Our ancestor men were the protectors and providers for their clan, tribe, or group since the time of Homo Erectus nearly 2 million years ago. For nearly 2 million years male survival required problem solving, creativity, cleverness, patience, aggression and physical endurance. Good male protectors and providers were mostly the best hunters, and the best ones were greatly valued by the group. That earned them the power to control the group. This rewarding position at the top of the group came with special privileges.
That usually meant the leader of the group had first choice of food, comfort, and all the women for as much sex as he wanted. That was the best life a man could hope for in those bleak times. (Wow! That sounds pretty good for a man's life today!)
Therefore, men evolved to be very competitive and to compete for the rewarding position at the top of their group hierarchy to get the privileges. That competitiveness is still strong in men's DNA today! However, competitiveness is expressed today in different ways than being the best hunter. Most of today's men compete and try to demonstrate their superiority by achieving difficult goals, adapting leadership positions, or sometimes just lying and bragging about their importance.
A major drive in our male ancestors, as well as today's men, is "status building". Most men are always working hard to prove themselves as the "greatest hunter" so they can get the privileges that come with high status: power to control others, best food and comfort, and as much sex as desired.
This ancient need for high status in men is still operating in the deep old brain of today's men. It drives every human male after puberty to take risks, compete in all varieties of activities, and brag (or lie) about their imagined importance whenever they get the chance.
Fortunately, the newer outer layers of the male brain are adapted to learning new ways of behaving for status seeking. Unfortunately, teen boys may not show much restraint in status seeking. Sometimes by the time they reach adulthood (30? 60? 90?) they learn how to be socialized and behave with good manners without openly revealing all their status seeking tactics.
However, even well-socialized men still compete for high status but in accordance with their culture's unwritten rules. Most often, high status is demonstrated today with large amounts of money and what money can buy, like a big house and luxury car. (And yes, often men are still seeking high status in order to get a lot of good food, women, and sex.)
Interestingly, in western cultures it is common practice for a dating man to take his woman to a special restaurant. An abundance of food given to the woman unconsciously demonstrates what a great hunter and provider he is! That is meant to impress her with his high status so she will give him what he really wants, and it is not food he wants!
For women this ritual of going out to eat serves her more than just getting nutrition for another day. Women have in their DNA a need to know they will be safe and protected before giving a man what he wants. So women like to see a man spend the extra time and energy in providing an extraordinary environment and meal to prove how important the woman is to him. (Usually costs the guy a lot of money to prove it!)
Today this is still largely true but hidden:
"Men trade food for sex and women trade sex for food and survival."
The daily activity for many of today's women's ancestors was for the women back then to tend the children and gather berries, nuts, seeds, roots or whatever they could find to feed the family.
The women were smaller and weaker than men so survival usually depended on getting some protection and help from other women to survive each day. For safety and protection they worked in groups of women. These activities resulted in women developing a high skill for doing several activities while at the same time talking to everyone in the group.
Their talking to each other while working improved their relationships within the group of women. Friendly talking was very important in order to be accepted by the other women in the group for continued protection and survival. This friendly talking process actually was relationship building, and it evolved in women as a highly developed skill passed on to women today. That is the reason women today are much better at multi-tasking and relationship building than men!
For women, generally a part of every activity is relationship-building with everyone. They build relationships by talking freely about their daily trivia and troubles. "I'll tell you about my day and troubles, and I will listen to yours so that we can be really close." This sharing process reassures women that they have a good relationship, are protected, safe, and will survive. This relationship building habit is still in women's genes!
Here is the problem in our world today between men and women: When a woman tries to build a relationship with a man by talking about her personal life and problems, the man dosen't understand she is doing "relationship building".
When a man hears a woman talking about her problems he thinks it is a request for help! So instinctually the man responds with solutions to the woman's problems -- because that is a man's job: to fix things! But this just frustrates the woman because she feels he is trying to diminish her problem or cut her off. The woman doesn't see a relationship developing with this guy who can't even hear or understand her!
Women need to understand how men are more interested in raising their status than in building any relationships.
Men need to understand how women build relationships with daily trivia. Women want to form a close relationship by being heard and understood. When women talk about their problems they want to be heard and have a good relationship!
When a man hears a woman talk about a problem he wants to "fix her problem" and therefore raise his status with her and be her hero. But that is not what the woman wants! She just wants him to listen and be supportive in a closer more understanding relationship with her. She doesn't want him to try to "fix her"!
© Copyright 2008, revised 2013 by Lawrence Rodrigues, M.S., Director: EastWest Institute for Self-Understanding
All rights reserved worldwide.