of the Least Interested, Part 7

In a new relationship, and maybe even in a not-so-new one, the person less dependent on the other, less in love, perhaps–holds the power.  One way the least interested wields power is simply by refusing to become more interested.

To wit: A study I set up featuring a youngish couple I was seeing for therapy, one in a rather old-fashioned dynamic. I was getting my graduate degree at the time.

The wife, Madeline, came in saying that she felt “powerless” in her marriage. Her husband, Frank, made all the decisions, she said. He might be oblivious to this fact, she added,, and might want to believe otherwise, but their lives revolved around his desires, not hers. She felt this truth passionately, but had difficulty articulating the myriad ways in which her powerlessness was manifested—and how it diminished her. From what they ate for dinner to what they saw at the movies, she felt she had little say. Why? “Because I don’t decide how we spend the money, nor do I have access to our money.” Continue Reading →

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Using The Power of The Least Interested: Part 6

Don’t you love this photo, taken by the wonderful photogapher Pam Barkentin Blackburn? It illustrates the mood of  The Power of the Least Interested in a way few other pictures do.

In a perfect dating world, you’d never have to play games. You’d meet a guy, he’d like you, you’d like him, you’d date, you’d fall in love. You’d be honest; so would he. In time, one of you would ask straight out for a commitment; the other would say, “I’m yours.”

Dream on. When it comes to love, we’re all a little perverse, and it’s clear that elusiveness increases desire; being busy earns respect; and there’s nothing like someone else’s interest in you to perk up that guy who’s taking you for granted. Men do respond to the idea that a woman has a life and could find another man in a second.

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