Men. We love ‘em, no? They make us dizzy, drive us crazy, they baffle and irritate us and yet, we can’t live with or without them. But what’s driving the train here? Your head, your heart, or are hormones running amok?
In my life anyway, the latter has often ruled. Although so many reasons exist why we enter into relationships, for most women anyway, through most of our lives, we’re driven by hormones that cause us to nest.
Horrors! Say feminists. Of which I confess I am one. Feminism to me is just the fact that women are competent, capable, worth every employment cent that men are, and get to be in charge of their own bodies. I’ve never burned a bra (chiefly because I don’t have one of those bodies where you can go bra-less. LOL).
But no matter how we want to refute it, hormones drive us.
Through most of our lives, oxytocin, which is about a billion times stronger in women than men, drives us to nest. While testosterone drives men to do all sort of insane things (reference Five Keys to Understanding Men!), female hormones make us every bit as nuts. Just in a different way.
I can only laugh at the crazy choices I’ve made with men (my love life has been a continual source of amusement to my friends).
What sticks with me most is that so many times, once the pheromone fog lifts, I’m baffled at why I even had lunch with this person, much less invited him into my home! What could I possibly have seen in him? And while I’m not excusing my own insanity of choice, in hindsight I can see where the hormones seduced me.
And thank goodness, some wisdom at least comes with age. While I’m not immune to the hormonal onslaught of course, at least now I have the tools to filter them before leaping into the abyss. I know–wiser women learned emotional health much earlier than I did. But hey, you get it when you get it, and I’m happy to have a checklist now.
So, how can we filter the feelings through the hormonal lens, and come out with sanity? The “Am I Crazy Test.” About him.
1. Did You Meet Him at the Bar or the Book Club (insert any sane activity here)?
I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve yet to meet one at the bar that I didn’t eventually toss back. And it’s not just that alcohol has a pesky way of making fools look attractive, but we tend to get physical more quickly, which among other things, causes a sea of oxytocin (the bonding hormone) to flood our systems. Attila the Hun morphs instantly into Prince Charming, and man, are we ever screwed. And not in the good way.
As is often said in therapeutic circles: She looked across the room. Their eyes met. Love at first sight! Which just means she’s found someone as sick (psychologically speaking) as she is.
2. Are You Dating Him or His Agent?
I always love the Chris Rock line that when dating a man, you’re actually dating his agent. You know the one—who presents all the stellar things, even if they’re not exactly true, and the ratty stuff is hidden. The agent who’s trying to sell you his client.
And here is where you have to pry! Dig deep under the façade.
• How does he get along with his mother? His sisters? That will tell you exactly what he thinks of women. For my money, this one is paramount. Watch and listen
• Take a trip. Nothing brings out the worst in folks like taking a wrong road, not finding a hotel, losing your luggage. His “agent” at this point will be completely superseded by his real self
• As your mom always said, take it slow. Character is revealed over time. I know—not the sexiest of options, but still true as it was in Mom’s day
• Take time away from him, and spend it with your friends. This accomplishes two things: First, you get to see how possessive he is, which reveals more than we can even begin to talk about here! And second, it gets you out from under the pheromone fog, at least for a while. I once dated a gorgeous sexy man, who made my head spin. But when I wasn’t with him, I didn’t like him much. All of that disappeared when we were together. It was really crazy. And I shoulda paid attention to that crazy—once I broke up with him, he stalked me for months!
As a good buddy of mine used to ask when I started a new relationship: What’s horrible wrong with this one?
We still laugh about it. But find that thing—it’s there.
3. What does your brother think? I know, we usually think more in the line of what does Daddy think. And while that’s quite important, your brother is most likely more in-tune with guys of your age. And if you have a good brother (love mine!), he can cut through the BS quicker than anybody on the planet. He speaks ‘guy’ far better than you ever will. And guys instantly know whether this is a man other guys would respect. Or not. Listen to his counsel!
The Bluebeard Myth encapsulates both numbers 2 and 3. Remember how he came in all rich and shiny and oh-so luscious, sweeping the youngest daughter (i.e., that naïve part of us, no matter our actual age) off her feet? His beard is not really that blue, she would think. Her older sisters saw through him. But it was her brothers who came and rescued her from the deadly fate befallen Bluebeard’s previous wives.
4. Is it all about Him?
So often women fall into this trap. You know the feeling—you’re so wrapped up in him you want to know all about him and what he does and where he’s going and . . . And most healthy men are glad to star as the center of attention.
But is there equal attention to who you are? I’ve always loved the old African American myth of Manawee. It’s a great one about the wildness in healthy men, but my favorite part is the wild man’s desire to learn the different names of a woman. I.e., learning who she is. Now, that’s a wild man worth knowing!
Yep, we’re all infected by hormones. But that doesn’t mean we have to be ruled by them! So is it a match, or just your hormones talking?
How do you tell the difference?