Archive for the ‘men’ Category

I mentioned in an earlier post that, despite my misgivings, I’d registered for an online dating service last month.  I was a bit dismayed by many of the messages I received, but there was one in particular that struck me immediately and has become a sort of shorthand for all of the inappropriate comments strange and nearly-strange men make.

Oh, there are many worse messages out there, but there’s a distinction in my mind.  At a certain level of vulgarity, I have to assume that it’s intentional, that a man is looking for something fast and cheap and wants to make that clear from the beginning.  But this type of message seems different; it’s so common that I can only think of two possible explanations:  there are more truly vile men out there than I want to believe, or they think they’re being complimentary.

The first message in this series had the subject line “sexy”, and the entire text of the message was “your sexy babie”.

I’m a writer by trade, so the first thing that struck me was that the message was three words long and two of those words were misspelled.  When I got past that to the substance (using the term lightly), the whole thing just got worse.

I’m not one of those women who takes offense at words like “baby” (when they’re spelled correctly), but I do believe they should be reserved for people you…well…know.  And I’m certainly not opposed to a man telling me he thinks I’m sexy if a) he thinks that and b) I know him and c) he’s basing his impressions on more than a thumbnail headshot.  Coming from a complete stranger who knows nothing about me, it can only mean one of two things:  either he says it to every woman he contacts because he thinks that’s what we want to hear, or his criteria for “sexy” can be applied with a brief glance at a couple of photographs and two paragraphs about me.  In either case, he’s not a guy I want in my life.

I’m sure there are women who are flattered by that kind of comment and respond positively, and I was going along happily believing that men like this were simply looking for a certain kind of woman with those comments and probably finding them.

When the same man sent me “your sexy honie” and then “your hot sexy!!” (with no apparent recognition that he’d contacted me before), my theory was supported.

But just about the time I thought all was well again and was just cheerfully deleting those messages without a second thought, Mike went and told this woman he barely knew in an online forum that he’d like to see her under his Christmas tree.  Rocked my world, I gotta tell you.

See, if I’d seen that comment from a stranger, I’d have written him off pretty quickly. It’s not much of a leap to make assumptions about a guy who sees a woman as something that should be wrapped up and presented to him–especially a woman he doesn’t know anything significant about.  I’d think “tacky” and move right along.

But I know Mike.  I couldn’t make those assumptions, because I know who he is.  I know that he’s a great friend and a great dad, that he’s looking for a serious relationship and that he takes fidelity very seriously.  I know he’s smart and funny and creative, and that he takes pride in his work and feels strongly about doing what he’s said he’s going to do.  In short, he’s exactly the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to write off on a dating site or in some other public forum.

I shot off a quick comment to him about that line being pretty much on a par with “your sexy babie”, and damn if he didn’t defend it all over the place.  I’m not going to get into the details of his point of view–I’m sure he’ll do that himself.  But the bottom line is that it had never crossed his mind that the comment might send any of the messages that it sent to me.

That discussion, and both of our subsequent conversations about the issue with other friends of both sexes, have me thinking that this is an area in which there’s a real perception gap, and one that might have decent men cutting off whole huge sectors of the population as dating options and women ruling out guys who will never know what they might have done wrong.

Photo credit: xenia from morguefile.com


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Okay, Mike, let’s say for a minute that I buy your rationale.  I don’t–I think that the vast majority of the time the reason a man (or woman) holds back is that he (or she) doesn’t want to commit.  Maybe that’s because of where he/she is in life and maybe it’s the specific person in question, but for the most part I think that people do what they want to do.  But I’m going to go with it, for the sake of argument, because I think that your theory has a fatal flaw even if you’re right. Because any relationship founded on machinations is doomed to fail, and that’s what you’re describing.

Anyone who is trying to guess the right thing to do to “get her to like him” or to keep her interested or send the right message isn’t being genuine–and I think that any relationship not based in honesty is completely pointless.  I kind of think you believe that, too.

So in the scenario you describe, we have a person who isn’t willing to be himself, isn’t willing to act naturally, isn’t willing to take a risk, yet really does want a relationship.  But any healthy grown-up knows that you can’t form a relationship by playing people and manipulating them, by showing what they want to see instead of who you are.  So that only leaves us with two possibilities for the guy who is attempting that guessing game, doesn’t it?  He’s either not a healthy grown-up, or he knows what he’s doing can’t possibly lead to a meaningful relationship and he’s doing it anyway.

So it seems that you’re suggesting that we gals should cut a guy some slack when he acts distant and disinterested because really he might be a great guy who just doesn’t want to show it because he doesn’t know how to act, is trying to guess how to get the reaction he wants from us, and is getting bad advice from his friends.

But, geez…I almost think intentionally distant is better than what you’re describing.  The last thing in the world I want is to be with a guy who doesn’t trust his own judgment, isn’t willing to take a risk, and consistently goes to the wrong people for advice.

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I originally wanted to call this post “Lying Sucks”, but I figured that Mike had more or less conveyed that with his story about “Glitter”.  There are vast differences of opinion on the issue of lying, but there doesn’t seem to be a gender divide.  It seems to me more a question of character.

As Mike pointed out, giving someone a fake phone number or saying you’ll call when you have no intention of ever seeing or talking to that person again doesn’t spare her feelings (or his)–it only spares you the discomfort of being around when her feelings (or his) are hurt.  It’s a purely selfish move because it doesn’t do a thing for the person who is being lied to except draw out the pain, but it does a lot for the liar.  Not only does he escape seeing the other person hurt by the truth, but he manages to make himself feel virtuous by reassuring himself that he “let her down easy”.


Many men, when the lying discussion arises, pull out the old “Do these pants make me look fat?” discussion.  Every man I’ve ever heard this from is entirely confident in his assumption that a woman who asks that question is simply looking for reassurance, and does not want the truth. Do these pants make me look fat?As a woman, I’m here to tell you:  that’s just stupid.  If I ask a question like that, it’s because I’m concerned; I think there might be a problem and if there is, I want to correct it before I go out.  If you “tell me what I want to hear”, all you’ve done is set me up to go out looking bad. There’s nothing kind or loving about that.

Consider a slightly different but very closely related scenario:  you’re out to dinner with your wife and she asks you whether or not she has spinach between her teeth.  She does, in fact, have a big, dark wad of bunched up leaf right between her two front teeth.  Do you tell her about it so that she can remove it, or do you smile and say, “No, honey, you look great,” and let her walk around for the rest of the evening flashing spinach at everyone she greets?

Answers may vary, of course, but we both know that if the answer is the latter, you’re a jerk.  You might be having some good laughs or you might just be a coward, but it’s clear to everyone that you should have told her.  Why would you imagine that the pants question would be any different?

Photo credit: aleks from morguefile.com

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I’ve never bought into the whole “men and women communicate differently” thing. The only time I’ve ever run into that kind of problem has been when men tried to anticipate the right way to communicate with a woman and came up with something convoluted that bogged us all down.

I definitely agree that the message transmitted and the message received isn’t always the same, but that’s a much more universal problem than you suggest. And, I suspect, it has more to do with people’s tendency to focus only on what they’re looking for and to perceive things in terms of their own experience than it does gender differences.

It’s the same kind of narrow view that makes us all willing to dismiss one another if something doesn’t “click” in the first fifteen minutes over coffee, isn’t it? We “know” what we’re looking for and so we can’t see anything else, no matter how enchanting it might turn out to be if we were looking. And, of course, on a dating profile the vast majority of relevant information is missing–there are no visual cues, no tones, no body language, no simple sense of a person, no ability to gauge how a person interacts spontaneously rather than how he presents himself when he has all the time in the world to sculpt the right message.

One person might put up a profile picture of herself with her dog because she’s crazy about the dog. Another might do the same because she thinks it’s a very flattering picture. Some people use dogs as props, because they’re uncomfortable just standing there posting for a picture. Some may be insecure and use their dogs as buffer. There are probably many other possible explanations as well…many of which probably don’t bear reading into.

Whatever the reasons, though, they are (like most things) not gender-specific. Lots and lots of men post pictures of themselves with their dogs. Or motorcycles.

Or horses.

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I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with meeting for coffee, and you know it. I’m talking about the significant number of men (maybe women do this, too–I never see their profiles, so I don’t know) who explicitly announce that they want to meet for coffee so as not to waste their time on someone with whom they lack chemistry.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I actually find this phrase to be the most useful thing a person can say in his profile. Right away I know that:

-He considers talking with any woman he doesn’t want to screw a waste of time;
-He’s so shallow that he thinks if he doesn’t want to screw a woman the moment he lays eyes on her, he never will; and
-He’s enough of a neanderthal that he doesn’t even realize he’s just told the women of the world that if they’re not good meat, they’re not worth acknowledging.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that much of what’s good in life comes as a complete surprise, so I try to be open and take things (and people) as they come, but these guys are an exception. The simple announcement that it’s a waste of time to talk to someone if it’s not likely to end in sex is really all I need to know about a person to get far, far away.

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I’m a middle aged single Dad, raising a teenage daughter who lives with me. I’m a Dad by choice but the single (and middle aged) part…not so much. So, finding time to meet women who are dating prospects is challenging. Online dating sites seemed to be the way to go. I could meet women in my spare time and not cut into my “father and daughter time.”

Dating can be a fun and sometimes daunting task. Getting advice from my male friends is valuable but getting advice from a woman is priceless. So, I decided to enlist the help of my friend Tiffany in my quest to find a mate. The only downside to this is that Tiffany doesn’t actually date women so we don’t always see eye-to-eye. Obviously there are times when drawing on my own experiences with women seems to be a better approach.

It occurred to me that other people may find our conversations about Life, Love and Online Dating informative or, at least, entertaining. So, we decided to turn our emails into a blog and continue our discussion in a more public forum.

The advantage to this is that we can get feedback from our readers and hopefully Tiffany will see that there is a huge difference between the experience of being a woman and the experience of dating one.

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We were in the middle of an email exchange about relationships when my friend Mike said, “We should be having this conversation on a blog.” It was an obvious diversionary tactic, designed to distract me from the fact that he was Entirely Wrong About Women, but I took the bait anyway.

Dating can be tough, it can be wonderful, it can be funny as hell. We’re both pretty sure (and this may be the only thing you see us agree on) that there are a lot of other people out there with the same confusing, disturbing or just downright hilarious experiences, and that they’re probably engaging in similar conversations right now.

Besides, I figured that if we brought the dialogue out into the open, more women would be able to get involved in the conversation and help me gently set Mike straight.

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