It’s been a long time since I was in the dating pool, and perhaps the unique Doppler shift of memories allows for some pretty massive generalizations, but… why do modern, single guys suck so bad? Before you write emails bursting with righteous inignation, I speak as someone who, prior to the year 2000, was an egregious offender of everything I’m about to describe. Simply put, men in today’s subset of “single, heterosexual, available, educated, and socially viable guys” are, by and large, emotionally retarded, lazy, non-committal, morally fungible, irredeemably flaky BUFFOONS.
I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said plenty of times before, especially by girls trying to comfort their friends in a locked bathroom, but the perpetual adolescence of our culture (while super fun – guilty as charged) seems to be raising a cohort of guys aged 22-44 who desperately need their ass kicked.
All the ironic T-shirts and skater shoes in the world can’t arrest the flow of time, but these guys are managing to have the romantic attention span of a 12-year-old while inhabiting a 33-year-old’s body. They start off each relationship firing on all pistons, and may actually believe they’re in love, before the cold silences creep in, the weekends without a call, ending with the mea culpa that either begins or ends with “I think I’m emotionally damaged” (with the unspoken rejoinder “…and thus can date you no further.”)
Or it ends even weirder, for no apparent reason and no audible explanation, leading women to look back on the calendar and wonder when the fuck it happened. Either way, he’s on to new hunting grounds, plying his would-be mistresses with the same indie bands or vaguely-rehashed dialogue that has worked so well for the last decade. Any confrontation with these men fill them with self-loathing and guilt, for sure – in many ways, they are emotionally damaged – but hell, they never promised you anything. It’s a big, bad world out there, and you’re supposed to grow some skin.
The worst offenders are those who used to be dorks – and I mean actual dorks, not the vaguely popular kids who felt the occasional pangs of “nobody understands me” when they were 13. True dorks are the ones who lived lives of silent futility, keeping to themselves and their passions until they got to college, where they blossomed like a tropical fern. Not having had the usual clandestine smooch at summer camp, they discover dating only after high school and start emotional puberty at 21 (and continue thusly for fifteen years).
Here’s the thing, men: if you don’t want to have kids, that’s cool. Having kids is hard and occasionally you have to get up really early. But for the rest of you, having a child (or several) is easiest within the construct of a good relationship with another person, presumably the mother, and that takes time. And here’s the other secret: scientists are curing baldness and developing bionic knees, but when it comes to women’s fertility, there is a definite “last call” that isn’t getting substantially later.
You know that 36-year-old chick you were dating for 18 months because she was quite pretty, but then you started thinking someone else was really hot, and then you got really bogged down at work, and then there was that trip you took, and then you kinda sorta broke up? You just wasted a year and a half of her eggs, dude.
Yes, I know. We all have to experiment with all kinds of people in order to know who will truly make us happy. And we all need to get our ya-yas out and go nutzo for a while. And nobody likes to feel hemmed in, or stuck, and being with the wrong person – and marrying them – is a lifelong jail for two. But at some point, guys, we have become ridiculous.
And you women? Stop fucking egging them on! They’re able to get away with this behavior because you were so goddamn easy to seduce, first emotionally, then physically. You are so attracted to people who are attracted to you, but in doing so you abdicate your entire personality. Oh, and if the guy gives you a disclaimer, something along the lines of “I’m not really capable of a relationship”, I would go ahead and believe him. Just because a man is being refreshingly honest, doesn’t mean he’s willing to change. He’ll use that line against you a year later.
Not to be all The Rules™, but if I were a woman, this is what I’d do:
1) CURATE. Spurn all advances from guys, even if you hadn’t dated in months and months. SELECTIVELY choose one or two. Or boldly go after someone who seems interesting and funny, even if they haven’t made the first move. If they refuse, that’s their loss.
2) CALM. When you first start dating the guy, no sex. Seriously. Don’t even talk about it, just send him packing. Continue to do the things that make you awesome – don’t cancel trips, don’t arrange special time for him. Make him understand that you have your own life and can certainly be happy without him, which is true. Make yourself the train – he’s just a passenger. This is essential! Guys are so fucking stupid that they need to be fooled into perceiving the value you possess anyway. Plus, these dudes have had so many women crying on the phone to them – for the love of god, don’t EVER play into that dynamic.
3) COOL. If it’s the right guy, you will find yourself longing for him, and you will feel this subtle game of avoidance has become largely intellectual and stupid. Too bad. The point is to have enough shared history – a few months at least – to lift this guy over most of his early-relationship potholes, and guess what? He may actually be developing a genuine respect for you. After getting what he wants from women for so long, he needs to be cured; neurological pathways have to be changed, habits discarded.
4) COITUS. The first act of sex should be random and unannounced, like the best pop quiz in history.
5) COUNTER. At some point in the first six months, the creeping domesticity of your relationship will cause a full-scale freakout in your man. He will talk about wanting an “open relationship” or how he still feels damaged, or how he should really be spending more time at his place, or how he wants to be with his guy friends, or worse, he’ll do some stupid thing one night with another woman just to prove to himself he can still pull. Yes, he is made of such weak-ass Jello that he actually feels these things and isn’t kidding. Let him talk, let him spew forth.
At the end of his episode, counter with “Wow, you are really boring” and go see a movie. Don’t think about him for a few hours. A few days later, when he starts to talk about more caveman longings that you don’t understand, I would suggest actually yawning, followed with “wait, I missed that last part, I was drifting off.”
If he continues on this tack, it might be time for a weekend trip with some of your girlfriends. Either way, keep being the awesome person you were before you met. He will come around, and in doing so, actually mature before your eyes.
6) COLLUDE. Keep it organic. Ask for what you want, no apologies. Be who you were, and who you wanted to be. You are both the ride the other wants to take.
You might read all this and think “that was never me” or “my relationship happened totally different than that” or “what a stupid parlor trick.” Sure, sure. You were lucky. It was all so much easier, perhaps. But here’s the thing: guys must learn adult love, they do not come by it naturally. Everything in modern culture is engineered to delay that lesson as long as possible. They are made of flimsy material, and often, need to be tricked, coaxed or prodded into being a real person.
Man, we could sure spear a running bison from two hundred yards, though.