When a Man Loves A Woman

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Lying in bed this morning, I was thinking about love from the male perspective while trying not to throw up. No, men’s viewpoints on love do not make me want to hurl, but eating possibly contaminated mayonnaise does (and no, I am not hung-over. Really really.).

Anyway, I’ve been wondering more and more lately what motivates men to fall in love…no, let me take that back, because I don’t really believe in “falling in love” even though I’ve been known to use that phrase in my own writing. Love is a choice. Sometimes someone appeals to you so much that it feels as though you have no choice but to love him or her. However, it’s still a choice. And being “in love” with someone means he or she reciprocates your choice to love with his or her own to love you. Otherwise it’ s just unrequited love and frankly, we don’t want to hear about it. But I digress…again.

I can tell you things that first attract me to a man: a wicked sharp sense of humor; quickness of mind; a strong sense of loyalty. I’m also a sucker for dark-haired men with light eyes; blue, green, grey–it doesn’t matter. My husband is one such man, lucky him, although there is less of the dark hair than when I met him. Some motivating factors that make me choose to love a man to whom I’m strongly attracted: the willingness to provide me with security (physical and financial); the willingness to be loyal; the willingness to be my best friend; the willingness to be a partnership in everything. It all sounds very clinical, broken down like that. I think that all motivations do; you can put the blush of romance on it, and that’s all good and fine, but when you strip love down to its basest form, it’s truly about not wanting to go through life alone and selecting someone who you can stand to be around for the next sixty or seventy years. (Ummm, no, I’m not much of a romantic.)

Men, on the other hand… I have no clue what motivates them to take the plunge. Is it possession? Regular sex? (although it can be argued–mostly by men–that regular sex ends after marriage. It doesn’t. Women just define “regular” differently.) Companionship? A drive to reproduce? And speaking of that–what is the motivation there? The enjoyment of raising children? The accomplishment of of carrying forth the bloodline? Smugness for being virile enough to impregnate a woman?

It’s all a mystery to me, but I need some answers because I need my current work-in-progress to ring true. So my question to any men out there willing to offer their thoughts on the matter is this: What would motivate a man who has been through literal hell, who has lost badly in the romance game and decided long ago he won’t play again–what would make this man decide to love a woman? From your own perspective on love, that is.

17 thoughts on “When a Man Loves A Woman”

  1. I fear you’re looking for logic where none exists.

    Nothing would motivate a man such as you describe to “play again,” as you put it. He’s done. Give him a violin, criminals and a cocaine habit and he’ll happily live out the rest of his natural life without further exposure to the fairer sex.

    Which is not to say it can’t happen, of course, but it is to say that it doesn’t have to make any sort of rational, logical, conscious sense.

    Henry Higgins had a hell of a time escaping his guttersnipe, and all he could say in his defense was that he’d grown accustomed to her face.

  2. What makes a man love a woman? Hmm. That’s a good question. Personally, I can say, it’s the woman’s willingness to love the man. Here is a personal perspective… Men love for possession… but not in a bad sense. I know that’s hard to understand. Let me try to explain. We will never, ever, understand why women love us so completely even though we are so undeserving. I would die for Sarah, really. And when she’s mad at me it kills me. I’m on Twitter and I’m out in the world and I flirt. People flirt with me and I flirt back and if I really think about it, I’m an ass. I’d be furious if Sarah acted the way I do. So, why do I think it’s okay to act this way? I don’t know. I’m a stupid man. I love the woman I’m with, the woman I’ll marry, but we, as men, constantly look for the stroke of the ego. Why? I don’t know! That’s the difference between men and women. I love Sarah because she’s stuck with me through thick and thin, literally. Good and bad. At the end of the night, I know she loves me. And I’m faithful to that love. Am I tempted to break her trust? Everyday. But I can’t stand the thought of hurting her like that. And that’s why men love women.. it’s something we don’t understand. How much this beautiful creature gives to us.. looks to us for love .. we don’t get it. We really don’t. And we are undeserving. And you love us with everything that you are, and we don’t get it. We just don’t get it.

    And what of the mystery of women? God, I wish you knew the mystery you hold for us. You will never understand that. Never. There has to be an attraction in the beginning yes, but it’s more than that. It’s a mystery. It’s that something that brings us back over and over and convinces us that we would die without you. Is that surprising? Yes, we love that deeply. You may think us unfaithful, fickle.. but we love deeply too. And it’s the mystery that pulls at us. It’s the tenderness… the look in your eyes… the need… it’s unexplainable. A man loves a woman because he feels needed.. he feels the need to protect..the need to possess. Does that make sense? I don’t know. I’m just a man.

  3. According to the man in my world, who has been through that hell, I quote: “when a male drops his guard from the shallow aspects and becomes introspective about what’s important to him in a relationship – what allows him to fall in love is the loss of fear that opens the door to trust.” Believe me, it was a long, hard road for him to be able to reach that place, and as the woman he has allowed himself to love, I had to prove repeatedly that it would be safe for him to do so before he made the plunge. He reminds me, laughing, that the initial attraction is often based on very shallow aspects.

  4. A man COMMITS to love of one woman when he decides that it is more important for him fulfill her needs than to have his fulfilled. He loves her more than himself. He needs to love her even if he feels she does not return in same. He has to love her in spite of how she treats him. He wants it to be her who mothers his children. He wants her to WANT to fulfill his needs, not have too. He has no choice in his need to be with her. He has to be with her. He would not only die for her, he WILL kill for her. He will never understand his need for her it just is. Love is a choice, it is also an ability, for some, but for me it is an undying undeniable, powerful need. I need to love her or I am nothing. It is not a choice for me, it is the purpose of my life and it must be fulfilled. I have the ability to love, the choice to love but most of all I have the need to love….

  5. Sorry I’m so late in responding to this when you poked me towards it…what, days ago?

    To me, love is a matter of both timing and comfort. A guy could meet the perfect person but if he’s not ready to love them, he won’t. We don’t fall in love (at least, I don’t); you’re right that we make a choice, but that choice isn’t conscious. A switch flicks in our brains that tells us it’s time. Sometimes meeting someone can be the trigger that flips that switch; sometimes it’s major life circumstances, or just hormones shifting as we grow older. You never know what it’ll be, but you can tell the difference between a man who’s made that choice and a man who hasn’t.

    As for who we choose, and why…it’s a level of comfort. Not comfort as in “how well can my mate take care of me,” but more “how comfortable am I with this person? Can I come home and just be myself? Can I say anything to them, and know it will be understood? Can I look at them, smile, and know what they’re thinking?” Different men define comfort differently, and it may not be in that way, but in the end it boils down to knowing that you fit with that person, and he or she fits with you, and there’s no one else who fits in just quite that way. Knowing that may come as a passionate and burning thing, or may creep up with slow certainty, but one day you realize that your life would feel wrong without that person in it. They make you feel right, and you want to make them feel right as well.

    At least, that’s my take on it…but I have a rather pragmatic approach to love. Not to mention it’s a little different for me with the whole gay thing, and a different dynamic than male/female love.

  6. Adrien – I like this. It’s funny, because somewhere in our relationship, D. said “you’re like my favorite old shirt.” I sorta took offence at the time, but the more I think about it, that is probably the ultimate compliment.

  7. Adri your response really spoke to me. I have sometimes been confused over a lost potential relationship, and finally typed a full sentence into the search engine which brought me to this article and ultimately to your response.

    I became reacquainted with a man I went to high school with at the end of last year. He was so tenacious with me that initially it was a little off-putting, but I began speaking to him after a week or so of messages and really started to gain an appreciation and liking for him. It ends up, however, that I hurt him tremendously with my words and I could feel his guard mantling before me. Thereafter I could never recover his trust. He gave me another chance two months after hurting his feelings and I failed again…only because I was shocked by and couldn’t understand the message he was trying to send me. He put the offer out there and when I responded with something positive but with an element of surprise attached to it, he assumed that I was shutting him down.

    What all this boils down to is that he is not ready. He was hurt tremendously by his ex-wife, and by his own words cannot deal with all the emotional heavy-lifting a romantic relationship would bring. And where I know my words to him would not have been perceived as such a painful thing to most, they showed a person in his particular situation that he could not be safe with me emotionally. I think it speaks volumes that he wanted to try it again, but shows his vulnerability that he wasn’t able to see that I wasn’t shutting him down. We are good friends at this point as we enjoy talking to each other. Our senses of humor are well-matched and we have a great deal in common.

    I will not assume that all women would have perceived the comment this way, but when I heard “I am not ready” I immediately took that to mean that he was not into me in particular and in essence began giving up. But what I realized with a little work and input from him is that “I am not ready” can mean just that. He is not in a place of readiness, despite the fact that he says the sweetest, most complimentary things to me knowing there will not be a reward for the comments. It is possible that he just needs time to right things in his mind and recover from his hurt without the complication of another relationship that his ego and heart cannot handle. And that is perfect. My only desire at this point is to respect that and be a good friend while also taking care of myself. This realization and your response to this article allows me to move forward happily and confidently without holding on to any possibility. This realization has also catapulted me into a new realm of understanding of the male form which can sometimes elude even the most confident and intelligent women!!

  8. And I realize that 1) I am not a man, and 2) my post did nothing to help the initial question of what motivates men…but I just had to share!

    1. Shannon, on the contrary, I believe it really DOES help answer the initial question in a round-about way. You bring to the discussion the unique viewpoint of one who is gaining the trust of a man who has been, more or less, ravaged by the “fairer sex.” No information is well-rounded without input from many different viewpoints.

      Thanks for sharing your story with us. ;-)

  9. I believe when men love they seem to be simpler than women though sometimes it depends on their age and maturity. Women are stronger emotionally as they could make themselves heal faster than men when it concerns the heart.

  10. I read all the comments and it really helps me understand more I am 26yrs old and I only had one boyfriend in my life and for 6yrs its been hell. I always was mature but immature when it came to letting a man in. I am one of those sweet woman but a man has to break down walls to know that.. Anyhow, I chose to love this man but I believe he always loved me more than I loved him. But yet he acted as though he didn’t love me at all. He is my age as well, my grandma says I’m growing with him and that’s a very hard thing to do. But considering I only had one I’m not sure if I’m really in love or comfortable or too afraid to let another one in. Honestly, we break up, cheat get back together, argue make each other jealous then break up and make up again.. Its all so tiring. I don’t understand why can’t we just leave one another alone. Also did I fail to mention we have a 4yr old daughter. But we are both good to her, we love her dearly. Though its not her why we come back, in fact she is our excuse at times just to come back. Reading these comments helps me understand a little but its still hazy.

    1. My husband always says, “The best thing a man can do for his children is love their mother and treat her well.” I extend that in the opposite direction as well: The best thing a woman can do for her children is love their father and treat him well.” You might think your daughter only notices how you both treat her–and you may think that’s all that matters. But she is cataloging how you treat each other, and she is going to apply that to her own relationships–both platonic and romantic–because she thinks it’s the way relationships are supposed to be.

      I strongly encourage you both to really, truly grow up and treat each other well for the sake of your daughter. If you can’t treat each other well, perhaps you should live apart. Overall, that would be better for your daughter than the example she has right now.

      Thanks for sharing your story. ;-)

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