Illustration: Keeper of the Well by Jonathon Earl Bowser

Why are Relationships So Difficult?
(They’re supposed to be…)
by Link

WHY ARE RELATIONSHIPS so difficult? Plain and simple: Nature makes them that way. Sex is not supposed to be easy. If it were, the poor salmon could take a leisurely swim downstream to spawn. Mating is supposed to be a struggle, yet another example of "survival of the fittest."

Nature could have developed a more collaborative system for copulation, but it didn’t. Instead, nature makes it a rather interesting, and often frustrating challenge to find a mate. This uphill battle is not limited to the poor little salmon, but also applies to husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, lovers and friends -- all struggling to connect with that special someone.

People spend a great deal of effort trying score with someone they emotionally connect with (as well as trying to emotionally connect with someone they score with). Our mating game is so complex that it’s a miracle we haven’t died off as a species long, long ago.

Differences Between Men and Women

Men and women just want different things in life, and sex is no exception. Neither gender is to blame; Mother Nature made us that way. By following our natural drives, we are merely doing what we are supposed to do. Let’s look at a few sexual stereotypes to better understand how nature’s complex plan comes to life.

What do men want? They crave something new, something exciting. Fresh meat. To men, new faces are sexy and variety is the spice of a man’s life. Why? This drive helps create genetic diversity. Men float from flower to flower, spreading their pollen along the way. This is nature’s means to keep fresh blood in the mix, creating a greater number of unique genetic combinations that each play a part in nature’s grand equation. Men are naturally promiscuous? You betcha.

But the role men were cast in nature’s melodramatic sex-story does not necessarily make them the villain. They are just doing their job. A diverse gene pool is a happy gene pool, and the Pool Man’s desires to sleep around helps make that happen. Men are not mere lying cheating scum; they are just following their natural instincts. Men are programmed to be easy, the way a rose is programmed to have thorns or a dog is programmed to howl at the moon. They are doing what they are supposed to do. Nature made men that way.

Women, however, play a different part. They are the sexual gatekeepers, the guardians to the sacred temple where ovum meets sperm to form new life. And women are very choosy, electing only a select few to enter their Oval Office. By being selective, women play an important role in what scientists call Natural Selection, where only the best and brightest pass on their genetic material, thus helping the species improve with each future generation. Women are often turned-on by men who are tall, strong and athletic, who have a keen sense of humor and a sharp wit. They squirm on the dance floor, to attract the attention (and genes) of a talented musician. They go ga-ga for the sensitive artist. Intelligent, powerful, successful…the stereotype list goes on and on, but rarely includes things like weak, dumb and disease-ridden.

Women seeking better mates helped Mother Nature bring her children out from caves and into a new age, with each generation a wee bit healthier and smarter than the previous.

Nature’s Cruel Sense of Humor

Go ahead. Laugh. It’s actually comical how much energy we have to spend to get a little nooky. If you added up all the hours, the dollars, the effort, the planning, and the stress -- odds are it would greatly surpass any other lofty goal humankind has aspired to achieve. Want to end world hunger, or maybe ensure world peace? (Sorry, not tonight -- I have a date.) It’s an endless battle, where nature demands we put in lots of overtime to meet our objective. No one said it would be easy…

Women aim to meet Mr. Right, who is probably a doctor or a lawyer and who will make all her friends green with envy. Men aspire to bang cocktail waitresses in the parking lot, or maybe do a stripper in the back room. His friends will also be envious, unless they’ve done her too.

Women choose a man based on his personality, sense of humor, potential to be a good father. Men choose supermarket lines based on which cashier has the best tits.

Women want to get to know a man first, establish a real relationship, become his friend first, and then gradually ease into becoming his lover "if and when" the time is right. Men don’t even need to know their partner’s name before having sex.

Men are dogs -- sniff, sniff and then hump away on the side of the road. Women are cats, who are very, very finicky.

Women like romance novels and intellectually stimulating erotica. Men fast-forward to the good parts of porn flicks with names like Back-Door Bitches, part 17.

Women reach their peak sexual phase as mature adults, somewhere within their thirties or forties. Men never become mature adults. Once men hit their thirties or forties, they peter out. Viagra and Rogaine are an older man’s recreational drugs.

Women want to "make love." (We all know the verbs men use to describe the same action.)

The whole night long, women like to gently cuddle in bed. Men fart in bed.

Like I said -- it’s a miracle we haven’t died off as a species long ago…

The Nature of Relationships

Nature’s chemistry set is certainly an interesting, and very educational toy. By looking at some of the more obvious parts of nature, we can often make analogies that help us understand the more complex parts.

Hmmm…..let’s see. Nature often takes two very different things and bounces them together, shakes them up, and lets them undulate a little bit until they eventually reach a balance. Night and day. Winter and Summer. Hot and cold. The place where these two opposites meet is often a very turbulent zone, full of border wars and skirmishes. Think of the shoreline, where the opposites of Land and Sea join together. The shoreline is constantly changing, and very unpredictable. The coast is formed by a series of rhythmic pulsations which become a constant give-and-take between the Land and the Sea.

Perhaps the union of two other opposites -- male and female -- is also a very turbulent place, often with gale-force stormy weather, emotionally charged with lightning and thunderbolts! Why should this surprise us? Just like the constant give-and-take at the shoreline, love relationships are also a constant bartering between two opposites. Perhaps sexual intercourse is just one example of the back-and-forth exchange that lovers share with their partner. Other exchanges include affection, mutual teaching, compromise, food sharing…often spiced with jealousy, petty bickering and criticism. (I guess we have to take the good with the bad.)

What Can We Learn From All of This?

Some say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. The fact is, we are both from Planet Earth, and we have to live together. If Survival of the Fittest is a true genetic rule, the Fit need to learn a few new survival tricks now-a-days. Perhaps the new DNA is:

Discovering why your lovers do what they do.
Negotiating a constantly-changing compromise that keeps everyone happy.
Agreeing that each gender has unique traits that are perfectly natural to express.

What happens between men and women is a beautiful part of nature. Human nature. Instead of criticizing the way our mates behave, we may find it easier to just accept that they are what they are, just as we accept that Winter will be cold and night will be dark. Men need to understand that women have special needs and natural drives deep within them, and that these things help make them the Goddesses that men crave. Women, likewise, need to accept a man’s sexual instincts with the same compassion and understanding they seek for their own idiosyncrasies.

This is not easy. It is not supposed to be. Maternal instinct or menstrual chemistry are very foreign concepts to men. To women, a man’s drive to ogle other women in the mall might be offensive. But to coexist, each side needs to give a little, in order to get a little.

Sound tough? It is. The majority of marriages and other relationships don’t make it. Some relationships just can’t weather the constant compromise required for the long-haul. How much compromise is enough? Well, it depends on how compatible the two people are to begin with. If she likes sushi and he hates sushi -- that means compromise. If they both love sushi, then that spells compatibility. When you both crave the same thing, following your bliss only brings you both closer together, rather than tearing you apart.

If a simple sushi example sounds fishy, try the more complex ideas that couples need to wrestle with: family & finance, kids & careers, monogamy & morals… Perhaps the easiest way to achieve compatibility is to choose someone, right from the start, who wants the same things in life that you do. No muss, no fuss. No bickering, no begging, no frustrating moments trying to bend someone’s will like bending the corners of a puzzle piece so that it finally fits. Instead of hoping to shape someone into the perfect mate, you are much better off finding someone who already is what you are looking for. Nobody’s perfect, and surely no couple is a perfect fit -- but defining in your heart what things you really need from a mate is a good first step in finding the right one. And if after examining it from several angles, if your mate’s puzzle piece does not fit into your slot, there is a whole boxful of other pieces to pick from. Try another, and another…

A Love Story with a Happy Ending

If any of this sounds pessimistic, it’s not. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, and a true believer that love is magical. For some reason, in spite of all the obstacles and opposition, opposites do somehow attract. They need each other, compliment each other, and when joined they make each half whole. There is nothing that makes our heart beat like love and lust, either in or out of the linens.

Love and sex are difficult -- but not impossible. The rougher it is to find, the more we enjoy finding it. Nature made it that way too.++

About the Author -- Link writes about seeing the sacred and magical sides to everyday life. His work has been published throughout the US, Canada, England, Ireland, Holland, Poland and Australia and has a degree in Journalism. Link can be contacted at

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