Friday, January 06, 2012

in which she mandates chick flicks and cute puppy videos

So many times in my personal life and in my office I get asked some version of the eternal question, Why is he so selfish? A wife or partner of a man tells me that while she is always thinking of his needs, he seldom recicprocates.

I hear things like,

I go to his action movies but he refuses to come with me to a chick flick.


For weeks I think of the perfect present for him but he barely remembers my birthday.


After twenty years of marriage why can't he remember that I don't like mayonnaise on my BLT?

Ok, so that last complaint is mine.

The point is, women are often frustrated and hurt by the lack of compassion and understanding they get from their men. The fact that lesbian couples are also frustrated by their partners for the same reason is besides the point and will be largely ignored for the purpose of this discussion. Big wink here.  

Why, I often ask myself, are there so many of these complaints? Are men less compassionate? Or are women overly needy and overly sensitive ? (Insert lesbian examples here.)

I type this knowing my question is largely rhetorical among so many readers but I ask so that I might suggest ... what we have long suspected...

It's in the biology.

Or so says Dr. Paul Zak, PhD.

So his PhD is in Economics. He's validating my long held theory so I'll take it.

According to the research cited by Dr. Love, as he has been dubbed, testosterone inhibits the release of the  cuddling hormone, oxytocin. I will say that again.  Testosterone inhibits the release of oxytocin.

Many situations contribute to the release of the bonding hormone.  Women release oxytocin when they breastfeed and when they have sex. Especially when they have sex. When we are moved to tears, when a small child snuggles against our neck, when we see, at the end of The Way We Were, Hubbell looking wistfully at Katie as she smooths back his hair.

It's that warm, grabby, squeezy feeling in the chest.  The feeling that makes us want to get close, to hug and connect with someone (or puppy), take care of, protect, soothe their hurts.

So, says Dr. Love, in the presence of testosterone, or extra testosterone, feelings of compassion decrease.  Administering additional testosterone to men also leads to them become "more selfish."  However, men who watched videos designed to elicit compassion were found to release more oxytocin.

Ok, so what is the practical advice here?  How can we oxytocin soaked wommens get our menfolk (or women partners) to crank up their oxytocin levels?  Take them to sappy, romantic chick flicks, that's how. Expose them to sensitive, caring pictures.  Videos that make you go, awwwwww.  Give warm hugs.  Show appreciation.  Compliment them, authentically, especially for loving deeds or a job well done.  And - always good couples therapy advice - cut back on the criticisms. Way back.

Oh, and one more... have sex more often.

Not a bad exchange when there's a chick flick in the bargain.


Anonymous said...

See, I've always believed that men are idiots and need to be TOLD to do things, and once told, they're generally quite compliant. Like overgrown children. Ever since I quit having high expectations of my husband and just TELL HIM what to do, life has been much better!

Red Shoes said...

Rhut Rho... I must have low testosterone... I most definitely like to snuggle...

So you really are a practicing counselor? What is your area of expertise??

Happy New Year...


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I suppose then I should probably make the men I date watch ~more~ action flicks, and I probably need to up my puppy quotient.

*and I have to go with Green Girl, I thought men were just 5 year olds in adult bodies.

Coffeypot said...

I was gonna say 'Blowjobs' but you hit close to it with your last statement. Mars and Venus. One a cold planet the other boiling hot. One operates on mental images and physical touches, the other on emotions and feelings. We are just two different creatures and many books and movies have been made covering the subject and none have any definite answers. I like the BJ method best, myself.

shrink on the couch said...

Green Girl -- We still have to wait for research to surface on the OGC theory.

Red Shoes -- Yep, psychologist in practice. Scary, huh?

ADoC -- More action flicks sounds like punishment to me. Is that how most "real men" feel about chick flicks? Or, as my second theory suggests, men really do like that "awwww" feeling they get at the end but can't bring themselves to admit it.

CoffeyPot - Yeah, that too. I need to say there is a lot of variation - read somewhere that gender differences apply about 85% of the time. So there is that 15% of men who we can expect to be cuddlers and puppy lovers.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I like your recommendations! :)

Everyday Goddess said...

excellent prescription - bravo!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I lucked out with a guy who knows I want mayo NOT Miracle Whip on my BLT and brings me the paper in bed on Sunday morning, but I must agree that Green Girl is probably on to something.

Tammy said...

I'm with Jenn, I feel pretty lucky about my guy, in general. He doesn't remember food stuff I like/dislike all the time, but he's good at other things.

JCK said...

Loved this piece. So, so true on the need to cut back on the criticism. But, damn it's hard when they still don't remember we don't like mayo on our BLT's....

Susan said...

Since my husband has never made food for me in 30 years, I don't have the mayo issue. But it does bother me that when I neglect to replace the bath towels on laundry day, he retrieves one from the linen closet for himself. Leaving me to drip.

Sunny said...

You're amazing!

However.. no matter how much sex we have my husband barely remembers my birthday.

The Third Rail said...

Glad to be reading you again, fellow Texan. (formerly AL)

Jenny Woolf said...

Yeah, I think I agree that they need to be told. But then so do women, right?
It's so strange to see how little boys act different from little girls, though.