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Cracking the cavemen dynamic


Gender roles of the ancient past ensured the continuity of the tribe. DESPINA NICOLA looks at what this means for modern relationships

Deep down, we all have the same ancient instinct, our basic, primal side that wants to protect and provide for us. There is also a script for the bold cavewomen too! Her role is be to the gatherer, she collects all that is needed to satisfy her family, ensuring safety for their tribe.

Our caveman instincts are similar to how animals react to things without thinking. These instincts kick in when we sense danger or a chance for something good. They make us feel strong urges and cause our bodies to respond automatically. Sometimes, we act on these instincts without even knowing it.

But this can be risky as impulsive actions may lead to mistakes or unintended consequences. It’s important to be aware of our instincts and think before acting.

These cavemen attributes manifest differently in both genders. Men, much like focused hunters, exhibit a single-minded commitment to a goal, often screening out irrelevant information. Women, on the other hand, diffuse their awareness, scanning possibilities, sometimes requiring moments of gathering the supplies to care for her family.

Men want to be the hero. They need to have the role of the provider, protector and be the person responsible for creating a better tomorrow. However, misconceptions flood, with some women believing men are just hairier versions of themselves, and this leaves men feeling misunderstood.

In current society, many women have adopted the attitude that any job men can do a woman can do better as there are not as many physical labouring jobs for the hunter.

This means that women have taken many men’s tasks and left them feeling useless. As a result, men may feel emasculated and their testosterone drops and they are unable to perform not only in life generally, but also in bed. Yet, all men need is to be trusted, to execute their hunting abilities and not feel monitored or judged by women.

Imagine John, a focused software developer. When he’s engrossed in a coding task, he operates as a hunter, exhibiting heightened sensitivity and focus, driven by a surge of testosterone. Sarah, his wife and colleague, is more open to opportunities, committing to specific goals but exploring alternative options.

Misunderstandings arise when Sarah isn’t immediately committed to John and she questions his abilities, as she is looking at other methods of coding which may work better. This causes tension in their family and professional dynamic. She gets overwhelmed by his frustration and distances herself by stonewalling John and turning to her friends. John, who is a hunter has chosen a single focused problem-solving task, so opening up other alternative options confuses him.

Another example is when John leaves work, he struggles with transitioning from hunter problem solver mode to relaxing mode when he returns home. Meanwhile, as a gatherer, Sarah finds comfort in fending for her family’s needs. She likes to gather the family together and discuss the day’s events, and she conserves energy when she is able to unload her worries and examine them with John. She feels frustrated when their established routines of connection are disrupted. Their different approaches reflect remnants of survival strategies, as the cavewoman needs security from the hunter, and the hunter needs to replenish his testosterone by relaxing.

Gatherers like Sarah focus on community and family, viewing problems as opportunities for the tribe to come together. Sarah organises John’s life, relying on his energy for survival, because in the past and in the cave without his support she would feel exposed. Frustrations arise as John feels overwhelmed by Sarah’s attention, so she looks elsewhere, seeking support from their mutual friends.

After a day of hunting in the corporate jungle, John needs downtime to build testosterone. His classic transitional routine involves unloading tools, changing into comfortable clothes, and having moments of doing nothing. On the other hand, Sarah, with the help of being born with more estrogen than John, has the advantage of faster brain utilisation. She seamlessly multitasks and transitions between home and business effortlessly. She cannot comprehend why John is so distant.

Exploring how cavemen and cavewomen interact helps us understand how we behave and relate to each other. We need to appreciate how the caveman and woman have differences but can work together, their story has lasted for many generations. We need to relish the dance between the genders, value the roles, and let both our basic instincts and thoughtful decisions lead us through the interesting drama of life.

The key lies in enjoying letting both primal instincts contribute, then consider them as choices to guide us through the complexities of modern relationships.

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