Friday, June 12, 2009

Sparking Controversy: WIGSF Back Atcha

Whatigotsofar has an opinion about my last post. Honestly it was something I threw out there knowing that it was going to be controversial because I made a lot of generalizations about a subject that always gets people riled up. The title was "How To Get A Girl and Keep Her" but really I'm only be speaking for one girl, and that's me. There are lots of other female humans out there on planet Earth. Some of the points might apply to some other women, but I make no guarantees.

I published the post without making any elaborate disclaimers because, well, it's a blog post. The amount of small print that could have gone into footnotes for that post is measurable in miles.

So, I understand if not everyone agrees with all of my points, as applicable to their own lives. Some women might prefer their men to choose flattery over honesty. Some women might write off men that get stuck in the Friend Zone. Those points are totally valid.

But WIGSF went one step further and accused me of being dishonest about how the points apply to my own life. If I read his rebuttal correctly, he thinks that Ken is only the Good Husband that he is because I engaged in such sneaky and successful brainwashing practices throughout our courtship and beyond.

Here's a direct quote from WIGSF:
Ultimately, the fundamental flaw in her thesis is that women want to be loved. I respectfully disagree. Women are humans. The history of humanity is the history of control. Women want control. Only, they like to be sly about it.

I've got to hand it to him. It's the truth. OK, it's one facet of the truth. But I will strenuously assert that it is not the whole truth.

Now, WIGSF, I'm about to get personal. I'm not aiming to hurt your feelings. But you went there first, so get ready to take what you dished out.

I think this is about personal belief systems. It's about, and this is sadly a common view in our cynical, alienated society, a belief that true love between men and women is impossible. Those who say they have it are either lying, deluded, or both. And it's a thesis that's impossible to disprove, just like the psychiatrist who is never wrong: it's always the patient who's in denial.

At one point in my life, I lost faith in the idea of love. I took a 2-year, part-time psychology course, with the intention of becoming a psychotherapist. What I learned about human nature in that course shattered a lot of my naive illusions. I became finely attuned to the ulterior motives behind peoples' behaviours. I began to mistrust everyone.

Here are some of the thoughts I had during those days:
My mother says she's proud of me, but it's not about me at all. She just wants to show off to her friends and she's using me to do it. That's not love.
My friend says we're BFF's, but she's just using me as a dumping ground for all her worries. Now that I'm professionally trained as a therapist, she wants to get my skills for free. That's not love.
My relatives say they want me to attend family gatherings because they care about me, but really they have this idea in their head of what should happen at these gatherings, and they don't like it when reality doesn't comply. It's just about meeting their expectations so that they can feel comfortable with themselves. That's not love.
Men just want sex and someone to clean the toilet for them. That's not love.

By the end, I was able to discredit any and all claims of anyone that they loved me. As far as I could see, they all just wanted a piece of me for their own selfish reasons. I mean, what's love, anyway? Being "in love" is infatuation; there's sexual attraction; there's family obligation; and what's left?

If I only make dinner because I know you'll do the dishes, have I done you a service out of the goodness of my heart, or are we simply roommates negotiating a fair division of labour? Did you give me a Valentine's Day card because you're thoughtful, or did I just become the cheapest prostitute in the city?

IMHO, the truth is that the urge of love and the urge for power/control co-exist in all of us. Often, the urge to control wins. One sign of real love is that it surrenders. Some might say that if you surrender, you've lost. That's not love, it's defeat. But it's not, if you willingly choose to surrender because you care about the relationship more than you care about your ego.

Western culture has declared that each person's ego should be their first priority. We all gotta look out for #1, y'know? New Age thinking contains a big dose of this philosophy. Self-sacrifice is not cool in this day and age. And then we wonder why our relationships are so often superficial and unsatisfying.

I don't advocate that everyone should become a martyr. I'm not one. I don't sacrifice everything to Ken, and he doesn't sacrifice everything to me. I guess our relationship works because we have a tacit agreement on how much each of us will sacrifice, and we try to keep it balanced. Yes, there is still a calculating element in this. Yes, I will be willing to give Ken control of the TV remote, but that's because I know he'll probably give it over to me tomorrow night. Is that love? Or is that just more tactical strategizing?

I say it's love, and that's because I get a good feeling when something I give up allows Ken to get something that puts a smile on his face. I'm not so selfless that I'd do it infinitely without reciprocity, but there's something beyond just the tally of favours on a balance sheet that brings happiness to my heart. Seeing him happy brings me happiness, even if it means I had to give something up that I wanted. And vice versa.

That's love.

Let the debate continue!


wigsf said...


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is gettin' good ... Your response, WIGSF? We eagerly await!

San said...

Just for the sake of argument (as they say), a true behaviorist might say that all of our motives, even our nobler ones, are selfish. We do good things for others because it makes us feel good.

I got a degree in psych from a very behaviorist psych department, but I don't buy into it. I believe in love, and sacrifice, and a higher Good. True love does happen. That doesn't mean there's no struggle. Just about anything good in life involves some work, some struggle.

Kate said...

I do believe this is my favorite blog post of yours so far.

Anonymous said...

Love is putting someone else's needs and/or wants ahead of your own.

Love is a choice, NOT a feeling; it's an act of will.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I have nothing intelligent to add so I will post a quote.

"Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence."

- Erich Fromm

Jenski said...

Ooooo...I like a good debate. :-) WIGSF, I apologize that I do not visit your blog more, because I do think you have a lot of stuff for people to think about and are not afraid to put controversy out there!

That said, I think Spark has a very important point. Everybody is different. Spark, I guess the more specific title would have been 'How to get Spark and keep her'? Good thing you and Ken have each other by law now, or all the tricks to stealing you away would be out there! ;-)

Buzzardbilly said...

What an excellent rebuttal!

For the one class that I veered away from West Virginia stereotyping as my main project, I had to do a paper on "bad communication" and I chose to delve into selfishness and how it affects communication. OMG by the end of that round of research, I felt exactly the way you described when you first hit the disillusion of the basic niceness of people. Then, like you, I finally struck a balance between studies and people themselves. But, I do believe Aristotle was right about it being best to have few, but carefully chosen, friends.

World's full of all kinds of leeches, users, and the self-involved. But, ya still gotta deal with them. Really, excellent post on your part.

Claire said...

Nice rebuttal, Miss Spark!


Scarlet said...

Love is a decision...I think that's a book by Dr. J. Dobson (if I'm not mistaken), and I totally agree with what you've written here about selflessly giving to someone we love (without being a doormat). It's not because of what he'll give us in return but because of how it makes him feel. We like to make the people we love feel good. That IS love.

Great post, SR! Actually, you could write a book of your own.

wigsf said...

Okay, I wrote this really long response but then my connection died while trying to post... so let's see how much I remember.

I have to put disclaimers because last time I wrote a post that was such an adversarial rebuttal or rebuke or something, the women I was debating with called me a jerk and told me off, yadda yadda yadda. It's not that I was hurt or care that I lost a bloggybuddy, but it turns out, some people have a very thin skin and cannot take a debate or critisism. C'mon ladies. Don't dish it out if you can take it coming back atcha.


A wise man once said "It's not a lie if you believe it." It's possible that you've convinced yourself that you were not dileberately brainwashing dear ol' Ken. Seeing as how he's a really great guy, you've come to actually love him (that's good) but in the beginning, your motives may have been sinister (or at least, an effort to control and subjigate).


As for anything after the psychology course, I stopped reading at that point. I don't mean to be rude, but it's a piece of paper. Just because you passed a class or two doesn't mean you actually know what you're doing. You may think you do, but hey, I think I can develop software because I've got a shiny piece of paper that says I'm a computer programmer. And guess what, do I write computer programs? NO! I sell high-end custom kitchen cabinets. In fact, I just sold two vanities and a laundry room, three minutes ago.

Anonymous said...

By his own rules he's not qualified to critique other peoples love lives.

To qualify he'd have to at least have some form of a relationship with a woman.

Yeah... That'll happen real soon.

Marc Wong said...

Great posts! I used to joke that the perfect boyfriend was a cross between a waiter and a comedian. You have to make her laugh and be attentive to her needs without being intrusive.

And you know what I've said about listening.

Jameil said...

ok 1) he couldn't have possibly thought you would blog roll ban him. 2) why would you attempt to subjugate someone you had no intentions of benefiting from said subjugation? waste of time. 3) how do you even begin to explain love to someone who doesn't believe it exists for him or her? i gave up that argument with someone who always had a negative answer for everything i ever said. he never became lovable. idk if that's the deal w/WIGSF but there are some issues that aren't going to be solved on either of your blogs. (i'm sure i now have it coming to me too...)

Aurora said...

What's wrong with wanting and needing a little control? why is that such a bad word?
If you're ok with your own desire for control then you'll be able to recognize and respect it in others, and give it over to them sometimes. Spark, you said clearly that it's the *balance* between you and Ken that you appreciate. You both understand each other's needs. It seems there's a special reciprocity between you two--this is what WIGSF is finding hard to believe in. Well I agree with you Spark... this reciprocity is the key, it's something important to do with altruism and love.

Karen said...

IMHO, WIGSF sounds a bit bitter. I like the debate though.