Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
I was having lunch with Stan, a male coworker and casual friend, and the waiter was very nice to me. I thought nothing of it, but Stan said, after we left, “that guy was drooling over you!”
I scoffed at his remark and said “from the way guys talk,
you would think that every man wants to sleep with every attractive woman he’s near.”
Stan assured me this was, in fact, true and that there’s scientific research to prove it. I think he’s full of it.
What’s the real deal, Dr. Brilliant? Have there been any studies that prove Stan right?
Humans have a duel nature. We are biologically animals and subject to all the same drives as any other animal. But humans also have the capacity to sublimate. They can choose not to act on the biologic drive and use that energy instead for something else. Freud said that this sublimation is the basis of all human achievement. Unfortunately it’s also the basis for a lot of human chaos and suffering too. Rituals have been developed in cultures all over the world to suppress human instincts, for both men and women.
Yes, absolutely- if a man spends any significant time around a handsome woman he will undoubtedly desire her. But the desire itself is entirely unimportant. What matters is a man’s ability to acknowledge these feelings in himself and go on from there to use skills of sublimation. This is why what we feel and what we do are not directly related. What we feel is instinctive; what we do is a personal choice.
However, if we aren’t skilled in accepting what we feel and going on from there we will never have a choice. If we act on our every desire we will be unable to sustain a long term relationship. People that sublimate poorly and have low level skills can be aggressive, jealous, or become a bully- blaming others for our own desires.
A large problem in our culture is the media reinforcing the message that any sublimation is bad. From the slogan “Just do it” to “You will regret the one that got away.” These messages confuse people. Now that impulsive foibles go public instantly on social media, we hear about this more than ever, on a global scale.
Common culture doesn’t teach that an adult is someone who takes responsibility for their choices and thinks about consequence. Without sublimation one is 100% pure impulse. So if this man was indeed attracted to Primrose, so what!? What’s important is that he remained polite and respectful.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: I will concur that Dr. Brilliant is right about the sublimation thing- a healthy adult male knows when to rein in on his impulses and remain committed to his partner if he’s in a relationship. However, I have to disagree on one point- I can’t dismiss the desire as entirely unimportant or ignore sublimated lust quite as easily.
Woman are generally far more intuitive than men when it comes to sensing how others are feeling. Whether a man thinks he is sublimating or not, his desire for a woman can leak out in uncomfortable ways that are quite detectable.
I’ve had male friends who apparently sublimated their feelings for me for years…but they would act totally weird at inappropriate moments for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Dr. Brilliant might call that poor skills, but I call it typical. There are very few men who are so evolved that they can manage to sublimate desire without getting strange about it. For women who were abused when they were children, the sublimating male can be a nightmare. Abused kids are hypersensitive to the sexual interest of others. A man who desires them sexually but is not expressing the feelings openly can be far more frightening than a male who makes an overt pass.
The conclusion? There is none. The dance between men and women always has been and always will be a thing of mystery and chance. However, this is an important truth for adults- acting on impulse, without examining consequences, is a deadly combination. We live in an uncertain world. Often our only certainty is the control that we have over our own emotions and instincts. If we chose to let go of that, we are lost indeed.