How Women Like To Be Loved
( Originally Published 1892 )
Poets and orators speak of a woman as a love-craving being, who lives almost wholly in her affections.
Real life proves her to be many-sided and variable in her ideas of how men should express their love for her.
Every woman needs love as every plant needs light and heat; yet there are plants which thrive better in shaded nooks than in the broad sunlight, and there are other plants which bloom their brightest in the artificial warmth of the hot-house.
There is a large percentage of highly cultivated, mentally emotional women, who live in the imagination so far as sentiment is concerned, and who find little but discontent and disappointment in the realm of the real.
They are excellent friends and devoted mothers, but they neither give nor receive positive happiness as sweethearts or wives. They shrink from demonstrative love, and the actual seems coarse and common to them through comparison with the ideal. They enjoy a lover's letters better than his society, and they are more devoted nurses to a husband in sickness, than companions to him in health.
They are faithful to every duty, but they are forever dreaming of a more spiritual and romantic love than they have known, and a veil of sadness and disappointment hangs between them and happiness.
There is another order of woman to whom admiration is far more gratifying than love. The flattery of a crowd of admirers gives her more lasting delight than the sincere love of one undemonstrative heart. The most earnest expressions of affection would not afford her happiness unless other people heard them and recognized them as tributes to her powers of fascination. She finds more pleasure in a ball-room with a score of men paying her empty compliments, than . in her boudoir, listening to the conversation of the man who loves her.
There are women who demand a combination of both valet and maid in the attentions of a lover, and there are other women to whom this manner of expressing devotion is odious.
"You should see Julie's husband," said Julie's friend to Annie one day in my hearing. "He is the most adoring lover I ever saw. He does not allow Julie to do a single thing for herself. He looks after the servants, does all the marketing, takes care of Julie's gloves, laces and ribbons, keeps them all in order, even hangs up her hat and wrap when she comes in from a promenade. I think such devotion just lovely!"
"I am sure I should not want a man to show his devotion to me in that sort of fashion," retorted Annie. "I should feel as though I had married my butler and, forgetting myself, would be talking to him about his wages and his 'day off.' My ideal of a lover would be terribly lowered were a man to take care of my ribbons and laces and wait upon me generally."
"I don't understand you," said Julie's friend.
"Well, then, to be more explicit," continued Annie, "I could not love a man unless I felt like serving him. Every attractive woman finds scores of men who are ready to play page and courtier to her in boudoir and ball-room—all that is very well. But it is rarely that she finds among these one whom she respects and loves enough to wish to serve. I could not be happy with a man unless 1 felt this sort of love for him."
"I should never wish to feel like serving any man," replied Julie's friend.
"Then you would never wish to love according to my idea of the passion," responded Annie. "It is all a matter of temperament—most women desire rather to be loved than to love—but I should not respect a man enough to be happy in his love unless he were able to create in me as great a love as he gave, and he could not do this if he acted as a valet towards me. He must be my king, not my servant."
There are more Julies than Annies in the world, perhaps because there are more pages than kings among men.
There is another type of woman who guages a man's love toward her by the amount of money he expends upon her. Gold blinds her eyes to his moral and mental deficiencies, and she flaunts her jewels and fine dresses in the eyes of less splendidly attired wives, seemingly content with her lot.
In her husband's presence she speaks of his extravagance where she is concerned, and reproaches him for it with smiling approval in face and voice. She seems utterly indifferent to, or unconscious of, the fact that a lavish expenditure of money does not always indicate an equal outgo of affection.
More prudent and loyal husbands she designates as misers, and frankly confesses that she could not live with a man who did not consider her comfort and pleasure before all other things.
It is not infrequently the case that the bank officer who is "short" in his accounts possesses a wife of this kind. Such women add materially to the population of Canada.
Analogous to her is the woman who measures a man's affection for her by the selfishness and incivility he exhibits towards all others.
"My husband used fairly to snub people to get them out of the house so that he could have me all to himself," a professedly religious woman once said to me with great gusto. "His relatives were all furious because of his absorbing love for me and his consequent indifference to them," and she laughed with delight at the recollection of how very unhappy this man had made every one but herself.
I have met a great many women of this type, and over and over have heard them, relate with pride and exultation the selfish and unkind acts which love for them had prompted men to commit.
Such women invariably express surprise when any wife of their acquaintance permits her husband to show liberality and affection towards relatives, and are quick to intimate that the husband who is thoughtful of others does not really love his wife.
Now and then I hear a woman speak of a man's love for her as something which should make him incapable of an unkind or selfish action--something which should render him generous and full of charity and goodness to all the world—but only now and then! Women who are the soul of benevolence and kindness in all other things seem devoid of humanity in this respect.
There are women whom too much love renders exacting and incapable of self-sacrifice, as too much broad sunlight deprives some flowers of their perfume.
"Just think," said a woman to me recently—one who had been a petted daughter and a worshiped wife. "Just think, my husband was foolish enough to expose himself and take cold, and I had to give up my room and be broken of my rest in consequence!" Not a word of sympathy for the sick man, only angry resentment at the inconvenience she had been caused.
Perhaps the most unfortunate type of woman is she who, from natural tendency or acquired habit, finds excitement and adventure a necessary element in man's love.
Unless her lover is in a constant state of jealous despair or vehement protestation, there is no pleasure for her in being loved. The quiet domestic thle is worse than purgatory to her.
The man who shows a calm security and a happy content in her presence, destroys her interest in life. The salt of love is without savor to her taste unless seasoned with the tragic.
With her, marriage is always a failure, and advancing years hold nothing for her.
After her beauty begins to wane she can feast only on that worst of all dead sea fruit, the recollections of dramatic love scenes with men long since dead, or grown into happy fathers—or grandfathers. She suffers the agonies of death in witnessing the triumphs of younger women, and becomes bitter or grotesque in her attitude towards the male sex as she grows old, and blames Providence and mankind for the misery which she has brought upon herself.
In spite of the existence of all these various types, the majority of women in the civilized world are content to feed their hungry hearts on crumbs of affection, and to lavish on their children or their church the love which, like Noah's dove, has gone forth in search of a resting place and flown back_ weary and disappointed, to the ark in their bosoms_
While many women abuse the love that is lay. ished upon them, the average woman lives upon kind look, a tender tone and an occasional care less and repays these with the devotion of a lifetime.