Between me and a couple of my girlfriends, that one-word utterance represents our collective female frustration with members of the opposite sex. Men say they don't understand women. Well, guess what? We don't understand men.
John Gray, Ph.D., told us that "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" (whether we've found agreeable middle ground here on Earth continues to be up for debate) and Greg Behrendt told us "He's Just Not That Into You," but when Steve Harvey (yes, that Steve Harvey) popped up with a book that promised to tell we women, once and for all, what's going on in men's heads, well, how could I resist?
What I'd really love is for a handful of my male friends to read this book and tell me if Steve speaks the truth. It's not that I want to believe that he's lying. I suspect a lot of what's contained in these pages is true, but I'd also like to think that men – some men, at least – are slightly more evolved. And I'd like to think that those are the men who will appear on my dating radar.
But I don't expect my male friends to read this book. Whether or not they're pleased with Steve for showing us the male team's playbook, I can't envision men sitting down and reading a book about – gasp! – relationships.
So I thought I'd cull a few of the book's key points, chunked up by chapter headings
, while being as objective as possible so as to not sway any forthcoming reactions, and spare folks the effort of reading the whole shebang, not that reading the whole shebang requires much of an investment of time (for those who might want to read the whole shebang anyway).
In return, I'd love for my male readers to pop into the Comments to offer their two cents based on what Steve has to say. Women, of course, are welcome to comment, too, but I'm pretty sure I know what they're going to say.
Let's get to it, shall we?Our Love Isn't Like Your Love
"[A] man's love isn't like a woman's love. ... I'm not saying that we're not capable of loving. I'm just saying that our love is different—much more simple, direct, and probably a little harder to come by."
Steve says that men show their love through three Ps: Profess, Provide, and Protect. Profess:
"If your man loves you, he's willing to tell anybody and everybody, 'Look, man, this is my woman' or 'this is my girl,' 'my baby's mama,' or 'my lady.' In other words, you will have a title—an official one that far extends beyond 'this is my friend,' or 'this is (insert your name here).' That's because a man who has placed you in the most special part of his heart—the man who truly has feelings for you—will give you a title."Provide:
"Once we've claimed you, and you've returned the honor, we're going to start bringing home the bacon. Simply put, a man who loves you will bring that money home to make sure that you and the kids have what you all need. That is our role—our purpose. ... That is the very core of our manhood—to be the provider."Protect:
"When a man truly loves you, anybody who says, does, suggests, or even thinks about doing something offensive to you stands the risk of being obliterated. Your man will destroy anything and everything in his path to make sure that whoever disrespected you pays for it."The Three Things Every Man Needs
"Women are complicated creatures. You need stuff. Lots of it. And you expect your man to provide it, even if you haven't explained what it is you need or want, or even if what you needed and wanted five minutes ago is wholly different from what you need and want now. ... Now men, by contrast, are very simple creatures. It really doesn't take much to make us happy. In fact, there are only three things that pretty much every man needs—support, love, and 'The Cookie.' Three things—that's it. And I'm here to tell you that yes, it's that simple.
Yes, "The Cookie" is exactly what you think it is.Sport Fish Vs. Keepers
"A man fishes for two reasons: he's either sport fishing or fishing to eat, which means he's either going to try to catch the biggest fish he can, take a picture of it, admire it with his buddies and toss it back to sea, or he's going to take that fish on home, scale it, fillet it, toss it in some cornmeal, fry it up, and put it on his plate. This, I think, is a great analogy for how men seek out women."
"Newsflash," Steve writes, "it's not the guy who determines whether you're a sports fish or a keeper—it's you. (Don't hate the player, hate the game.) When a man approaches you, you're the one with total control over the situation. ... Every word you say, every move you make, every signal you give to a man will help him determine whether he should try to play you, be straight with you, or move on to the next woman to do a little more sport fishing."Why Men Cheat
"From the male perspective, the answers to the question 'Why do men cheat?' are crystal clear. ... [W]omen will put up with a lot of things. Cheating is not one of them. Now, we men? We understand this. ... Still, we do it. Why? I am not here to justify a cheating man's actions. Rather, this is my humble attempt to explain to you why a man might go on ahead and get a little something on the side, and what you can do to cut down on the chances that your man will do this to you. So, let's just go on ahead and get right to it. Men cheat because ..."They can.
"Dress it up any way you want to, but men don't view sex the way you women do, plain and simple. For a lot of you, the act of intercourse is emotional—an act of love. ... By contrast, when it comes to men and sex, neither emotions nor meaning necessarily enter the equation. It's easy—very easy—for a man to have sex, go home, wash it off with soap and water, and act like what he just did never happened.
"A man can love his wife, his children, his home, and his life that they've all built together, and have an incredible physical connection to her, and still
get some from another woman without a second thought about it, because the actual act with the other woman meant nothing to him. It was something that may have made him feel good physically, but emotionally, his heart—the professing, providing, and protecting he saves for the woman he loves—may be at home with his woman.
"Now filter this bit of information through the lens of, say, a high-powered man who has a wife whose job is equally prestigious and demanding. ... [H]er job could take her overseas, leaving her man at home to run the household, take care of the kids, and keep up his demanding work schedule for weeks on end, without so much as a hot-and-heavy phone conversation to help him make it through the enormous time period he'd have to go without having sex. ... He's stressed out, and plenty of us men can hear what he may have worked out in his mind: I'm going to go over here and let this other woman tighten me up a bit, and then I'll come back and cook, shuttle and work until the woman I love comes back to me.
"This may seem like a cold piece of work to you, but to a man, it's reasonable. [Beth here, jumping in to ask men: If this is so, is it reasonable, in this scenario, for the wife to be sleeping with another man while she's overseas?] He's got to try to feel better some kind of way, and so he's going to get sex from someone if he can't get it from you. You see it as betrayal. Men see it as just a way to get tightened up, especially if ..."They think they can get away with it.
"A man who cheats has most certainly calculated the collateral damage that would come from getting busted—potential loss of the woman he loves, his children, his home, his peace of mind—and he recognizes that this would be a devastating blow to all the things that matter in his life. ... Still, men don't really ever think they're going to get caught. Basically, we think we're slick and we go to great lengths to hide our infidelity from you, always with this in mind: if you don't know about it, it can't hurt you. We're pretty confident that your willingness to be in a relationship with us supersedes all the things we do that look suspicious, because we know you'll work through the suspicion—that it's more important to you to be with us in our imperfection than to leave us and be alone. At least, that's what we're hoping."He hasn't become who he wants and needs to be or found who he truly is.
"You may think this is a cop-out, but it is the reality. ... [W]e are defined by who we are, what we do, and how much we make. And if we haven't gotten to where we want and need to be, then we're not going to be ready to figure out how settling down with one woman fits into our plans for becoming a truly independent, mature, well-off man. I mean, how many times have you seen or been in a relationship where the man says over and over again, 'When I get my money right, I'll think about commitment,' or 'I just need to get that promotion first, then I'll settle down.' That guy is still trying to complete himself, and while he's working toward that, he's not organizing his life to include a committed relationship. He tells himself he simply doesn't have time for it—it's simply not a priority for him."What's happening at home isn't "happening" like it used to.
"That's right, I said it: it could have something to do with you. Your man may be telling himself that your relationship just doesn't have that spark anymore, that you don't turn him on like you used to—that you don't come on to him like you did when the two of you first fell in love. ... You've changed. (He knows he's changed, too, but we're not talking about him, we're talking about you.) Perhaps that comes, too, with a feeling that you don't appreciate him like you used to. ... And your home just isn't feeling like what he signed up for. And if he can't get what he signed up for back at the house, he's more likely to go out and find it somewhere else, because guess what?"The Biggest Reason of All: There's always a woman out there willing to cheat with him.
"That's the truth no woman wants to face. ... Men can
cheat because there are so many women willing to give themselves to a man who doesn't belong to them. ... Yes, these are women who have no standards and requirements and who suffer from serious self-esteem issues, making themselves willing to cheat and available to be cheated on." [Beth note: I love how men who cheat are just being men and getting what they "need," but women who cheat "suffer from serious self-esteem issues." Nice.]Men Respect Standards—Get Some
"[W]e can't possibly begin to fathom what it is you women need and want because your needs and wants change from woman to woman like the wind does from city to city. Men are very simple, logical people; if you tell us what you like and what you don't like, we'll do anything to make sure we're living up to your expectations, particularly if we're interested in forging a relationship with you. ... But we're really not programmed to figure it out. It really makes us happy when you lay out your requirements for us. And we need you to do it up front, so we can decide if we're up for the challenge ..."Strong, Independent—And Lonely—Women
"[M]en are very simple creatures who would be prone to doing some very simple things if not for the women in our lives. ... You're the driving force behind why we wake up every day. ... You're the ultimate prize to us. This may be a hard pill for you to swallow and some of you may be offended by what I'm about to say, but I say this in truth and abiding love for the opposite sex: somewhere along the line, women lost sight of this. Maybe in part because we men have played so many games, pulled so many tricks out of our hats—just plain done so much wrong in our quest to get women—that we've convinced you all that you are not important to us."
The point of this chapter is that men need to be needed. As representative of this, let me quote an example of what Steve says women should let men do. Male readers, yea or nay?:
"We get that you've got plenty of money to pay for dinner. But sit there and let him pick up the check. That what he's supposed to do when he's out with a woman on a date."
There's more to the book, of course. But I'm curious to know how men feel about what Steve has to say. Is he basically spot on? Full of crap? Has he oversimplified? Undersimplified? Revealed too much?
What say you?