Psychology
16 Nov 2018

Meeting someone is easy -- it's pleasing each other that's the problem

We’re not anybody’s other half. We're separate and complete entities who want to meet another fully independent person to create something exceptional together. Looking for our other half can mean that we feel that something is missing in ourselves.

Wysokie Obcasy
Krystyna Romanowska Wysokie Obcasy, Global
Meeting someone is easy -- it's pleasing each other that's the problem - NewsMavens
Woman, PixaBay

The following fragments of Krystyna Romanowska’s interview with Michał Pozdał first appeared in the Polish weekly “Wysokie Obcasy” in October 2018.

Krystyna Romanowska:  Let’s be honest -- men have ceased to be predators and became prey. Do they realize that?

Michał Pozdał:  They do. Women realize it too. We can see this change of roles by on any dating site: males crave admiration and want females to applaud them. 

Consumerism has spread from the material level to the way we meet new people, date and have a relationship. We live in maniacal times, expecting everyone to be quickly and perfectly matched to our particular set of needs. And we expect a lot from those who want to be with us. 

KR: And what can you tell me about the kind of man who claims that he’s "trying to find himself" by being in a relationship?

The first thing that comes to my mind is the myth of Narcissus (and an unattractive level of self-involvement) but on second thought, it could also be something else: the myth of the missing half -- one of the oldest fantasies about love and relationships. If a man says that he’s trying to find himself, he might be looking for his "other half".

The problem is we’re not anybody’s other half. Both you and I are two separate and complete entities. Each of us wants to meet another fully independent person to create something exceptional together. Looking for our other half can mean that we feel that something is missing in ourselves. Thinking this way makes it impossible for us to be alone when we need it most.

There are, after all, certain moments in  life when we should be by ourselves and we should be able to enjoy it.

KR: But do you think this kind of man is worth a woman's time?

It’s hard to say… Perhaps he truly is trying to find himself? Or thinks that it sounds deep and makes him look like a self-reflective person? Maybe he’s trying to show that he’s an intelligent and sensible guy, and hoping that there is someone who will find this attractive? And perhaps there is?

KR: So men believe in myths and have swapped roles with women, anything else we should know?

There are also some men who live in fear of females who are aware of their own sexual needs -- they can’t face these women and they don’t have enough courage to find out if they could create something interesting together. 

KR: One male answer to this developing fear is the incels (members of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one). But really they are men who openly declare their hatred of women; they do not have sex, although they think that sex is their right.

Incels want to bring about the absolute humiliation and objectification of women. When I think about them, a scene from my work at a juvenile center comes to mind. In the group I was leading, I heard one boy say: "The container is coming back." He meant one of the therapists who was just returning from maternity leave.

These are incels -- frightened boys who want to live in a pack -- somewhat similar to the violent horde of boys from "The Lord of the Flies". [They want to relate solely to each other and fear changes in male and female dynamics.]

KR: So they resent women's intrusion into the space that used to be theirs?

Yes, for women have now entered areas that used to be available exclusively for men, for example, the job market. Competition is primarily a male coping strategy.

What is more, many of these guys grew up convinced that being a man makes them superior in every way. What is the real message behind: “Don’t be a girl.” or “Boys don’t cry”? That boys are better than girls.

Throughout their childhood they were told that they are stronger and better than girls. Now the tables turned and they began to panic: “What? There’s no way we’re leaving our pedestal! We’re better than women and we will show them we’re always right, even in meaningless Internet discussions!”

A great number of men don’t know how to handle this change and refuse to accept it. Some of them even go to therapy because they can’t deal with the fact that their wife started earning more than they do.

KR: Are the women who know what they want doomed to loneliness?

Absolutely not. There are plenty of men who don’t mind dating females with a stronger character or a higher position.

However, I should stress that men are not always the ones to blame. Women can be hurtful too. One of the guys I used to work with suffered from a certain sexual dysfunction. After two dates with a woman, he read on her online profile: “No men with premature ejaculation, please. Go see a doctor”.

Another colleague picked up a girl from her house and they spent a lovely evening together. Later that night she sent him a text: “It was really nice and you’re a lovely guy, but I cannot date someone who drives a Skoda Fabia”.

KR: These aggressive, picky women...

Some of these behaviors are pretty aggressive. Female aggression is commonly disregarded. It’s often difficult to deal with because men are too ashamed to talk about it. One of my patients got drunk with his date and went back to her house. It turned out that he was too wasted and too nervous to perform but it was nice and they had a very pleasant breakfast the next morning. Two days later she texted him: “Sorry, I don’t give second chances”.

KR: But I also heard about a man who texted a girl, saying that she was the one to blame for his his lack of erection the night before.

Let’s not play tit for tat, we can clearly see that this problem affects both men and women. One of the main reasons is lack of communication.

Dating and seduction are two vital elements of social development. We used to learn these skills consciously or unconsciously at school dances, school trips, and house parties, etc. Today, the means of communications have changed and young people do not receive enough social training. That’s why sometimes, instead of chatting, they send each other pictures of their genitals.

The many hateful comments directed at both males and females online would never be said if the two met face to face. The reaction would be simple: “Listen, I won’t tolerate anyone talking to me like this, bye.”

Sadly, it’s not happening because we’re missing direct feedback.

KR: Would you advise against online dating?

Certainly not. My only advice would be to meet up as soon as possible, instead of carrying on an endless digital conversation. During a long-term online correspondence, we project all our needs and wishes on that other person and they suddenly behave or say (often unawares) things we want to hear. We actually start to believe that this man or woman is perfect for us. But the truth is -- people are not perfect, we are merely projecting our own desires onto an independent, humanly flawed individual.

***

Michał Pozdał -- psychotherapist and sexologist. Lecturer at  University of Social Sciences and Humanities and co-founder of Psychotherapy and Sexology Institute in Katowice. Co-author of “Man Stuff. Life, Sex and all the rest".

Translated from Polish by Martyna Kardach

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