September 22, 2011 | 4:58 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
In the dating world, girls spend a lot of time trying to interpret men. And way too much of that time in my opinion is spent going over what he said. Does he not want me to come him with to the company party? Does that mean his mom just thinks I’m a friend? Does he think she’s prettier than me? Does that mean we’re over or he’s going to call in two days? I kind of think the answer to all these questions is guys just say a lot of dumb gibberish a lot of the time. I don’t mean any disrespect to men but they don’t seem to put as much meaning or thought into every word the way girls do when talking about dating stuff. But we transpose our way of communicating on to them and so we’re constantly imbuing every word he said with more meaning than Shakespearian dialogue. Just accept that we live in a casual society where people play fast and loose with their words and men especially say a lot of things they don’t really mean.
Back in February, on my second date with Mr. Dreamboat, when I was in a very vulnerable place figuratively and literally, Mr. DB told me he didn’t want to be in a relationship. I was silent and I remained motionless on his bed, afraid that if I moved my face would reveal my shock and hurt. He went on to say that he had just gotten out of a relationship (I would find out later, that literally the week in between our first conversation and our first date was when he ended it) and he just wanted to be upfront and honest with me. I was fuming inside but didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that, so I said something like ok sure and he took me home soon after. I kissed him goodnight and genuinely thanked him for a great evening so that he wouldn’t get a whiff of any caring inside me whatsoever. I went into my apartment and promptly deleted his phone number from my phone.
Who the hell does he think he is? How dare he say that to me? Anyone would be lucky to have me deign to be in a relationship with them!
I was hurt. We had only been out twice but I knew I liked him and instead of admitting he had the power to hurt me, I chose outrage. And I really lived it up.
I called all my girlfriends the next day. Can you believe this? In the history of my storied dating career, not one single man has ever said that to me! The nerve of this guy!
And why would he assume I want a relationship? I never said I did! I couldn’t possibly have time for a relationship now anyway! I really believed this when I said it because it was bad timing for me and I was so busy but let’s face it, that wouldn’t have mattered if the right guy came along.
One thing I notice about girlfriend advice is whenever it’s being given in a situation like this, we all give the hard line female empowerment rules. We could practically punctuate each sentence with girl power! All my friends did exactly what I would have done in their shoes, saying I should forget him, look for a man that really deserves me, move on, don’t waste my time with a guy that doesn’t treat me right, blah blah blah. Yet, none of us ever live out these girl-powered ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ fantasies. We break our own rules all the time, we just hate to admit it. When was the last time someone said to you, he probably isn’t good enough for you, and you’re just going to get hurt, but give him another chance? And so I must admit, despite my pledge to never speak to him again I saw him the next weekend.
And to what do I attribute this change in heart when he texted me a few days later? My dad. Yeah, it’s surprising to me too.
My dad and I never talked about dating. About once a year he would ask if I was seeing someone and I would answer “no one special” and then we’d talk politics. It just so happened that two days after I deleted Mr. DB’s number, I met my dad for dinner and he asked me his annual if I was dating anyone question. I said that I had met someone that I really liked but I wasn’t sure if I was going to see him again. My dad was surprised to hear that I actually liked anyone and so he asked what had happened and I uncomfortably admitted the truth, he said he doesn’t want to be in a relationship.
Tamara! No man wants to be in a relationship. Until, one day they’re just in one. And especially no 28 year old man wants to be in one. Maybe this is obvious to you, but to me it was kind of shocking. I was going out with 28 year old men all the time - and none of them wanted to be in a relationship? This turned out to be sage advice as four weeks later, Mr. DB was the one saying to me I have no problem committing to a relationship and by the way can I take you to Mexico next weekend?
But at the time, I was really torn – was I just being used by a guy who was clearly telling me he didn’t want a relationship or did I just have to give him a chance and trust that if he really liked me, he’d step up to the plate. The next few weeks were hard. I expended way too much mental energy analyzing it all. Looking back, I wonder if I also was a bit excited by the challenge of it all. Sort of like, he thinks he doesn’t want a relationship, oh I’ll show him. But mostly, I just felt embarrassed about it all.
I reported back to my friends on my dad’s advice. Beth said I don’t believe that. Some men do want a relationship and those are the ones you should be focusing on. But my gay friend Sal was on my dad’s side. Sometimes men just say words that don’t mean anything and girls pay to much attention to them. Maybe this was the key. For the next four weeks, I held onto the advice I had gotten from the men in my life and ignored my girl-power urges. I could feel us getting closer, and our relationship deepening, and I could even feel how much he liked me. I wanted to trust what I felt but everyone kept reminding that if I got hurt it would be my own fault. He warned you he didn’t want a relationship. But maybe he was just being too honest. Maybe on our second date he didn’t think he wanted a relationship but maybe he was just waiting for the right person.
It was hard and it hurt my pride. But it made me realize something about the fundamental differences in the way men and women communicate. Communication doesn’t come as naturally to men as it does to women. So in this world where we keep coaching men to talk more and communicate more, some men communicate by over-communicating. In other words, by getting it all out there, he will get his point across eventually and no one can say he wasn’t honest. Women’s words in a relationship are motivated by feelings and we usually have a clear purpose for saying what we do. Men are more ready to just let words out without thinking about them. Unfortunately, that’s why sometimes when they say they’re going to call, they don’t mean it. It’s just easier to let those words roll off their tongue than explain why they’re not going to call. So cut them some slack. Stop analyzing what they said. And thank god men don’t spend the same time trying to figure out what we really mean when we say it only cost around 100$ or you’re only my third or I used to date him but it was never that serious. Some words are just better left unexplored.
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