Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Standards

I’m sure you’ve all heard about Steve Harvey’s new book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”. If you haven’t, Google it and read the reviews. Now, before I go into my personal thoughts on the book, I gotta self-disclose that I’m no fan of Steve Harvey. For the most part, I think he comes across as a corny old man who’s trying to be cool, and that irks the hell out of me. But I kept hearing great things about this book and I decided that I’d better check it out for myself before I passed judgment. After all, corny, un-cool old men can be a wealth of relationship knowledge. My dad often says that he learned everything he knows about sex and relationships from his days working as the shoe shine boy in his older brother’s barbershop. He said those old dudes really had the game figured out.

So, anyway, I go and pick up the Steve Harvey book and I enjoyed it SO much that I devoured it in less than three days. It’s a really quick read. I only read it on the train going to and from work, which is about an hour of reading a day, and I finished it in 3 workdays. I read fast… always have, but even I was surprised at how quickly I flew through this book. And mostly, it was because the book was SUPER entertaining and highly-informative. I’m a relationship junkie, so I’ve read just about every trendy relationship book that’s ever been released. “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”? Read that from cover to cover at approximately 13 years old. “He’s Just Not That into You”? It’s still a favorite. I keep it around and review chapters over and over again, especially in case of relationship/dating emergency. “Why Men Love Bitches”? Copped that, too. Read it in a matter of days, and really loved some of the tricks and tips the author shares. “Why Men Marry Bitches”? Yep, bought that one, too! Although I didn’t love it as much as I did the first one.

And, now, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”. The title itself is intriguing. Why would a LADY want to think like a MAN? Well, it makes sense, really. If you’re interested in building a solid relationship with a man, you’ve got to know how he thinks. What IS going on in those little minds of theirs? Steve claims that men aren’t that complicated… and I guess he’s right because he claims to have captured everything a woman needs to know about a man (and more) in 15 SHORT chapters.

Anyway, I learned a lot from reading the book, and I think you will, too. One of the most important thing that I learned was that men respect standards, and so, I need to get some. This is an important lesson and one that I think that many women are afraid to put into practice.

The truth is… I already do have standards and I in the past have not been afraid to make them known. For example, I was dating this guy about a year ago. He was cool. I liked him and was interested in taking things further with him, but at my own pace, of course. The thing that bugged me about the guy was that he repeatedly asked me to spend the night at his house. Now, I’m the type of woman that likes to go out, and I am clear about that from jump. I hate it when a man suggests early on in our dating relationship that we spend “quality” time together in my house or his house. Blockbuster nights, or – in this day and age – OnDemand or Netflix nights – are nights to be shared with someone with whom you’ve built some sort of relationship… they are not appropriate for a wo/man that you are trying to woo.

So, I casually deflect this dude’s invitations by making up mad excuses about why I couldn’t stay over on a particular night. Why did I make stuff up? Mainly because I was afraid that if I laid out any rules, he would think I was lame and walk away.

This guy was persistent about an overnight visit until finally one day I say, “Listen, I just have a personal rule that I don’t go to a man’s house until I’ve been out with him at least 5 times. I mean, before then, I don’t really KNOW you at all…” He was quiet for a few minutes and said something like “Oh, well, why didn’t you say so? That’s cool. Stick to your guns. I meant no disrespect.”

Huh? Did he actually say that he was cool with me not coming over?

He never asked me to spend the night with him again, but he kept taking me out and we had a lot of good times together. Our relationship didn’t blossom into a great romance, but we remain friends to this day.

Honestly, I was surprised that I didn’t have to acquiesce to this man’s requests in order to keep his attention. I was sure that after I’d put my foot down he would lose interest, but that didn’t happen. Now, I’m not saying that all guys will respond in this way. Guys who have one goal in minda (namely S-E-X) will probably weigh the costs and benefits of respecting your standards… and if the cost seems to high and the benefit too low, they’ll break out. But good riddance to them!

What I’ve learned from both Steve and The Older Man is that there are guys out there who don’t let their one-track minds rule their interactions with women. Some men actually have a genuine interest in getting to know you better, and simply enjoying your company. I’m certainly not going to lie to you and say that these men are in the majority, but they ARE out there. And a good way to weed them out is by outlining some standards and sticking to them.

So, now the hard part: putting this lesson that I’ve learned into practice. After all, I can’t do all this preaching to you about what you should and shouldn’t do and then not follow-suit. That would be hypocritical… and hypocrisy is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves.

You probably think this won’t be hard for me because, yes, I laid down my standards with the guy I mentioned in the story I just told you, I’ve laid them down with Charlie, and I’ve laid them down with The Older Man. They’ve all heard some variation of the many rules and standards that govern my dating life, and they’ve all chosen to respect those rules or standards (for the most part)… and that’s great! But, the thing about them is, I laid out those standards with them because I figured that with them, I don’t really have anything to lose. The guy from the story you just heard was someone I’d only been on three dates with… while I liked him, I certainly didn’t have much vested in that relationship. You already know how I feel about Charlie – I just entertain his bullshit when I have nothing else better to do. He’s certainly not someone that I take all that seriously, so of course I could lay down rules/restrictions/etc. without caring about the consequences because I didn’t care if he walked away. The Older Man is great, but he’s playing by a different set of rules given his age and not being a part of my “generation”. Plus, he thinks I’m young and na├»ve and probably would expect that I’d set up a whole bunch of hoops for him to jump through before he won the prize (the “prize”, in this case, being lil ole me!).

But, now, the question becomes, will I be strong enough, and bold enough, and fearless enough to lay out some standards with someone that I really, really like? I mean, the guy I like… he’s great, y’all. He really is. The problem is that he and I are not “defined”. We have had some really great times together, have discussed the future, have made it perfectly clear that we like each other. But, we’ve been at this for MONTHS and he’s still not my “boyfriend” or really anything more than just a friend that I like. (And Steve Harvey says that when a man goes “all-in”, he’s not afraid to PROFESS that you are his woman… a.k.a. he will give you a TITLE.)

This “thing” I’m in is almost like having a crush. And I can’t imagine that I’ll be comfortable going on this way for much longer. So, I think the next step is to explain to this man that I can’t continue this type of “pseudo-relationship” any longer and that I need to know where this is going. I should’ve done this awhile ago, but I was afraid to take the risk of pushing him into something “official” before he was ready. So I’ve just remained silent and continued to go with the flow and hope against hope that he would finally see the light at some point and profess that he wants ME to be his “woman”.

He still hasn’t. *sigh*

And, so, I’m going to have to say something. I don’t want to, but this conversation that I’m planning will separate the boys from the men. The Older Man says that if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer. I hope this is the one thing he’s wrong on.

Not likely, since he’s been right on just about everything else up til now, but… *fingers crossed*

Monday, March 16, 2009

(Trivial) Pursuit

I am so flattered that people have been asking when I was going to post again. I took almost a 2-week hiatus because I just couldn’t think of anything to write about. I mean, sure, the men in my life have given me PLENTY of interesting topics to discuss, but I lost motivation for a few days. It’s back now, I think.

So, here we go…

I’ve recently had the opportunity to converse with a man almost 10 years my senior. It seems that this decade really makes a difference in terms of our perspectives on dating and relationships. The Older Man sometimes makes me forget that he is older because his outward appearance suggests that he is actually pretty young. But no dice. He’s near 40. And he’s actually quite wise when it comes to relationships.

We went out this weekend and had a really great conversation about all the things that women are doing wrong. He said a lot of things that made a lot of sense and a lot of things that took me completely by surprise.

One of the things he said about women was that we are taking all of the fun out of dating.

“Taking all the… what?” I ask, baffled.

“Well, my JOB is to pursue women. That’s what I’m supposed to do. But women throw themselves at me. This is not a compliment. I’m mentioning it because I hate it. If women make it easy for me then, essentially, I am jobless.”

Wow.

He went on to tell me that I should expect a man to pursue me and that I should allow the man to do so with little interference from me… because that’s what excites the man. To which, I replied, “But the men that I encounter almost act like they expect me to be the one doing the pursuing. They know they’re a hot commodity and they make ME work for their attention and affection. That’s why I’ve effectively given up on dating altogether.”

“Oh yes,” he chuckled. “The men of your generation are some interesting characters.”

“They don’t even buy drinks!”

“Really? Man… that’s… crazy.” He seems genuinely baffled by this piece of information.

But it’s true. A lot of men these days… especially those of my “generation” (a nod to the decade that The Older Man has on me)… expect to be the ones who are chased, not to be the ones doing the chasing. That sucks for me because it is not in my nature to pursue…I am not good at it. Perhaps, this is why I am single.

Shawna, a good friend of mine, actually had a man TELL her that he thought she should be the one pursuing him. Wayne, one of Shawna’s coworkers, had been asking her out for a few months and she had politely declined every invitation. Finally, she decided that the next time he asked, she would give-in and go out with him just once to see if he was worth her time and attention. One day, he called her and asked if he could buy her lunch.

“Hey Shawna, I was gonna grab some Chinese food for lunch,” he said. “How about I pick up something for you and bring it to your office. Then, we can have lunch together.”

“Sure,” said Shawna. “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

“Great, see you soon!”

About 30 minutes later, they meet in a park across the street from Shawna’s building to have lunch together.

“So, now that I’ve bought you lunch, next time YOU can buy lunch for ME,” Wayne says.

Shawna, taken aback by his comment, continues to chew her food and decides not to respond.

“Did you hear me?” he asked. “I said that next time you can buy ME lunch.” Now, obviously Shawna heard him. They were sitting right next to each other at a table in the park and although the park was located in the middle of a large city and there was traffic noise to contend with, she had heard him loud and clear.

“Yes, I heard you. Don’t you think that you should take me out before we start talking about what I can do for you?” she asked.

“What?!” he exclaimed. “See, that’s what I’m talking about. You think you can just get a man by sitting around and letting him do all the work. YOU need to work on pursuing ME.”

Shawna started packing up her food, smiling sweetly all the while, gathered her things and prepared to go back to her desk.

“Thank you for lunch, Wayne,” she began. “But, I don’t think that we’re right for each other. Have a great one.” And with that, she turned on her heel and headed back inside.

My own personal experience with this happened just this evening with Charlie, a guy who’s been calling me for months. Now, Charlie calls… a lot. but when he calls, he has absolutely NOTHING to discuss with me. So, I honestly see his conversations as a waste of my time. But, every now and again when I have nothing else better to do, I might entertain one of his phone calls. At any rate, tonight, Charlie calls and after we exchange the usual pleasantries, we end up listening to each other breathe over the telephone line. The conversation was basically dead.

“Charlie, why do you call me if you have nothing to talk about?” I asked him.

“I’m not a phone person,” he says with a slight attitude. “I’d prefer to talk to you in person.”

“So, why don’t you make plans to speak to me in person? You don’t invite me out, but you complain that I’m ignoring you. Why don’t you make an effort more significant than dialing my telephone number?”

“Don’t blame it on me! You could plan something. Why don’t you ask ME out?”

“You are the man, Charlie!”

“Oooh. I’m ‘the man’. I forgot I was dealing with a DC woman.”

At this point, I was so angry that had I been a cartoon character you’d literally have seen smoke coming out of my ears. This dude has got to be kidding me. Why do I need to plan something for the two of us? Whatever happened to men taking responsibility for starting the relationship off on the right foot? Whatever happened to flowers, candy, love songs, good old fashioned courting?

I know that we’ve been taught that we, as women, need to take the reins in our relationships. And I do agree… to an extent. Like, I think that we should let our intentions be known up front, I think that we should set standards so that men know what we can and cannot tolerate in a relationship, I think that we should require men to come correct, but I do not think it should be the woman’s responsibility to pursue her partner. I think that The Older Man has a point… in a way, it emasculates the man. And no real woman wants to date a eunuch.

Men, stop being lazy already. I mean, really. Woo me, dammit! Show me that I’m the one that you want to be with. Let me know that you think I’m worth the effort… if you’re trying to get into my pants, which – let’s face it – is the ultimate goal almost 100% of the time… there is no greater aphrodisiac than true romance. Put in the work and you WILL reap the words.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have had it with passive men. Maybe it really is a problem that plagues the men of my “generation”. Or, maybe it has nothing to do with the age and/or race of the man and more to do with his character.

Either way, I’m going to learn to be more discerning. And the next man that indicates that he’s the one that deserves to be pursued can see himself right out of my life.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Rare Find

So, today, I discovered something that truly shocked the hell out of me. Honestly, not much shocks and/or surprises me anymore… especially when it comes to men… and this particular thing that I learned did, in fact, involve a member of the other gender.

Remember when I told y’all about the dude that actually WANTED to exit the dating game to settle down and get married? And remember I told you about how great he was and how he was so smart, and educated, although he was a lazy Christian, but still a good catch and an overall rare find? And remember, again, when I told you that he wasn’t interested in me?

Well, I was wrong.

No, I wasn’t wrong about the fact that he actually WANTS to get married. He does.

And I wasn’t wrong about him being great, and smart, and educated, and a Christian (albeit a lazy), or about him being a good catch and an overall rare find. He is.

But guess what? Turns out he might’ve been interested in me after all.

Go figure.

The reason he’d not expressed this interest to me before was because he’d asked our mutual friend for my phone number some time ago and she quizzed him for 30 minutes about his intentions. I love that girl. She’s no-nonsense. I remember the mutual friend mentioning to me that Rare Find had asked for my number. She told me that she’d questioned him at length about why he would need my contact info and he said he needed to “ask [me] a question”. I didn’t think much of it at the time. After all, I’d encountered him at plenty of events that we’d both attended over the years and he never seemed to pay me even a little bit of attention. So, I figured that he, indeed, just needed to “ask [me] a question”. I told her it was cool to give him my number. He never called. Said question was never asked. Life moved on.

Rare Find stressed to me that he does not have “permission” to pursue any of our mutual friend’s friends (he was friends with our mutual friend first, obviously). And, I can TOTALLY respect that. The last thing I’d want is for us to become involved and then for things to get ugly and THEN for things to get weird between the three of us. Three's a crowd. And, that’d be no fun at all.

He told me that he’s thought I was adorable since he first laid eyes on me.

Like, whoa! Really? Mmmkay. I like the sound of that.

Later in the conversation, he mentions, again, that he’s found me adorable since Day 1. I blush uncontrollably in an “aww shucks”/ “golly, these compliments are too much for me to handle” type of way, which he finds even more adorable. A lot of “adorable” gets thrown around and, even though it sounds a lot like “cute”, which we all know I hate, and it’s not really the equivalent of “beautiful” or “sexy”, I know a compliment when I hear one and I gladly accept it.

But, by Rare Find’s own admission, he actually isn’t the nice guy that I think he is. (I believe this is a bunch of bullshit… he is actually a kind man with a beautiful mind, but if he wants to believe he’s a bona fide heartbreaker with quintessential asshole qualities, I’m gonna let him live.) Rare Find told me that he thinks that I’m an “angel” and because he’s not… well, he’s no “demon”, but he’s no “angel” (according to his own assessment, mind you)… he wants to save me the heartbreak of getting involved with him. He doesn’t do so well with “nice girls”.

Okay.

Whatever.

I’ve learned the hard way that, as the saying goes, “when someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time”. No sense waiting around to see if he’s telling the truth. He likely is. Although I consider myself to be a good judge of character and I think he’s harmless, I’ll take his word that he’s a d-bag.

I am saddened that I missed out on an opportunity with him. I still think he’s a decent catch and I’d love to have been the one who caught him (or, in this case, perhaps, the one who got caught). But just knowing that he found me interesting (and “adorable”) enough to even ask for my phone number – even though he never used it – is comforting. (Maybe I'm the marrying kind after all!) And being reminded of all those good things - like the fact that in at least one person's eyes, I'm "adorable") about myself did a whole lot for the ol’ self-esteem... if you know what I mean.