May men caring and nice women

Women want to help, men want sex

Both sexes know rescue fantasies in the form of the desire to redeem the other. With the difference that men are more likely to eroticize need.

Sometimes love is seen as a mission to save the other. This seems lost, beaten by life. He shows a tendency to self-destruction, stands on the edge - so the lover knows what to do. He spreads his arms.

Psychologically speaking, this is a rescue fantasy. I also suffered from it once. As a student, I wanted to integrate my friend, an outsider who did everything to make him disliked, into my environment. I tried to show him that you have to like yourself to endure the affection of others. A friend of mine also saw herself as a savior: she fell in love with a man who drank. She believed love was enough as a withdrawal program. She kept him away from the bottles, and he found some without them. She later left him. She was exhausted.

It is almost entirely women who pen pals with American death row inmates. . .

It feels good to be needed. Or at least to think that one is needed. You get a meaning, you assign yourself a task. It gives you a sense of power. Ultimately, the desire for rescue is also simply compassion. You don't like to see the other suffer.

Both women and men have rescue fantasies - with one difference. A caring side often resonates with women when they see someone in need. It is almost only women who pen pals with American death row inmates who are committed to helping the lost. What do you get for it? Confirmation of their importance.

The need of women has another effect on men. “Men,” said the German couple therapist Ulrich Clement, “can eroticize need, women tend not to. There is a big difference between the sexes. "

Mothering kills lust

While men desire to be needed, women feel better about helping without linking their commitment to their desire. In most love relationships, there is nothing erotic about mothering for men, says Clement. It emasculates men when the woman becomes a nurse. And women also find dependent, needy men unattractive in the long run. The reverse is not true: a woman who seeks protection remains desirable. For some men.

Violations in psychotherapy in particular confirm how attractive female weakness can be. According to research, it is predominantly male helpers who develop relationships with their vulnerable female patients.

Fairy tales have already eroticized the need of women, and perhaps men with rescue fantasies hang on to this archaic memory: the image of the knight rescuing virgins from the clutches of the tower guard. This is what Julian Barnes speculates in his new novel "The Only Story". In more recent times, men have dreamed of the liberation of Marilyn Monroe, he continues to tell his heroes: «Strange that in order to save Marilyn Monroe one apparently inevitably had to sleep with her. . . It seemed to him that the best way to save Marilyn Monroe would have been that one Not slept with her. "

Love based on such a gradient tends to fail. Because it defines itself too much through the inferiority of the one. Anyway: self-confident men want strong women. Strong women want confident men.

Perhaps the difference between love and salvation ultimately lies in the fact that the lover does not want to save because he loves. And the rescuer needs a job so that he can love.

This applies to both women and men. Likewise. Love is not an emergency signal.

NZZ editor Birgit Schmid writes weekly about our relationship to one another and to the world in her column “In every relationship”.

A selection of the columns from the past four years is now also available in book form: “In every respect. Birgit Schmid 84 times ». Verlag Rüffer & Rub, Zurich 2019.