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KevinD

The Power of Polarity in Romance

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(This is an article I wrote for my romantic advice blog for men, The Leading Man.)
 
In her book The Passion of Ayn Rand, Barbara Branden quotes from interviews she recorded with Rand about her life and career. Talking about her years as a teenager in Soviet Russia, Rand spoke of walking with a young man who made an indelible impression on her:
 

"I don't remember the conversation on the way home, we just talked, nothing romantic. But he had a manner of projecting that he's a man and you're a woman and he's aware of it."

 
"By the time I arrived home," Rand said, "I was madly and desperately in love."*
 
(Years later, Rand would name one of the main characters of her novel We the Living — Leo — after him.)
 
If there is a single idea which a man must grasp and master if he is to build a powerful romantic relationship with a woman, it's polarity.
 
Polarity is the recognition of the fact that romance — at least heterosexual romance — is predicated on the existence of two sexes; there is male and female, man and woman, masculine/feminine.
 
To a Leading Man, the fact of sex, and therefore of sexual differences, is an enormously good thing. We do all that we can to positively stress and to celebrate that women and men are not exactly identical in every way.
 
Unfortunately, many men ignore, minimize or attempt to downplay sex differences. In their efforts to be respectful and "modern," they treat a woman they are romantically interested in as a buddy or pal.
 
Instead of torrid passion, these men often find themselves caught in a tepid friendship.
 
Polarity is essential to forming a deeply erotic connection with a woman. In romance, a woman wants & needs to be seen and experienced by a man as a woman — not merely as a person, and definitely not as a sexless neuter.
 
To fall in love with a woman means falling in love with her feminine essence. It means being turned on by the challenge that her femininity poses to you.
 
When polarity weakens in a relationship, things get boring. When it isn't there from the beginning, relationships often don't get off the ground.
 
A sophisticated man is not threatened by sexual differences. He embraces, enjoys and appreciates them. To the man who understands romance, "I'm a man, you're a woman" isn't a put-down, nor does it represent an attempt to return to caveman days. It's a basic fact of reality, one which underlies and makes possible the most exciting kind of relationship between two human beings.
 
*I have a number of misgivings about Ms. Branden, and I do not generally endorse her biography of Ayn Rand. However I have no reason to believe that this quotation is inaccurate.
 
© 2013 Kevin Delaney

splitprimary and epistemologue like this

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Why couldn't this be applied to all relationships in a general way, such as, "People like to be around a variety of traits which manifest in a variety of people"?

A lot of postulating based on supposed gender differences you don't even bother to discuss. And what is fundamentally different about heterosexual and homosexual relationships?

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Why couldn't this be applied to all relationships in a general way, such as, "People like to be around a variety of traits which manifest in a variety of people"?

A lot of postulating based on supposed gender differences you don't even bother to discuss. And what is fundamentally different about heterosexual and homosexual relationships?

 

 

Kevin appears to believe that his personal preferences are a "basic fact of reality," and that anyone's variation from them is in need of advice and correction.

 

I wonder if Kevin realizes that Rand's relationship with her husband did not comply with Kevin's notions of masculinity and femininity. Frank was not a "leading man," and Rand wasn't feminine in the sense that Kevin uses the term. Rand's personality was what would typically be thought of as "masculine" -- dominant, aggressive, certain, driven -- where Frank's was "feminine" -- gentle, deferential, supportive, unambitious. Their mixture of differences and similarities apparently worked well together, even if they were opposite of Kevin's gender stereotypes.

 

That which Kevin believes works for him doesn't necessarily work for others. Individuals have individual personalities and preferences in their relationships with others, and they should pursue what's right for them as individuals, rather than what Kevin wants to believe must be right for them.

 

J

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Ayn Rand referred to Frank as her rock. Maybe she was the howling wind against a mountain top.

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Ayn Rand referred to Frank as her rock. Maybe she was the howling wind against a mountain top.

Referring to someone as a "rock" has nothing to do with his being "masculine." It simply means that the person is dependable and supportive, always there. People who are what is traditionally thought of as "feminine" -- gentle, deferential, supportive, unambitious -- can be a "rock."

J

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It is commonly used to describe someone as strong, solid, dependable and with integrity. I've never heard a woman described as a rock.

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It is commonly used to describe someone as strong, solid, dependable and with integrity. I've never heard a woman described as a rock.

How many women have you met? :)

Seriously, though, it's silly to say those traits are only found together in someone with a penis.

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How many women have you met? :)

Seriously, though, it's silly to say those traits are only found together in someone with a penis.

I don't know, several thousands probably. :)

 

I'm not saying those traits are only found in men. What i'm saying is that the term is commonly used as reference to certain traits of strength, which in turn is masculine. And by that I don't mean that men exclusively possess strength, or that strong women are masculine.

 

Furthemore, the point was to illustrate the polarity. My best friends wife is a hot-headed, willfull, busy bee - chewing gum and kicking ass for a living. Yet, she's very feminine. Like a little angry tsunami. He, on the other hand, is immovable stone. Calm, determined, rock solid integrity and dependable - she can throw herself at him and he wouldn't budge a bit.

 

That's one example of polarity. I'm not saying Ayn Rand and Frank O'connor had the same, I know very little about their relationship, but considering she described him as her rock they may have shared similar masculine and feminine polarities.

 

Speculating about their relationship is not a good idea though. There are very little facts available and too much second hand information. She illustrated her views very well in her fiction.

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She illustrated her views very well in her fiction.

Her other views made sense and were later elaborated upon by her and others, and have since stood the test of time and scrutiny. The same can't be said about her views on sex and gender.

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Wether you think her views made sense or not it's a fact that it gets very difficult to get a sexual relationship without polarity. In essence, men are attracted to beauty and women are attracted to strength. Those aspects can manifest themselves in a variety of different traits, in different combinations, but what's important is how they manifest in a relationship between two people - a man and a woman.

 

Without the difference is masculine and feminine essence there's not going to be much sexual attraction. After all, most men are attracted to women and most women are attracted to men.

 

Unfortunately, most guys are clueless about what it entails and as a result they end up lonely and the women end up being frustrated.

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NO woman is attracted to beauty? NO man likes a literally or figuratively strong woman? NO two people are attracted to each other for similar, not "polar," reasons?

 

There are so many kinds of men and women attracted to so many different kinds of things, your "essences" of gender do not mean anything and are trying to form a broad generality where none exists.

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I'm not saying men are attracted to beauty, and women to strength, exclusively, but that those traits are essential and fundamental. Other traits may very well be important, the just add or substract from that essence. For example, a beautiful womans strength can make her beauty more valuable. A beautiful man can appear more strong, youthfull, virile etc.

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I'm not saying men are attracted to beauty, and women to strength, exclusively, but that those traits are essential and fundamental. Other traits may very well be important, the just add or substract from that essence. For example, a beautiful womans strength can make her beauty more valuable. A beautiful man can appear more strong, youthfull, virile etc.

It's more that beauty/strength refer to the same thing in this context, they just crop out of an unnecessary distinction within a concept of "moral fortitude". People used to think that a moral man is different than a moral women, relating to masculinity/femininity. If you mean physical characteristics, I don't see how that relates to an abstract essence of what leads to attraction.

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Obviously something causes men and women to be attracted to men or women, sexually or not. We could make a number of educated guesses and get pretty close even without more precise scientific knowledge. But I don't think Rand was close in her gender theory, or her "importance of sex" theory... it is obvious that Kevin isn't close, at least as much as he cares to not explain when asked. Masculinity/femininity as it is presented by those two and in our culture is flawed, as shown by the poor explanations for and evidence contrary to these current theories. And then homosexuality throws a giant wrench in the whole thing -- it's obviously "normal" for humans and other animals to be homosexual, so what does that say about all sexuality... or not? It's silly to talk about sexuality, as Kevin does, while specifically excluding an entire realm, especially when it's looking more and more like most people have at least a little bit of homo -- or hetero -- in them next to the main stuff that arouses them.

 

There's just too much unknown at the moment to be making these belligerent and unquestioning generalities coming from Kevin. It's contrary to the nature of Objectivism, which demands individual understanding and accountability for all, even (especially?) if Rand herself is the one being scrutinized. 

Edited by JASKN

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It's more that beauty/strength refer to the same thing in this context, they just crop out of an unnecessary distinction within a concept of "moral fortitude". People used to think that a moral man is different than a moral women, relating to masculinity/femininity. If you mean physical characteristics, I don't see how that relates to an abstract essence of what leads to attraction.

 Beauty and strength are two sides of the same coin. They are both psychological and physical.

 

Obviously something causes men and women to be attracted to men or women, sexually or not. We could make a number of educated guesses and get pretty close even without more precise scientific knowledge. But I don't think Rand was close in her gender theory, or her "importance of sex" theory... it is obvious that Kevin isn't close, at least as much as he cares to not explain when asked. Masculinity/femininity as it is presented by those two and in our culture is flawed, as shown by the poor explanations for and evidence contrary to these current theories. And then homosexuality throws a giant wrench in the whole thing -- it's obviously "normal" for humans and other animals to be homosexual, so what does that say about all sexuality... or not? It's silly to talk about sexuality, as Kevin does, while specifically excluding an entire realm, especially when it's looking more and more like most people have at least a little bit of homo -- or hetero -- in them next to the main stuff that arouses them.

 

There's just too much unknown at the moment to be making these belligerent and unquestioning generalities coming from Kevin. It's contrary to the nature of Objectivism, which demands individual understanding and accountability for all, even (especially?) if Rand herself is the one being scrutinized. 

 Yes, there's something that causes men and women to be attracted to each other. For sexual attraction gender is fundamental. A heterosexual person is not sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. There are differences between men and women which are essential here. What are those differences?

If you consider all of the characteristics of how men and women are regarded throughout history and in our culture, whether you agree with the characterization or not I think masculinity is in essence strength, while femininity is beauty.

 

I know very little about homosexuality so i'm not discussing it here. What I do know is that sexual polarities are very important in heterosexual relationships. This isn't about a precise scientific knowledge either, it's about offering a more fundamental understanding that helps in building sexual relationships with the opposite sex. It's a thread about advice for guys to get the girl.

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homosexuality throws a giant wrench in the whole thing

 

That some people are gay (or bisexual, or transsexual, or asexual) is irrelevant to the meaning of my article, and to my broader ideas on heterosexual relationships.

 

The only wrench being thrown is by those whose mission it is to make these fairly simple issues seem confusing.

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Hey Kevin,

It looks as though your Leading Man blog/website is down. When you click on the link, it says that it's for sale at GoDaddy.

 

J

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That some people are gay (or bisexual, or transsexual, or asexual) is irrelevant to the meaning of my article, and to my broader ideas on heterosexual relationships.

The only wrench being thrown is by those whose mission it is to make these fairly simple issues seem confusing.

I see you've replied to me yet this post is obviously not addressed to me personally. Why would you do that?

These issues are so simple that you have been able to address the many questions thrown your way with ease, right? No... you ignore the questions, submitting no answers when people question your premises on gender and sexuality.

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I see you've replied to me yet this post is obviously not addressed to me personally. Why would you do that?

What the hell are you talking about??

 

Ask me a sensible, non-hostile, non-dishonest question which pertains to the article I have written, and I'm more than happy to respond to it.

 

Otherwise, I have no problem allowing my critics to have the last word in a discussion.

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Ask me a sensible, non-hostile, non-dishonest question which pertains to the article I have written, and I'm more than happy to respond to it.

There were sensible, honest, non-hostile questions, Critical of you, yes, but it is kind of amusing that the only questions you really answer are when you can give a one-liner, or the person generally agrees with you anyway.

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Ask me a sensible, non-hostile, non-dishonest question which pertains to the article I have written, and I'm more than happy to respond to it.

Nice qualifiers that allow you to ignore everybody, as you do.

These are probably dishonest, unrelated, or hostile questions, but for starters, as I already asked in my first post here: What is fundamentally different about homosexual and heterosexual relationships? Guessing your, "One is a MAN and one is a WOMAN," response, so what? Two individuals with thinking brains become interested in each other enough to hang around and have sex.

This may be pushing it, it's probably too hostile, but what, precisely and exactly, is "masculinity" and "femininity" to you? This will have to be something where I can't come back and say, "But women are strong, too. And why can't a strong woman and a "weak" man have an enjoyable relationship together?"

Those are only two questions, probably failing your qualifier test. If they don't, I'm sure this "simple" topic will be easy for you to answer.

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What the hell are you talking about??

 

Ask me a sensible, non-hostile, non-dishonest question which pertains to the article I have written, and I'm more than happy to respond to it.

That's not a proper Leading Man response!

 

According to this post, Leading Men "don't talk negatively, and we don't ever feel the need to insult anyone (or anything)!"

 

Kevin's response is very negative and insulting. It's not Leading Man stuff.

 

 

Here's more from the same post on what Leading Men don't do:

 

"Always looking for approval, puts others down."
 
"Feels the need to one-up others when in a group setting, you can tell he needs to feel like he's the best. A truly confident man wouldn't care what anyone thought."

 

 

 
Characterizing criticism of one's ideas as hostile and dishonest is a form of putting others down and trying to one-up them rather than to have the confidence to answer their questions. A confident person would address others' substance. He wouldn't be thin-skinned and defensive. In contrast, Kevin's response above is fragile, weak, emotional and irrational.
 
J

 

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Nice qualifiers that allow you to ignore everybody, as you do.

Every one of us us "allowed" to ignore anyone we choose. I choose to ignore you. You are thoroughly dishonest, and you contribute nothing of substance to these discussions.

 

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Every one of us us "allowed" to ignore anyone we choose. I choose to ignore you. You are thoroughly dishonest, and you contribute nothing of substance to these discussions.

"Thoroughly dishonest" is a serious accusation which should be accompanied by evidence.

I'm not the only one you ignore. You simply ignore all criticisms and questions, period.

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Every one of us us "allowed" to ignore anyone we choose. I choose to ignore you. You are thoroughly dishonest, and you contribute nothing of substance to these discussions.

Actually, he has contributed a lot. Unlike you.

You don't appear to be capable of having a grownup discussion. You seem to expect to give your half-baked opinions and if anyone is critical of them, you pout that they're hostile and dishonest and big bad meanies. You throw little tantrums. It's not the behavior of a leading man, but of a petulant child.

J

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