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Number one

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"A woman sometimes seems to want to be the most important thing in her man's life. However, if she is the most important thing ... she will feel her man's dependence on her for his happiness, and this will make her feel smothered by his neediness and clinging."

The above quote is from author David Deida's book The Way of the Superior Man, which has been recommended to me by about half a dozen women over the years, all of them saying what a great read it is.

Personally, I'm gonna struggle with anything written by a bloke who claims to offer "training on spiritual growth and sacred intimacy" because I can just imagine a picture of Deida in sandals, getting excited by double rainbows and bushwalking.

However, what I did find interesting about this work is how much of it corresponds with pick-up artist literature and encourages men to embrace many masculine stereotypes.

I began this post with the aforementioned quote because it's something that I'd observed for many years and wrote about when I was 26 or 27, in a very bad novel that will never see the light of day.

"Women who are used to getting whoever and whatever they want romantically seem to be drawn to men who will always place them second to some passion, dream, addiction, ideal," wrote a much younger and thinner Sam de Brito in 1995.

"They are so bored by men placing them first, in front of everything else in their life. Women enjoy conquest, but it's about emotions, not sex; they like the idea of supplanting a man's greatest passion or dream with their image. They want you to lose sleep at night over them, they want to conquer your heart.

"That's why the truly beautiful women of the world, the ones who have never heard the word 'no', are drawn to men who, when given a choice between sex and their dream, will always shuffle toward the light of their ambition."

Over the years, I've rolled in and out of believing this, but re-reading Deida, it sounds as if he's been plagiarising my old notebooks.

"A woman really wants her man to be totally dedicated to his highest purpose - and also to love her fully," writes Deida in his book, first published in 1997.

"Although she would never admit it, she wants to feel that her man would be willing to sacrifice their relationship for the sake of his highest purpose," he writes.

A couple of years ago, I would have argued against Deida and my younger self, but I've now come around to "their" perspective again.

I have been guilty of supplanting my highest purpose with a woman, and I believe she lost respect for me because of it.

In my case, I changed my latest novel Hello Darkness, to please my partner, and whattaya know? She still walked out.

Of course, there was more to our split than that, but I reckon Deida, despite his sandals, hits it out of the park with this observation: "If a woman has become the point of your life, you are lost. You have a gift to give, a purpose to fulfill, a deep heart-impulse that moves you.

"If you have lost touch with this impulse, then you will begin to feel ambiguous in your life. You will make decisions because you have to, but they won't be guided by a deeper sense of purpose.

"You may take on your woman's purposes because they are stronger than yours. You may adapt your need for direction to externally regulated purposes, becoming a cogwheel company man or a dead-ended husband and parent, without leaving yourself open to your greatest vision.

"Be careful not to substitute default responsibilities for true purpose," writes Deida.

I could keep quoting him because it's a cracker of a chapter, one that set me back on my heels a little, so you might wanna seek it out in a bookstore and have a suss (it's chapter 32).

I'd also like to hear all your opinions on this subject - male and female. Is it true to say, "She doesn't really want to be number one?"

113 comments so far

  • I had a partner who put me up on such a ridiculously high pedestal that whenever I "slipped" in his eyes it was the cause of terrible fights. He also made me number one to such a degree that he wouldn't see his friends, wouldn't want to do anything without me and couldn't handle it if I wanted to do anything without him. The attention that he paid me was (at times) lovely, but also quite neurotic and a little disturbing and used to make me incredibly nervous - for good reason, I left that relationship with a black eye.

    I think that women (and probably men, too) want to feel validated and desired by their partner; we all want to know that at the end of the day, our partner is going to come home to us and that they value us. But I sure as hell don't want someone who drops all of their own friends/needs/desires to please/fit in with me. I want them to be their own person, who is compatible WITH me, not someone who is a copy OF me.

    Commenter
    Spondilly
    Location
    North of the Border
    Date and time
    September 01, 2011, 6:43PM
    • "That's why the truly beautiful women of the world, the ones who have never heard the word 'no', are drawn to men who, when given a choice between sex and their dream, will always shuffle toward the light of their ambition."

      Ugh creepy words from a man who has no right to assess women or men in such limited terms. Why is a truly beautiful woman one who has never heard the word "no"?

      And 'shuffle'? What a strange choice of words.

      He's a wanker.

      Doesn't everyone want to be number one? Isn't that the big challenge in relationships?

      Commenter
      mags
      Date and time
      September 01, 2011, 7:27PM
      • Out of interest, will you now offer a revised and updated version of Hello Darkness with the original ending?

        Commenter
        Simon
        Location
        Vanuatu
        Date and time
        September 01, 2011, 7:46PM
        • Good post de Brito. On the back of it, I'll kick in and buy a copy of Hello Darkness this weekend.

          Commenter
          lion
          Location
          'Roo bar - Patong
          Date and time
          September 01, 2011, 7:49PM
          • Arrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh! Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish and yet more rubbish!

            Your partner should be someone you would die for - but not someone you would kill yourself for. In a nutshell.

            Remembering why you love someone is not about making them the pinnacle of your life but including them in your life, remembering that they are there (ie not spending 24/7 in the pub/lab/war-torn wherever) and feeling from your heart that you want them to remain with you - and telling them so, or better yet showing them.

            All this "he must be this" or "she must be that" is rubbish. It's the Hollywood-he-gave-up-everything-for-her bulldust that is confusing mere mortals as to how a relationship actually works, and what love is and means and feels like.

            In a functioning relationship, you don't have to give up anything or compromise because your partner (and you, reciprocally) wants your happiness and fulfilment as much as you do. If you're in a relationship where you want to spend 5 days out of 7 with your mates, and your partner "won't compromise" then you're not in the right relationship - and you're not in a space where it's not even possible for you to have the right relationship. If one person feels that they're giving up themselves, or compromising too much, then the relationship isn't right. Real love is definable by its reciprocity. Both partners feel the same way about each other. If that's not there, move on, because you're not in love and you don't love each other.

            Commenter
            Morigel
            Location
            NSW
            Date and time
            September 01, 2011, 8:30PM
            • After 22 years of marriage all I want is a conversation that doesn't involve the weather & sex more than once every six months. Am I asking too much?

              Commenter
              Jaded
              Location
              'blue' mtns
              Date and time
              September 01, 2011, 8:35PM
              • I think there is some truth to that theory.

                As a woman to whom things have always come somewhat easily, I was constantly frustrated by my ex who spent most of his free time smoking weed and working on music and to whom I always seemed to come second.

                I now have a wonderful, sweet, highly attentive boyfriend who confirms to me daily that I am the most important thing in his life. Yet I can't help feeling a little turned off by this and I sometimes resent him and silently glorify my ex for his passion and independence.... Even if he was a loser.

                I guess the old adage applies, you always want what you can't have...

                I try to remind myself of all the things about the ex that frustrated me and the wonderful things about my new man that I'm beginning to take for granted....

                And on the flipside, there is no way I could be with a man now who puts me second or makes me feel insecure after being with a man who does all the romantic and sweet things a girl wants her man to do...

                Commenter
                Never Satisfied
                Location
                Melbourne
                Date and time
                September 01, 2011, 8:48PM
                • Yes, there is no way that I want to be Number One. Think about it, it's boring for me, why would I be interested in somebody who either a - doesn't have much of a life already or b - expects me to provide one for him via the area between my thighs? How attractive is that? I already have quite a fulfilling life thanks, wouldn't it be a thrill if I could see interesting things in yours? Instead of trying to leech off and be inducted into mine? I want to meet somebody who can introduce me to new things, new experiences, hitherto unknown excitements and not somebody who is just relieved to be temporarily relieved from the depths of a beer bottle, DVDS as home, or crusing online sites looking for dates. When I guy says to me, he's 'free for the whole weekend..' and looks at me like a lost puppy ...I don't flee, I run!!

                  Commenter
                  Lickety Splits
                  Date and time
                  September 01, 2011, 9:30PM
                  • Deida got it right. Women seek external sources of entertainment/stimulation/validation because they rarely have the personality to generate it internally. Everything is about them and what they want and stimulating their emotions through drama and conflict.

                    Once you start doing what they want all the drama disappears and they lose interest. So you can either keep running on that hamster wheel faster and faster to keep her entertained or you can give up before you die of exhaustion.

                    But this might lead you to being labelled "insensitive" and not in tune to their emotional needs and they'll probably dump you.

                    What you need to master is your own need for approval. Don't bother playing the game. Avoid women who think they are special and want you to be their lapdog or beast of burden. Be your own man and do your own thing. If a woman is smart enough to make herself useful then you're in luck; if you never meet a woman like that then you're not missing anything.

                    A lot of women will try to say that you're missing out on the emotional journey blah blah blah but that's nothing more than self-serving drivel designed to make you play the game. It's as futile as trying to find the end of a rainbow.

                    Commenter
                    Bender
                    Location
                    .
                    Date and time
                    September 01, 2011, 10:14PM
                    • You can make your partner a priority in your life without being a pathetic, needy push-over about it. I think that's what women (and men) want in a relationship.

                      Commenter
                      Lady Contributor
                      Date and time
                      September 01, 2011, 10:35PM

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