Loving women, and embracing my innate love for women, has impacted my life in a dramatic way.
When I started writing my book Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy, and working on this blog, I was convinced that retroactive jealousy was almost exclusively a male problem. I was wrong.
Today, after several years of conversing with RJ sufferers on a near-daily basis, I’d estimate that over forty percent of my readers and students are women.
However, not all of the women who write to me are themselves suffering from retroactive jealousy.
Some of these women have boyfriends or husbands who suffer from retroactive jealousy, and are trawling Google looking for answers. Often, their boyfriends and husbands harangue their partners about their past, question them incessantly, and demean their women as a result, whether it’s intentional or not. Letters from these women are often heartbreaking to read, not least because it reminds me of the pain I once caused to someone important to me. Not pretty.
A few recent reader e-mails have got me thinking about an aspect of my journey toward recovering from RJ that I haven’t written much about. And that is: loving women.
Loving women ≠ idealizing women
When I talk about “loving women,” I’m not talking about idealizing women. I’m not talking about putting women on a pedestal. I am fully aware of the ability of some women to rip the hearts out of men; make no mistake, I have seen the dark side. And I’m not (necessarily) talking about making love to women.
I’m talking about embracing my innate love for women, in all of its complexity. I’m talking about trying to empathize with women. I’m talking about simply seeing women as people, just like us, which, all too often, men fail to do.
Men are from Mars..?
In the 90’s there was a popular American self-help book called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.I remember reading it back in college. And while there is some useful information in that book regarding differing communication styles between the sexes, it’s still absurd to suggest (even in jest) that men and women come from different planets. But many men act like they really do believe it.
Many men judge women in a way that suggests they view women as creatures originating from a different planet
A man berates his girlfriend for having enjoyed previous relationships, while at the same time he was spending most nights alone, in the warm embrace of his right hand. He was open to experiencing intimate relationships earlier in life—and may have done so gladly, given the opportunity—but, for whatever reason, he didn’t, leaving him to resent his partner for taking advantages of opportunities that he either didn’t, or couldn’t.
A jealous husband becomes consumed by the thought of his wife being sexually intimate with her ex-lover in years past, thinking it “wrong” or “dirty.” Meanwhile, back in the day he was enjoying marathon sessions in bed with his ex-girlfriend, experimenting with every position in the Kama Sutra, even filming amateur porn.
A jealous boyfriend can’t get past the fact that his girlfriend was once deeply in love with another man. Meanwhile, he fails to remember that he adored his ex-girlfriend, traveled the world with her, even considered proposing to her at one point.
I’m not trying to demonize the men in these scenarios. And many, many male RJ sufferers recognize the absurdity of their double standards, and want to start moving past them, and overcome retroactive jealousy.
An absolutely crucial part of my journey toward overcoming RJ was questioning where my double standards were coming from, getting in touch with my dark impulses, and working my way toward a healthier frame of mind when it comes to the way I see women.
So I started thinking hard about my cultural influences, my family, early childhood experiences, early relationship experiences, and the influences around me.
A turning point in my journey was choosing to seek out men with healthier attitudes toward women, and befriend them
I’m reminded of a famous quote by the author Jim Rohn:
If you’re a man who struggles with negative feelings toward women, or who harbours unattractive and counter-productive views toward women, take it from me: don’t hang around other men who feel the same as you do. Instead, seek out men with more life experience, men you can learn from–men who love women, really love them, and are unapologetic about it.
The truth is I love women.
I’ve always loved women. Since I was very small, I’ve loved being around feminine energy, from my 7-year old attempts to get a girlfriend to my current relationship. But aside from intimate entanglements, I also just like women—some of my closest friends are women, and I’m always eager to learn from them, expand my perspective, and gain deeper insight into what it’s like to be a member of the opposite sex.
However, I probably don’t have to tell you that this wasn’t always the case.
During the worst stretches of my retroactive jealousy, my love of women was diminished. I stifled my love of women, my attraction to feminine energy, as I struggled to come to terms with the complex layers of emotion I was experiencing as a result of retroactive jealousy.
I started seeing all women through the prism of my RJ, or the latest nasty internet forum I read. It took work to see through the noise, to acknowledge that my beliefs weren’t serving me, and to reignite my love of the feminine.
I also simply made a choice.
Every day, I choose to love women, in all of their flaws and imperfection.
(R.I.P. Leonard Cohen, a world-class lover of women.)
And I think, as men, we have to choose it, to decide to embrace women, and shun the negative influences around us that are preventing us from embracing women. We must make this decision in order to move forward, whether it’s from retroactive jealousy or any other relationship or sexual dysfunction. And you can take it from me: life gets much, much more fun once we make this choice.
For the men reading this, I don’t have to tell most of you how confusing, debilitating, and painful retroactive jealousy can be.
I’m here to encourage you to try and see beyond your own pain, and ask yourself:
Am I stifling my love, my appreciation, my attraction toward women as a result of my RJ?
Am I harbouring attitudes and beliefs toward women that are serving me, and my happiness, or not?
As I worked to overcome my RJ, and in the years since, I’ve actively reignited my love of women. As a result, I feel more inspired and energized than ever by the women in my life.
Again, this is different from putting women on a pedestal—this is about appreciating the gifts that only women can give us as men, whether it is love and affection from your girlfriend, the compassion and insight offered by a trusted female friend, or the life-affirming smile from the barista at the coffee shop. It’s about embracing women, in big and little ways, in all of their beauty, flaws, complexity, and grace. It’s also about seeing them as people, just like us, entitled to their own mistakes, triumphs, and choices of every sort. It’s about being the type of man women want to be around: loving, non-judgmental, appreciative, confident, grounded.
But how can men cultivate a deeper love of women?
If you ever feel uneasy around women, an easy, immediate step you can take is this: when you see a desirable woman, and experience some kind of reaction to her, take a deep breath down the front of your body. That’s it.
This simple act prevents that energy from getting trapped in your head (or groin, as the case may be), and instead letting it flow through you, allowing a woman’s presence to inspire and energize you. (Advice courtesy of David Deida from his book The Way of the Superior Man.)
This advice may appear “woo-woo” or “out there” to some of my readers, but bear with me for a moment…
As heterosexual men with functioning libidos, we constantly encounter beautiful, highly desirable women. And we men will have some kind of energetic response when we encounter a woman who moves us. It’s up to us to decide what to do with that energy.
Many men feel resentful, powerless, or frustrated when they feel desire for women they encounter. Other men, whether they are in relationships or not, let women inspire and energize them. (I’ll leave it to you to decide which is the better choice.)
It’s not about actively wanting to have sex with every woman you see. It’s about letting the feminine move you in a way that’s healthy, non-invasive, and mutually beneficial. Because when you let women inspire you, and don’t resent them for their awesome feminine power, you become a more calm, loving, and grounded man.
And, if only on a subconscious level, women will recognize and appreciate your love and respect for feminine energy. Often, they’ll be drawn to you because of it. In the words of Zan Perrion, “a man who loves women is loved by women.” It’s a law of the universe.
There are numerous ways to expand your love of women, better empathize with women, and cultivate a healthier understanding of women
Here are just a few of them:
- Make female friends, and ask them questions about their experiences. Be open to learning from them, and about their experiences of men, both good and bad.
- Read books and watch films written by women, and try to look at things from the auteur’s point of view.
- Get involved in organizations that include women, and learn from their differing styles of communication and cooperation.
- Join a men’s group in your area, and discuss your experiences with women with other men. Ask the other members questions about their own experiences, mistakes, and challenges. (This was huge in my own recovery from RJ.)
- In an indirect way, starting a basic meditation routine should help you better love women. Over time, meditation will make you more grounded, less angry, and more aware of our shared humanity.
- This is a big one: be wary of spending time in internet forums filled with angry, resentful, judgmental male commenters. Beware of bored, vindictive, basement-dwelling neckbeards trying to infect you with their hatred and bitterness. Sadly, there are many of them.
- In daily life, try to stay away from men with unhealthy, dismissive, or otherwise negative attitudes toward women. Instead, seek out men with intelligent, generous, adoring women in their lives, and watch and learn from them.
- Don’t rush to judge any woman for her choices in sex, dating, and relationships. Seek first to understand. Always remember that it’s confusing out there for all of us–not just men.
If you come to the conclusion that your RJ is a result of a fundamental conflict in values, you should acknowledge that and move on, but don’t “punish” your woman for her past choices as you do so. Acknowledge the fact that the sexual marketplace has changed dramatically over the past sixty or so years, and many women are struggling to keep up with these changes the same way men are.
Above all, try to empathize.
As men, we often have no idea how drastically different the female experience of the world can be.
Now, I’m not trying to sell myself as some kind of woman whisperer, or armchair Casanova. I mess up all the time.
I am still occasionally perplexed and frustrated by a woman’s behaviour. Other times, I have an urge to instruct, when I should listen. I still harbour the odd double-standard that doesn’t serve me, or the women in my life.
And I am certainly not trying to align myself with the legions of limp-wristed, supplicating creeps who proclaim their “progressive,” feminist viewpoints from the rooftops, fawning over women in a disingenuous effort to sleep with them. Not at all. There are some bitter, vindictive women out there who are no friends to men–and I’d encourage you to steer clear of them. And of course I realize that there are very real and significant differences between men and women (thank God). We differ drastically in terms of our communication styles, our basic biology, our emotional intelligence, our courtship and sexual needs, responses, and desires, and much, much more.
We are very, very different in many ways. But we have much more in common than the opposite. And deciding to love women, and embrace them in all of their humanity, has been a crucial factor in keeping my retroactive jealousy at bay for years now.
So, if you’re a man who struggles with any type of jealousy, ask yourself on a regular basis:
Do I love women?
Do I respect women?
Do I regularly experience a healthy, rejuvenating desire to be around women, and feminine energy?
Am I harbouring counter-productive double standards when it comes to women, sex, and relationships?
Does my partner routinely feel loved and desired by me?
Do the influences in my life, from the media I consume to the people I surround myself with, support a love of women?
Do I routinely delight in women? If not, why?
You might be surprised at your answers. And you might be equally surprised at how restorative and liberating deciding to love women can be.
Here are some more great resources on loving women:
Zan Perrion is a Canadian writer and educator, and his book The Alabaster Girl is the best I’ve found for men who want to better love women. An inspiring, captivating read, and one I’ve returned to many times over the years.
Zan also produced a wonderful video discussion series based on the ideas in his book. Check out “In Search of the Alabaster Girl” on YouTube below. (Note: the series starts off a bit slow, but the rhythm of the conversation really picks up after a few episodes. The series in its entirety is well worth your while.)
And here’s another great (NSFW) talk from James Marshall on manhood, feminism, and related issues:
(Please note: I have no financial connection whatsoever to James Marshall, Zan Perrion, or the Ars Amorata team. I’m just a fan of their work.)