We usually first attempt to explain others through the lens of ourselves. This is especially problematic, or at least counterproductive, when women attempt to explain men through their lens. Women are complicated. When I state that fact to women, they invariably respond with, “Men are even more complicated!”
What she typically means is that men have not been able to consistently do what she wants them to do. That’s a different discussion. Both men and women can be complicated to assess, but here is the math that explains the difference between the sexes. Men have 4 base states. All emotions are a result of those 4 base states. That means that men have, at most, 15 emotion-expressing options. This makes them simple in comparison with women. The equation is 2 to the 4th power excluding an empty set (for those who are math-inclined).
Women, on the other hand have a rotating set of roles that add complexity to their base states, which is 2 to the 7th power. That’s a blog for another day. Let us focus on men right now.
Men have four base states from which to express an emotion. Understanding any man is to map the base states that undergird the emotion you observe being expressed. This is important because the mapping of base states is critical to producing one of the 3 options any one individual wants to influence from any one man at any given time. The 3 options are to optimize, maximize, or satisfice. Optimize is closest to the idea of pruning so that the best is left to flourish. Maximize is closest to the idea of increasing the best elements. Satisfice is defined by accepting the first possible, best option or elements.
Side Conversation: I love applying these operational constructs to relationships. You would probably think that the options are to increase, decrease, or maintain. But, let’s be honest. You don’t simply want more or less. You want the best of what the man has to offer. You want the optimal experience, not just more of the experience.
Money as a male base state. It is tied to the narcissistic character trait, or self-esteem if you are looking for a “nicer” word. Money is the embodiment of ambition for self and the need for a claim to self-worth or a means to quantify greatness.
Sex as a male base state. It is tied to the narcissistic character trait, or admiration of some other. Sex relies on the targets of affection for validation of self-worth. Praise is extremely important in the maintenance of narcissistic fantasies. Sex focuses on the need for control and the need to be in command of the reality that is and the right to categorization.
Food as a male base state. It is tied to the hysterical character trait, or vanity for another word. Motivated by appetite, food encompasses the need for satisfaction and immediate gratification. It focuses on likes versus dislikes, pleasure versus displeasure, and other dichotomies primarily of self.
Sports as a male base state. It is tied to the obsessional character trait, or superstition for another word. Sports as a base state focuses on competition, but is rooted in the need for order, rules, and predictability. It is a need to be the best with violence as one available option to express or enforce right and wrong.
Combinations to Expressions
Let’s take a concept like LOVE. It is common to believe that a man can express love. I argue that men don’t have an emotional state called love. They get to an understanding of love through some combination of the base states. For your perusal, consider the following exhaustive list:
- Money = Love as ambition
- Money-Sex = Love as ambition + control
- Money-Food = Love as ambition + vanity
- Money-Sports = Love as ambition + order
- Money-Sex-Food = Love as ambition + control + vanity
- Money-Sex-Sports = Love as ambition + control + order
- Money-Food-Sports = Love as ambition + vanity + order
- Sex = Love as control
- Sex-Food = Love as control + vanity
- Sex-Sports = Love as control + order
- Sex-Food-Sports = Love as control + vanity + order
- Food = Love as vanity
- Food-Sports = Love as vanity + order
- Sports = Love as order
- Money-Sex-Food-Sports = Love as ambition + control + vanity + order
A couple of examples are in order just to illustrate the point. Ask yourself, when the man I know expresses his “love” for his son, what is he expressing? My argument is that this expression is not about the attachment as it may be in a woman’s expression. It is one of the combinations above. If I had to guess, it would be about the man’s ambition for his son related to the son’s ability to reflect the man’s ideals. That is ambition + vanity, a combination of Money-Food.
Suppose you would like your husband to be more romantic. You would do well to consider what it is you are asking for in combination. Do you want him to take control of the situation (Sex/Control)? Do you want him to demonstrate his desire for you (Food/Vanity)? Do you want him to make you feel safe (Sports/Order)? Do you want him to be more desirable to you (Money/Ambition)? Or, do you want some combination of those above.
If you want him to demonstrate his desire for you and make you feel safe, don’t say you want him to be more romantic. He will not know what you are intending. Tell him that you want him to spend time with you and defend you from outside intrusions like phones, kids, and others. He will understand (that you are not asking for sex), and you will get exactly what you need. Happy home.