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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love at first write

Sometimes the best feedback from a beta reader doesn’t make you change a word, but nonetheless helps you better understand your work.

One of Fast Lane’s readers, for example, thought Clay was a little too head-over-heels for Lara after just one date. It’s a particularly interesting comment because I’m a guy and this reader’s a gal—and that, oddly, puts me in a position to understand something about romance that maybe she’s not genetically engineered to perceive.

Which is that men are more likely than women to experience love at first sight.

Some British scientists studied this—is there anything scientists don’t study?—and found that, according to The Times of India, one out of every five men says he’s fallen in love at first sight or has been “smitten with a partner after only one meeting.”

Not after one date. After one meeting.

Men also report having been on the wrong side of an unrequited love more often, and pining longer for lost love.

Women? Not nearly so romantic, what with only ten percent getting hit with the love bug on initial contact.

"Women are better at reading social situations and are more likely to ask more questions of themselves after meeting someone, like is he going to make me feel secure and will he be a good father to my children," the study’s leader said. "They are cannier than men at making a lifetime choice.”

For men, on the other hand, it’s “just one look, that’s all it took.”

Superficiality is as superficiality does, I suppose. Are women really looking at Brad Pitt’s baby blues and thinking, “Well, he makes twenty million a movie, so he’ll do”?

Anyway, this very bright reader’s comment makes me feel very good about Clay. Dudes fall fast. And hard. And, according to the study, often.

Take it from me: These eggheads know what they're talking about.

And since I haven’t been bashful about telling you ManWARriors about what I had to go back and fix, I feel perfectly justified in reporting that I got one right. And on the first try, no less.

2 comments:

Laurel said...

This made me think of a gender and communication elective course that I put together some years back. I examined the first date thing from the standpoint of small talk, etc. But from there, a few things began to fall into place for me.

My take on it is that women are probably a bit more cautious about love at first sight simply because they feel they have more to lose. Perhaps deep inside, the "fall" part of "fall in love" affects us more deeply than we realize. Subconsciously, there may be more going on.

In the beginning, it's the whole virginity thing: once it's gone, it's gone. Men are simply not "marked" the same way as women are after that first contact.

And, to take it even further, what a man leaves the woman with may turn into dirty diapers or court battles. I've even mused about the psychology behind the awareness that a man can "pull out" and a woman can't. Is there something deeper in that realization?

My daughter had a great solution when she was fifteen. She said that when a girl got pregnant everyone knew it simply because her body gave it away. She thought something physical should happen to the boy too. Her solution was that he should turn green at least for the length of the pregnancy.

With that little piece of adolescent wisdom:

I also think that after a little maturity sets in, many women resist love at first sight more than men because they sense a threat to their basic autonomy -- that they will (not may) forfeit their decision making power. I think most of this fear is bred in social conditioning.

In this society, we women are hammered with the idea that we "need" a man to "help" us even when or if we feel completely confident on our own. Girls learn from parents and peers that they need "a good guy" for financial security (women STILL are not up to par with men on wages), protection from other men (those jerks we all know are out there), protection in general (from the weather, bank fraud, or things that go bump in the night), procreation (it still takes two), and all the everyday stuff that requires basic brute strength that women don't have or think they can't do (think: changing a tire, lifting/moving heavy things, handling nasty jobs like a plugged toilet, and operating things like a power sander -- which to me is no different than an iron except for the resulting dust).

Then there's the spinster or lesbian things—more social pressure. A simple scan of sit-coms and advertising confirms how not "having" a man is seen as some kind of flaw, and men and women both buy into the hype–or guilt or attack on self-esteem. In short, men gain power by attracting and keeping a woman even though women are the ones who are pressured into making sure they are attractive in the first place. One can get dizzy just thinking about this tango! Writing about it is even more tricky!

Donna McDonald said...

Dave, your posts continue to be inspiring. I read the article about love at first sight, and I agree with the gist of it. Or maybe I just like the idea of it. Anyway--good post.

Laurel, your daughter thinks like I do. I love the idea of a guy turning green for nine months. That's so great, and very funny, too!