I have always been one to show love. Despite my (obviously fraudulent) gangster, I am, in fact, a hopeless romantic and all around sweet, country girl. I’ve never found it uncomfortable to compliment women, or men for that matter; and as I have grown, I realize that kind words and a kind touch can save lives. That being said, I enjoyed reading this post from verysmartbrothas.com that, in essence, discussed why men were so taken aback by receiving compliments–especially from women. In the post, “The Champ” recalls being told by his lady that he has “a tendency to turn into a slobbering bastard when a woman other than (his) mom gives (him) a compliment.” Ha! He goes on to say, “she followed that by saying that most men are the exact same way.” I’ve witnessed this phenomenon often–men becoming giddy and light-weight uncomfortable (okay heavy-weight uncomfortable) when women say nice things to them. It’s intriguing and cute to watch. Here’s more from The Champ:
If fact, not only do men rarely hear compliments from random women, most of us rarely hear compliments from women we’re actually sleeping with. Seriously, aside from the usual mid-coital kudos… most men reading this can probably count the number of compliments their girlfriend has given them on one hand.
I found this statement to be bewildering and began thinking of my own relationships with past lovers. I immediately considered the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman that I picked up hoping to improve the communication and loving in my marriage. In reading the book and going over it with my husband, I realized that I had no idea what his love languages were–and he no idea about mine. Words of affirmation were top of the list for him, and I would argue it’s the same for many. It took me reading a book to realize what in hindsight should have been obvious. I also realized that I was failing him in not offering those words consistently, with genuineness and love. I wonder today if my inability to meet his emotional needs–and to speak his love language–spiraled us into divorce. One may never know. The Champs word’s, however, made me consider the possibilities, which are never easy.
While we are on the subject of showing love, recently–while discussing love, intimacy, and love-making with a male friend–I asked what he enjoyed most about those intimate experiences. He replied that he enjoyed being touched–not in a superficial, means to an end sort of way–but a real, sincere touch–one filled with desire for him. I was happy that he admitted what I had learned from most of my past lovers–men long to be touched as much as women do. In pleasure encounters we often believe that men should be responsible for initiating and giving pleasure. We expect men to initiate intimacy and do all the touching, tasting, and fulfilling. We are socialized (through patriarchy and gender roles) to believe that good girls–wholesome women that men settle down with and marry–don’t jump bones, grab men up, and state their desires. This is another example of how men and women lose at the hands of patriarchy because–in speaking with male lovers and friends–such acts are exactly what they yearn for most. Marvin Gaye crooned amid the moans and shutters of his timeless and timely hit I Want You, “I want you/ but I want you to want me too.” Love is more than most things reciprocity. Do we do our lovers a disservice by allowing what we believe to be men’s and women’s work invade our daily interactions, our bedrooms, and our lives. Of course we do–and in ways that destroy our relationships.
The truth is–and I’ve lived a bit to learn–we lose our humanity in trying to figure out how we should behave as men and women. We all desire to hear kind words. We want to be sexy, alluring, handsome, beautiful, and amazing. Much in the same way, we want to be ravaged, believe that our lovers are thirsty for only us, and no one else will do. Actually, if you study Chapman’s love languages, you will note that all of the languages appeal to us as human beings and are not gender specific. I always suggest that couples study one another and find out what each other’s love languages are. After all, we are individuals, not monoliths or gender tropes–who, in all, want to be wanted, just like Marvin.
Here is a little quiz that you can use to determine your love language. It’s a wonderful way to start the conversation towards healing and meeting the needs of our partners. Enjoy; want; be wanted; and love.