You’re a Jerk. It’s all my fault?
The post last week about women’s expectations of fantasy/romance (you can read it here) has sparked quite the feedback, especially from my male readers. Totes interesante.
In particular, my friend and blog-reader I referred to in the post as being a real-life romantic, wrote to me about a theory of his, that WOMEN create the unromantic men. Interesting, no?
So, I decided to post our sparring here for you to read. Enjoy. And feel free to weigh in with your opinions!
For far too long, women have claimed they mature earlier than men. When it comes to relationships, I posit a contrary hypothesis. Men learn in their early teens that sensitivity is rewarded with rejection. Middle and high school girls enjoy the bad boys. They cling to guys who treat them poorly. Guys learn quickly to deal with heartbreak and – perhaps through survival instinct – that an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure.
Sarah asked whether women’s expectations have been skewed by romantic comedies. I prefer to believe that women are capable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality. Instead, women are reaping the rewards (or consequences, as a matter of perspective) of years of male training.
Here’s a muscular analogy in honor of Sarah. Think of men in the comfortable colloquialism piled on us for ages. Men are dogs. In a sense, this is true. We have been trained to salivate for the bells women ring. Our greatest desire is to be happy with a woman. To achieve that end, we strive for attention. When we fail, we observe those who succeed. When women/girls provide attention to the bad boys and ignore the nice guys, we notice. We learn. We adapt.
The next time the bell rings, we salivate in the desired way, expecting the reward. It works. The behavior is reinforced. This pattern continues with reinforcement of those behaviors through high school and college. By the time women realize they want something different, those dogs are trained.
Not wanting to accept the responsibility for their actions, women blame men’s behavior on movies, porn, immaturity, selfishness, or not being raised right. The dogs continue to salivate at the sound of the bell. Women, now desperate to find something more tangible, provide rewards for less than they want – further reinforcing the behaviors they no longer desire.
Women begin to adapt. The security of a relationship being their reward; lowering their expectations, their salivation. Men continue to observe.
Today’s moral, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Brad… may I?
I wholeheartedly agree that much of what women complain about in men – we have only to blame ourselves for. We have contributed to the unfortunate cycle by settling for less than what we truly want, or rewarding the sort of behavior that feeds on insecurities rather than cultivates confidence.
But… (and there’s always a but in this contrarian mind of mine)… in the same way that not all men drink the kool-aid of high school conditioning, not all women are drawn to jerks. In
fact, there is a large contingent of us who didn’t even DATE in high school because the inverse of your theory was at play.
Guys want to date the girls who don’t have self-esteem and will LET themselves be abused. And girls like me – who were raised in a healthy home and taught that our value lies in our character – don’t get asked out. So….which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Sure – high school boys look around and see weak-willed women swooning at a guy who has the emotional intelligence of a doorknob and so they slowly morph into a bad boy archetype. But, aren’t women (girls) taught the same thing – just mirrored back? We look around at the girls who get asked out and it’s the ones who are throwing up in the bathroom between classes to keep their waists thin, who are panting at the scraps of attention thrown their way by a self-centered tool, and who laugh at the jokes that subversively make fun of them – not standing up for themselves because that would probably push jerky-boy away.
I’m not sure what the answer is (not that I don’t have lots of THOUGHTS about how these things begin in our families of origin, experiences, etc.). But I do know that unilaterally blaming women for men acting like trolls can’t be right…
I mean, c’mon – sugar and spice and all that!? (wow… who’s thirsty for tea?)
Of course there are exceptions, but on the whole, human beings develop behaviors that are rewarded. The problem now is that women in the dating pool are competing for extremely limited resources. You addressed this in a previous post to your readers. Ignoring exceptions, I see two possibilities:
You’ve made your bed. Lie in it. The pool of men has been shaped by your hands ladies. Accept the results and move forward. I suggest treating the sculpture the way you would children’s artwork. It isn’t pretty, but you find the good in it and focus there. Most guys are still worthy of refrigerator magnets.
Take your ball and go home. So you don’t want to face the results of your creative efforts? Fine. Enough women will choose to accept the flawed men in the dating pool – providing no reason for the men to change. Stay home and complain about how terrible the men are “out there”.
Enjoy the “Spinserthood of the Traveling Rants”, available now in paperback.
So, there you have it folks… what do YOU think?
Brad Culbertson has been teaching elementary education in Florida for ten years. His two children, Kendall, 14, and Gabriel, 12, and his love, Jaime, are his greatest passions. He has published a book of poems dedicated to her available here and he is currrently writing his first novella. Sneak a peek here.