Basic Instincts

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

In her Chasing Cars blog yesterday, JMathis described how we as women often spend much of our lives chasing things, approval, and especially love. And sometimes the more it passes us by, the more we seem to yearn it. Why is that?

While men are characteristically the “hunters,” I think women are no less programmed with that predatory, hunting instinct. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you were at a major Macy’s Shoe Sale…or the last time you were at the mall during holiday season…or the last time you were at a wedding with plenty of other twenty-something women and few available single men. Think about the term “Cougars.”

And why is it Mr. Unavailable is so much more appealing to us than Mr. Nice Guy? Is it because Mr. Unavailable is running away from us and therefore, bringing out our base human instinct to pursue?

Perhaps in the end, as much as we think we women have evolved as a society, we are still no better than the “Me Tarzan, You Jane” biology that men use to excuse their sometimes archaic, caveman behavior.

 Or maybe it’s even more complicated than that.

Do you recall the first time you fell in love? Do you remember how your heart soared, how your feet felt light, how your hands felt clammy, and how your stomach felt like it was about to regurgitate your last meal? Wasn’t it the most amazing feeling?

I remember the first time I fell “in love” like that…I remember the unexpected surge of energy, the heart palpitations, my inability to sleep as my thoughts obsessively centered around that one person…it was like I was on drugs or something…

And while most of us have felt that addictive, euphoric overload at one point in our lives, haven’t we all known people who seem to be in love with being in love?  They can’t help it, they tell us…they just love LOVE! Think of JLo…and Kim Kardashian.

And according to psychiatrist Judith Orloff, who wrote two books on the subject, being “in love” can create the same chemical reactions in our body that drugs can cause: As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen how intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people. Why? Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate. The brain in this phase may be much like a brain on drugs. MRI scans illustrate that the area that “lights up” (becomes active) when an addict gets a fix of cocaine is the same area that “lights up” when a person is experiencing the intense lust of physical attraction.”

Wow…the first time I read that, I felt like I finally got a true glimpse into the appeal of cocaine and other drugs…if I could bottle up the feelings I felt around Mr. Perfect and create a pill to replicate the euphoria, the excitement I felt when I was around him, I could make millions!

While lust can eventually lead to love, there are dangers in allowing our hormones to rule our heads as Dr. Orloff goes on to warn us, “In the early stage of a relationship, when the sex hormones are raging, lust is fueled by idealization and projection — you see what you hope someone will be or need them to be — rather than seeing the real person, flaws and all.”

In the words of Joey from the show, “Blossom”: WHOA!

Finally, for the first time, when I think about the crush I had on Mr. Perfect so many years ago, I began to see why I felt I was so addicted to him…because in a way, I truly was. I was addicted to the feelings he evoked in me. And I realize much of my early feelings were based on not who he truly was, but what I imagined him to be in my own imagination…like the novelist I now aspire to be, I created a fictional character in my head.

So to build on JMathis’s analogy, I wasn’t just chasing a car…I was chasing a fictional car! Ah, even better!

So the next time you think you’re “following your heart” and in hot pursuit of the unattainable, your “I just can’t help it” feelings might truly be valid…you now know that you do have science and biology backing your claims. But just also keep in mind, while you may excuse your decisions and behavior as “you’re just following your heart,” it may not be your heart that is truly guiding you…

 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things. Jeremiah 17:9a

Boys, Boys, Boys!!!!!!!!

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Boys. Sigh. My favorite topic between the ages of 13 and 29…even now that I am thirty (cough) something, I still feel like I could write a 10 volume novel on my thoughts on boys. I spent most of my youth trying to decode the male species, only to realize later (Oprah calls them “Ah ha” moments) that it was my own craziness that complicated them in the first place. 

 As a veteran of adolescence and my twentysomething years, my first instinct is to save all you single women the trouble, the hassle, the craziness of boys. But I know it’s futile.

 I want to tell you that you don’t need boys to make you happy or to feel complete. But that’s not completely the truth, is it? After all, two of the biggest things in life— marriage and children seem to require one primary ingredient…BOYS! 

 Sigh. You know the saying. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

 So we might as well talk about them. Lord knows, we don’t have anything else productive to do…and who are we kidding, talking about boys is fun!…Sometimes.

 Boys. Let’s see…(and yes, I know I’m stereotyping here, but bear with me…) You have the Nice Guy. The Too Nice Guy So I Can’t Date You Guy. The Rebel. The Momma’s Boy. The Friend without Benefits. The Friend with Benefits. The I Don’t Know How You Got into My Life but Okay, You’re Here, Now What? Guy. The Rebound Guy. The <fill in your own blank> guy, and (drum roll, please) one of the all-time favorites…or maybe it was just my friends who seemed to like him…The Unavailable Guy.

 Awww, yes. The Unavabilable Guy. You know him. The guy you meet, you think is cute, you think he thinks you’re cute. He gets your number, you wait by the phone anxiously waiting for his call only to wonder a few days later if 1) he lost your number 2) he got eaten by a bear 3) he is nursing his sick mother back to health and that’s why he hasn’t called you. or even more realistically 4) he is secretly part of the CIA and was called oversees in a secret, covert mission that is being overseen by the President himself. No wonder he hasn’t called…he is too busy saving the world from terrorists!

Ah, yes, Unavailable Guy. You wait for him. You make excuses for him. You finally realize that maybe, just maybe he’s not interested in you and that’s why he’s not calling. You promise to put him out of your mind…you go on with your life, and the suddenly WHAM! He calls. Turns out he WAS nursing his sick mom back to health! See, you were right all along.

You go out with Unavailable Guy. Unavailable Guy seems even cuter than when you first met him. (Doesn’t everything look more appealing when you know you can’t have it?) You have a great time at dinner and at the movies. He drops you off safely at home, promising to call you…

And he does. Two months later.

Unavailable Guy. Ah yes. So complicated. So mysterious. So…enough already!

I spent years counseling my friends as they dated Unavailable Guy. Like my friends, I, too, made excuses. Oh, I could tell by the way he accidentally touched your arm at a 20 degree angle, that he’s really into you…   And oh, his mom must have had another bad cold, but I’m sure after she’s better, he’ll call you again. As their best friend, I was in denial of the one truth that stood out like a blaring neon sign…Unavailable Guy was….unavailable…


 And then somewhere in my twenties, I finally saw that episode of Sex and The City. The one that opened my eyes. You know the “He’s Just Not That Into You” episode where the girls are all out for dinner and Miranda is going on and on about this guy she went out with who seems a little distant and is making excuses not to spend time with her. Carrie and Charlotte immediately make excuses like “Oh, it’s probably work…he’s probably just stressed out and will call you when it gets better.” In the background, you see Carrie’s date, shaking his head and stating the obvious: “He’s just not that into you…”  Carrie is horrified and immediately makes excuses for his response, but Charlotte appears to have an “Ah ha” moment when she realizes the truth was staring her in the face all along. Rather than feeling disappointed, she actually looks relieved. It gives new meaning to the phrase that the truth shall set you free. Miranda quips, “If someone had told me that years ago, I could have saved myself years of therapy.”

 As I watched that episode, a lightbulb went off in my head. I got it! I really got it. So that’s why so and so never called?! Wow. So simple. And yet so true. I had spent the better half of my youth talking about boys, trying to decode them, trying to understand them. I could have saved myself years of pointless conversations!

 I immediately called a couple of my girlfriends to share my newfound wisdom. They “ah ha-ed” right along with me, and together we giggled over our silliness over the years. Yes, it was pointless trying to dissect men and their behavior, we decided. If they weren’t calling, if they weren’t setting up dates with us, then they were obviously not into us. They were unavailable, and that was it. There was nothing to dissect or understand. A comfortable, relieved silence hung over the phone as we each let those words of wisdom sink in…we felt wise, empowered…free…but soon that silence stretched until it became downright uncomfortable and awkward….and in minutes, we were grappling with something much, much more perturbing: If we didn’t have boys to talk about and dissect to death, what was there to talk about????  What could we jointly bond together with over a pint of ice cream while on a couch? Or over some glasses of pink cosmopolitans?

Boys. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without talking about them.

Boys, Fathers, Husbands, Boyfriends and Everything in Between

By JMathis

So much of our girlhood and identity as women is defined by one thing:


Last fall, I caught my three year old daughter KISSING (mouth, tongue, saliva) a three year old boy from her class. I just about had a heart attack and thought, “Am I supposed to be talking to her about boys now?”

I tell my husband and he gives me this Daddy’s-Little-Girl is Doing What? look. I shoot him right back down with my evil gaze. “You talk to her about boys! You’re the DAD! She needs to hear it from a guy!! What do I know about what HE’s thinking? All of these shenanigans are clearly from YOUR side of the family!” Honestly, I think he was about to faint from a combination of sheer rage and the sad realization that he will not be the only guy in her life one day.


You either have a crappy father, middle-of-the-road father, or a World’s Greatest Dad, but in all cases, you have only one Heavenly Father. Whether you realize it or not, any boy in your life has to contend with the consequences of how well you have reconciled yourself to both your earthly father, as well as your Heavenly Father.

I have a friend, Tanya, whose dad was pretty much a non-existent louse while she was growing up. Who does she exclusively date? Yup, guys 2 times her age. Daddy issues, anyone?

Then there’s Stacy–the good girl who grew up with the SUPER-strict dad, but the only guy that makes her heart race is The Bad Boy. You come over to her place (again) to console her with a Costco-size box of Kleenex and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, while rolling your eyes thinking, “Umm, hello? Is she ever going to learn??”

Boyfriends, Husbands and the Guy Who’s Just a “Friend”.

One day, one of these little boys becomes a man—a man who swears his life to you, and promises to be with you until the end of days. You take his words at face value, get on the horse and carriage ride in Central Park, and take the plunge…all the while praying feverishly that his daddy taught him right and that your heart won’t get trampled on one day.   

Or, maybe you’re single and you’re dealing with the one guy who always seems to be over at your place. You’re either not sure where the “relationship” is going, or frankly, you don’t want it to go anywhere, but you’re too scared of being alone…maybe you’re just too chicken to tell him to leave?

Yeah, we know a few of those, too.

In this month of June, FemmeFuel tackles boys, fathers, husbands, boyfriends and everything in between. For better or for worse, it’s our version of Cosmo’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Guys Issue: why they make us quiver, why they infuriate us, why they mistreat us, why there are not enough of them around, why they’re just not that into you, and why God wants them in our lives.


Can’t live with them, can’t live without them, so might as well [                        ]…

You fill in the blank. After all, in terms of the mystery of guys, your guess is as good as ours.