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.
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.
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!