Romance

Donal has a post on Romance, and I have a brief bit of time for a commenatary.

As a man growing up, and reading most of the stories of the men in the manosphere, and hearing about how things work in real life this is my observation.

Romance is going beyond loving others (for Christians) and showing a woman with special affection. If I wrote a poem to a woman who was attracted to me then it is romantic, but if I’m a person who wrote a poem to all woman regardless of whether they were attracted to me it loses its significance. Showering special affection through doing things (flowers, gifts, chivalry, etc.) — which is romance — after you win/attract them with words is fine. Doing them before is often just a fruitless waste of time.

I would say that men in general are taught to do things for women, typically romantic gestures. Men respond to this logically because we naturally are doers. We like action because it’s something that is straight forward and easy to accomplish, especially in terms of affection (e.g. buying gifts, holding open doors, or other “chivalrous” gestures). But romantic gestures are misguided if there is no attraction from the side of a woman.

As a man consider romantic affections from an obese 5’6″ 300 lbs woman and a 5’6″ 110 woman who looks like a model. Obviously, a man would be attracted to one and not the other, and it is not that hard to guess which one is which. Most men would be repulsed by the obese woman who showered affections on him, and be receptive to the woman who showered affections on him. The same is true with women, except that attraction is different between the sexes. Women will respond positively to attractive men that shower them with attention or gifts, and they will respond negatively to unattractive men that shower them with attention and gifts.

Interestingly enough as I noted in this post, the Scriptures speak to the point that husbands win their wives with their words and not their actions. Likewise, wives win their husbands with actions and not words. It all goes back to preferred communication style.

If a woman isn’t responsively attracted to you through your words then it’s pretty much fruitless to try to “impress her” with romantic actions because they will be seen as trying to gain validation and it is repulsive to her. The actions are seen as trying to buy her affection which is a huge turn off.

The only way actions will impress her is if it’s indirect such as say playing on the church worship team, or she sees your athleticism on the field of action, or she sees you teaching/coaching others through leadership. Although you may have the intent to impress her through what you do in such instances, it’s part of something greater so she will naturally be “attracted” to it rather than be “repulsed” by trying to prove your worth.

Specific advice to a Christian man who wants to date/court a woman is this. Love because God first loved us. But don’t give any special treatment of doing things — romance — unless you are interested in the woman and know she is attracted to you. If you do it to a woman who isn’t attracted you are wasting your time by being a nice guy.

Christian men, especially in the manosphere, need to understand this distinction. We love everyone because that is what we are command to do by Christ. But we should not be under the illusion that it does anything for attractiveness (though other actions can sometimes increase attractiveness peripherally). Rather, attractiveness is rooted in dominion, then if you want to display any type of romance it must be beyond the love that you show all others.

Romance in itself is fine. However, the main problem is that it is taught to men as the “main” step of winning a woman when, at best, it is the second step far and away.

Given that women typically don’t understand what is “attractive” to them like men do, I think the “romance” which is the overt gestures of affection were seen by most women as what attracted them. Thus, that’s why women say they want romance, but in reality only from men they are attracted to. Thus, romance isn’t wrong, but it’s often misdirected.

Jesus “romances” His Church per se in that He lets them into His world and business by giving them insider info on parables, teaching them personally, allowing them to participate in His ministry, and other such goodies.

edit: Ballista makes a good point that “romance” is not “love” and vice versa in the comments and the link posted. It would be wise to understand this because it is easy to get sent off on false doctrines if not.

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16 Responses to Romance

  1. jeff says:

    I appreciate your work. I have read through your website for about 5 weeks along with other sites, and I am gaining my masculinity back. I have been married for 20 years. My wife rarely (2-3x/mo) is dressed nicely when I get home. She is usually in her exercise clothes I saw her in when I left, even if she didn’t work out and shower.

    Nothing anyone says or things I say seemed to make her think that I do need to see her as attractive. She thinks and says that I should love her for who she is, blah, blah, blah. I am having more intimacy with her since reading these sights, but these are the small things that I still see her as not respecting me.

    I’ve gamed her on it a few times like ,”wow you got all dolled up for me.” I am guessing she fitness tests me when she says, “that was mean, I’ve been busy all day”? I own 3 businesses and she is sahm. Our daughter is graduated and son is 15.

    Give me some advice here.

  2. Robin Munn says:

    @jeff –

    One piece of advice I’ve often seen in the business world is to accentuate the positive rather than focusing on the negative. If your employee screws up in a way that’s harmful to the business, yes, you need to address that and let him know that he made a mistake and should have done it this way instead. But people will respond better to compliments, so it’s better to praise him (especially in front of others) when he does it right. “Hey Charles, nice job on the XYZ report. I especially appreciated how you broke the sales data out by quarter and region — that was exactly the way I needed it. Well done.” Next time you get the XYZ report from Charles, or from anyone who was in earshot, do you think it’s likely to be broken down by quarter and region?

    Now applying this to marriage, I might switch your focus up a little. Instead of negging when she’s still in sweatpants (from her reaction I’m guessing your “you got all dolled up” is a neg that you deliver when she’s in sweatpants, because few people respond to compliments with “that was mean”), perhaps you could praise her on those 2-3 occasions per month when you get home and she’s dressed nicely. “Hey honey, thanks for giving me such a pretty sight to look at when I get home.” Then kiss her, flirt a little, or whatever makes her feel attractive. You don’t even need to mention why you’re doing it every time — just make sure that every time you get home and see her dressed nicely, her limbic system gets a nice little jolt of pleasure from your reaction. Pretty soon you should see the frequency go from 2-3x/month to quite a bit more.

    I’ll note that this is mostly theoretical advice from me, as I’m not married. But I think it should work pretty well. Oh, and AVOID flat-out asking her to dress more nicely, as that engages the “love me for who I am” rationalization. (And don’t talk about the difference between love, which can be chosen as an act of will, and attraction, which cannot be chosen. In her mind, they should be the same, and she’s not yet ready to learn about the real difference between the two.)

  3. deti says:

    Jeff:

    A few pieces of advice to move things off where they are. I see Robin has offered good suggestions.

    Don’t try negs, at least not at this point. Those are backhanded compliments and, if not expertly delivered in a humorous way, just make you sound like an ass.

    I suggest you simply start using something called detachment. Ignore her slovenly dress. Don’t kiss her, don’t acknowledge her, until she acknowledges you. If she wants a kiss when you get home, she will have to offer it to you. Don’t talk about how she dresses poorly. As Robin said, if she does dress well, tell her about it and that you like it.

    Detach further by simply going about your business at home and at work. Don’t be rude or dismissive, but don’t be fawning or supplicating either. Do not concern yourself at all with her emotional state from minute to minute, hour to hour or day to day. If she asks, simply say “I’m doing fine.” Do what needs to be done.

    Do not show her any romantic gestures, large or small. Whatever it is that is going on in your life is going on because YOU want it or wish it. If the two of you are going out to eat, for instance, do not do it for her; instead, do it because YOU want to do it. You select the time and place.

    How long has your wife been exercising? Sounds like a frequent thing. Is this a recent thing, or is this her usual routine over the life of your relationship and marriage? Is she on an exercise “kick” or fad? Has she lost a lot of weight recently? Is she a gym member? How much time does she spend exercising?

    You’ve been married 20 years, she is a SAHM, one graduated kid and one 15 year old kid who I assume is still at home. And she exercises frequently. What else does Mrs. Jeff have in her life? What else does she do? What are her friends like? How, where and with whom does she spend her time? Caring for one mostly self-sufficient kid and a house cannot possibly consume all her time. Think here about not only how she looks and how she treats you but also what she does with all that spare time she has.

  4. ballista74 says:

    Jesus “romances” His Church per se in that He lets them into His world and business by giving them insider info on parables, teaching them personally, allowing them to participate in His ministry, and other such goodies.

    You might be very careful in confusing love and romance (this is the blog post I’m working on at the moment). Romance is not love and love is not romance. The whole concept of romance was invented about 1500 years after Christ walked the earth. Jesus had absolutely nothing to do with romance.

    The error in what I quote is that it literally embraces the popular false gospel of Jesus (or the Personal Jesus as myself and others have talked about). Scripture is abundantly clear that the model that Jesus set out continually is the Master / Disciple model.

    Since Scripture is abundantly clear, there should be no confusion in the minds of anyone that the only job of the Church as a whole (and each individual member) is complete and utter submission to Christ. In the course of discipleship, we cast aside our own ways and divide ourselves from the flesh and the world in order to follow Christ, as directed by the Holy Spirit. These things come from this process of discipleship, when we submit ourselves to it, not because Jesus wants to sweep us off our feet.

    Overall, the rest of your post could be used to point out this difference well. In fact, men would be well served to cast aside the notion of romance entirely for the love that is clearly modeled in Scripture.

  5. @ Ballista

    Thanks. Edited.

  6. jeff says:

    I find this all interesting. You can call it detaching, its called withdrawing here. This doent work she will do the same, say i was doing it, and that its mean\ unloving. The ball rolls down hill from there. All the “game’ stuff I’ve done. The only thing i never did was tease. She, unfortumately is dx with hypervigilant sensitivity personality disorder.

    This bring me to the question of love. Give examples of loving your wife. Everyone just gives obscure answers, including her. She ha noticed a difference in me, but says the house feels miserable. Intimacy has improved, but who wants a miserable wife?

    She said her initial attraction to me, was that i didnt seem to care what other people thought. That was true and still is, but when i tols here i love her but am not responsible for making her feel loved she understood the words, just not concept. I could go on, but the reason intimacy increased was i told her excuses are stupid in so many words.

    It would be hard for me to believe she saw me as a beta when intimacy was low. She had friends hit on me, i built a cabin the dick perneoke way (logs from property without power), i shoot competition pistol, hunt, do fix up, rebuild, pray with her, do off road triathlons, have retirement money…. etc.

    I did pander to her . When i choose to nap or watch tv she acts like im the devil, when i ignore her looks ‘ i’m mean’. My goodness i have 3 day weekends and she acts like im neglectful of her and kids…. they and work arethe only things i do. My son helped w cabim and shoots with me. I run and bike with daughter.

  7. Looking Glass says:

    @jeff:

    A lot of the issue is the cultural, so that doesn’t help matters much, but one common trap for guys that first show up here is a lack of perspective on the situation. It’s fully understandable, but the perspective on the situation is always the hardest bit for a guy to gain. This isn’t to say you don’t know your life, but you “want” something and you are going about “getting it” via the means you know the best.

    First, list for *yourself* what it is that you actually want. (Don’t post it anywhere) Then pray about it. I’d be surprised if what you list is perfectly what you actually want. Let the Spirit do the correcting. It’s wonderful at that. If I had to take a stab, for as much as you want more intimacy, I feel part of the issue is Trust and your ability to trust her to let you relax. You might be most letdown by a lack of “care” by her. That could be a Respect issue. But, I don’t know. This takes time with God.

    Next, especially when it comes to Women, a lot of the times we end up in a situation that what Men view as the “direct” solution actually isn’t. There are direct solutions, but those solutions are directed at the actual problem, not the manifestations of the problem. But this does not presuppose that there is a solution under your control. Most of this comes down to your Wife. It’s her choices. Some of them are hard and she chooses not to make them, so all you can do is make it “easier”. Much like Salvation, you can’t “save” another person; you can only “lead” them to Jesus.

    And, to be honest, one of the least said aspects of “love” is the word “no”. God spends most of the time actually saying “no”. Anyone with children understands that saying “no” is quite important. It also goes with a Husband to a Wife. Sin simply isn’t acceptable. Just make sure you know what you’re doing and it’s out of “love” and not “anger”.

    Though, with an actual diagnosis of BPD, you have my abiding sympathy. That’s rough. Though I’m having a hard time nailing down what the actual diagnosis is listed as. Is it the “Avoidant” or “Narcissist” type? That makes a difference.

    And, one thing I found useful in dive of some research articles on the subject:

    “Interestingly, in evaluating the ambiguous
    “neutral” expressions, some of the BPD subjects
    disambiguated these expressions by projecting emotions/
    intentions into their descriptions of the neutral faces. A
    potentially important feature of their attributions is that
    they were uniformly negative, threatening, and untrustworthy.
    These subjects’ strong reactions to the neutral
    faces are consistent with the notion of transference.”

    http://tinyurl.com/m3cau6n

    Literally: crack a smile when talking to her. No guarantee that it will work, but if she is BPD, it might be a way to “break the stalemate” in starting of responses. Minus the fact she allows herself to read negative emotions into neutral faces.

  8. jeff says:

    Lg,

    That ia fairly close. If we are not “up” in our relationship, then we are at the threshold of divorce. You are right. If smile and say ive lost everthing, and have terminal cancer everything is great for her. I cant simply walk around neutral. Its exhausting. Example is that i have things to do, but she would rather mw sit and do nothing with her while she cleans, happy to have me follow her around the house. Im done cleaning, which she said chores etc would get me more intimacy…, i foumd that to be a lie.

    I guess im tired of being caught in making her feel happy or loved, its not my responsibility.

  9. Looking Glass says:

    @jeff:

    Well, I think I now understand a whole lot more of the problem. As I said, perspective on the topic, as a whole, is extremely difficult for those first finding this neck of the woods and the Truth that’s here.

    But, what’s now obvious: you’re exhausted in your relationship because you have to “act” or it blows up. You’ve grown tired of not the “problem” she has, but the selfishness that she acts with. You’ve grown tired of the Sin and you’re having trouble covering it. Which isn’t surprising. You’re most definitely not alone.

    You also have the dual problem of having listened to not what a Woman “said”, but what a Woman with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder “said”. That’s a double whammy of lies & deception. I’ll add you to my prayers tonight.

    You have a multi-level problem, and God’s really the only one that can help sort it out. The mental disorder is real, but she still *chooses* her actions. Some choices might be very difficult, but they’re still choices. (I had my neurophysiology badly screwed up at one point, so I’m quite aware of the reality of your head being a mess. You still make choices. It’s normally just hard to figure out other options.) Then you have the Sin resulting from the choices. Plus the reality that she can blow up the marriage at any time, all while having to deal with, what I’m guessing, is her obsessive need for your attention.

    A few threads back at Dalrock’s, I think it was, a long discussion of a “mentor” by an older Woman. (Titus 2) This might be something to consider in the future. Your wife is utterly brilliant at her own self-deception. Someone needs to manifest light to show it. That’s, given the current situation you’re in, difficult to do. But that’s something that you need pray about.

    If you want a jokey way to maybe help, could always wear something like this: http://www.printablemasks.net/preview/Smiley_Mask

    You’ve got one of the harder situations to unwind. BPD, quite frankly, will normally lead to a divorce. While I’m fairly certain that’s a way to heal it, by conventional means, God’s the one that does that type of work. Which leads me to suggest forming your own support network within your Church. I would seek out an Elder, that has his head screwed on straight, and start working on the prayer aspect to all of this. The Power of the Spirit within you can keep you going through this time; your own Will will fail. Which is why that’s where to start.

    Once your own Head is aligned with God’s, then it’s a lot easier to do what needs to be done. With God’s Peace, it might be far more simple than you currently realize. But, at the same time, that would require you to find a place to “stop” and listen to God. Something made much harder because of your activity level, likely partially driven by wanting space from your wife, has served you well up to this point. Find some space to cry out to God and lament the situation. Then start finding help to tackle the situation, which is what you need to pray to God for.

    Though given BPD’s tendency to be hyper physically sensitive, I wonder if simply swats on the butts and kisses on the head when you’re telling her something (then doing what you need to do) might not help better than over thinking the problem. Part of her personality has, in effect, decided to continue to be 4 years old.

    I hope that’s some “hope”, or at least something to get started.

  10. Looking Glass says:

    This is one of the more fascinating parts of praying in the Spirit: anyone know a “Gloria”? I only know someone with that as a last name, but this was definitely a first name. Which means I’ve got zero clue who I was praying for, though I’m quite sure what it was about.

    Goes along well with the “Greg” I’ve also been praying for over the past year. Really not sure who he is either.

  11. Red says:

    You’re always working, her kids are gone now, she has mental illness and she sits around in her pajamas. Everyone’s ignoring the forrest for the trees: she’s depressed.

    Thankfully, we now have diagnosis. I have no idea how people lived and died in the good old days.

    You know what, here’s the thing: just be careful. You’re trying too hard to be “the man”, calling her “stupid”, and telling her something very confusing: that you’re not responsible for making her feel loved. Okay, I can see why she gets the idea, but doesn’t get it.

    You act as though you’re doing all of these manly things “for her”: building log cabins by, shooting you big guns, running three businesses. It’s all to post on Facebook. It’s all about your ego. You somehow have the idea that your wife is going to jump in your lap for being such a sparkly Joel Osteen.

    Why do you need three businesses? Pick one, or get a normal job. That’s enough to support one man and his wife and their kid who’s soon to leave.

    And that’s what you should do. She’s a part of you, right? Have you ever tried to not be an over-achiever? Pour that energy into your marriage, and stop treating your wife like she’s your lapdog that you come home and say “hi” to. She’s not there to distract you from your uber-important existence. She’s a very important part of your very average and short life on earth.

    When your kids were in the house, your wife wasn’t as lonely, and probably enjoyed running their lives and acting like a “best friend.” So, now the root of it all is surfacing.

    Cut out all that stupid extra work, and plan some things for your wife. Just sit in the living room and chat over drinks. Watch a Netflix. Go for a hikes. Go out to ice cream. Maybe her not actually *feeling* love is an indicator that she isn’t actually *being* loved. For better or for worse, you married her for who she is, so do your own part to do your best, with her in mind.

    I don’t think the problem is seduction, so much as you’re prioritizing work/ projects/ pipe dreams over your own wife.

    You sound a little insecure yourself, like you’re not enough for her. I also think that you go out of your way to avoid her, probably because there’s some tension somewhere, and I think that’s your workaholism. I’m not saying that you don’t enjoy working for its own sake, but did you distract yourself as a coping mechanism when you were a kid? You’re probably from the divorce-child generation. Not to be all Dr. Phil…

  12. Red says:

    Another thing to keep in mind is the emotionally turbulent nature of our culture. We use labels like BPD or whatever, so that people cut other people some slack, but you know, I have another thought.

    It’s funny, I think she’s similar to you in a lot of ways, but she has a different way of managing stress. You have a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment-style, and she *might* have an unhealthy attachment style. I’m not sure, but the frequent relationship highs and lows are a red flag. I think a lot of this is your problem, and you’re going to hate me for saying that. I sense you’re one of those people who are “never wrong.”

    So, yeah, I’m with whoever said to try being nicer. But don’t avoid conflict either, *but* learn how to fight fair. I’m guessing that she’s had her struggles and you’ve had your struggles. Figure-out what those are. Don’t label her the crazy one: I’m *sure* that you’d hate it if someone called you “crazy.” 😉

    If she’s still grunging it after a long period of consistently striving to be a good husband (which right now, you’re at the low-end of the just-okay-scale) *and your apology* for anything that you know you did wrong, then you gotta be the man, and lay down the law of the land.

    Seduction, of course, doesn’t hurt, and that looks like something you enjoy. That’s a great strength of yours. 😀 Don’t feel bad about it, you’re doing awesome. It’s like your gift to her, and I can tell that you’re always adding to it.

  13. Looking Glass says:

    “Red” seems new around here. And perfectly worthless for giving advice. That’s right out of a Self-Help book, which isn’t terribly connected to reality nor functionally useful.

    Also, there are the quack diagnosis of mental disorders, then there is the reality of the actual nasty ones. “Red” has never apparently had to deal with a BPD for terribly long.

  14. Red says:

    I think you’re shaming me because you want to be the one and only advice guy. Just wait for the man to answer, and we’ll see if I’m right or wrong. No big deal.

  15. @ Red

    You can argue your own arguments… you’re a big girl!

  16. Red says:

    DS, I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about the guy! It’s not about you!

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