Question: "Men: How should we women tell you we're interested in you?"
Okay, women, I'm going to let you know something.
We know you're interested in us.
Or...we think we do.
We're about 99% sure.
But 99% isn't good enough. The price of inaction on our part is at worst a lifetime of regret. That pales next to the price of action, which could be anything from a crushing rejection to, in certain contexts, jail time.
So the best way to show us you are interested is to TELL us. Using those words. Then define "interested". What are you interested in? A hot night of sex? A platonic date? Marriage? TELL US, and that way we can't possibly misinterpret what we think you might be trying to show us.
This yielded the inevitable backlash about a lack of testosterone on my part that I was just talking about last blog. When I questioned it, hoping somebody would come forward and explain things calmly and rationally, I got this from "curious_charlie":
It's okay to be attracted to someone, and it's okay to express that attraction. Everything you said is coming from [a] mental and emotional model of the world where these things are not OK....Furthermore, if rejection would be "crushing", you're already doing it wrong. You're far too attached to the outcome....
Well, now, this got me thinking. Sometimes that's not advisable, thinking.
Break it down. No problem with "it's okay to be attracted to someone, and it's okay to express that attraction"...at least in theory. It's considerably harder in practice, because I get caught up in how it must sound from the woman's perspective, and freeze: is she creeped out? Does she think I'm going to grope her in a minute? I stress that I'm not that kind of man...but does she know that for sure?
That isn't a lack of testosterone, by the way. That's many, many women telling me how they feel when guys approach them.
I'm especially careful with the I-love-you's after one dear friend responded to one of mine with a "wait, do you love me or are you in love with me?" Now, to me there's no difference, but based on vocal stress patterns it was perfectly clear the answer she wanted to hear. Since I'll take and give love on whatever terms it's offered, to whatever extent it's offered, I wasn't even lying.
"...if rejection would be "crushing", you're doing it wrong. You're far too attached to the outcome."
This is also true, of course. In an ideal world, we wouldn't be attached to any outcome: the Buddhists teach that, and it's helpful if you want to be happy in life. But most of us haven't attained that level of enlightenment: rejection *stings*.
This is kind of a good thing, I'm thinking (oh-oh, here he goes with the thinking...): It means you care. If rejection doesn't hurt you as a man, then women are just interchangeable to you. Okay, that one won't take me. Moving on...THAT, I reject.
And yet...that seems to be the attitude of a great many men. Check out dating site traffic patterns: all you have to do to get copious amounts of attention on any dating site is have a vagina. That's it. Most of the attention you get, if you have a vagina, will be in the form of crude mass texts:
Sunday May 1 23:21
hey baby dtf?
encl: my dick
I find everything about that sickening. There's no there there at all. It's so...so...casual. And everybody knows I don't do casual sex.
If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one. — Robert A. Heinlein
Wow, this is getting steamy.
I'm sitting in a computer lab in Wilfrid Laurier University's oh-so-creatively-named Central Teaching Building. I should be writing some essay or other, but the pull of connecting with other human beings online is too great.
Well, one human being, right now. And if this bulge in my jeans gets any more pronounced, quick furtive look around a different sort of pulling may be in order shortly.
Her name's Judy; she lives about a three minute walk from my place; all the rest is noise. Very pretty noise, but increasingly loud. So loud, in fact, that it's blotting out more than just the essay. It has certainly blotted out all trace of my live-in girlfriend. I should probably be ashamed of this, but shut up I'm listening here.
Judy, it is coming clear to me, likes sex. She likes sex a lot. She has things she could teach me, if I'd care to learn them.
This is an interesting proposition, given that to date my sexual experience has been minimal and very grudgingly given. That live-in girlfriend actually wrote me a letter a while ago in which she promised to get my 'needs' satisfied: that translated into once a week perfunctory lie-back-and-think-of-England drudgery. They say sex is like pizza because even bad sex is still sex, but let's face it, the sex I'm getting lately tastes like pizza with mustard and cornflakes. (So is the sex I'm giving, lately, and yes, I'm actually rationalizing what I'm about to do by telling myself I'll actually become a better lover out of the bargain. What a dick I am.
What a dick I have.
What I'm about to do is get up and go to Judy's house and...
...and we're playing Nintendo. Or rather, she is, and I'm just finding new and interesting ways to die. I haven't been a gamer since the days of the Atari 2600 and its ONE joystick with ONE button, and this Nintendo controller is just impossible to work, especially with Judy practically leaning over me.
"I'm sorry, I'm no good at this", I said as I died again, and she looked at me all doe-eyed and asked "so what are you good at?" and threw her controller away and pulled me down on top of her all in one motion and yes, this is a bed we're laying on with silk sheets and everything and...
...and everything. Including things I'd never done before. The noise built and built and built, chords coruscating like musical rain, sparkles of tingly things, holy shit this feels fucking amazing this feels amazing fucking....
..and boom goes the dynamite.
I luxuriated in the afterglow, marred only slightly by my conscience yammering at me. Shut up, conscience, I said. That was too much fun to be wrong.
"Well, that was fun", said Judy, purring like a cat who'd just got the canary. "Let's do that again, soon".
We did. Over a period of about eight months, we did a lot, in a lot of places...including that computer lab where we first "met", at three thirty in the morning.
I was not Judy's only partner, and she wasn't shy about the fact. She kept a wicker basket of condoms in plain view by her bed, at least at first. In a perverse way this excited me: here was a woman who really did enjoy the rub and the thrust and the lick, who engaged in it for its own sake. Casual, fun...and mindblowing.
I went over to Judy's three or four times a week. That basket disappeared after a month or so. She began pressuring me to spend the night. I wanted to do this but sensed it would mean discovery and doom, and so I kept putting it off. This didn't bother Judy, until it did, and when it did, I started making myself scarce. Not cutting it off entirely--the sex was too good for that--but turning it into a once a week thing, then once a fortnight, each time paying the price of denying her a full night, each time leaving with my emotions completely askew.
And one day she...
One day she wrote me a love letter. The kind of sappy, cloying thing I couldn't write without going into sugar shock. It was on the computer, and it came with a huge ASCII art heart she had put a ton of effort into, and she begged me to leave my girlfriend and come be with her. Be her one and only.
I panicked. She threatened to expose me. I panicked some more, and broke things off in a flurry of things I didn't mean and shouldn't have said. I went home, where as it turned out my live-in girlfriend had (of course) figured out what I'd been up to and taken a lover of her own. And everything went to shit.
I've thought about that episode a lot over the years. It says a great many unflattering things about who I was, and (I tell myself) it taught me a great many more things about who I shouldn't be.
It also poisoned my mind towards casual sex. I had engaged in it at a time I shouldn't have, at all; it was so good it was scary; and it ended horrifically, again thanks entirely to me. But through the dark magic of transference -- because I couldn't really be that much of an asshole, could I? -- Judy got blamed for my own actions and attitudes.
I have a (male) friend who once lamented to me that sex, in a sane world, should be a sport: you should be able to go down to the sex court, reserve a block of time, and go have fun, either as a duo or as a team, and why not? Provided everybody's consenting and free of disease, where's the harm?
It's funny, you know. Many people are terrified of emotions and run from them when they show up. I did, once. Now I find them to be a huge safety valve. Love as an excuse for lust: the only permissible excuse, in fact. I've spent almost a quarter century building this mindset, and it suits me well, but today I realized it's built on a lie.