As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 30, 2013, Systemic Thinking Column
The column is currently exploring the link between the states of level of emotional fidelity that exists between couples and HIV/AIDS prevalence rates that exists as a nation.
It is difficult to imagine that something that prevails by as much as at a personal level can have an impact at a national level. Yet, when we observe the phenomena of emotional (rather than of sexual) fidelity that exists from person to person, family to family, district to district, region to region, it is really not all that difficult to imagine or ignore the significance of the influence on the level of the epidemic as a nation. Viruses are not transmitted in the open. Just because I do not see they are happening openly, it does not mean the transmissions are not happening.
Source: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Dr John Gray
Yet, what is emotional fidelity and what influences it?
In the past weeks we saw that this begins when the couple works at meeting and fulfilling the emotional needs of one’s partner.
And then we discovered that the emotional needs of one’s partner (of the opposite gender) are typically different from that of one’s own.
In fact there are twelve kinds of emotional needs or as we say twelve kinds of love that can exist between a couple.
The figure here illustrates what these look like. We will start from the top.
When a woman meets and fulfils a man’s need to see his woman trust him, it allows him to grow his sense of belief in himself (when a woman believes in her man, it makes it easier for a man to believe in himself). This act grows feelings of masculinity that fosters a need within him to provide, protect and care for his woman.
As he cares for his woman in each step of the way; the act releases oxytocin in her body, a powerful hormone that plays a huge role in pair bonding for the woman. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up for the person. This allows her to grow her feelings of feminity that allow her to behave truer to her gender as a woman for her man. This then allows her to grow feelings of trust in her man.
The more that a man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him!
While the couple helps to meet and build the emotional needs of their partner, the cycle behaves in a self-seeking way that reinforces their ability to receive and meet their partners’ needs. The couple bonds in this way.
This type of relationship does not require moral, physical or monetary obligations to tie it together so as to make it work.
Couples, who learn this subtle shift in difference in the way they see their partner early on in their relationship, are often on their way to realizing greater levels of fulfilment between them. Making relationships work becomes ‘cheap’.
As the man and the woman enjoy the first of these levels of emotional intimacy between them, they become ready to move on to the next steps in the bonding process.
This is the capacity of the man to understand the woman by listening to the views she expresses from her side of the world.
For the woman, this also means her ability to accept the man for who he is rather than who she wants to be.
Whenever a man changes his ways, be they his views or his actions, it would be on his own terms. This is not an act of defiance. It is what defines a man and separates him from the feelings of being a boy or a child.
It is important for a man that he sees his woman accepts him for who he is and not who he needs to be for her. The more the man feels he is allowed to change on his terms, and sees the woman trusts him to change on his own accord, the more he feels that his woman meets his need to accept him.
So rather, than say, “Why don’t you take the trashcan out? It is your trash too!” she instead requests of him to “Would you take the trash out? It would really make a difference to how the house would feel.” And when he does take the trash out, she then makes a big deal of his action. Whenever a man does something for his woman, he assumes there is a risk involved as he is not sure if his actions would be wholly accepted by his woman.
When he sees that she accepts whatever he has given to her, it makes him happy. This happiness is key to him becoming open to requests on her part in the future for things she would like to see happen for herself.
And this is now his capacity to listen to and understand his woman.
It is not an uncommon remark by men amongst men how “women do not stop talking”. It is really not all that difficult to see this at checkout counters or at restaurants or at government service counters to see service delivery is delayed, because the women staffs are choosing to chat up to a point that it becomes incessant for each other. It is now placing a dent on the economy.
Women fulfil that need for each other quite easily. They are programmed to know how to ‘listen to another woman that fulfils this need for her. Men however are not programmed to listen for the sake of listening. He is designed to listen so as to take an action. He is Mr Fix It. So how would a woman “programme” her man, so that he becomes ready to offer the listening ear she needs to feel she has been understood by her man?
Think about it and we will explore it here in our next column and the impact of meeting these emotional needs on each other as well as for the economy. We will explore this and more of the remaining twelve kinds of love then.
How true have these experiences been for you? As a man? And as a woman? How would you tell these distinctions exist for each other? Happy discussing these with your spouse or your girlfriend and discovering from each other!
Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa. She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518.