Primal Man – What Women Need to Know

Men are eloquent, forgetful, passive, caring, aggressive, shy, brilliant, emotive, insensitive…well you get it.  We are a confused slush of behaviors that both enamor and frustrate our female friends and mates.  At any point in time we might exhibit behavior of such valor that it inspires or such stupidity that you wonder “WTF?”

Men are simple.  So simple that it is complicated to understand us.  If you are a woman and decide to stop reading at this point, then I ask that you take a deep cleansing breath and just enjoy the ride as the men in your life switch personalities and dependability like you switch your shoes.

If you’re a female and choose to read on you will get my simple theory on why men are what we are.   I’ve been reading a book, Brain Rules by John Medina, and it got me thinking about why I acted a certain way to an event this week.  brain-rules

That got me thinking about things I have done over the years that even confused me.  Before I get go any further I want to be clear that I am not making an excuse, just trying to help understand the source of my confusion.  None of this has been tested or proven scientifically.  I’m a writer.  I’m good at making irrational things make sense.  I’m getting ahead of myself, and my concept is not what you might think.

Men are basic.  All of our behaviors tie back to a simple impetus.  We follow a Primal Urge.  That’s my label and it is about as good as I can get.  It’s not sex, but the drive for sex stems right from this urge.  The Primal Urge is a sense of power born of the delight and need for self-preservation that means survival.  The Urge is an instantaneous sense that, once triggered, can grow into the most creative or senseless behavior with equal force and conviction.

The Primal Urge sparked Steve Jobs to create his Apple empire knowing that he was going against the conventional wisdom of the market.  It also sparked Anthony Weiner to post pictures of his private parts on Twitter in spite of knowing that anything you put out on the ether of the Internet is public (which is the basic premise of my book, SYN:FIN).

When man was taking his first shaky steps in the savannah of Africa he was developing awareness.  An awareness that was immediate and allowed him to survive.  That morphed into the Primal Urge.  It is what gave primal man the adrenalin rush to either run or take a stand when a saber toothed tiger attacked.  That is an important point.  The Urge doesn’t predict a specific behavior, it just predicts that an action will be taken.  That action is always in the simple context of what will best insure survival.  Admittedly, a lot of survival relates to having sex, so it is easy to confuse the Primal Urge with a sexual urge, but sex is just one derivative.


You see, in a man’s mind the Primal Urge acts as a kind of an invulnerability shield.  This is a very subtle point.  The shield is not a sense of immortality.  Primitive life taught man that he was mortal, but needed to act to protect his cojones so he could propagate.

The shield allows the male mind to suspend the sense of consequence for a brief moment so we can react to a context in a very selfish way, doing what we wish and worrying about making amends later.   This moment of decision is what makes us men.  It is also the atomic element that makes us shift from being a dependable spouse who shares the burden of life to a little boy who wants to get a new toy.  It is the moment that a soldier steps into enemy fire to save a comrade or the instant a sectogenarian propositions a woman half his age.

Don’t get me wrong.  I make no apologies about being a man and allowing my male nature to infuse all parts of my life   When that essence moves me in a way that conforms with the group sanctions I am considered a leader and a partner.  Then there are the times I act in an aberrant direction and I am considered an asshole.  The reality is I am both.  That means I receive accolades one day and make apologies the next.   Days of confusion are when both are happening to me simultaneously.  That was yesterday and it is what got me thinking about this.  It also got me listening to a lot of blues by male singers.  Now that is music that stems from the Primal Urge.   Thank you Willie Dixon.

Loud is good!

Loud is good!

The Primal Urge is cellular, not localized to a portion of the brain.  It is embedded deep in our genetic code.  A fold in the dna that occupies each cell of our bodies and makes us potent, scary, valuable and a pain in the ass to live with.

What triggers a primal response in a man?  It can be about anything.  The predictable ones are imminent danger, the flirt of a women, expensive toys, or a competitive challenge.  Each of those has an element of unattainability that drives the response.  Something desired that is out of reach.  The response can be either obsessive pursuit or redirection of the energy to something more attainable.  It is all situational and it is all in earnest.

The trickiest of these is the interaction with women.   There are the clichés of conquest and subjugation, but there is much more.  You see, in my estimation, all relationships with a woman who are not related to you have some sexual aspect to them.  It could be a light touch of ego boosting flirtation or a more lusty dialog that goes with finding a similarly depraved sense of humor wrapped in female clothing.   I am a sucker for a great and earthy sense of humor.  That is because humor is something that quells the immediate fear stemming from a Primal Urge reaction to danger.  Humor has all those positive reinforcements that make facing danger a little more palatable.  That makes a sense of humor attractive.

There is a part of me that thinks evolution has played this trick on women just to frustrate the shit out of them.   We men love women.  We cannot live without you.  We cannot live without pissing you off.  Kind of a screwy dichotomy isn’t it?

It is because my respect and attraction to women that I have put this post out here.  If it helps you to understand the self-centeredness of your partner, then I have accomplished something.  I will caution that you cannot change that fundamental in a man, so don’t frustrate yourself.  Yes, we can be dressed up and camouflaged for society, but under the covers we are the survival engines spawned in the deep past.

I’ll close with something for my writer friends.  Understanding this element of a man is foundational to any character you create.  Recently I read a thriller written by a woman.  It has great reviews and is very popular.  The book revolved around a detective and a serial killer.  The killer was sadistic, but without a reason to be.  He hit me as very flat. Someone who killed for the sake of killing.  And killed kind of stupidly.  I didn’t get the sense of reason, that deep Primal Urge, that was perverted into a serial maniac.  What I captured was a series of caricatures that seemed pale reflections of other well written serial killers, like a Hannibal Lector.

My caution to you is to fight the desire to stereotype us to one of our multiple personalities.  Even in our worst moments we have a glimmer of hero on the edge.

Hit the little comment bubble on the upper right of this post so I can hear your thoughts!  I’ll be sure to wear my flack vest, so please be forthright, but keep your sense of humor!


18 thoughts on “Primal Man – What Women Need to Know

    • Thanks, Jeff. It was one of those notions that seemed to keep making more sense the more I thought about it. Aren’t we men great at rationalizing ourselves?! I hope all is well with you, my friend. jlg

  1. I have to tell you that I read your first paragraph and had to call my co-author…(he works evenings) to read it to him. He said, “I’m not emotive, I’m very passionate.” I said, “Yes, very passionate about what you are feeling at that moment.” I’m not sure if he caught all of what I said but he did agree. 🙂

    So as a female member of our author team, thanks for these words of wisdom and help in understanding the male thought process. FYI, our book, Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) is full of Alpha males but we have a couple Alpha females in them as well. Hopefully, our characters are not flat because we are a male/female author team.

    Have a great one!

    • Lynn, that is a great anecdote. I’ve only met one woman I think I could write with and I think that might work because we live across the country from each other and it would be to expensive for her to board a plane to smack me back to my senses.

      For those who want to get a copy of Storm Warning by Lynn and David, here is the link to Amazon

  2. “The Primal Urge is a sense of power born of the delight and need for self-preservation that means survival.” This essential nugget of your informative post is well worth remembering. Thank you for the insight. I will store it away to help inform my character development. Nice work!

  3. I have been slowly zeroing in on the same exact thing for a couple years now. As a young man of 21 years I’ve been realizing certain, critical things. Why I have a sensation in my head every time I want to hold my girlfriend in my arms among other things. Thank you so much for posting this. It gives me a greater base from which I can use to understand myself and others in conjunction with my General Psychology education class.

  4. Growing up in an emancipated world I did not understand the supposed differences of man and woman other than the obvious physical distinctions.
    For a brief period as a teenager, I did view my opposite gender as a very simple and primal creature but as I matured, I assumed males did the same.
    Deep down, I’d always felt, we’re all the same with our contrasting behaviours merely attributable to social conditioning.
    As my interests in traditionally male areas outweighed traditional female roles and probably more so because my generation was expected to perform not only in the domestic sphere but also on a professional level, I felt the need to challenge the stereotypes.
    As a young self-employed mum in my 20’s, I produced a sensitive son who sported long hair.
    I hated the differentiation between male and female and was exceptionally disappointed when at a party, the men started talking football and the women disappeared into the kitchen. While football held little interest for me I opened the door to the kitchen to be confronted with:
    So, did you breast or bottle?
    At the time I sensed I must have stepped back in time….
    In my 30’s I gave birth to a little girl and suddenly all my previous beliefs on the topic seemed contradicted.
    My son, juxtaposed to my daughter had seemed easy to bring up. My daughter was not only a great deal more complex, but seemed inherently more ‘female’. While I’d always felt I was able to ‘reason’ with my boy, my girl presented me with straight out temperament.
    My male business partners including my daughter’s father seemed to get all the attention and while such differences can still be explained away as character variations, I noticed at the same time that men’s, communication skills were invariably different to mine.
    When my daughter’s father and I separated, he, who was also 20 years my senior, suddenly turned into a seemingly power driven individual with surprisingly a lot to say….
    In consequent battered wives group counselling it was the visiting facilitator of the men’s group that announced it would take men another 200 years to ‘change’ in order to catch up to women with regard to behaviour and equality.
    While my now sycophantic ex believed himself superior as the primary career for our 3 year old, I was relieved when the legal system attributed this role to the traditionally more nurturing party.
    After all, it was my body that metamorphozised in order to bring her into being….
    Today, in my 40’s, I’m licking my wounds and recovering from my man hating phase during which my catch-cry had been that women’s lib had only earned us twice the work.
    My daughter like me is being educated in a co-educational environment and with renewed hope for the future I again reason that like our primal relatives, the monkeys, we’re probably inherently homosexuals exercising choice and irrespective of gender, whether or not a man or woman is following some primal urge, ultimately all behaviours can be measured on an evolutionary scale.

    • Clarissa is a beautiful name. I don’t know how I missed this comment. It is so powerful on its own. I appreciate your perspective – meaning your ability to step back and see these events in a detached way. My views were a little tongue in cheek, but grew from an honest set of observations. I hope you are doing well. There is nothing about a man’s primal urge that warrant or justifies abusing a woman. If anything, protecting a woman (bad phrasing) is what primal man would do. I’d be happy to catch up on this.

  5. I always tell my students that from a man’s perspective, the brain of a woman is that of a lunatic, from a woman’s perspective, the brain of a man is that of an idiot. Its a rule of thumb that has helped me a lot over the years!

  6. Hi I’m Cyndi, it’s a very interesting theory u have made here. I write poems. And to ur theory of primal urge I n only get these inspiration to wright poems only like when I have been hurt. I just wrote one last night. As I sat here alone n lonely for my husbands return.I await my husband’s return. I understand why is is doing what he is doing I still don’t understand just how to trigger his primal urge I understand it but how do I trigger it.

    • Cyndi, I am sorry to hear that your husband has done something to hurt you. I don’t know him, so I can’t offer an opinion on what to do to trigger his primal urges. All I can suggest is for you to be the best you that you can be. That should appeal to him. Most men like women who are comfortable in their own skins. At least I do, and I think I am typical.

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