Am I the only one who thought the whole “insult a woman to lure her in” tactic was dead?
SO 2004… amirite?
Well – it seems the trend hasn’t died, much despite its idiotic presuppositions.
And how do I know?
Well…. let me start at the beginning.
I had a date.
Yes,…I suppose you could say that the dry spell was broken, but… I’m not sure that’s such a good thing in light of how this went down. Here’s the scoop.
I met Craig online. He liked my profile and I thought his was decent. I wasn’t sure I’d be physically attracted to him, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons on that front, so we started texting.
By text, he was definitely funny – got my jokes quickly, came right back with his own clever wit, quoted Gin & Juice as well as Calvin… so – ….yeah.
We met for a drink one night before I headed off to an event with a group of friends.
He was sweet! Perhaps a touch nervous, but… who isn’t? We chatted about pub trivia, church, online dating, music, the Heights, etc.
He didn’t ask me too much about myself… but he seemed like a nice guy nonetheless.
But – I just wasn’t feelin’ it. He was cool – nice, funny, chill,…. someone who could hang with my friends and roll with their irreverent jokes and throw in a few of his own.
But not someone I wanted to build a romance with.
Maybe it was lack of physical attraction, maybe there was a depth of character I was looking for that wasn’t there, …I’m not sure.
We hung out once more in a friendly capacity…mostly just me making SURE there wasn’t a spark… and alas…none.
I figured my lack of romantic zeal was obvious, but just to be sure he knew what page I was on, I texted him that while he’s welcome to come hang with my friends any time (we’d established that we frequent some of the same local watering holes already), I didn’t think we were a good match romantically. He seemed jolted and asked if we could talk sometime. So, the next night he called me to hash out the terms.
He was quite frustrated with me for “dissing him” <– his words, not mine…do people still say ‘diss?’ He went into this whole monologue about how he “usually acts like an a#*hole to women – because that’s what they like,” but that he’d seen something in me that was a different caliber and thought he’d try showing his softer side. And apparently that’s the last time he’ll do THAT because it clearly didn’t work – and I don’t know the “real him” (I suppose that means the real him is a jerk?) We had that conversation a few times over, each time with me saying, “well, Craig, I’m really sorry you’re upset… I just didn’t think we had the spark I’m looking for,” and him going right back into his annoyance that I didn’t respond to him the way women usually do and that I didn’t really see the whole version of him which is usually more distant and rude. Um….WT…?
I don’t know what he thought the result of this talk would be… that I would respond to him being a sore loser by giving it another try? Who wants THAT?
He also allowed as how any man would be a FOOL to stay friends with me after being “dissed” (he really likes that word). He said, and I quote, “what kind of a*#hole would want to keep hanging out with you after it didn’t work out?” …..uuuuummm…first of all…that offer got taken off the table once you started being a baby about all of this… and secondly – to answer your question…..most of my guy friends!? I’d say 65% of the male friends in my life are guys who I met through online dating, and while there wasn’t a romantic spark, we realized we really liked each other as friends. They’re now some of the closest friendships I have! (In fact, some of them are reading this right now!)
So, after at least 10 minutes of him awkwardly going on about me not seeing the real him that’s usually much more rude… (no matter how many times I type that out, it still sounds so bizarre…), I finally made my conversational overtures that hint to the end of our talk… and he softened for a moment and said, “wait….there is one thing I want to thank you for.”
Here it is… he’s coming to his senses and wants to end this on a sweet note.
I’m listening, Craig.
“I want to thank you for broadening my horizons.” (awww….sure thing, boo)
“I mean…I’ve never dated anyone nearly as OLD as you.” (aaaaannd….there it is.)
Well, I gotta give him props for changing up his strategy.
The bulk of the conversation was just crude grumbling…but this was a not-so-cleverly disguised, passive-aggressive insult.
MOST of the women he dates are apparently spring chickens, but he went out on a limb to date the old lady with one foot in the grave.
As much as I want to blame this guy, or even the moronic book he probably bought on the bargain self-help shelf, the problem is likely more systemic. Our society encourages the backhanded compliments and a pursuit of superficiality over depth. In an interview with Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, a book about teenage boys and the way we neglect their desire/need for good solid emotionally strong relationships, she says,
“Great young men want to have rich emotional lives, but everywhere they turn, people are forcing them to live the stereotype of being a sexist, not-caring, emotionally disengaged, superficial guy. It’s amazing because we turn around and get angry with them when they go over the line, without acknowledging what we do as adults that stifles and silences and shuts boys up from being emotionally engaged people.”
I’m not saying Craig is off the hook because our culture “made him this way” – he makes his own choices and is responsible for finding and maintaining the kind of relationship he wants. But, we do all play small parts in the bigger picture of how men attract and treat women, by the way we treat our boys/teenagers/men.
So, inasmuch as I have a piece of the responsibility in the way I raise my own son, I plan on helping him grown into a strong masculinity while valuing and cultivating authentic and emotionally-rich relationships with women (once he’s 37, of course…).
A friend and reader suggested I link to an earlier blog post that addresses the differences between men and boys… and how we (women) SAY we want a man, but we ACT in ways that encourage them to stay boys… read it here.
If you want to play with my toy and I’m done with it… the polite thing to do is let you have a turn.
What if my toy is a man?
So many times, I’ve gone out with a guy and within the first few minutes, thought to myself, “he’s not for me. But, man, my friend ____ would love him!” (Yeah… I have a friend who’s name is “______”).
Sure, it’s less than ideal for ME, but I’m hoping what goes around will come around.
And, let’s face it – until the day when my fantasy of dim sum dating becomes a reality
(this is where you wait for each personality trait you want to come around the conveyor belt, pick out all the ones you like and create the perfect mate), this could be a delightful stopgap.
How cool would it be if I could e-mail him the next day, give him my ‘we’re not a good match’ line and then offer up a consolation date? And vice versa. When a guy goes out with me… I WELCOME him coming back to me and saying… “you’re not the girl for me, but I have a buddy who’d be perfect for you!” I mean… if you’ve written, texted, called and had a first date, then you at least have an IDEA of the person’s personality and preferences…even moreseo than someone has after reading an online dating profile. So – in one sense – who BETTER to set you up?
Problem is – (well, two problems) – this involves rejection and stigma.
The rejection piece is hard. It’s life, yes. But, it sucks. Having someone tell you they aren’t into you, BUT… they have a friend…… well, they’ve still just lowered the boom of rejection, no matter how much they softened the blow with an alternative. So – yeah – we’d have to get over that piece of it…
And then there’s the idea rolling around the back of most people’s head… “isn’t this tacky?” A social stigma that we don’t just throw people around until they land on something that sticks.
And yet… what better system for set-ups is there? Ok, ok… close friends and family may take the first spot on the list. …but I dare say that I’d rather be set up by someone I spent a couple of no-spark-feelin’ hours with, than by the ‘robot’ inside Match.com… wouldn’t you?
Plus – think of the permutations. Sure, you can set “I love to camp” Joe up with “I’m outdoorsy” Jane… but there’s also a group option here. Like – I end a date with a guy and throw his stats out to my ready group of single girlfriends. I include his photo and contact information and it’s up to them to scoop him up!? The guy could potentially have dates lined up for the next 3 weeks just by not connecting with me!
One man’s trash….
So – who’s WITH me? I’m not even joking here. If I have a bank of interested parties, I’m all OVER trying this out.
In fact, the next time I go out with a quality guy, but one who doesn’t have that ‘spark’ with me… I’m going to give this a go. AAAaaaand…. write about it.
Now, I just have to find a date…
What is it about dating today that feels so awkward? Sure, I spent more than half my life with one woman who, comes to find out, was nothing more than a cheat and a liar. But why does that seem to automatically place me in the “Damaged Goods” bin?
Are damaged goods defined as a man who placed his wife and their children first? A man that made every decision, both personally and professionally, with them at the forefront? Who today is bouncing back as a single dad with a terrific son in college and a precious daughter in high school who lights up my life with her smile…is he really “damaged goods?”
As my daughter and I like to say to one another, “We didn’t choose this life, this life chose us,” and we are making the best out of our situation. This is our new normal and now my daughter has pushed me back into the dating waters because she wants to learn from me a lesson on regaining happiness. Unfortunately, she seems to have lost faith in happiness and true love after the hell we suffered through.
I know there is a special woman who waits for me and I pray I can find her sooner rather than later. This woman needs to have a smile that can brighten my day, a laugh that can shake a room, and a heart that beats in sync with mine. She can’t be afraid to be who she is, because I seek a woman who can challenge me to be better. A woman who can think for herself and share with me what she wants and accept it when I offer ideas so we can help one another get to where we want to be; who isn’t afraid to show me her true emotional self, and can embrace that from me, because I’m an emotional man. I guess the crux of my point is this: Is the idea of finding your true soulmate too hard to find anymore in this instant age of Facebook, Twitter, eHarmony, and all the others?
Dear “damaged goods,”
First of all, it seems to me like you’re asking two questions here:
- Am I automatically seen as ‘damaged goods’ simply by virtue of the fact that I’m divorced?
- Is it even possible to find the love of your life these days and in this place in life?
I’ll tackle the first one today. …watch for the next one next week
To answer your first question…..…. We are ALL damaged goods!
I think it’s just a matter of HOW damaged you are, if you know it, and how you deal with your own damage. Let me unpack that.
Everyone is imperfect. We all have ‘issues,’ fears, insecurities, …broken places.
Does that make us ‘damaged?’ Perhaps.
But, if so, then we have an equal playing field full of broken people. The better question isn’t “am I ‘damaged goods,’ but, how am I dealing with my personal damage/baggage/hurt.
If you’re still wallowing in bitterness, resentment and anger about your divorce, then – yeah – probably not your time for the dating world.
Because all you will do is cling to the first person who shows you something remotely close to love, whether s/he is the right person or not, and project your broken places onto him or her.
But, if you’ve taken the time and emotional energy to work on yourself – to acknowledge the places where you bring some baggage with you – then you can (hopefully) own your own junk. You’ll also be better at communicating your wants and needs with a potential partner, including letting him/her know in which areas you’re more sensitive/fragile.
As someone with a background in counseling, this is one of those places where I think EVERYONE could benefit from a session or 12 😉 with a licensed therapist. Yes, your BFF is totes amaze… but a neutral party and professional, who is used to dealing with post-divorce emotions, is an invaluable asset to those of us who have gone through the pain of divorce.
So, no – being divorced does not automatically make you less-than or unworthy – it is simply part of your story. A really sad part.
[Side note: Divorce is never a good thing. Please don’t hear me saying that. It is a natural product of a broken world where people are self-serving rather than sacrificial; and chase after momentary pleasures rather than see marriage as a marathon of hard work and surrender. So – yes – being divorced is – by virtue of the fact that it means the end of promises made to love someone for life – bad. I don’t ever want my words to sound like I think divorce is just another option in a large sea of life choices… neutral and without consequence. I think it’s sometimes a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless.]
So, I guess the real issue here isn’t whether you’re “damaged goods” because you have a failed relationship in your past… don’t we all have one or two of those? The better issue for examination is – WHERE is my damage/pain and what am I doing to work on that so I can be a better partner to the next person I love?