However, it all seems to be in vain. They all just end up either dating or eventually marrying another version of their mother -- and then the independence we once found attractive begins to disappear.
I know, I know, everyone thought Freud was a nutcase, but ask any woman who's ever been involved in any long-term relationship, and she'll wholeheartedly agree -- men are just adult babies awaiting age regression therapy.
God knows, men seem fairly independent when you start to date them. You go over to their home and remark on how well kept the place is. You open the refrigerator and are pleasantly surprised to see it actually filled with something besides Wonder Bread and Cheese Whiz. Things are starting out pretty well. He may actually even know how to cook, if you're lucky.
Then as the relationship progresses, you start to notice little oddities that you overlooked during the first few inspections -- fragments of origin-unknown hairs in the bathroom sink, clothes piled on top of the hamper that never quite make it to the inside, and leftovers in the refrigerator that start asking about when their 401K program kicks in.
However, one day, all of the independence your new man once had, and that you found initially attractive, is finally chiseled away as he awakes one morning and asks, "Honey, can you iron my shirt for me?" This question makes you get up like a programmed robot and grab the iron and the starch even before you grab coffee. After all, it's a nice, romantic gesture to pitch in.
In time, you soon discover that the "Can you iron this-and-that" question eventually precedes "Can you sew this back on for me?" or "It would really help out if you'd start dinner before I get home."
The next thing you know, a few months later, you're standing over a laundry tub scrubbing skid marks out of his underwear. That's when the revelation hits: this relationship is getting way too comfortable.
Women often find themselves maintaining two households instead of one, and realizing they have a baby on their hands and never quite recalling giving birth. It's enough to make a girl want to grab a beer out of the fridge, pour it into a nursing bottle with a rubber nipple, and hand it to her guy the next time he screams he's thirsty.
If we come home from work and discover that our guy has broken out a saucepan and chilled a bottle of wine, it's enough to make a girl swoon. However, when we return the favor, it's considered our role as women -- nothing to be impressed about.
It makes you wonder where it all starts.
When I was a sophomore in college, I had a fiance named Chris whose family absolutely baffled me. Chris was the third of his parents' four sons. My first weekend at their home, his mother endlessly griped how she was an overworked housewife, and warned me against having four children, especially boys (like I would have a choice), as they were the laziest humans on the planet. Then during our dinner on my first night there, I watched five grown men run the woman crazy with "get me this" and "get me that." I got tired just watching her; no wonder she always ate her dinner cold. Later on that same weekend, I learned that Chris' two older brothers' wives followed the same protocol.
You can imagine the dead silence that filled the room when Chris asked me to get him a refill of coffee -- with the pot sitting less than two feet from him -- and I remarked, "Sweetie, it's much closer to you than me, you should be able to get that." I still don't know if the family was more shocked by my telling him to get the coffee himself, or by the fact that he actually got up and did it.
Women often fall into the traps of domestic servitude; oddly, it doesn't seem to matter whether we're sharing the same residence with our mates or not. We may be genetically inclined to be caregivers and nurturers, but all of the mothering that some men expect in a relationship can be the very thing that breaks it apart.
In general, women love to do things for other people, especially for the ones we love. What makes a difference is whether our gestures are generated by love or simply out of expectation; one will make a relationship grow stronger, and the other will cause it to erode. Most women have no trouble performing labors of love, but laziness tends to shorten our fuses.
The next time you and your partner both return home from work. . .it's always thoughtful to remember who's been making most of the dinners lately and straightening up the home.
There is nothing more sexy or attractive than sharing.