Listening to the woes of a certain woman friend about the wretched emotional quotient of the men she’s been involved with (a classic male-female paradigm!) I came up with this theory of two tempos on the spot. It’s pretty simple (even men can grasp it—unless they’re in the middle of a cricket or football match).
Men and women are in different emotional tempos. Generalising largely, men are suspicious, cynical and afraid (of emotions). Therefore they take a long time to begin to trust their partner emotionally, trust in relationships in order to start revealing themselves (that giant monster called vulnerability!).
Women, on the other hand, are totally out there. Their speed of emotional relating is not only dazzling, but also threatening, for a man. So men come up with convenient and disparaging labels like ‘needy’ to ward off this kind of behaviour (e.g.—horror of horrors—calling on the phone three days in a row!). And women can get into a funk about ‘not wanting to appear needy’. Predictably, this kind of thing goes nowhere.
Relationships prosper when the two partners trust each other emotionally. Before this state arrives, there is the whole drama of ‘is it too early?’ or ‘what does she want from me?’
Related reading: Seven things that keep a relationship going
Men need to learn that emotions are not monsters that are going to eat them up (nor are women who are emotional). Actually, their whole culture needs to teach them this, which it doesn’t. It does exactly the opposite. It tells them that in order to be a ‘man’, it is necessary not to be ‘weak’. Needing someone, wanting to be with someone, putting oneself in a position of even a little vulnerability—these are absolute no-no’s. The only way you can ‘want’ someone is like Shahrukh Khan in ‘Darr’ or as a Don Juan—a stalker or a conqueror.
Women, on the other hand, could learn to trust their own resources a little more, to find themselves as much in themselves as they seek to do in relationships, and thus not take off like an emotional jet plane that the man can never hope to get on board with.
They need to bring a full person to the relationship, rather than a half one whom the relationship will somehow magically complete. Parvathy Baul (folk singer, musician and storyteller) calls this finding the ‘purushatva’ in oneself.
Of course, these gender binaries are quite artificial and the result of a lot of conditioning. Still, one has to acknowledge that they exist, in different measures for different people. On a lighter note, women can experiment with coming up with creative names for the emotionally crippled state that many men find themselves in—to match the label of ‘needy’ that they so easily get slapped with. How about ‘emotionally challenged’ to begin with?
Here is the eternal Kabir on love. And you can find the lyrics, translation and audio here.