SMOKE: Secrets Of Women
Originally published: 19 April 2004
I'm not a big reader of Men's Health magazine (put the word 'health' in the title of your publication and know instantly that I am not your demographic), but recently I was flipping through someone else's copy and found an interesting article on the secrets that women have.
Most men will nod sagely and gravely over their seventh lager of the evening and agree that they will never understand women and that they are indeed complex creatures, but that represents only a surface, pulp understanding of the female psyche.
I found the article in Men's Health a little 'light', for want of a better word, which is perfectly understandable when you realise that most of the time - despite protestations to the contrary - men don't really want to understand the complex workings of the female mind and emotions. They just want sex, and preferably tonight.
But I did take particular interest in the following paragraph:
A woman may give you her body and her heart, but there are parts that she'll never give up. Pieces woven into the very fibre of her being. Mysteries only hinted at in a passing sly smile, an inscrutable laugh. These are the secrets of lovers past, hidden fantasies and unshared longings. A woman's deepest secrets that don't - and never will - include you.
The reason this interested me was because I can confirm absolutely 100 percent that this is true. I didn't use to believe it - I consider myself extremely perceptive of and sensitive to women's needs - but over the short course of my life so far I have experienced it time and again.
Men are very surface creatures - if our woman appears happy then we take it at face value, and we're always on the lookout for the easiest and quickest way to make her happy again when she is not.
We've learned that we can't just bend her over the kitchen counter and give her a stiff one to solve her depression - sex works for most men, but not for many women.
Believe it or not there are men who genuinely try to understand where women are coming from on a deeper level and who try to convert this understanding to action that will result in her happiness, but I have certainly learned that sometimes it is simply not possible to understand the inner workings of the female mind - because they don't want you to.
Male secrets are usually to be found where porn is, but that's about as far as it goes. Women, on the other hand, have a range of very complex needs and desires which they keep secret from men, not believing the male species capable of a. understanding them, or b. accepting them.
For the most part they're right - very few men would accept or understand it if their wife or girlfriend were to tell them that they fantasise about being ravaged by a tall, dark stranger, and indeed - most men would take that as an affront to their manliness or general sense of worth.
But it's not just about sex - in fact - it very rarely is just about sex where women are concerned. Although I can't possibly presume to understand the complexity of it (and it doesn't help that women aren't able to explain it themselves), I do know that women have needs that no one man can satisfy, be those needs emotional, sexual, spiritual or otherwise.
I used to be of the opinion that I was very in touch with women's emotional needs in particular, and I am the sort of bloke who makes a genuine attempt to understand them and fulfil them.
But I've also realised that no matter how hard I try - it's not about me. There are just some things I will never know or fully understand.
Case in point: I had a girlfriend once who I truly believed was the absolute love of my life, and I thought - no - I knew
that she felt the same way about me. I lived with her in three different apartments, we had a very loving relationship and I was with her for almost two years (which before my marriage was the longest I had ever been with any one person).
One night we had a party at our apartment and I ended up so blind drunk that I passed out in the spare room. I awoke at about 4am and staggered through to my own room, not finding anything odd about the fact that the door was closed (we never closed it - ever).
I opened the door to discover one of my best mates lying on his back on my bed - a bed my girlfriend and I had bought that very same day (our first double bed) - and on top of him was the love of my life, and I can tell you this much - they weren't discussing the solution to world hunger.
The only hunger they were interested in was their own sexual appetite, and it said wonders for that bed company that the thing didn't break on its first night of use.
Instead of walking in and killing someone I quietly closed the door (I heard my girlfriend calling me to come back - yeah, right) and went back to the spare room. She had the decency to stop what she was doing and send the guy packing, before coming through to try and console me.
I was absolutely devastated. But - devastated. I would never in a million years have expected it, but more to the point - I didn't believe she had the capacity to do something like that. I truly believed she loved me. And although in hindsight it appears unlikely that she truly loved me - I think she did.
We resolved the issue on a surface level and everyone appeared satisfied with the outcome (especially my mate, who I didn't kill), but years later - after we had finally broken up - I would realise just how surface that patch-up job was.
We broke up over a bloke she met when she went away for the weekend with her parents. She came home and told me that she had met a very sexy bartender and had spent the night with him on the beach, lying under the stars, and when I asked her to choose between him or me - she couldn't.
I took that as outright rejection, we had the mother of all fights and broke up for good.
Years later I discovered that she had slept with untold numbers of men while she was still my girlfriend, and my mate had merely been the first of a long line of 'friends' who had shagged her.
Obviously it was immensely hurtful, but time gives perspective and I soon realised that it was not anything I was doing wrong (and it wasn't - I treated her like gold, and loved her with all my being) - she simply had needs and wants that I couldn't understand, nor give her.
I found out from people who had relationships with her after me that they had experienced exactly the same thing and the only hurtful thing about it was the secrecy and lies that were required in order for her to indulge it.
The point is that she managed to hide all this with the greatest of ease, despite my being convinced that she was nothing but truthful and honest with me.
I really, really thought I knew her intimately, but I didn't - and that was the biggest shock of all. The shock of realising just how much I didn't know about her, when I thought I knew it all.
I have come to realise that all women are the same. Every single one. Before you get overexcited and start sending hitmen around, let me assure you that I don't mean that all women have millions of lovers on the side that their men know nothing about - the point I'm getting at is that women have an ability to hide their deepest secrets and fantasies in ways that men could never conceptualise.
I know hardly any women who have not in some way "cheated" on their partner - even if they haven't actually slept with anybody. Women form emotional connections to other people which in no way means they don't love the person they are with - I just think women have a capacity to love in different ways.
Men see it far more simplistically - if she wants someone else then she doesn't want me. But I don't believe it's as cut and dried as that - fantastic as it sounds I think women can love multiple men - in different ways, and for different reasons - and the only problem is that very few men will ever understand or accept this.
Which is why it all remains a secret.
Men can either choose to freak out and beat people up or they can choose to ignore it, or they can accept it and move on with their lives.
Which they will happily do, as long as the Trouble In Their Trousers is taken care of. Preferably tonight.
All Smoked Out,