WWMD: What would Maslow do?

There is no denying that in this time of technological fecundity, life has become much more encumbered and complicated than the techie mavens had promised. And if relationships were not difficult enough with the constant movement of personnel, long distances to overcome, and gender polity, add this other layer of shifting identities and cyber gambits, and we have us a recipe for deception, equivocation, planned misunderstandings, and vacuous commitments. The result? A society of disconnected, disenchanted individuals milling around commiserating on broken hearts, crashed dreams, jaded souls, and unfulfilled needs….and what the heck does Maslow have to say to all this?

Now I don’t profess to know the workings of Abraham Maslow’s mind, nor am I a contending for the role of Dr Phil or Dr Ruth, and I certainly am not one to play Dear Abby, or Ms Cleo, but I have listened to my fair share of complaints from both genders, transgender, and even the self-declared genderless, and it seems that society is coming apart at the seams, and especially in the crucial areas of the need for acknowledgement, inclusion (belonging) and love – Maslow’s favourites.

I have even occupied an insider viewpoint on some of these issues, and have thus been moved to compile a list of the six most common scenarios that plague relationships, and frustrate the sanctity of relating. Some of the experiences mentioned here, are my own. All of the examples are explained in exactly the way they have occurred, were observed, or were explained to me. If you are in a relationship and are stumped about its dynamics, or you are curious as to why one ended abruptly, or perhaps you are serious about the relationship you are currently pursuing and would like to gain some insight, then read on, and you may glean a clue, or maybe two.

1. She is a gold-digger. The man makes prominent displays of his fancy car, home, phone, and other assets, then complains that all women are gold diggers (or as they like to say ‘’gold digga’’). Here is the problem: If you are advertising your assets, you will successfully attract people who are interested in such items, so don’t complain that the women you attract are ”gold-diggers”’ or ”users,” they are coming to you because that is what you are advertising (and also because women are juts naturally attarcted to shiny objects).

If you feel you are a groovy fellow, and would like to attract someone who is interested in your wit and charm, try promoting your qualities and values by engaging in profound and stimulating conversation (sorry, ”Hey Baby” does not qualify) rather than showcasing your Volvo and yacht club membership, and things may turn around for you. You will certainly attract a different species of women (may not be too many of them, but all you need is one, right?).

The same goes for the women, by the way, who go to great lengths to enhance and present their décolletage as their favoured attribute, or wear the T-shirt dress that is one inch shorter than their underwear (shouldn’t it be the opposite? Isn’t that why it is called ”under”wear?).  They later complain that the men they attract only want sex, and all men are cheaters. Hmm, how do I put this delicately? Although both of those observations may be valid (Let’s keep focus, we’re here to praise Caesare, not to bury him!) one can minimise these occurrences in one’s life through careful selection of friends/ acquaintances and lovers; operative word being ”careful.”

And careful selection is a well-crafted skill, which evolves from one’s own learning, experience, analysis, and….believe it or not….ascetic introspection. Yes, Indeed, a stringent scrutiny of your emanates, that is, how and what you present to the public, can reveal startling clues as to why you attract distinct personalities. The old adage ‘’you are the company you keep’’ is a gem of sagacity worth revisiting.

We reveal many clues about our thoughts through our values, ethics, conversation, manner of dress, and paradigms of interactions (this is explained in a previous article entitled “spheres of cognisance’’), and conversely, we are shaped by that which surrounds us; it is a dynamic, recursive relationship. In short, to use the ”gold digga” model above, whatever you use to attract a man, that is the medium, and foundation upon and through which he will construct his pattern of communication (verbal and non-verbal) with you. So, plan wisely.

2. He has no time for me. This one goes primarily to the fellows, and is a very common complaint in the knitting (and texting) club. The scenario: His language and interaction is filled with explanations and excuses such as “I have a meeting at 9am, then one immediately after, then I am meeting with some clients from 1 to 4pm, then I am coaching football at 6pm, blah, blah, blah.” Fellows, yeah, we get it! You’re busy. But guess what? We all are; some more than others. But even Bill Gates finds the time for civilities; why, he very often avails himself to the hoi polloi for hobnobbing and baby-hugging events. And you’re not Bill Gates…..not even close.

I have personally witnessed this behaviour and I am dying to ask the fellows: “Since you are so busy (let’s go along with that for a moment), and have very little time for social life, why are you attempting to get into a relationship?” Relationships require work, ahem! Let me rephrase that: healthy relationships require work, but if you are content with half-ass ones, then, you’re properly aligned with the half-ass approach you’ve perfected.

Get this: Unless the woman is your secretary (or wife), and you’re paying them to care (your wife will receive payment from the pay-check you’re bringing home; and make no mistake, she is deducting payments!), no one really gives a rat’s patootie about what you have going on! And seriously, we’re not impressed. All that information you spew only speaks volumes about how insecure you feel. Further it serves to wrap you up in the lie you will tell later (oh yes, you will). So reel it in, get to the frigging point, and tell the woman exactly what time you’d like to meet with her (Oops! Was that too passionate? Well, maybe I’ve experienced that one once too often, tolerance level has reached a new zero).

Keep in mind that women store information very well, and the more you give, the greater the accretion of her arsenal. So don’t be angry when you come home late with a dumb, incoherent excuse, and she had a boatload of crap to hurl at you; remember that you gave them to her while you were in the ‘’let me impress her’’ mode. So be smart – the next time your lady (or anyone) asks, ‘’What time are we meeting?’’ Keep it short and sweet!

3. ”It’s (like) weird that (like) every time we are on the phone his phone (like) is out of minutes or needs charging.’’ Again, this is a common male technological discrepancy, and I will admit that I have loads of experience with this, to the point of ad nauseam. Often I may be in the middle of a good conversation, the call disconnects, and I wait for the fellow to call and they don’t for 12 to 24 hours. My calls to them go straight to voicemail, and my emails are unanswered. When they communicate the next day, the best explanation they can muster is, ”I left my charger at work.” (What!? Not even an apology?). Now, do I really need to vivisect that? Nah! Let’s just say that if I can get a dime every time I hear that excuse, I would be stinking rich by now, and may accidentally find myself clinking perfume bottles with Paris Hilton.

Fellows, here is why this is a turn-off for me: First, let’s say that if the phone goes out, there is always email (Oh, I forgot, yes, you did mention that that went out too!), but your phone takes only 5 minutes on the charger to become functional again. I’ll say that again, because I know you didn’t get it. Your phone needs only 5 minutes, not 24 hours, sitting on the charger to become fully usable. Yes, Boo, I know that you know that, because whenever a woman has a problem with a phone, the men typically have all the solutions.

Okay, let’s address this phone issue realistically: If you are under 30 years, that means that you are swimming in technology (in fact you were born with phone buds stuck in your ear), and if you don’t have at least 6 phone chargers, you are not a self-respecting member of the Millennials, and should be banished to Mars (wait! They are probably more advanced and may be insulted by the proscription).

If you are between 30 and 64 years, you have gone through (and by that I mean ”lost”) enough jobs to understand the value of communication in today’s society. So if you are not smart enough to understand the concept and facility of having two chargers (or even 3 – one in the car), then you are a Gen X buffoon (and that’s putting it mild), and I for one want nothing to do with you (sorry, I’ve long since traded in all the buffoons in my life, and no longer maintain a collection).

If you are older than 65 years, well, okay, I can see the value of that excuse, but then I would have to wonder what good excitement you were having with the phone for the battery to die after a one-hour conversation.

4. “He sends me short text messages randomly, but does not respond to me for days.” Sorry fellows, you may actually win the award for perceived technological ineptitude by the end of this post. Yet again, I can nod my head if asked if I have had this experience. Here is how it typically happens.
The man sends a text message asking a question, the woman in her efficiency (me) and programmed desire to please (other women, not me), responds within 10 minutes, and then she waits….nothing…..for 12 hours,…. 24 hours,….. often 1 – 3 days. Ahem, focus  you @#$%ing wing-nut! You asked the question! That implies that you were looking for an answer…….I would think! Logical, rational people would follow that reasoning. But, what am I thinking? You were obviously not looking for anything. You were simply looking to engage the other person and keep them wondering, having them keep busy checking their phone for your response, and wrapped up in thinking about you. Yes, we know, and we haven’t forgotten, it’s all about you!

To reiterate, women are good at storing information. We’ve stored your schedule, we’ve stored how busy you’ve claimed to be, and then we’ve stored further the fact that you are so busy that it takes you 3 days to text the two letters, ”ok.”

5. The suspended phone call. This one is not gender specific and has culpability evenly distributed. Your femme (or homme) fatale calls. You don’t answer, but send a text instead saying ”busy, will call in a few minutes (awh! very  considerate).” Then you call after 12 hours (jerk!). Further, you make no acknowledgement of the discrepancy, no apology, just a casual “What are you up to? I spent the day at church.” Or, “I spent the day with my mother.’’ Or ”I went to the movies with my daughter.”

Okay, several things wrong here. Can you spot the problem? First, no one asked you anything, so why are you confessing (and lying at that!)? Is that your conscience I hear screaming in the background? Second, you are not that religious or penitent to be in church so often, so be smart and don’t add to your sins, you will overload St Peter, because he has to keep track for judgement day. Come on, you should know that, you go to church often, right?

6. The perpetually dying phone. Yes, you guessed it – the fellows are at it again. Your phone seems to always be dying 20 minutes into the conversation with your lady friend. This actually reminds me of people who I know (you know some also), who whenever they need an excuse for work, or to be excused socially will tell you that their grandmother died.  Seems like their grandmother is a feline, with many lives to live.

Here is the problem with this scenario: if this is the first conversation for the day that you are having with your lady, and (as you’ve explained so often), you have been busy working or occupied with some kind of family or community matter (none of which should involve being on your phone), then what on God’s green earth is draining your phone battery? It takes 6 – 8 hours of texting or talking to drain a phone battery.

Well, let’s see what could be the problem: It sure wasn’t your communication with the lady, because that lasted only 20 minutes; it was not in use during all the work and community service you do, because you don’t answer your lady’s call during those periods; and all the other remaining hours of the day, you are sleeping, or hanging with your ”homeys,” neither of which require the use of a phone. So, again the question: what is it that drains your phone battery? Could it be the same thing that drains your bank account?

Fellows, just for the record, the women are hip to this, as it has been over-worked. Here is why it is problematic: You are the one with the fancy phone, gadgets, etc. (see number 1 above), so you should not have these problems because then it makes you look dumb for paying too much for crappy phones. Second, remember, that when you are with your lady, she notices how often you get on the phone, how long you spend on the phone, and the fact that the phone works remarkable well when you are on it in her presence, she notices that it develops problems only when you are not in her company and speaking to her on it.

Don’t be fooled fellows, two can play the same game. Women have their own game, and for most women, their game is to go along with your game and allow you to think that they are buying into it. Meanwhile, they prepare for themselves a better situation, then one fine Sunday morning, right after church, they leave you in the name of God, love, and the Virgin Mary. Then you sit and call them every impiety that you can muster through the anger and self-loathing that you are experiencing in that moment of clarity (as you will instantly realise that you created this yourself. Although, your unwavering grip of your ”manhood” would never permit you to acknowledge it for one moment; not even to yourself).

Not to worry though, we know the real deal – you are good at lying, but not good at remembering the lies or the names of the women you’ve lied to. The ladies don’t have this problem, as they keep a journal, and they know exactly which lie was told to whom. So even though the game is the same at both ends, the ladies will take the accolade, as they display a higher degree of efficiency.  But now let’s return to this question of how this relates to the larger whole – society.

At the centre of Abraham Maslow’s pyramidal needs lies the core relational elements – love, family, friends, a sense of belonging and worth, and the need to feel accepted and valued. The examples outlined above illustrate the dysfunctionality of this application in our society, and how our behaviour clearly defeat the task of social r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s. Being given to philosophical musings I often sit and wonder, were he to bear witness to such social mahem, what would Maslow do? I have no doubt that Abe would be ringing (or texting) Einstein and commiserating on such a social quagmire.

In fact, I am sure that there would be finger pointing – perhaps at Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau,  for their introduction of the concept of a social contract (binding us to distinct relational frames); or maybe at Jeremy Bentham for his stunning notion of a bureaucratic power through and by the implicit and explicit conscription of the constituents (brilliant political ruse, I must agree, although it was not his intention). And various other stones will be thrown at others who unwittingly contributed to the current state of affairs. But in the end, only the status quo will maintain, with a promise of a deepening and widening of the social and familial chasms, created by indiscretions, disconnections, and paronomasias.

The six scenarios above are common examples of how fissiparous, monadic, and bureaucratic we (the modern, civilised society) have become since moving into the technological era. Like the glaciers, we are slowly melting, like the Yangtze, we are being damned (not a typo error, and yes, pun is intended), and like many other mammalian species, we are endangered……ironically, at our own hands.

The power lies in your own hands (literally), you can make that cell phone work for you (as it was intended to do), or you can allow it to work against you, to destroy your chances as meaningful relationships. I, for one, have chosen to not participate in the sophomoric games described above; however, I do allow it to serve the purpose of a very simple and efficient tool in delineating the real people from the harlequins, thus making it easy for me to steer clear of the social pot-holes.