17 February 2013

The Four Cards (and Exchange of the Sexes)

The Four Cards and Exchange of the Sexes

As of late, there's been quite a bit of Internet discussion among men about the current status of the dating paradigm. One of these threads, and something that Chewie and I have debated and discussed at length over the past several months involves the underlying premise of a given relationship between a man and a woman.

So, as a way of making this slightly easier to visualise, I note the following metaphor by using cards.

In a deck of French cards, of the 78-card Tarock variety, there are numerous trump cards that can take a trick. Likewise in the deck of cards called "dating" there are several trump cards that get dealt out to the man and the woman.

I visualise four trump cards that are in play. Two each are dealt to the man and to the woman, and they are dealt as follows:

  • Every man has one card labeled Options, and one labeled Commitment
  • Every woman has one card labeled Options, and one labeled Sex

Each player through their actions in establishing, maintaining, and dissolving their relationships plays these trump cards.

This represents the basic exchange underlying the man-to-woman relationship, notably how men offer their commitment and the fruits of their labours in exchange for the women's offer of sex and comfort. Necessarily, this means this:

  • Women are the controllers of sex; they determine who they will have sex with, when they will have it, why they will have it, where the deed will happen, and often how the deed is performed. 
  • Men are the controllers of commitment; they determine who will get the investment of their time, energy, and money, as well as how, when, why, and where those investments take place.  

There is another card though that both players have, and it represents Options. Put simply, options refers to the fact that in a dating relationship, there are other people out there--a whole world of people. Thus, if something isn't panning out, people can exercise their options by ending the relationship and looking elsewhere.

With these cards being played, one can surmise that the trade is taking place, and that each of the gender-specific items (the sex and commitment cards) has a metaphorical price to be paid. Naturally, this would mean that men want as much sex as they can get from the woman for as little commitment as they have to part with; and women want as much commitment they can extract from the man for as little sex as possible. Both genders ideally would want what the other has for nothing...

…except that it doesn't work that way. There is after all no such thing as a free lunch, and the relations between the sexes are no exception.

Men are willing to give a woman the commitment she desires IF the men know they will receive a fair amount of sexual contact and comfort in exchange. They often give that commitment unduly in the hopes of obtaining some modicum of regular sexual contact and comfort. The same is often true with women and sex.

Where this becomes a fundamental problem is when someone of one gender wants something that a given someone of the other gender is unable or unwilling to provide. In terms of sex, this naturally creates a situation where women have easier sexual access compared to men, namely that it is generally easier for the average woman to go out and have sex when compared to the average man.

It also creates a power vacuum wherein a member A of one sex can use the fact that a given member B of the opposite sex wants something and then strings him along, leading B into a Quixotic chase that rarely (if ever) results in B actually getting what they seek. This happens in both genders, often as follows:

  • Women string men along in the hopes of the men getting sex by encouraging the men to provide commitment. What usually happens is that the man ends up becoming a "beta orbiter" or an "emotional tampon" and has to put up all of the effort typically required of the boyfriend for little or no sex. 
  • Men string women along in the hopes of the women getting commitment by encouraging them to have sex with them often. What usually happens though is that the woman ends up becoming a "human sex toy" that is usually discarded when a more attractive one comes along--she has to provide the sexual trappings of a relationship with little or no actions of commitment on his part.  

Both situations inevitably mean that the one partner is openly being used (and quite possibly abused) for the other's personal profit. And what makes this worse is that the one providing the services usually is doing so in earnest in the (often vain and futile) hopes of getting their desire filled. This frankly is adding insult to injury.

And I find that to be wrong regardless of the gender who's doing it. My take is that men and women alike need to recognise that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Men need to learn that if they want the regular sex and comfort that typically marks a full relationship, they must be prepared to commit to that relationship and do things for that woman. Likewise, and in an equal fashion, women must learn that if they want the man to commit, and listen on and on, and do stuff for them in the ways of a full relationship that they should provide regular sexual access to that man.

In short, what I mean is this: if you want the benefits of a full intimate relationship, you need to metaphorically pay the full price for it. Further, if one is unwilling to do just that, they should not expect the benefits of such a relationship to be yielded to them. Otherwise, it is inherently dishonest and deceitful toward the other person, and something not to do--after all, we all have heard of the Golden Rule ("Do unto others…"), no?

But that's just my .02 on it...

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