ROSS IN RANGE
By Popular Demand:
Understanding Women & "The Rules" For Men, or
Think of it Like Driving in England
By John Ross
Copyright 2003 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.
Judging from my email traffic, a lot of you are absolutely clueless when it comes to dealing with your wives, girlfriends, and women in general. I get more praise for the 7/7/03 column than all the other ones put together, and "Give us more!" is a common refrain. Okay, here goes. It's Women 101 at John Ross University and class is now in session. Reread the 7/7 column first so I don't have to repeat myself.
Note: What follows are general truths, in the same vein as the statement "Women are shorter and have much less upper body strength than men." Don't annoy me with emails telling me how you know a woman who's 6'5" and benches 400. I don't care. This column deals with the default mode of American-born women under age 45. (I don't have any experience with women older than 45 to comment with confidence about that age group.)
1. Women process (and act on) information completely differently than men. Never forget this. Stop thinking of women as screwed-up men and start realizing that their minds were built from an entirely different blueprint.
Just as a hawk can discern details at distances that a man needs a ten-power scope to see, a woman is many times more capable than a man at reading the emotions of other women. (Women may be equally capable at reading men's emotions, but have never seen a need to.) Walk into a large party with a woman. You, the man, will see a bunch of people in a room, talking in groups of two to five. You'll see where the food and bar is, and notice any exceptionally attractive women in the room. That's it. Your companion, however, will be able to tell you which woman is angry, which one is lonely, which is happy, which is upset, which ones feel self-conscious, which ones are jealous, and (probably) which ones are having affairs and with which men. Your female companion will be able to accurately tell you these things within ten seconds of entering the room.
This ability comes at a price: Women are many times more sensitive than men to emotional pain. Imagine a man whose skin was so sensitive that ordinary contact was painful. Whenever someone shook his hand in greeting or clapped him on the shoulder in congratulations, it would feel to him as if boiling water were being thrown on his flesh. Now turn that disparity in physical sensitivity into emotional sensitivity and you'll get a good picture of a fundamental difference between men and women.
Men seldom if ever need to know what a group of other women is thinking, so they usually experience a woman's heightened sensitivity from the negative perspective. They hurt their wives' feelings without realizing it (just like the handshake in the above hypothetical) and then are baffled when their women are upset with them, often for days or weeks at a time, for seemingly no reason. (I'll discuss what to do about this later. Keep reading.)
2. Men and women have very different definitions of integrity. Men have integrity to their word, but because of the heightened sensitivity as explained above, women have integrity to their feelings.
Women base their actions on how they feel at the time. This means that if something no longer "feels" right, they won't do it, period. It infuriates most men when a woman "flakes" on them. ("Flaking" is the term that men who study this sort of thing use to describe when a woman who has eagerly made plans with them doesn't show up, or calls at the last minute to cancel because her girlfriend needs consoling etc. Roughly speaking, a woman's tendency to flake is proportional to her options and inversely proportional to her age, although I did meet one 38-year-old single mother of two with this habit.) Understand that the need to be true to one's feelings is an extremely powerful force with women. Look at the dominant theme in all romance novels: The woman is "swept away" by emotions too powerful to be denied, and has an affair when everyone knows she shouldn't. Another example is the adage "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Even the former First Lady (according to the Secret Service) regularly threw things (lamps, etc.) at her husband when angry. Can you imagine a man doing this, instead of saying "Next"? The idea is ludicrous.
If you're a man, you probably do what you've agreed to do (help someone move, etc.) because you said you would. However, you wouldn't go through with your plans to help your acquaintance move if it had suddenly become a felony with a mandatory 10-year prison sentence to do so, would you? Of course not. Ten years in prison trumps a promise to move furniture. Well, that is the kind of aversion that women have to doing things that no longer "feel" right. Later I'll explain how to make this "integrity to feelings" work to your benefit.
3. Most women are much more rational than most men at the initial meeting. For all of men's complaints about "screwed-up 'chick logic'," it is men who unconsciously fall into a very irrational pattern of behavior when they first meet a new woman that interests them.
Upon meeting an attractive and perhaps interesting woman for the first time, most men behave as if they are thinking about...wait for it...marriage! Hollywood has bombarded us with "love at first sight" stories, but what kind of message does it really send to a woman you've just met that you've already decided she's the one? It screams pathetic loser who couldn't get laid in a women's prison with a fistful of pardons. "One-itis" is the absolute death knell to any person's chance with someone new. Women know this. Men, as a rule, don't.
There's an old saying that "To meet her handsome prince, a girl has to kiss a lot of frogs." Given that few American women age well or are financially self-sufficient, this adage is much more appropriate for men aspiring to marriage than it is for women.
4. What women say they want and what they actually do want are two different things. Men need to be keenly aware of this and act accordingly. The crap that women claim they want in the personals ads is exactly the kind of thing that would have the same women running for the nearest exit out of boredom if the men actually provided it.
Women want to feel attraction for someone, and attraction doesn't come from finding a man who is sensitive, or caring, or likes long walks on the beach, cats, and candlelight dinners, has a college education or a good job. Attraction isn't a choice. Attraction comes from that little shiver of anticipation of not knowing what's coming next, of not being able to pigeonhole the man she's with into any one category, of being just a little bit off-balance and not in total control.
5. Women read things into men's actions that aren't there. Accept that, and make it work for you, if possible. This phenomenon probably comes from women's heightened emotional sensitivity. It may also come from the need many women have for drama (and for some women, chaos) in their lives.
What the above things mean for you, and
how to stop screwing up like you've been doing:
Dealing with a woman's heightened sensitivity: When a woman complains about a problem in her life (she will see it as "sharing," not complaining), never offer a solution to the problem. She doesn't want to fix it, she wants to relive it, over and over. Show sympathy but suggest that only another woman could truly understand what she's going through. This acknowledges women's superior emotional capacity. Depending on how you say it, it may send another unspoken message if the complaining was a test (and it probably was): You're trying my patience here. I don't fall for that BS. Watch it.
Integrity to feelings: If you can keep a woman in the state of feeling excited, anxious, off-balance, and emotional when she's around you, you can pretty much lead her wherever you want. An extreme example of this is the group of attractive young women who did anything they were told by a homely little runt of a man named Charles Manson. I'm not advising that you turn into a sociopath, but it's kind of fun getting the girl you met this afternoon to slip off her thong during dinner and hand it to you. Learning how to keep a woman's emotional state at the desired level takes a lot of practice and experimenting (which is fun) and can't be described in a one-page column, but here's a start: Women are attracted to Mystery, Uncertainty (not the same thing), Confidence and Arrogance when combined with humor, and believe it or not, Indifference. Observe the desirable women you know that are obsessed with their boyfriends and you will see that the boyfriends invariably exhibit these qualities, irrespective of whether they are decent guys or total jerks.
Gifts: Gifts can be good at eliciting emotions and even smoothing the rough spots, but don't make the mistake of giving the wrong kind. You'll go broke and not accomplish what you intended. Since women's emotions are so powerful, realize that all gifts to women have a soothing effect and "goodwill time frame" that is proportional to the emotion evoked. This has nothing to do with the value or utility of the gift, believe me. Whether you're in the early stages of a relationship or have been married ten years, never give expensive gifts, agree to extensive home remodeling that you don't particularly want, expensive trips, etc. in the hope that it will improve her feelings for you. If you do, you'll be paying for the expenditure long after your girlfriend or wife has stopped smiling at you for what you did. Instead, give little nothing gifts like a funny card, or a stuffed animal holding flowers, and say "I was thinking of you today." Do this at unexpected times. A week later (or maybe even the next day), the $12 stuffed Dalmatian with the heart-shaped spots will be forgotten, and your woman's attitude will probably (and understandably) be "What have you done for me lately?" But guess what? The same thing will happen a week after you agree to pay for her eight-year-old's private school tuition, which is a $120,000 tab over ten years. You do the math. The exception to this rule is if you decide to give an expensive, useful gift to a woman who needs it and who has been exceptionally good to you already. Few men do this. Men usually give presents, take women to expensive restaurants, etc. in the hope that the recipient will be grateful. THIS DOES NOT WORK. Expensive gifts should always be unexpected rewards. They should never be attempted inducements.
Testing: Reread my 7/7 column's comments on tests. Remember that testing will continue until one of you dies. Even if you break up, she will probably test you if an opportunity presents itself. Plan for this accordingly.
Flaking: The younger and hotter the girl, the greater the chance she will flake. Hotties and flaking are like alcoholics and drinking: If they can, they probably will. The only way to completely prevent an alcoholic from drinking or a hottie from flaking it is to create an environment where it cannot occur, like sending the alcoholic to live in the Saudi desert. To prevent flaking, only offer an activity if it is something you can do right now. Get her to do something fun and exciting with you right at that moment. If she demurs, end the conversation as quickly as possible and eject--don't coerce. When she stops you from leaving and says to call her so you can make plans, don't believe her, and call her on it. Tell her you like talking to live people, not voicemail. Tell her that maybe you'll offer something else if you run into her again. Unspoken message: Seize the day.
What if you absolutely have to plan a "date" in advance with someone you suspect may flake on you? When you make the plans, give the girl something specific to do, like to be sure she's wearing a silk scarf around her waist when you pick her up. Don't tell her why, but make sure she realizes that she has to do it, or you'll turn around and leave if she opens the door and isn't wearing the scarf. She will spend all her time before the date wondering about this, selecting the perfect scarf, etc. She'll be caught up in the mystery, drama, and anticipation (women love these things) and she won't be thinking that "going on this date doesn't feel right anymore."
Initial meetings: Follow the three second rule. You've got three seconds from the time you first notice a desirable woman to the time you say something to her. If you take longer than that, cross her off the list and move on, because she's crossed you off her list of possibles. Never work up your courage to talk to a girl that you've been looking at across the room for ten minutes. Women hate this. And for God's sake, never use some service to track down the girl you lusted after in high school or college. This is called stalking, and unless you graduated within the past 6 months, chances are she now looks nothing like the goddess you worshipped from afar. There are better women who don't have any bad preconceptions about you as close as the nearest Starbucks, Borders, Safeway, or QuikTrip. Unless you live in a remote area, pretty girls are everywhere. Always operate from a theory of abundance. There are more available women in your area than you could ever meet, but they're not going to come looking for you. Get out and chat up as many of them as possible. Most will turn out to be frogs. Expect it. (And realize your high school dream girl that you were thinking about tracking down is probably a frog.) You won't find a princess by convincing yourself that the one girl you've met in the last month is one. Meeting and dating lots of women gives you a much more accurate perspective and has the added benefit of making you more attractive to women, not less.
Dating multiple women: If you don't want a woman to think of herself as your one and only girlfriend, don't do things that would make her think that way. Don't call her every day. Don't see her three or four times a week. Be up front, and say "I think too many people get into exclusive relationships far too quickly, and it's not healthy. I wouldn't even consider having an exclusive relationship with someone I'd known less than six months." Most people, and women are no exception, will accept most anything if it is not a surprise. Don't lie and sneak around. If you see other women and she has a problem with this when she's only recently met you, she is NOT the one. Next.
Enjoy women for what they are, and don't imagine them to be something they aren't. It may sound harsh or negative, but real women are seldom like what we see in movies written by male screenwriters or read about in novels written by male authors. The cute waitress where you eat lunch may visually remind you of Meg Ryan (or whoever) in the movie where she played a waitress, but don't for one second imagine the real-life waitress to be as intelligent or interesting as the writers who gave Meg her lines. Flirt with the waitress and let her presence make your lunch more pleasant, but don't start going there every day and turn her into some fantasy of yours ("One-itis"). At best, you'll waste a bunch of better opportunities mooning around her at lunchtime, while she smiles at you but otherwise blows you off. At worst, she'll eventually accept your advances, and (since you were fixated on only her and had no other women to compare her to) you'll end up married before you figure out that aside from being nice to look at (for now), there isn't much else you really enjoy about her.
Don't be ordinary. Talk about your job, school, hobbies, etc? Forget it! If she launches into the same old questions, accuse her of husband-hunting, and tell her you're not ready for that. Be teasing and mysterious. Never give a straight answer unless it's "No." Women will complain that they "can never figure you out and it's driving them crazy." This is evidence that you are doing the right things.
Spank her. Spank her bottom lightly when she does something you don't like. Spank her harder when she does something good. I discovered this years ago and the worst results I've ever gotten were neutral. The best were volcanic. (I don't do this unless I know at least her first name, but that's just me--it's probably not necessary.)
When in doubt, tease. Keep the "Bratty Sister Frame" firmly in your mind (see 7/7 column). Call her on her girl-like behavior. If she mentions modeling, say, "Oh, you mean like a hand model?" Tell her that her long fingers remind you of E.T. If she's cute but her clothes are odd-looking to your eye, ask her if she got dressed in the dark. You get the idea.
Sex in long term relationships: If a good long-term sex life with one woman is important to you, never get into a committed relationship (such as marriage) with a slender woman unless she is genetically slender. 200-lb. women who have always been heavy are usually comfortable with themselves and have good sex drives. Former 125-lb. hotties that gain 75 pounds after saying "I do" often lose all interest in sex and are a very bad bet for the long haul. I know dozens of men who found this out the hard way. Conversely, no man I know with a fat partner who has always been fat (I actually prefer the word "plush") is dissatisfied with his wife or girlfriend's level of desire. The old admonition about taking a long look at the mother before proposing is sound advice.
If you want to marry a rich girl: Rich women are no different than other women in that they are turned on by a man's passion for his work. Keep in mind that not just any kind of work qualifies. Women are attracted to artists, especially musicians. Rock stars don't get just high school groupies, they get rich actresses like Pamela Anderson and rich supermodels like Rachel Hunter and Paulina Porizkova. Singers in local bands do equally well on a smaller level. Women (including rich ones) go for other passionate artists such as actors, dancers, painters, and sculptors.* If you are a passionate artist, you're a good bet to snag a rich girl, who will likely be happy to support you and your passion. If you go this route, keep the rich girl interested by pursuing your passion WITHOUT going through all her money! Live comfortably but don't start to believe your own bullshit, getting her to fund your big (and inevitably money-losing) dreams of grandeur. NEVER let her dip into principal. If you do, be prepared to be thrown out on your ear. Any successful investment professional can tell you horror stories about rich women clients with artist husbands who cooked the goose that laid the golden eggs.
Maybe this will hold you clueless guys for a while. More later.
John Ross 11/5/03
*Unfortunately, women are less attracted to writers of 800-page books, as a big novel demands considerably more time and effort from its audience than a song or a painting.