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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Perhaps Time For a Dose of Love a la Russe

At the risk of provoking a spate of angry missives from my compatriot sisters-in-arms, I would have to admit that, if I were a Western man in Moscow, I would go Russian.


In the age-old battle of the sexes, Russian women seem to have an advantage over their more militant American counterparts. With lower expectations and a higher tolerance, they can make even an ordinary Western man feel like a king. Russian women have been spared three decades of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and they read Cosmopolitan instead of Ms.


American women, on the other hand, are torn between the Cinderella complex and the Peter Pan syndrome and are nurtured by supermarket self-help guides that berate them for loving too much or choosing too foolishly. They tend to be critical, demanding and downright bitchy. I should know.


I am basing this admittedly biased perception on a series of conversations I have had with women friends over the past few weeks regarding my latest romantic agony.


A new beau, after swearing eternal love and fidelity, went on a two-week business trip and neglected to communicate with me even once. Since I knew that he would be in the immediate vicinity of a former love, I was enraged, in pain and very vocal.


I got a lot of support from my American friends. One sweet southern belle, who was visiting me with her husband, listened to my diatribe, reached over to her man, took his hand and said, tenderly, "If you ever go away for over a week without calling me, don't bother coming back." He smiled, a bit nervously, I thought.


Another friend, Sarah, who was in a similar situation, offered invaluable assistance:


"I'll steady your hand while you pull the trigger," she said simply.


But Russians saw it differently.


"So he's busy. Just calm down. Men hate it when women are angry," said Nadya soothingly.


"Well, I hate it when he goes off, probably with another woman, and doesn't call!" I wailed tearfully.


She looked at me in genuine surprise, tinged, I think, with pity.


"Why on earth would you ever expect a man to understand the way you feel?" she asked. "They are limited creatures. They are totally absorbed in themselves and can't hold too many things in their minds at any one time."


My friend Tanya the doctor was similarly philosophical. "Men are helpless," she said. "You have to be the smart one. What if he is with this other woman? The strongest woman will win."


"If he's with this other woman I'll break his neck!" I replied, but she just shook her head at my intransigence.


I guess, given a choice between my temper and the more accepting nature of many Russian women, most men wouldn't hesitate. You can't blame them.


I knew one American male, a clean-cut, Midwestern type, who swore that he would adhere to a "made in the U.S.A." policy.


"I like a girl who can feel comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt," he told me.


I saw him six months later at a party. His Russian girlfriend was, it is true, clad in the American "uniform." But the jeans were sprayed on, the tee was sequined, and she completed her ensemble with five-inch heels.


I'm going to ask Nadya for fashion tips.