To all women everywhere:

Speaking for all men everywhere, we know we’re not making you happy. To be honest, we’re not exactly sure how to make you happy. Perhaps you can help us figure it out.

I realize speaking to all women everywhere on behalf of all men everywhere is just a bit presumptuous. There’s the obvious danger of overgeneralizing, but someone has to try. We’re stuck at a “failure to communicate” level. And if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic candidate for president, it could get really ugly.

The thing is, contrary to what women everywhere may believe, we want you to be happy. You may be convinced we’re only interested in our own gratification – and that may be true for a certain, relatively small percentage of slugs among us – but most of the men I know want to make you happy. In fact, we were brought up that way.

Did you really think our mothers (and yours) were drilling in the message, “When you grow up, do everything you can to make the woman in your life really miserable?” On the contrary, most of us were socialized to believe our main purpose in life is to make a woman happy. Make someone happy. Make just one someone happy. Then you will be happy too.

Most of us enter conjugal domesticity believing that’s our primary role. Yes, there’s procreation and breadwinning and sharing household chores and being there for the kids, but our conditioned reflex is to subjugate our needs to yours. How many times have you heard us say, “I don’t care, whatever you want to do.” Drives you nuts, right? Makes us look spineless and indifferent. It’s our miserable attempt to make you happy.

And we fail miserably because that’s not really what you want. Yes, we realize no one person can make another person “happy,” but we can’t help wanting to and trying to and when it doesn’t work, it makes us feel … well, unhappy. One thing I can say with some certainty to women everywhere on behalf of men everywhere is that an unhappy person cannot make another person happy. I would also venture to say that if you’re unhappy, so is your partner.

What is it that makes all women everywhere happy? According to a one-man stage show I saw a few years back, the answer is “security.” What do men need? Speaking for all men everywhere, I would wager on “respect.”

Of course, you also need respect and we also need security, but these may only be the portals to happiness. They only get you in the ballpark, to employ a traditionally male metaphor. Then the real work begins – like letting go of the insidious need to control one another.

But it’s the disappointment, isn’t it, that inevitably breaks up most relationships? All of us, to some extent, are disillusioned romantics. We can’t help starting out with great expectations, hoping for a trip to the moon on gossamer wings. Back on the planet Earth, however, we have to learn to live with … less.

Love, i.e. true love (the long-lasting kind), is so very difficult to sustain – much more challenging than any of us anywhere ever imagined. It demands the very best from us, and our very best is often extremely difficult to summon.

Speaking for all men everywhere, it may surprise you to hear that we have an inkling of how tough it is to be a woman in a male-dominated society. We revere and subjugate you at the same time. Can’t be easy. We think of you as superior but compensate by treating you as inferior. Very strange. You think we’re merely reducing you to sexual objects, but you have the most amazing effect on us. It goes far beyond desire. It has more to do with beauty.

We know you want us to genuinely arouse you, but we often lack the self-confidence to do so. We don’t know when to be aggressive, when to be assertive, when to be deferential and when to be submissive. We know you want us to be capable of all these things at the right time, but our timing is off.

We know you need us to be intelligent, but often we can’t look at you and think at the same time. Our wit fails us. You think we don’t like intelligent women, but we do. In fact, we’re a little in awe of your agile minds.

Speaking for men everywhere, I can only say that we want all women everywhere to be happy, we wish we could do more to make that happen, and we’re sorry we so often can’t.

Good luck in your pursuit of happiness. Let us know how we can help.

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