Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chapter 1: How We Got to This Point

(Please read the post entitled "Welcome" before reading this one if you have not already)

Some of you may be asking at this point what it is that makes me any kind of authority on the subject of dating. Do I have professional training in date counseling? Do I have a PhD in relationship psychology? Do I have a degree in inter-gender, match-making, hook-up-with-someone-of-the-opposite-sex-ology?

The answer to all of those questions is a resounding no. Which is exactly why you should listen to me.

This all began, as does the usual saga of dating, when I was in high school. It was around this time, oddly enough, that women became very attractive to me. It was also at this time that I stumbled upon something that, while at first I viewed as a curse, now I see as a blessing; that I am a good listener.

If you are a woman and reading this, you are saying to yourself “how on earth could that be bad?? I would love for a man to be a good listener!” And if you're a guy and over thirty, you're saying “oh dude, I'm so sorry.”

It is at this very point of distinction between how the opposite sex views the beginning of a relationship where we begin our journey of unlocking some of the mystery. Because it is here, as I look back with blindingly-accurate hindsight, that I realize something deep and profound about women: they have a really hard time admitting what they want (okay ladies, be patient; there will be time for bashing on men later).

The break down occurs as such: women, by and large, when asked what they are looking for in a man, respond with a combination of traits which nearly always includes “sense of humor” and “good listener.” Yet when the opportunity for a relationship of some kind presents itself with a man who has these traits (case in point, the whimsical yet patient author of whose words you are currently reading), a woman's first thoughts are often that of friendship and nothing more. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the “can we just be friends?” line because, as all of you men know, your heart stops keeping track of time at that moment, thus making it nearly impossible to keep track of the last time that it happened.

I was that guy in high school and for a couple solid years after. That was me. I developed crushes on girls and thought that the answer was to make them laugh and not only listen to what they had to say, but to genuinely care about it, as well. In no way was this the “wrong” thing to do; rather, it was simply what assured me a guaranteed spot in what we now know as “the friend zone.” And, as most guys over the age of about 25 are now painfully aware, once you're in the friend zone, you're probably not coming out of it.

So, a brief history of dating, showing us where we're at before we move forward:

Ancient times (anything before I Love Lucy): See attractive woman, take woman as wife.

I love Lucy era: Meet attractive woman, court said woman by dining, drinking, dancing, and snorting completely legal cocaine. Marry woman, get decent job selling war bonds, come home to freshly cooked food prepared by wife.

Brady Bunch era: Have several children with one wife, decide she is inadequate, acquire second wife who already has children, go to the office every day and stuff, come home to freshly cooked food prepared by wife, maid, and children fighting.

Cosby Show era: Be a doctor, find woman who is a successful lawyer and marry her. Both spouses maintain professional careers and defy all possible odds by raising ridiculously well-adjusted children.

Seinfeld/Friends era: 99% of the population is un-datable and men are all cheaters.

At first when you read that, you may think to yourself that most of what I wrote has more to do with marriage than dating, except for the last part. To which I say: exactly.

See what happened? A couple of things, really. Some very good and some not so much. But how people view the dating scene is decidedly different, and it is mostly from the woman's perspective; men have, by and large, just had to adapt.

A hundred years ago, a woman would – whether she wanted to or not – most likely stay married to the same man until he either divorced her or died. He could be an abusive alcoholic or a womanizer and she would be the “good wife” and make it work. Those days, thankfully, are over. But in their place – in these days of a more liberated woman – we are all left scrambling to figure some things out. Yes, women are more independent and yes they make far more choices; sometimes, for inexplicable reasons, they even choose to be with someone like me.

So how do we adjust? Well, as alluded to above, that is a tough thing to do when women often do not know themselves what it is we should adjust to. This is not an insult to women; it is simply stating facts. As I said, there are many things men are guilty of, and most of them were embodied by Ted Kennedy.

That is, in a nutshell, what this blog is all about; a way to make fun of ourselves for the hypocrisies we commit in the name of this game called dating every day, and a way for the nice guys to feel better about the fact that they're not getting any.

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