Instinct and Intuition: Relationship Synergy

I recently wrote a tweet, seen below, that has garnered a fair bit of attention.

I was, frankly, a bit surprised to see that this tweet drew so much interest, but upon a moment’s thought, my surprise was mitigated. There is much ado about whether differences in gender ought best to be focused upon, whether or not they’re relevant and even if they exist at all. Thus, this tweet which draws such a distinction has a timely relevance that explains a portion of the engagement.

Another contributing factor, as several of me pals were wise enough to point out, is the desire within most of us to achieve a state of harmony in our lives. Harmony is sometimes confused for equilibrium, so let me draw a distinction:

Harmony is the complimentary amplification of energetic output achieved through integration of the aspected benefits and capacities available from one half of a spectrum with the other by dividing actions based upon the inherent efficiencies embedded within them.

Equilibrium is the negation of energetic output achieved through neutralizing the impact of these aspected features which occurs when the opposing ends of the spectrum are not oriented towards a creative or constructive task.

In simpler terms, harmony is growth and equilibrium is death.

Now that we’ve fleshed it out a bit, let’s go a little deeper into the basis for the observation and why I placed it within a gendered frame.

The simple reason is BIOLOGY.

Men are biologically wired to understand and operate in the world through a combination of visceral instinct and logical cognitive absolutes. It makes sense if viewed through an evolutionary lens, because human males from antiquity to the present day have been the primary participants in physical confrontations including combat and hunting.

Anyone who’s ever been involved in a violent confrontation understands that uncertainty and nuance lead to severe consequences up to and including death. Thus, men in antiquity who lacked the ability to trust their visceral reactions and to act definitively upon them, or who’s visceral reactions were often incorrect, were removed from the gene pool.

Also relevant is the fact that before animal husbandry, protein requirements were met by hunting for meat, usually accomplished by male hunting parties. The necessities of silence and physical communication combined with the limited opportunities to harvest an animal meant that males developed a tendency to communicate with other males through a common instinctual and laconic physical language.

Little nuance or emotional sensitivity is required to bash a skull or spear an animal.

In addition, the competitive realm of mate-selection has mostly been the prerogative of females throughout human history, and this selection process is hypergamous by nature. Thus, the traditionally male roles of physical capacity, decision making and the ability to engage in violence which were necessary to the continuation of the species have been bolstered by the effects of selective breeding.

Women have been shaped by a very different set of conditions.

For example, when the male hunting parties departed from the villages or base-camps, the women stayed behind. This was no slothful or pampered tendency, but rather a fulfillment of another set of responsibilities necessary for the survival and thriving of the community.

Meat spoils quickly in unrefrigerated conditions, and must be preserved by various methods including dehydration and fermentation among others. In addition, byproducts of meat harvesting which are now viewed mostly as waste were utilized in a great many ways. Hides were cured to create invaluable leather, sinew was used as thread and rope, viscera were either consumed or used to create useful implements, and so forth.

Women created most of these useful tools and byproducts during the day as the healthy males were ranging for game. In addition, foraging for vegetation to be used for supplemental food and also for medicine was another traditionally female dominated activity.

Perhaps most importantly, women were the primary caregivers for the children, the elderly and the sick or wounded of their communities.

These set of conditions and activities requires significantly different set of skills and social capacities than the traditionally male roles discussed earlier. With the threat of physical violence heavily diminished, and the need for silence all but erased, there existed the opportunity for discussion and nuance.

Also not to be forgotten, the development of children, support of the elderly and care for the injured or ill requires an emotional sensitivity and nurturing capacity not necessary in hunting or warring roles. The ability to understand emotional signaling and the shades of meaning in conversation requires a nuanced approach and a capacity to intuit the needs of those in one’s care.

This is very different than the kinetic instincts required for violence and hunting, thus the emotional and cognitive development required to be an effective nurturer travels in different directions.

On top of the nurturing responsibilities, the social aspects of traditionally female roles bear examination. Most of these female dominated activities were accomplished as group activities. When picking berries or harvesting herbs, it’s very easy and usually enjoyable to carry on a conversation.

Ask yourself what a community of women might discuss in a world without the written word, access to endless troves of entertainment, and limited contact outside your small community.

They would very likely spend a great deal of time discussing the community itself. In other words, gossip. While often viewed as a malicious practice today, the practice of gossip was essential for survival in the past. If a man was violent towards the women or children, it would need to be discussed and measures taken to ensure the safety of those most vulnerable.

If there were misunderstandings between members of the community, conversation and discussion over the matter would help to bring about a greater sense of understanding and provide opportunities for conflict resolution before violence became necessary.

If psychological issues arose in a member of the community, the wealth of experience in dealing with them would mostly be held in the congregation of women.

And, let us not forget the mate-selection aspect. Those women with the greatest ability to understand the needs and tendencies of the men who had the greatest capacity to provide and protect would be the likeliest to partner with them. Thus a woman who could intuit the emotional needs and provide them effectively would be the most likely to pass her genetics on to the next generation.

When we combine these two rivers of evolutionary biology and cultural reinforcement, what we get is a very compelling underpinning to the gendered framing of instinct versus intuition.

It follows then that, if these abilities were useful in their respective realms, and that those who held these abilities were the most likely to find a mate that the ability to harmonize with that mate would create the conditions under which the most offspring would arise.

If a man’s violence was extended to a partner or members of his community, for example, then a trait very useful in battle would be counter to breeding success. A partner may die, or seek partnership elsewhere, the community might also sever ties with the offending party through shunning or banishment, and they might also exact punitive measures as severe as execution.

If a woman used her intuitive abilities to manipulate members of the community into acting against their own best interests or the interests of the group, she would be found out and subjected to any number of emotional consequences including shunning, passive-aggressive tactics, social sabotage etc…

Thus, if a strong man capable of violence in battle and skilled in hunting was also able to be caring and complimentary with his parter and within the community, and a woman had great capacity to understand the needs and desires of her partner and the broader community, then their partnership would stand the best chance at long-term survival and thus the highest opportunity for multiple offspring.

In addition, because of the usefulness to, and agreeableness within, the tribe, their offspring would have a broader and deeper level of support within the community than the progeny of those less useful or agreeable.

It should be noted, even after this lengthy explanation of some of the contributing factors to the framework within which the original observation was placed, that these masculine and feminine traits are not solely to be found in men and women respectively, nor are they mutually exclusive.

These traits, like all behavioral traits, exist on a spectrum in each person and are the result of genetics and environmental factors. But, though the truth of nuance cannot be denied, the extremes of these traits are always embodied by the members of the gender to which they are aspected. The most violent and aggressive people are always males, and the most neurotic and social people are always females.

This is what frames the spectrum of these traits and, indeed, what gives them relevancy and meaning. Extremes provide the two points between which the nuance can exist. If there were no counterpoints, there would be no spectrum.

To wrap this up, and return to the original idea, the ability to understand the differences in innate tools of subconscious processing between men and women, and the balance of each of them within yourself and your partner, provides a foundation from which can be build a powerful synergy and a basis for trust.

If you can understand the needs of your family and community present in the aspects of intuition and instinct for which you are wired, and can appreciate and rely upon your partner’s complimentary abilities to bolster the areas in which your capacity is limited, then you can create harmony in your home which will extend into every aspect of your life.

It is my desire that you should begin to seek a deeper understanding of this complex puzzle, and that through this understanding you will gain the ability to live a more fulfilling, loving and productive life.

Thanks for reading.

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