Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

Why It’s True That Men Need To Love “Harder” Than Women

One of my homegirls (“Angie”) divorced her husband a little over a year ago. After going through the perfunctory post-breakup reflection and mourning period, she started dating again. She’s shared a few of her dating tales, and between the grandmomma’s boys, 40 year old aspiring rap producers, and men who send her texts spelling touche “tu shea”, it wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that her dating life mirrors the first 35 minutes of every movie Gabrielle Union’s ever been in.

While this perpetual comedy of errored men hasn’t made Angie jaded or discouraged, it has changed her entire relationship outlook. Where she might have been a bit to too pressed to please and impress before, her trials and tribulations have made her a bit more pragmatic about the dating game. During a conversation yesterday, I asked what accounted for this (refreshingly) sober outlook, and she replied:

“If my failed marriage has taught me anything, it’s that the next serious relationship I get in will have to be with a man who loves me much more than I love him. I think all women should adapt that policy, actually. We’d all be much better for it. “

As you probably imagined, this statement stopped me in my tracks. While the whole “for the best relationships, a man should love his wife a bit more than she loves him” sentiment isn’t new (I’m sure half of the women reading this have heard some variant of this from their grandmothers) I’ve always considered it to be stupid, short-sighted, and, well dangerous, and I was surprised that someone as smart as Angie would say that.

I understand that relationships will never be 50/50. One party will always be a tad bit more committed to the relationship than the other (And whoever happens to be the least committed also usually holds the most power…but that’s another topic for another day), but hearing a woman actually say that any man she’s serious about needs to love her more than she loves him is a man’s worst nightmare; a confirmation that, beneath all the sugar and spice, women are inherently selfish, superficial, and full of shit.

But then I put my $9.99 worth of man pride aside and thought about it.

I considered the fact that, because men tend to be socialized to “conquer” while women tend to be socialized to commit, it takes a bit more for a man to entertain the idea of a long-term monogamous relationship than it usually does for a women. (and “it takes a bit more” = “he probably needs to be completely head over heels”)

I remembered that between pregnancy, (relatively) tiny reproductive windows, and the fact that sex is a much more potentially dangerous act for a woman than a man, it does kind of make sense for a woman to be completely sure that any man she chooses to lay with is completely gaga over her.

I even recalled “The Close Bus Syndrome” and “Sadie’s Shady” — two blogs I’ve written that were eventually fleshed out into full chapters in “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night.” Why do these blogs matter? Well, in “Sadie’s Shady” I explain that one of the main reasons why women shouldn’t pursue men is that (generally speaking) women don’t grow on men the same way men can grow on women. Basically, if a guy was really into a woman, he would have done whatever he could to pursue her first. If he hasn’t done that, he’s probably lukewarm, and if a man is lukewarm about a women he’s dating, she’s very likely to get “Close-Bused.”

Eh. It pains me to admit this, but I think Angie might have been right.

Do you?

—The Champ

If you haven’t purchased the paperback or the $9.99 Kindle version of “Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime” yet, what the hell is stopping you? (No, seriously. Tell us and we’ll send Chuck Norris or Liz to fix it)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Tes

    I’m an idealist, a VSV and a tenderoni…I don’t think anything I have to say on this could possibly be valid.

    *takes out folding chair and notepad for the day*

  • Dee

    I agree with this more and more the older I get….Things have worked out better in my relationships if I let the guy open up and stuff first….of course I show my interest, but I tend to let him say how he feels first.

  • Rogman

    Women grow on men all the time.

    Its an interesting theory of hers, however how does she reliably test it?

  • JJ the Jet Plane

    I’ve gotten into many an argument with my momma about this topic, and I attributed it to her being a crazed, elder Latina woman who wants to ensure that her only-born doesn’t entertain a string of bad relationships. I’ve never heard of anyone closer to my age intimate that they believed the same ideology, and so it definitely throws my theory off-base. Maybe momma wasn’t crazy?
    However, in the event that you actually do entertain a relationship where the man ‘loves’ harder than you, aren’t you missing out as a woman? Isn’t the whole point of being in a relationship and ‘falling in love with love’ about being the doting (and respected) woman who takes care of her man? I’m afraid that a love imbalance might make it hard to desire to be a man’s “everywoman’, so to speak. Meh…Maybe my Latina upbringing effed it all up. What to do??

    PS – I require GLITTAH, dang it!!!!! I have yet to receive a grandiose VSB welcome. ::Smile::

  • I understand that relationships will never be 50/50. One party will always be a tad bit more committed to the relationship than the other (And whoever happens to be the least committed also usually holds the most power…but that’s another topic for another day), but hearing a woman actually say that any man she’s serious about needs to love her more than she loves him is a man’s worst nightmare; a confirmation that, beneath all the sugar and spice, women are inherently selfish, superficial, and full of shit.

    This right here. No one ever really wants to admit that in every relationship someone is giving more than the other. The best you can reliably wish for is a 60/40. And as sheer numbers dictate, the person giving 60 is the one who stands to lose more when if the relationship ends.

    However, to say for a relationship to work the man should love the woman more, assumes the position that the woman wants to be with the man and wants that relationship to last. Everyone assumes men want to play and women want to commit. I think that was the case once upon a time, but now there are many women that just want to meet certain milestones. They want the wedding, but the marriage is inconsequential. If it doesn’t work out, at least she can say “been there, done that” ’cause that’s better than getting the “What’s wrong with your never-been-married-*ss?” stares she’d get otherwise.

  • I wholeheartledly, 100% believe that this is true.

    See the thing is, I feel that women give more than men in relationships anyway. Women are alwys bending over backwards and making special note of how he likes his boxer briefs folded and planning special date nights, while men are content to just BE in a relationship.
    When men are on the chase, they do more.
    Men doing more because they’re soooo in love + women doing normal ish = a regular healthy relationship (IMO)

  • Curious Capital

    My father has been married to my mom for over thirty years and he recently told me this. I might have to go with Angie on this one.

  • Intellectual Hedonist

    As I stand 30 days from my 40th birthday with a 14 year relationship in my history I have to say not only do i totally agree with Angie but I whole heartedly support this message.

  • DQ

    I agree with Angie, though admittedly I didn’t at first. It took me some time to come around to it, and I only recently did (in the past few years). I’ll see if I can find my thoughts on it and reprint it here.

  • Sea Jay Bee

    There is a lot to be said about the “conqueror” mentality of the dating male. I know for sure that I have previously put in hella work to one day look around and wonder “How did I get here? Is this what I expected…where is the exit?”.

    I agree that a man has to REALLY love a woman hard because there needs to be motivation. Motivation beyond just wanting a number, wanting a dinner, a late night at home, eventually an overnight stay and subsequently the morning breakfast omelette finisher. Dudes get bored when the challenge is gone.

    The thrill of the chase is a good thing and a natural thing but it had to be paced properly. When I’m really into a woman, there is a desire for a whole lot more than most efficiently getting to the breakfast finisher omelette. Why am I going to Papyrus to find extra unique handmade-ish cards? Why am I at the florist in Old Town looking for summer orchids? Why am I cooking her favorite meals? Because she loves that stuff and it keeps the reciprocity rolling and a woman reciprocating on a regular basis is a wonderful thing.

    If you consistently come with weak stuff, how can her soul be stirred? How will she be reminded that she chose well? Every now and then a guy has to go hard in the paint just to let her know what’s good so he can watch the NBA playoffs in peace every now and then.

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