Do Men Love Women In The Same Way We Love Them?

My mother always used to say, ‘To a man you will be a: mother, lover, friend, ego-boost, sounding board, outlet and servant. But to you he will only ever be a partner.’

women love men

What she meant was that men rely on women to do a lot of the emotional labour that either they are not conditioned to be able to do or that they don’t have the same outlets we do, that can do it for them. What she also meant was that women love men in a more unselfish way – it’s not what they do for us but who they are that we love.

Whilst I don’t wholly agree with what she said (mainly it as a broad, sweeping and general statement), some of it does ring true and it leads me to ask the question in the title of this post.

In previous relationships I held a lot of roles. Both (serious boyfriend) men suffered with severe insecurity over their manliness. This manifested in not having secure male friendships as a place where they could go for advice, work rants or could discuss their innermost feelings because it somehow meant admitting that they were less manly. That meant they looked to me for a safe haven for that.

Luckily, I had a group of girlfriends. Women I could tell my darkest worries and bleakest memories too. Who encouraged me to open up, share and work it through. That meant I did not look to my partner for that. And even at points felt like I was burdening them with my emotions. Probably because I myself had been conditioned to think that I was the shoulder to lean on, not the other way round.

In previous relationships I wasย in charge of carrying the emotional baggage. I’d remember all of the birthdays. Speak to their Mum’s when they were having a tough time. Worry about the relationship and where it was going. Or even feel the sadness for them when things weren’t going right in their lives.

As a woman, I have been conditioned to be an expert at that. Preparation for motherhood I’ve been told. But actually is it just that women are encouraged to be nurturing from the early years? To look after the baby doll? To brush the pony’s hair? To cry it all out when things are tough?*

But men have not had the same lessons in emotional labour that we have. They have been conditioned to hunt, gather, build, fight, be strong – to one extreme or another. From construction games in the early years to video games of brutality marketed at them to being exposed to football chants taunting other men for their weaknesses.*

(*Generalization klaxon I KNOW)

In some way, men see their women as their emotional outlet. The space where they feel safe to be tender and show weakness. Does this mean then that the love they have for women is more selfish? A more ‘this is what you do for me’ kind of appreciation?

Women, in a lot of ways, do not need men as an emotional outlet. We are better equipped to deal with our emotions or we have outlets ourselves. (*klaxon).

Does this mean then that the love we feel for them is based more on who they are as people as opposed to what they do for us?

I want to know your thoughts.

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5 Comments

  1. September 20, 2017 / 7:51 am

    This is such an interesting idea! While I don’t think it necessarily means that men love their partners more for what they do for them than for who they are (I actually think those two things are quite entwined for most of us!), I do think it’s true in a lot of cases that women take on more of the emotional labour. It’s strange how women can be socially conditioned to think that men/marriage are vital components of a successful life, and yet also conditioned to know we can’t count on them for everything (while being expected to be everything for them).

  2. Elizabeth
    September 20, 2017 / 11:26 am

    I think generally speaking your observations hold true. My experience is somewhat different in that my close friends – with whom I have that emotional relationship and support – are all men. Where a (heterosexual) man does not have close platonic friendships with women – or has only very stereotypical male friendships – then his female partner will supply him with all his emotional needs. I’ve observed that such men are more emotionally dependent on their partners – yet their partners diversify their support base often via their female friendships.

    But women too can come to rely on what their partner can do for them (versus WHO they actually are). This can come in the form of physical support and assistance; validation; and companionship.

  3. Gavin
    September 20, 2017 / 10:48 pm

    Thank you for the *klaxon in recognition of the broad, sweeping, gender-based generalisations ๐Ÿ˜€

    In the book ‘The Road Less Travelled’, M Scott Pack describes love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”, which feels like a close fit to your description of your love for your man. However, your words are tinged with co-dependence, because rather than spiritual growth, it sounds like you are supporting emotional avoidance or emotional immaturity in your partners. You’re supporting them, but they sound like underdeveloped emotional behaviours that are being propped up.

    A relationship where one person carries all of the emotional baggage isn’t healthy. Been there, done that. In the past I’ve avoided all feelings and emotions, leaving them for my partner to carry. Yeah, none of those relationships worked out. It’s unhealthy for a one person to be the only emotional support for another. If a partner only ever comes to me for emotional release and has no-one else to be open with, it will be a very heavy weight to carry, perhaps too much.

    I’ve learned a LOT in the last seven years around healthy acknowledgement and processing of emotions, at the appropriate time and to the right person. Vulnerability etc… As a guy, I have a lot of friends and resources available to share my deepest, murkiest and most confusing thoughts, which allows me to live life with emotional honesty, when I dare to. I doubt that many men seek out support, or ask for help in the way I have, so they don’t have these outlets, or they are simply scared of genuine emotional honesty and openess. Or they might be perfectly balanced ๐Ÿ˜€

    A lot of men are still children, doing a startlingly good impression of holding it together as a pretend adult, I know I was. But that inner child is strong and essentially they are just looking for a younger version of their mother to mate with. Therefore, finding a women who will mother them, look after them and care for them fills the underdeveloped gaps in their adulthood perfectly, but, doesn’t allow that pesky inner child to grow out and mature. That requires a lot of work and honesty.

    It reminds me of the myth of the ‘other half’, how people refer to their partner as their other half. A perfect relationship will be made up of two whole people who decide to share their lives, not two half-people filling in the gaps. One of the hardest things in a relationship is for both people to remain as individuals, even when in a close partnership. The key is to look for my other whole, whilst being as whole as I can be, rather than filling in their gaps for them, because that’s the individual’s work and I can’t do it for them.

    OK, I’m stopping there, but I could write about this shit for ever ๐Ÿ˜€

    • April
      September 21, 2017 / 9:28 pm

      Gavin: Do you have a blog or something? You have interesting thoughts..

  4. September 22, 2017 / 11:20 am

    With my ex husband I think this is what broke us. But I think it damaged him too. He was not meant to show emotions and was supposed to always be in control. I was the emotional one etc…

    When we moved to a new country I was the one with the skills to create a social group for both of us somehow. And do birthdays and all that as well as commuting to London to do a job where I was responsible for a staffing restructure, and make sure he was eating properly and not just haggis ready meals and keep the flat clean, and make sure he was getting enough sleep, had clean shirts for work, ensure our home was cosy and well decorated and cope with depression and undiagnosed other stuff, and keep in touch with my family who I had moved further away from and keep our connections with past friends alive and and and and and

    Never again basically. I am shit at a lot of that stuff. I am terrible at remembering birthdays, sometimes I was cooking dinner for him when I wanted a bowl of cereal, and sometimes I will just have a bowl of cereal – fuck it. His repression of his feelings led to some really shady stuff between the two of us. Really broken shit I would not recommend to anyone. I like making my home chilled and cosy but not that way? I was basically being someone I wasn’t as that was the “wife” role and it SUCKED. Single now and no idea what happens next but I can’t be that kind of wife and I won’t be even if I get married again.

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