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Choosing Who To Love

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Choosing Who To Love

Dear Duana,

Your article implies that women can be won over and men can’t. I’ve seen it too. I’ve seen something else as well. I think women can choose whether to love. Do you agree?

Tabitha

 

Dear Tabitha, Yes.

For at least some women (many more women than men, I vouch), some of the time, there is a choice of whether or not to love. Women can be downright logical and calculating about shutting their hearts, or at least moving on in spite of their feelings, whereas men seem to have far, far less choice in the matter.  Likewise, at least some women, some of the time, can choose to keep their hearts Open to a man who might not ring their bells at first, but who seems to have the right stuff for the long-term.

My first encounter with that (to me) shocking possibility came years ago when a cousin casually informed me that she had decided against loving a particular man. “It’s a choice, you know.”

Really?!

Yes, I now think. Really.

Take the evidence of women ending most of the male-female relationships that break up. Take the evidence of women saying they are over it sooner than the guys are. And then take the evidence that women tend to open themselves to men who are good providers and protectors. It’s pretty easy to find stories, whether in history or just your own town, of women who began to fall for a man, discovered he lacked resources, and then chose another man instead. Or of women who, upon finding that a man with resources would not share them, broke it off with him.  Or of women who, not finding a particular man to be hottt, decided to give him more of a chance once she found out

a) everyone else thought he was a catch;

b) he possessed resources;

c) he had a commitment mindset;

d) all of the above.

When women choose men, they are making a life/death decision…at least, from the standpoint of the inherited psychology we women share. The choice is between someone who can and will keep us and any offspring safe, and someone who cannot or will not do so. A man’s ability to provide can be seen on a balance sheet, but his willingness is only conveyed indirectly~through devotion, commitment, ambition, love. It can take a woman quite some time to discern that willingness. A wrong guess could and still can be devastating to her, and to her children.

So here’s what I think: Just as many women *can* be led to love a man they don’t initially care for, many women can also make a choice about it. It’s a choice to open one’s heart, or to close it. And it’s about survival.

Cheers,

Duana

 

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, coming in January, 2015. She also contributes at Psychology Today and teaches psychology at Austin-area universities. Get a free chapter of Love Factually!

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