So let’s take this back to the Thai women who inspired this whole series of reflections. Any Americans who thought they were going to sleep with some hot Thai police ladies simply because they flirted heavily through two weeks of class with them were disappointed (I hope) because they still didn’t have that emotional context. Those girls might have been giggly and girly, and they might have been sending all the signals. Some might even have been head over heels in whatever-you-want-to-call-it (I would be loath to use the word “love” for something that grows over a two week seminar). But regardless of any infatuation, there was something else at work. To put it into context I thought about what it would be like for a group of women in America to get a two week class from a bunch of foreign men (insert nationality of choice here) with great builds, exotic looks, and exciting accents, ready to flirt at the drop of a handkerchief. Don’t tell me there wouldn’t be a flutter of giggling, flirting, gossiping and a few scattered sighs. But I very much doubt the majority of these women would sleep with their foreign instructors, and I’m quite certain they would be the first to condemn any of their colleagues who did.
The women were not simply speaking another language (I am speaking of the language of their actions, not the Thai language.) They were speaking the same language with different meanings. When they shrieked and sighed over our white skin and muscles, they were speaking the same language as the guys when they commented approvingly on the women’s faces and shapes. But with the guys the thought process went something like: “Wow, she’s a hot, exotic looking Thai chick. Let’s have sex.” There requires no mental or emotional gymnastics, no process of consideration, just A à B. It makes sense to us. (Yes, despite my moral and mental and even emotional repugnance to that philosophy, I still speak it fluently. I follow it with no trouble at all.)
With the women the thought process was very different. “Wow, he’s a hot, exotic looking American guy,” yields a whole plethora of possible responses ranging from, “Wow, fluttery feelings!” to “I should get a picture with him and put it on facebook. My girlfriends would totally freak!” to “I bet I could get him to come over here just by batting my eyes.” Mixed in with all of that is the realization that, “Yeah, he’s cute, but I’m going back to my unit in two weeks and he is going back to America.”
Same language (laughing, giggling, flirting, showing off the body just a little) but with a totally different meaning. Some of the guys could at least observe that the meanings were different, and some simply continued to interpret everything based on their own assumptions.
The male model is a lot less work for sure. The female model requires, or at least assumes, that there will be time, and a lot of it. A lifetime in fact, is nearly always the hope, at least subconsciously. Trust is an intrinsic component of it, not just trust in the man that he won’t beat her or leave her, but trust that he will love her, trust in herself that she can love him, and trust in the relationship that it will be worth fighting for. Trust does not happen overnight. It takes time, and once established it isn’t permanent. It may take years of patience really to win a woman’s heart and then it can be lost in one act of betrayal. It has to be actively sought after and maintained for the duration of the relationship. This reality is so foreign to the male thought process that most men, I suspect, never learn it.
I believe it is worth it, though. Those who never learn it will never know what they missed by not learning to listen.