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Opening Arguments


Why is it that, after a divorce, women won't get in another relationship unless they "fall madly in love with someone again," because they cherish their alone time, but men rush to get into another relationship as soon as possible because most of them "seem unable to live alone for longer than, say, at the outside, three months"?  Is it really all about the nest?

Men are hard-wired to feel danger all the time. I know there must be science around somewhere to back up this assertion, but seriously, that's what makes a man a man. A man is on guard because that is his job.

He hunts and tangles with wild beasts. He does not nest. He gets in the way of nesting. And above all a man does not willingly venture near that snake pit called “feelings.” He avoids danger, aware that only so many arrows are granted to him in a lifetime, so he should husband his resources.

Being alone feels dangerous to a man. No one has your back. No one feeds you. No one nurses you in your sickbed. No one takes up a watch if you vanish or sends out a search party if you wander off the trail.

The world is dangerous enough without adding the dangers that come of being alone.

[. . .]

To a woman, being home feels safe.

We love our nests. We tend them, and in exchange we expect them to keep us snug and warm and serene and safe. Which, generally, they do. Because nests are reliable.

There's a lot of old-fashioned, '70s-style feminist man-bashing in the piece ("Marriage is a lot of work," she writes at one point. "Strike that. A man is a lot of work."), but there's good food for thought, too. As a general rule (dangerous generalization, OK, OK), women are more given to introspection, which requires a good deal of solitude, and men seem to be always looking to fix something for somebody, which requires having somebody around to be fixed. I've lived alone since my divorce, but I think that's more a matter of temperament than biology. Like the writer of the piece, I enjoy my own company enough that I don't want to give it up just to have any company that's handy. It's been my general experience that it's easier to find good company when you're sick of your own than it is to escape what she calls "the unspeakable loneliness in which one feels shrouded, a sense of isolation amplifie by not being alone."