In communications studies as well as psychological studies, there is something called the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that describes what individuals need most. You are probably familiar with the very basic needs: food, water, and shelter. These are things that we, as human beings, for the most part cannot do without.
Abraham Maslow includes bodily needs as the most basic: we need to eat, excrete, sweat, have sex. These things are part of being human, and, also, of being an animal, which humans are. Maslow places security needs next in importance. He includes shelter and the need to be protected, in general, as well as a freedom from fear and the necessity for law. Love and affection then come third in his hierarchy, and here is where I disagree with Dr. M. I think love and the need for affection are as basic as food and protection. In fact, love is protection and gives security. That is why we seek it so avidly and why the search for love is so primary.
Maslow’s concept is that once the more basic needs are met, one can go on to seek the higher needs, like love and self-esteem. As a woman, I can say that security and love are on the same level. Women are often taught the premise to find love, because love (and marriage) will bring the security we need (supposedly). This is why women are so stuck on commitment, and men are not. The acculturation of women has been to seek love in order to obtain security, which is why women and the search for a wealthy man are so often linked. This is still promoted in our media today, so is it any wonder that we continue to live by this ancient, even barbaric standard?
No wonder, there are battles between men and women and feminists and those with old-fashioned values. The issue is not so much who is right, but that those who hold the same values seek each other out. Instead, we often have the case of apples seeking oranges, or individuals who are oranges griping because they have just gone out with an apple. Fruit is good in general. No need to gripe. Just go out with a similar fruit!!
I personally have found a lot of value in the foreign bride business so that American men with old-fashioned values can seek and find women from other countries with similar values to theirs. The men work and provide the bacon; the women stay home, have babies, and care for the kids. There is nothing inherently wrong with this arrangement. It simply indicates a sharing of duties based on natural proclivities of the genders. However, there are still "old-fashioned" women living in the United States too. In fact, Muslims and those of religious faiths other than Christians also adhere to the model that makes the man responsible for entire households full of people, including extended families. This puts a lot of pressure on the male to be successful in business and a lot of pressure on the female to ensure that the children are well cared for and that the household runs smoothly.
Problems arise when the new world meets the old. In this new world, females are just as likely, and indeed, just as capable of being the household providers. Our world includes many single individuals who have learned how to care for themselves and who have successful and fulfilling careers. The gender roles can get switched, and males can learn nurturing by becoming stay-at-home dads, or single dads can learn more traditionally feminine roles. Likewise, single mothers learn how to “do it all” and take on the role of breadwinner and housekeeper/nurturer. The world is much more complex these days, with many more configurations of what a household can encompass.
As you can see, however, there is always the money side—that pays for the household—linked with the nurturer/caretaker side. Security and love are linked, and money is linked to both of those, so is it any wonder that there is much criticism about love and money and the gender roles associated with these?
My view is that relationships and marriage are inherently about money or at least an exchange of needs. We are bartering for our needs. If you doubt the linkage of money and relationship, just go on a date. When it comes time to pay for the date, who pays? Every day, I get questions about this.
Custom has it that the male pays, at least for the first few dates. Then as a relationship ensues, the female begins to add to the pot. More and more, I find males feeling that if women can be so independent, that they should pay their own way, and so they hold out for the Dutch treat. As an aging Hippie and a believer in fair play, I have always believed in the Dutch treat, just because I have always believed that is fair. I never saw a reason why men should pay for everything. At the very least, my belief is that couples should switch off who pays for dates—that’s assuring that there IS a second date. But that’s my belief and not how it really is.
What IS clear is that men are now becoming disconnected from their traditional roles as providers and protectors. Because females are indeed able to pay for and provide shelter for themselves, males no longer feel the need to provide for them. Thus, men think, “why should I have to pay for her on the date? She takes care of herself.” However, there is such a thing as generosity.
Are you generous or are you cheap, and how do you want to portray yourself? Moreover, who ARE you, really? If you are cheap, my belief is, let’s get it out in the open, because then I can decide NOT to choose you. Cheap is not attractive. It shows a hard heart and an isolated heart. I still believe personally in paying my own way, but generosity is a value I would like to see in someone I date. How about you?
This discussion is really leading to a broader topic. Relationships, marriage, and dating are about an exchange of goods and services. Don’t kid yourself that they are not. If someone pays for something, they expect reciprocation. It’s only fair. This is why men who pay for dates expect sex, ladies. If you aren’t going to pay, they expect some thing. (Bake them a pie.)
In metaphysical circles, this is called an equal exchange of energy, and you create karma if the exchange is unequal. Another way of saying it is that, if you just take a free meal and don’t give something back in exchange, you owe that other person—for life—until you return something of equal value. In some cultures, this is called “an eye for an eye”, and you owe this beyond a lifetime, until you pay it back to someone.
In my mother’s world, it’s a “pie for a pie”. If somebody invites her to dinner, she is honor bound to invite them back at some time. If they give her a gift of fruit, she bakes them a pie with it and brings the pie back. You know what else this is called, folks? Common courtesy.
Think about how intertwined relationship is with money, expectation, and reciprocation. Relationship often goes awry when two people have differing views of what is appropriate reciprocal behavior. If you are taking money or meals or gifts from people, you had better know they expect SOME thing in return. It may be they expect a thank you, or it may be they expect faithfulness or honesty, but everything is a valid currency of exchange in relationship, even the shortest relationship—like a date.
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So, when is a date, a date, and when is it that you are just hanging out with a pal? How do you know who is “just a friend” anyway, and when does someone become a boyfriend or a girlfriend? How important is that designation, and when do any of those things make someone a significant—or insignificant “other”?
A friend of mine in the office was talking about an old ex that she had run into recently. One of the reasons he became an “ex’ was because he kept referring to her as a “roommate”, after she had been doing his laundry, cooking all the meals, cleaning the house, and sleeping with him. She wasn’t adverse to doing those tasks, only chagrined that he told his friends that they were “just roommates”, despite what she was doing for him. Needless to say, eventually, he was surprised and angry when she broke up with him, but before she left, she did first teach him what a roommate is really like: no money lending, no cooking, no cleaning, and no sex. He was not amused, and yet, he was dumb-founded when she removed herself from the lease and left him.
That story demonstrates how important it is to make sure that you and whomever it is you are seeing, speak the same language. I myself see being a “wife” as no better than being a slave, but one has to understand that my version of the word’s meaning comes only from my personal experience, one I do not want to repeat. In my own personal glossary, “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” are unimportant, just people to while away the time with, because if they were important, they would have a more “bonded” word-name than “friend”—but not “wife” (slave) or “husband” (evil overseer), obviously, in my case! ;) I am, of course, being facetious, but not entirely so.
In the dating business, there is always the question of, “are we really dating, or are we just friends hanging out?” I have heard both genders be in denial about being in a relationship—often, because they are hoping “something better”, whatever that is, will come along. I once knew a girl who took flowers, presents, dinners at expensive restaurants, and even a car from a guy, and then couldn’t figure out why he thought he owned her and that she should date only him. Sometimes, these guys get mad when the female doesn’t follow his wishes, but I have seen plenty of sensitive guys that just hang their heads and wait, with decidedly hopeful—and sometimes persistent—mien, dreaming that the lady will eventually concur.
I remember saying to the lady, “How can you take a car from him, and then think that it’s okay for you to go on your merry way, without giving him a second thought?” What’s more, she even had sex with him regularly, a second indicator of bonding, and the poor guy was really left with a mixed message about where the relationship stood. Ah, people of no conscience! No devils or angels sitting on her shoulder! She only shrugged and smirked. Chicks like her give womanhood a bad name—her and Anna Nicole.
Whatever one’s personal dictionary definition of “relationship” entails, and whatever one’s meaning for what qualifies as a “date”, a “boy/girlfriend”, or even as a “husband” or “wife”, one thing is certain: relationship is about exchange. I will say that again, in caps: RELATIONSHIP IS ABOUT EXCHANGE. Anthropologists disagree about what exactly is the importance of dating ritual and marriage vows, but they do agree that usually the ceremonies and rituals are about who gets to have sex with whom, when one gets to have sex with whom, and what other duties are expected from each partner.
There are certain roles we play. That is why Betty Carter, in her book, Love Honor & Negotiate, claims that people who have lived together can get along fine, but if they actually decide to marry and formally tie the knot, the game rules change. Once the rules change, the roles change, and that, my friends, almost insures that the once happy couple will get a divorce. How can that be? Because marriage is an institution about who gets to sleep with whom and what duties each person will play. We are not talking politics or religion here, folks, we are talking about cultural mores and cultural anthropology, social behaviors. Not only do we learn these things almost as if by osmosis.
For example, we learn pretty early that it’s not normal to walk down the street naked, and we stop thinking that we should…well, most of us do! We also learn the roles, often gender specific, that give order to our lives. We know what is expected, and we know what would be inappropriate as well. We are “acculturated”, taught the “culture” that takes chaos and makes order or determines normalcy and “weirdness”. Live-in couples may be living lives of more equalized partnership, yet there is also the underlying and unspoken word that if any one person starts giving or taking beyond his share—the other can freely leave—no divorces, no lawyers, and no outlay of funds.
Live-in partners need to behave better than marrieds have to, because married couples stand to lose more if one person decides to leave. So live-in partners have a degree of instability that actually can encourage a more even sharing of roles and more considerate behaviors. Once they get married, though, the roles immediately change, according to Betty Carter. The male begins to expect to be the protector, the bread-winner, and he begins to expect the female to take on the traditional wifely roles of housekeeping, caretaking, and sexual duties, even if the roles were more equally shared in the past—and even if the wife is also the major breadwinner. It is almost as though they just can’t help it. The “marriage genes” kick in, and the old-fashioned Cleaver family ideals kick in.
Unfortunately, those that once upon a time had more balanced and interchangable roles often can’t hack the “straitjacketing” of a traditional marriage. There is nothing inherently wrong with the traditional model, if both members of a couple are brought up traditionally, and if both feel esteemed and fulfilled in their roles as such. Ward and June Cleaver seemed happy and unperturbed in their roles on TV. But, of course, they are fictional characters, and our world is much more complex now. With women in the workplace, because they want and need other kinds of fulfillment than housekeeping, and with couples exchanging duties in caretaking roles, Ward and June Cleaver are no longer realistic paradigms for the majority of us. While they once depicted a valid interdependent kind of marital living arrangement, in the real world, our living arrangements and relationship situations are much more varied.
Relationship, as well as marriage, is all about exchange, and so you can pretty safely say that if two people are living together, they are having a relationship. They have to talk about money, share house duties, make decisions about who does what and when, and figure out the sexual mores of the household. The less they share, the more likely it is that they are “just roommates”, but the more there is an uneven swap of duties, it is likely that it is indeed a relationship that may also have some arguments and betrayals along the way.
Please note that, even in dating ritual, a man brings flowers to a lady, or he pays for the dinner or movie. If he does this on a regular basis, and sometimes, these days, if he pays for these things even once, he expects sex. This really is fair play. Relationship—and even dating—is about exchange. If you don’t want to owe someone, pay your own way, OR go out in groups. (One reason why Eight Friends Out is so great!)
Also notice that when one gets engaged, there are bigger stakes, and a bigger present—a diamond ring!—involved. The ring just “bought” you, girls, so don’t feel bad being a commodity, if you just accepted that hunk of rock that some poor guy dug out of a mountainside! Just put on your pretty drawers, and get ready to give it up. Your beau worked how many hours to get that ring for you?
Then comes marriage…Mom and Dad get to foot the bill for an expensive princess fantasy that, these days, ends up to be a wasted savings in 50% of the cases. Whew! In the old days, there were two ways to do it: The man would give goats and cattle to the bride’s papa in order to get the girl, or the wife’s family would give a hope chest full of money and heirlooms to go with the bride as a price to the man’s family—and sometimes, exchange of land was involved.
In some cultures, free sex is encouraged until two individuals find each other compatible. Once they do, the male leaves a present outside the house of his girlfriend in order to “claim” her. After that, there’s no more fooling around, except between the two that are bound by—you got it—the present.
So, if you are wondering if you are dating or just hanging out—think about how even or uneven the exchange is. Or, is there an exchange at all? If there’s no exchange of money, gifts, house cleaning, laundry duties, rent, dinners out, or sex, you’re probably just hangin’ out with a pal. But once the dollar bills—or the dust—or the bed covers—start to fly, you got yourself a relationship.
So, then, don’t be surprised if your “partner in crime” asks one day for you to “pay up”. So goes relationship. It really IS all about stocks, bondings, and commodities. What are your bargaining chips? And are you overdrawn at the bank?
Questions? Email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org..
can come to you as a love relationship, a parent, a grandparent, a best friend, or even as a baby or child. Soulmates are not necessarily romantic partners.
are people who come to share our lives and teach us something about ourselves, sometimes to love ourselves more, sometimes to be less selfish...there are many reasons why soulmates come to us.
can come for a long or short time.
not just one.
YOU CANNOT FAIL TO FIND YOUR SOULMATE.