Mating Double Standards

Dear [Mentat],

I resent you the letter.  Apparently, Outlook corrupted that copy when I put links to the word definitions in.  So I distilled everything down to the original ASCII text and sent that.  It doesn’t have the extensive formatting it did.  But that shouldn’t matter to your screen reader.   Let me know if you have problems reading the resent copy.

Yes, upon further reflection, I agree whole-heartedly.  I’ll drop the passage altogether.

Yes, I do want to hear the truth. And, part of being a good writer is to willingly subject one’s self to candid criticism.  I’ve tried to do that with you guys and SWF.  Though the feedback I got from SWF hurt a little, I do feel that I’m better able to handle disapproval better these days.  I’m getting stronger.  So whatever [your girlfriend's] and your criticisms, pass them along.  :-)

Ah yes.  Others have raised this double standard issue to me before.  I don’t remember how I addressed it with you in 2005.  But how I would do so today is as follows. 

The advanced philosophers, particularly those adept at debating, say that a great place to begin any discussion is to define the terms likely to come up.  So, since the central theme of this talk seems to be my alleged double standard as well as the implication that this double standard is unjust, let us first lay out just what a double standard is in this context.  Then I’ll discuss the relevance of it in romantic relationships.  And finally, I’ll attempt to prove that if in fact a double standard does exist in my mate quest, that it is not unjust, and is in fact, a necessary part of a healthy love affair. 

First, consider the dictionary definition of double standard: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/double%20standard

Now for our purposes, a   double standard   is implied when one or more of the following conditions are met:

  • Someone involved in some sort of trade (such as occurs in romantic relationships), seeks to get something of greater value than what they’re offering in return.  Read that: He wants more than he’s willing to give.  He expects that those in his group (namely, himself) should get greater pleasure than those in his lover’s group (namely, his lover). 
  • They expect involvement with their lover to satisfy them but do not care if their lover achieves the same level of satisfaction.  In fact, often, they accept gratification at  the expense  of their lover’s, such as when a guy wants to receive oral sex but is unwilling to give her the same. 
  • They insist that their lover incur greater hardship than they, in order to keep the relationship going.  E.g.  Men are typically expected to provide a greater portion of money to support the relationship than the woman.  Also, women are expected to provide the sexual allure that helps make the task of procreation appealing enough to perform [...].
  • They want their lover to demonstrate higher morality than they themselves are inclined to exhibit.  E.g.  The so-called bad boy, who wants to date upstanding women, hoping that they’ll “lift him up.”  Or, the whorish bar maid looking for her knight in shining armor to whisk her away from her badness and to give her reasons for living in more upstanding fashions. 
  • Generally speaking: Any quality we seek in others that we do not provide in equal degree ourselves, means that we’re harboring a double standard, which occurs in just about every couple I know to some degree.

 

Now, given these definitions of   double standard   several ideas and impressions come to mind as follows:

  • When we perceive what we believe to be a   double standard, we can choose to accept it at face value or to delve deeper and make sure that there are no complimentary double standards that would serve to counteract the unfairness of a one-way double standard.  I’ll hit on this more in the next section.  But suffice it to say for now, that very often, what looks like a double standard on the surface,  is not,  once all the facts come into view.
  • Some double standards are acceptable and even necessary.  For example: It’s a widely-practiced ideal for contemporary ladies as well as those from the past, to “marry up.”   Women routinely look for men who come from wealthier and more powerful families than their own.  From an Evolutionary Psychology standpoint, this positions them to more effectively propagate their genes into the next generation and beyond since, the wealthier the man, the healthier the life style he can provide to his children.  Likewise, men historically seek women with domestic skills and values that they do not possess themselves, but that they require in order, also, to pass forward their genetics in ways most likely to reach future generations. 
  • Given the above then, we can say that indeed, healthy relationships must incorporate some double standards.  Is it therefore so disdainfully beyond comprehension that a vision-impaired person would desire fully-sighted women, or that an overweight woman would seek trim and fit gentleman, or that a short woman would lust for a bigger fellow? 
  • Ironically, another central motivation to get into a love relationship is the desire to find   likeness.  In some areas, we hope to find another who is similar to ourselves.  Things like closely matching moral codes, religious convictions, political affiliations, aspirations, and shared values in general comprise the short list of essential commonalities in a healthy and lasting relationship.  In these areas, lovers must agree in large measure. 
  • Thus, lovers engaged in togetherness indeed need each other for different as well as for similar reasons.  That is, in some areas, people must provide the same as their partner does.  But in others they must provide different things than does their partner.   
  • In the general sense that I seek different attributes in women than I offer back to them, yes, [your girlfriend] is right in a gross sort of way.  I have a double standard.  But arguably, so does every other couple. So I would consider it wasteful to attempt to purge all double standards from love relationships since, due to physiologic and the resulting evolutionary differences between men and women, I believe that we could not eliminate   double standards   in love.  Such a task would prove impossible, and I do not see the benefits of doing so, even if we could, because   double standards   are ubiquitous. 
  • Since all couples benefit from these   double standards,  and since the human race in general advances by accommodating them, can we claim that all double standards are unjust?  I think not, and I’ll argue why in the next section.

 

Now let me summarize what I’ve established so far:

  • The definitions of a   double standard   were provided.
  • I tailored the dictionary definitions to highlight how a   double standard   might apply in love relationships.
  • I’ve offered reasons why I believe that   double standards   must appear in healthy relationships.
  • I argued that a   double standard   is a big motivator that moves people to seek each other out in love.
  • I’ve admitted that perhaps in a gross way, my mate quest incorporates   double standards   but contended that this appears in my quest in no worse degree than it does in those of all others.  I further suggested that often, what appears as a double standard at first look turns out to be an equitable arrangement once the relevant facts surface.  Next, I’ll attempt to show that it is possible to harbor   double standards   within couples, yet still experience a mutually rewarding and fair romantic exchange.

 

Now I’ll not be content to merely soften the blow of the   double standard   accusations by showing it to be present in all relationships.  I wish to go further, and show that the particular   double standard   to which my naysayers refer does not in fact, exist.  If I can’t do that well, then at the very least, I’ll show that it makes no assault on the justice of my relationships. 

So, continuing with the argument: It appears that people like [your girlfriend] contend that my   double standard   rises to the level of   objectionable  because they deem it unfair.  They think this because of the initial impression of lop-sidedness (one person suffers while the other enjoys the fruits of that suffering) that it creates.  To them, this implies that I enjoy romance more than my partners, and that I have no right to expect this.  They claim that I’m seeking a higher degree of perfection in women than I can offer in return.  This has angered many, and some went so far as to seek to destroy my relationship with [Emmy] because they believed that she was too good for me.  However, I will attempt to show that while at first my desire to date beautiful women makes me look as though I’m attempting to “date up,” I am not in fact, asking for more than I’m returning.  I am not seeking a free ride, even though admittedly, I do enjoy cruising in Cadillacs.    

I’ll briefly summarize my argument, but will elucidate further if you so desire.  The argument that I indeed have no unjust double standard goes like this:

  1. Human tastes differ from person to person.  Our combinations of desires and how we prioritize those desires is as unique as our fingerprints.  The same is true of the gifts we have to offer a lover.
  2. Thus, we infer from point 1 that people seek different things in mates.  That is, each person’s list of attributes that combine in his or her mind to form deep attraction to a beloved soul is different, depending on the tastes of each perceiver.  Person A for example may think Person B to be a perfect ten while Person C considers person B to be a 4.  Not everyone finds the same person, to the same degree, attractive. 
  3. We each have a unique set of assets and liabilities, to borrow your terminology.  No two people have precisely the same set of assets.  No two have precisely the same desires. 
  4. Further, I find no universal mandate that each participant in a happy couple must provide   in precise measure, precisely the same assets to his mate that his mate provides to him. 
  5. However, maximal mutual gratification is still possible as long as each person gets what s/he wants, and again, it does not matter that he wants different things than his mate does so long as she can satisfy   his   particular needs and he can satisfy   hers.  I’ll more completely expound on this central point when we further discuss the model of attraction that I sent you a week or so ago.
  6. Two people are compatible lovers when their desires and offerings cancel each other’s completely.  That is: When Person B wants the gifts that Person A is offering, and when Person A wants the gifts that Person B is offering, and both agree to exchange their gifts, then complete satisfaction of desire in both people occurs.  The two are happily in love, given these conditions. 
  7. I expect no one to “settle” for me.  That is, I look forward to them to be as in-love with me as I am with them, and I would never insist that a woman stay with me while fancying another.
  8. I know that I have the necessary offerings to engender romantic love in women (not all of them of course, but certainly some) since numerous ladies claim to have fallen in love with me.   
  9. Yes, I want to feel as though I’m in the presence of a goddess when I’m with my dream girl.  But this is not to say that she must be a perfect woman.  She need not be.  My goddess for instance, can be totally blind or sighted to any degree (I loved   [First Love]   after all).  She need not possess my education level.  She doesn’t have to like Star Trek or to read the books that I do.  However, she must share my values regarding health, religion, and morality, and I must be sexually attracted to her. 
  10. From points 2 through 6, I infer that mutual and complete satisfaction in love can occur even if the gifts that each partner offers the other are dissimilar.  That is, a rich man need not date a rich girl in order to find true love, so long as the beloved meets his preferences for his true lover.  The fact that he’s rich and she is not is irrelevant, unless of course, he happens to desire a rich girl.  But if that were the case, then my definition of mutual “in-loveness” given in point 5 above would be violated since the girl of modest means would not satisfy the rich man’s desire for a rich female.  But the failure to generate mutual love occurs not because her desires and his are dissimilar or because by accepting this dissimilarity they’ve violated some unwritten law of fairness and propriety.  Rather it fails because his desires aren’t fulfilled by her gifts or vice versa.  In short: We need not offer the same things to a mate that we desire in a mate in order for mutual romantic love to flourish.  Once you get underneath its surface, true love is by no means tit for tat.  We may rightly hope, in a very general sense, that a mate satisfies us as fully as we satisfy them.  But this is where the quid pro quo ends, because once again, the specific ways we do this satisfying for each other, need not match, so long as they accomplish the desired gratification for each party.   
  11. So from points 7 through 10, one may conclude the argument by deriving the following question:  Where is the injustice in seeking specific sorts of beauty from others, so long as we offer things that similarly excite them? 

 

Tom Hesley

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