It is as hard to pull two complimentary poled magnets apart as it is to push two uncomplimentary poled magnets together. The same is true for a healthy viable romantic relationship. Healthy relationships have a natural sustainable physical magnetic connection, unhealthy ones don't. Girls, being more feeling driven than men on average, are more prone to stay with guys (they love) that do pretty horrible stuff to them and will be unmoved by pretty much anything a guy they like less might try to do for them to win them over. So, you can see how inefficient non-reciprocal love scenarios can be (for one or both parties involved and consequently for society), and why it's a waste for anyone to be in them (other than maybe as a what-not-to-do learning experience if you are a learn-the-hard-way type).
The first mistake people make is not respecting/valuing physical chemistry as much as they respect mental chemistry. Most people live their lives more mentally than physically, and as a result they see the world through their mental biases which distorts an accurate perception of reality, the physical world. Mental chemistry matters as well, but it's not more important than physical chemistry.
Insufficient sustainable physical chemistry will doom or render any otherwise perfect relationship fundamentally unsatisfying.
Why would people enter or stay in unsatisfying relationships?
Most people are afraid and/or incapable of being alone.
If you can't be alone, you are not even in a position to be in a healthy relationship. People that can't be alone basically have never successfully detached from their parents. They went directly from parental attachment to romantic attachment. As a result, their romantic partners have to meet quasi or full parental roles for them.
Often men and women are still childishly attached emotionally and/or financially to their parents, sometimes their entire lives. These extraneous ties weaken a person's ability to form healthy adult romantic connections just as they weaken a persons ability to function as an independent adult. The role of parents is to raise/guide/provide for children. As long as that continues and/or is desired by you in your real parents and/or an actual partner, you remain childish.
It's understandable that people whose historical relationship history involves more mental / platonic emotional connections (parents, friends) would continue to err on the side of mental / platonic emotional chemistry (to the detriment of physical chemistry). That's what they know but romantic relationships are distinctly different than parent-child and friend relationships.
If you've proven a capacity to be alone, are capable of functioning (mentally and physically) independently from your parents (or mate-parent hybrid substitutes), then it becomes a question of proper healthy mate selection.
A healthy male is like a positive poled magnet. Their most distinguishing physical qualities are strength and endurance, which can be practically measured as athletic ability. A physically weak or low endurance male is a fundamentally broken magnet. They are guaranteed to suffer sexual dysfunction to some degree and therefore will be unable to sustainably function as a healthy male romantically.
The most distinguishing mental qualities of a healthy male are autonomy and resourcefulness. A male that is still dependent on their parents or romantic partner intellectually and/or financially is ultimately still operating as a child. This generally has some effect on their physical functioning as well.
A healthy female is like a negative poled magnet. Their most distinguishing quality is attractiveness, which can be practically observed as physical beauty. The link between optimal femininity and physical fitness is not as absolute as with men (and optimal masculinity) as beyond a certain point of fitness, a female will start to become more physically masculine. But generally speaking most unattractive females are unattractive because of an insufficient amount of exercise, not too much exercise.
The most distinguishing mental qualities of a healthy female are intelligence and accommodation. In the modern world women have to be capable of financial independence but it's not their most important attribute romantically. A healthy male will always prefer an attractive female over a less attractive female no matter how much career success the less attractive one has. Only an unhealthy male who can't support himself (financially and/or emotionally) will have any preference for a less attractive female with a successful career and/or who is more proactive/aggressive than him.
The unhealthy male fails to be physically fit/proactive and intellectually/resource/financially independent.
The unhealthy female fails to be physically fit/attractive and intellectually smart/accommodating.
Attempts to Control Nature / Broken Magnets
Healthy women have a need to be loved. Healthy men have a need to love. Restated, the ideal romantic orientation of a healthy female is tied to the enjoyment of being loved. The ideal romantic orientation of a healthy male is tied to the enjoyment of loving. If you are a female, how much you love someone is far less material then whether they are oriented to be into you. If you are male, how much you want a girl to love you is far less material then whether you are oriented to actively love her. In any case, you need both variables (interested proactive male and interested accommodating female).
If you live too much from your mind and don't accurately observe reality you risk wasting time on an ill suited partner. If you are a male and you invest any energy in a female, it should be met with equal interest/attraction not repulsion. When you face repulsion (which may be conscious or unconscious), be efficient and move on, respect their repulsion.
A male can squire some girls who exhibit a front of disinterest but it is always a bad idea relative to finding a healthy female. The Taming of the Shrew is an entertaining play by William Shakespeare, don't let it be any of your romantic experiences. A girl that does not equally reciprocate your interest doesn't like you or, maybe, does like you but is a broken magnet, and therefore not worth your time. The only possible fix in the latter case is her responsibility, not yours, so move on.
Some people have mutual physical chemistry but one party has a mental aversion (the reasons of which could be endless) that makes things a no go. Again, respect their repulsion. Mixed messages, wavering/fluctuating/intermittent interest = broken magnet. Broken magnets should be avoided. Invest your time in healthy women that are interested. Invest your time in becoming a healthier more physically fit human being. Invest your time in becoming more intellectually and resource/financially independent. Don't waste time on broken magnets.
Similarly a female can pick up a male or possibly keep a male involved with her by being the more proactive partner but she will never be comfortable or secure pursuing that strategy. Ultimately she wants to be loved but she is behaving in a way that makes that outcome impossible. Only a non proactive male would tolerate/seek/want such a backwards scenario and a non proactive male is never going to extend himself enough to make his partner feel sufficiently loved (because he lacks that capability).
If you are a female and you like someone and you are not sure they like you. They don't like you, or, they like you but they are a broken magnet. Invest your time in healthy men that make it clear they like you. Invest your time in being more physically fit. Invest your time in being more intellectually attractive. Don't waste time on broken magnets. If you like a guy and he says he likes you but you are not having sex as much as you want, he doesn't like you that much or he's broken (because men have a higher sex drive than women, on average). In either case, move on.
Experimental personality item: "I initiate sex more often in a romantic relationship."
> average male score 3.32 (on a "very innaccurate 1 2 3 4 5 very accurate" likert scale)
> average female score 2.51 (on a "very innaccurate 1 2 3 4 5 very accurate" likert scale)
*sample size @1500 male and female test takers
**Note: This is one of the highest gender differences I've found on a personality test item. (see others)
You can't expect a male who is incapable of financially supporting himself and/or thinking/acting independently to assume the proactive role in a romantic relationship to any sustainable degree. No matter how pretty, smart, or charming they might be, they are a broken magnet and you will never get what you need from them. The norm for that kind of relationship will always be frustration.
Similarly, you can't expect a female who is still attached to / dependent on her parents, or incapable of trusting/accommodating to you to be a fulfilling partner no matter how pretty, smart, or occasionally charming she might be.
If a girl ever asks you if you will like her as much if she gains ten pounds, the honest healthy answer is "if it makes you more physically attractive, yes, if not, then no" (for an underweight and/or anorexic girl, ten more pounds would make them more physically attractive and healthy). If a female is attractive, a healthy male will by his very magnetic nature be into her. It's not a healthy male's job to artificially make a female feel attractive, nurse her ego, nor would a healthy female expect that. (A more feminine nurturing weaker male will provide the external reassurance some females need, but the cost of that is a fulfilling sex life and/or lack of financial independence.) Likewise, it's not a healthy female's job to financially support a deadbeat boyfriend or to make him feel proactive when he's not or to act as the proactive partner in the relationship. It's a healthy female's responsibility to maximize and maintain her attractiveness/accommodation just as it's a healthy male's responsibility to maximize and maintain his pro-activeness/resourcefulness.
Romantic gestures which exceed normal honest human organic expression (I like you, I think you are attractive, etc.) only serve to distort accurate perception of the presence or absence of genuine organic chemistry. The more banal, ordinary, uninteresting, and alcohol free the backdrop of a date (or an entire relationship) the clearer both parties can perceive whether real chemistry, magnetic attraction, naturally exists. If you have to resort to impressing, dramatics, games, or worst of all blatant dishonesty to keep someone interested, they are not really interested or capable of being interested (broken magnet). Instead, focus your resources on constructive paths, becoming a better person (fitness, vocation, intellectual interests, etc), finding a healthy interested partner, etc..
If you use this metric to judge the health of the world, you will arrive at the dismal reality. Men are rarely both proactive and independent, at best they are one of the two, which is why the world is as corrupt as it (most men can be bribed or conned into doing what a more powerful person wants because they are not sufficiently independent financially and/or intellectually/emotionally). Likewise, women are rarely both physically attractive and accommodating, attractive and bitchy (overtly or covertly) or unattractive and nice is the norm.
Why is the bar so low, why are people content to be so unexceptional and often so proud when they are simply better than average?
One explanation which I can think of is an evolutionary biology based one. As long as you are good enough to attract a mate, reproduce, and raise another generation of genes, as far as your genes are concerned, that's enough. Anything more does not serve your genes' interests so there is no evolutionary wired instinctual motivation to be anything more than good enough or selfishly prideful if you are notably above average in any way.
Another explanation (which may or may not be related to the aforementioned one) deals with parental attachment issues. If you had a father who wasn't proactive and/or independent and/or a mother who wasn't attractive and/or accommodating and you are still attached to him and/or her consciously or unconsciously, you naturally will prefer a partner who resembles your opposite sex parent, and you will emulate the behavior of the same sex parent, which continues the unhealthy cycle. As long as that dynamic is not too unhealthy, i.e. good enough, the relationship might work. But, the infidelity risk will be much higher, and the happiness/satisfaction or that kind of relationship will always be lower than a proactive/independent + attractive/accommodating model. A world full of people and relationships like the former will naturally be more mediocre/unhappy/dysfunctional, possibly/probably, as mediocre as the current world.
This is all a very sensitive issue because if there is truth to it, what individual wants to admit that there was something fundamentally wrong with their parents, or their parents relationship, or them-self, or their current relationship. From an avoiding short term emotional pain standpoint, it's easier to just dismiss this controversial idea and continue living a familiar, normative, and typical mediocre dysfunctional life. But, from a long term happiness perspective, I think it is very foolish to pursue that approach.
Can an unhealthy relationship dynamic become a healthy one?
Maybe, but ultimately individuals can only control/change/improve themselves. If a non-proactive and/or dependent male becomes proactive and independent, they may no longer be desirable/workable to their current partner. Their partner might have an abuse/trauma history (overt or covert) such that they are only comfortable being in relationships where they are the proactive partner, preferring only weak dependent males. Or, they might have grown up with parents who had that strong female / weak male relationship model, so that's simply what they are most comfortable with. Whatever the reason, if they don't want to change their orientation (which is certainly their right/choice), that situation will never work. In that scenario, all you can do is respect their repulsion to the new you and move on.
"Husbands' initiation scores were significantly correlated with their wives responsivity (clinically rated) scores for 10 of the 11 couples; wives' initiation scores were significantly related to their husbands' responsivity scores for 8 of the 11 couples. When either set of correlation coefficients was treated as a new variable and intercorrelated with the husbands' average testosterone levels, a significant relationship was obtained. Intercourse frequency, while not related to either partner's average testosterone levels, was related to wives' testosterone levels at their ovulatory peaks. The wives' self-rated gratification scores correlated significantly with their own plasma testosterone levels." (source)
"Total testosterone levels at the day of the BBT nadir and the day before the nadir correlated significantly with average intercourse frequency. Correlations with FT were statistically significant regardless of which midcycle measure was used; the day before the BBT nadir gave the highest correlation, 0.618, p = 0.01. Mean testosterone (TT or FT) values were not significantly related. We conclude that female midcycle total testosterone or free testosterone is indexing some unobserved event that affects the frequency of intercourse of couples. We speculate that this event affects the motivation of females, which influences the set point of the compromise frequency characteristic of couples." (source)
"Recent evidence suggests that the relative length of the 2nd to 4th finger (2D : 4D ratio) is a pointer to prenatal testosterone levels and may thus serve as a window to the prenatal hormonal environment. We measured 2D : 4D in a sample of male college students and took salivary samples to analyse circulating levels of testosterone. Women rated facial images of these males for dominance, masculinity and attractiveness. Our results show that male 2D : 4D was significantly negatively related to perceived dominance and masculinity but not attractiveness." (source)
"Men’s attitudes, well-being, and sex life were studied during 1 year’s use of testosterone contraception. A consecutive series of 25 men were followed by structured interviews at baseline, during the efficacy phase of oligo-azoospermia and after recovery. Open questions gave qualitative aspects on male contraception. Themes obtained were expectations about freedom and control over their reproduction (16/25) and an enhanced sex life (17/25). The method was rated to be as expected or better by the great majority. Health and most aspects of the men’s sex life did not change, but the frequency of intercourse and the quality of sex life in general were higher (p = 0.001 and p = 0.006, respectively) during the efficacy phase compared to the recovery phase. The decrease during recovery phase may be explained by a pharmacological down-regulation of the androgen receptors. Eight of 22 men admitted slightly aggressive feelings during treatment. Five of 11 women reported the men as more self-assertive during the efficacy phase." (source)
"Bioavailable testosterone was significantly correlated with both erectile function and sex drive (r = 0.16, p = 0.01 and r = 0.20, p = 0.001, respectively)." (source)
"Sexual activity appeared diminished particularly in relation to reduced FT (free testosterone)" (source)
"Castration led to a very pronounced reduction of sexual activity. This was restored to precastration levels by the three larger doses (of testosterone) used about 60 days after the beginning of hormone treatment. The lowest dose did not cause any significant increase in sexual activity. About 70 days after the hormone treatment ceased, almost all sexual activity had disappeared." (source)
"The hormone testosterone (T) has a central role in recent theories about allocation of status ranks during face-to-face competition. It has been methodologically convenient to test the hypothesized T mechanism in physically taxing athletic contests, where results have been supportive, although their generalizability to normal social competition is questionable. Competition among chess players is a step closer to normal social competition because it does not require physical struggle, and it is the arena for test of the T mechanism which are reported here. We find that winners of chess tournaments show higher T levels than do losers. Also in certain circumstances, competitors show rises in T before their games, as if in preparation for the contests. These results generally support recent theories about the role of T in the allocation of status ranks." (source)
"Testosterone and cortisol were measured in six university tennis players across six matches during their varsity season. Testosterone rose just before most matches, and players with the highest prematch testosterone had the most positive improvement in mood before their matches. After matches, mean testosterone rose for winners relative to losers, especially for winners with very positive moods after their victories and who evaluated their own performance highly. Winners with rising testosterone had higher testosterone before their next match, in contrast to losers with falling testosterone, who had lower testosterone before their next match. Cortisol was not related to winning or losing, but it was related to seed (top players having low cortisol), and cortisol generally declined as the season progressed. These results are consistent with a biosocial theory of status." (source)
"In men, high levels of endogenous testosterone (T) seem to encourage behavior intended to dominate – to enhance one's status over – other people. Sometimes dominant behavior is aggressive, its apparent intent being to inflict harm on another person, but often dominance is expressed nonaggressively. Sometimes dominant behavior takes the form of antisocial behavior, including rebellion against authority and law breaking. Measurement of T at a single point in time, presumably indicative of a man's basal T level, predicts many of these dominant or antisocial behaviors. T not only affects behavior but also responds to it. The act of competing for dominant status affects male T levels in two ways. First, T rises in the face of a challenge, as if it were an anticipatory response to impending competition. Second, after the competition, T rises in winners and declines in losers. Thus, there is a reciprocity between T and dominance behavior, each affecting the other." (source)
"Plasma testosterone, levels of fighting and verbal aggression in prison and past criminal behavior were studied in 21 young prisoners. In addition, several psychologic tests were administered. Analysis of plasma testosterone showed considerable stability of an individual's values over the 2-week study period, with highly significant differences observed between individuals. Plasma testosterone levels did not differ in fighting and nonfighting individuals. Although there were significant correlations between psychologic tests, the test scales did not correlate either with plasma testosterone or with fighting behavior. The 10 prisoners with histories of more violent and aggressive crimes in adolescence had a significantly higher level of testosterone than the 11 prisoners without such a history." (source)
*The show Breaking Bad is an effective commentary on many of the issues covered in this article.