How Men Like To Be Loved
( Originally Published 1892 )
A cynical Frenchman has said, "The woman whom we love is only dangerous, but the woman who loves us is terrible," to which a greater cynic added, "Fortunately she never loves us."
This was more witty than true, for every woman loves, has loved or expects to love some man.
Man has a horror of being loved with a mercenary motive. So great is this horror to-day that it amounts to morbid expectancy. Nine young men out of ten speak of a wife as a possession only to be purchased. But if a man had never been niggardly, woman would never have become mercenary. And mercenary women are few.
Men are far more stereotyped in mind than women. Therefore their ideas regarding the grand passion are more uniform.
While almost every woman likes a dramatic element in a man's love for her, the normal man has a dread of the dramatically disposed woman, especially in the role of a wife. This is the reason we find so many phlegmatic women who are wives. Intensity worries a man unless it is kept well under check, and the tragic he finds insupportable in daily life.
Less romantic than women by nature and with less idealism, yet somewhere in his heart every man hides a dream of that earthly trinity—father, mother and child—in which he imagines himself the chief element.
Sooner or later, to greater or less degree, every man passes through the romantic phase.
Unfortunately for women, his idea of a sweetheart is essentially different from his requirements for a wife later in life.
The average young bachelor is attracted by the girl whom other men admire. He likes to carry off the belle of the season before the eyes of rivals. He is amused by her caprices, flattered by het jealous exactions, and grateful for the least expression of her regard for him. He is lavish with compliments and praise. But sentiment in man—the average man—springs wholly from unappeased appetites. The coveted, but unpossessed woman, can manifest her love for him in almost any manner, and it will be agreeable and pleasing.
Whether she is coy, shrinking, coquettish or playful, demonstrative or reserved, his imagination will surround her with every charm. A man's imagination is the flower of his passions. When those passions are calmed, the flower fades. Once let him possess the object of his desire, and his ideas become entirely changed. He grows critical and discriminating and truly masculine in his ideas of how he wishes to be loved.
We all know the story of the man who compared his courtship to a mad race after a railroad train, and his married life to the calm possession of a seat with the morning paper at hand. He no longer shouted and gesticulated, but he enjoyed what he had won none the less for that.
It was a very quick witted husband who thought of this little simile to explain his lack of sentiment, but there are very few wives who are satisfied to be considered in the light of a railway compartment, for the soul of the wife has all the romantic feelings which the soul of the sweetheart held. It is only the exceptional man (God bless him and increase him! ) who can feel sentiment and romance after possession is an established fact. Unhappily for both sexes, sentiment is just as much a part of woman's nature after she surrenders herself as before.
A well timed compliment, a tender caress given unasked, would avert many a co-respondent case if husband's were wiser.
After marriage a man likes to be loved practically.
All the affection and demonstrations of love possible cannot render him happy if his dinner is not well cooked and if his home is disorderly! Grant him the background of comfort and he will be contented to accept the love as a matter of course.
Grant a woman all the comfort life may offer, yet she is not happy without the background of expressed love.
When men and women both learn to realize this inborn difference in each other's natures and to respect it, marriage will cease to be a failure.
In this, I think, women are ready to make their part of the concession more cheerfully than are the men. Women who loathe housework and who possess no natural taste for it become excellent housekeepers and careful, thrifty managers, because they realize the importance of these matters in relation to the husband's comfort.
But how few men cultivate sentiment, although knowing it so dear to the wife.
Man is forever talking eloquently of woman's sensitive, refined nature, which unfits her for public careers. Yet this very sensitiveness he crucifies in private life by ignoring her need of a different heart diet than the one which he requires.
Wives throng the cooking schools, hoping to make their husband's happier thereby. Why not start a school of sentiment wherein husbands should be coached in paying graceful compliments and showing delicate attentions, so dear to their wives.
A man likes to be loved cheerfully. A morbid passion bores him inexpressibly, no matter how loyal it may be.
He likes tact rather than inopportune expression of affection. He likes to be loved in private, but to be treated with dignity in public. Nearly all women are flattered and pleased if the man they adore exhibits his love before the whole world.
If he defies a convention for their sake, they feel it a tribute to their worth and charm.
I have found this to be true of the most dignified and correct woman. But I have yet to see the man who is not averse to having the woman he loves provoke the least comment in public. He seems. to feel that something is lost to him if the public observes his happiness, however legitimate and commendable it may be.
The woman who is demonstrative when he wants to read, and who contradicts him before people an hour later, does not know how to make a man happy. He is better satisfied to have her show deference to his opinions and suppress her demonstrations if she must choose.
A man likes a woman to show her love in occult ways, to consult his tastes, to agree with him in his most cherished opinions, to follow his counsel and to ask his advice. He will not question her love if she does this. But a woman needs to be told in words how dear she is, no matter what other proofs a man may give.
Yet few men live who do not appreciate a little well timed expression of love, and every man is made happier and stronger by praise and appreciation of the woman nearest to his heart.
The strongest man needs sympathy and is made better by it, though he may not confess it. The tendency of the age is to give all the sympathy to woman, the tendency of woman is to demand all the sympathy. But not until woman sympathizes with man in his battle with the world and himself, and not until man sympathizes with woman in her soul hunger, will the world attain to its best.
It is a queer fact that while women are without doubt the most lovable objects in the world, yet on man is lavished the greatest and most enduring passions.
A great many women go through life without ever having been loved by any man.
I doubt if any man ever reached old age without having been adored by some women.