CYNICISM DISCLOSURE: The following post is, admittedly, tinged by my twin cynicisms of professional and personal experience. Still, I think you’ll find some truths here—just so you know…
As I enjoyed my Cheerios last Saturday morning, Son and I watched The Science Channel. The series was “The Brain,” a topic which I find fascinating. Is there a universal reality? Or is your perception everything? Inquiring Minds want to know.
The show presented some amazing stories of people who live with a reality much, much different than most of us perceive. One man, because he went mostly blind, had to deal with the hallucinations that his brain created to replace the loss of visual stimuli. How would it feel to actually “see” floating human heads, like this guy did. The doctors were quick to point out that this, in no way, had anything to do with mental health. This was strictly a neurological phenomenon.
Then there was the guy who could not recognize any living thing. If he is asked about what a giraffe is, he will say something like “A tall animal which lives in Africa.” If taken to a zoo, however, he cannot distinguish which animal is the giraffe. He recognizes his loving and much-loved family by voice. When his daughter unexpectedly came up and sat beside him in a public place, he paid her no mind. When she spoke to him, he was surprised: “Charlotte!” he exclaimed. “Is that you?! I had no idea!”
But then the presentation moved into obsession, and as I watched I began to think about something of a real practical nature for people everywhere, women in particular.
“Heather” suffered a major brain hemorrhage while gardening one day. When she recovered, she was obsessed with sex. This woman cannot get enough. She will have sex at every opportunity with whomever is available at the time. She craves the act; she is filled with shame and remorse afterward when it is with someone other than her husband, which is often the case. She has been married 15 years to a man whom she loves, and he can well recall the devoted wife he had before her illness. Because of this, he has stuck by her, but you can imagine that the strain on their marriage is great.
The documentary film crew and reporters had been following this couple for a while. The estimate was that Heather had sex with 50 different men over the past year.
Fifty different men!??!! Here’s my deal: Where do you find 50 different men in a year’s time with whom to have random sex? I was astonished. I must disclose that this is in Britain, not the US, but surely things aren’t that different over there! Am I wholly naive?
Where do you find them? According to Heather, everywhere and anywhere. Apparently, Heather is rarely turned down. Really!? I realize that prostitution is not only the oldest profession, it is still alive and well. But Heather did not pose as a prostitute, where she might be in contact with a man who was on the prowl for sex—no, she picked men up on her way to the store, for example.
If a strange woman randomly approaches a man to proposition him, would you not think the man might be reluctant just from the sheer worry that he was dealing with a nut, ala axe murderer? Or, maybe, that she has a disease?
Nope. Heather has had sex with strange men in cars, in alleys, in motels…you name it. Finding random male partner is no problemo.
In my dual capacity as family attorney and scorned woman, I have done quite a bit of research on adultery. I have come to understand that men and women are different in a whole lotta ways and some of them just are not talked about enough.
The research shows that men are more opportunistic about sex than are women. If it is simply offered (say, out of the blue), it is accepted by them far and away more often than would be by women—women tend to be a bit more, er, cautious in developing sexual relationships. All the scientific literature explains this evolutionarily: men are wired to have as many offspring as possible; women are wired to seek security for themselves and their offspring.
Research shows that men break their vows much more often than do women. (Okay, I know there is always the exception that proves the rule, but this has also been my experience). It has been found by studies that married men generally don’t cheat because of something wrong in their relationship—they initially cheat because they were given the opportunity. About 75% of them, according to surveys, have said they were satisfied in their marriage at the time they cheated. They did it, in the words of former President Bill Clinton, “Because I could.” It can turn into something else, and it will be usually justified by them later on, but the reason for the cheating is not usually something wrong with their wife or relationship. It’s opportunity, pure and simple.
I am reminded of a line I heard recently in the 1962 movie, “That Touch of Mink, where the Audrey Meadows character says to Doris Day something like: “One look at you and a man realizes his wife does not understand him.”
Now, look, I have some backing on this: The May/June 2010 Scientific American Mind (on the stands as I write this post) confirms the old adage: “Men value sex, women value love.” There’s lots of discussion as to “Why?” but little to no on “Whether?” It is just known. Women, on the other hand, (studies show) tend to cheat for “reasons.” Lack of relationship, neglect, etc. Women are looking for relationship; men are looking for opportunity.
I recently got an off-price book catalog in the mail that proved to be a surprising confirmation of this dichotomy. It has conveniently grouped books by topic. There’s “History,” and “Military History.” There’s “Nature” and “Literature.” And then there’s “Romance and Women’s Literature.”
Romance = Women’s Literature. Never “Romance = Men’s Literature.” Or, even, “Romance = Literature.” No, we all know—certainly the marketers know, that it is women who like the “romance” stories. Why? Relationship.
The wise Billy Crystal once said:
Women need relationship to have sex;
Men just need a place.
So, back to Heather. I think she serves a warning for all women…you cannot hedge against opportunistic cheating. If you are advising your daughter, tell her…