Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's not that difficult

Recently I had a conversation with a group of friends that went something like this:
"Guys are so confusing."
"No way, girls are way more confusing."
"No I'm pretty sure guys are."
"How can you even say that with a straight face?"

I'm pretty sure both genders are equally confusing to each other. I can't do anything about women being confused by men, but I shall herewith attempt to clear up a few things about my own gender that seem to mystify men:

1) If you're into a woman and she's not interested, chances are excellent that you didn't do anything wrong. And that there is nothing wrong with you. Or her. You're probably smart and attractive and a total gentleman. And she's probably not a manipulative, cold-hearted shrew. The truth is that sometimes the attraction just isn't there. It's that simple.

2) If her rejection of you does seem to go beyond the just-not-attracted-to-you thing, the thing you did wrong is probably something you did to one of her friends and not to her directly. Women talk to each other, but guys forget that when they're dealing with a woman who either rejected them or didn't attain a level of hotness that made them think "I care about what she thinks about me." If she heard that her friend asked you on a date and you said yes but then spent the whole time texting other women and flirting with the waitress, she's not going to be impressed by that.

3) If she's not following what you consider proper date etiquette, she might not know it's a date. It's really, really hard to tell sometimes. And we're always second-guessing ourselves. I've lost count of the number of conversations I've had with groups of female friends debating whether something one person in the group did counted as a date. Usually it comes down to something like "Well, I guess he was wearing a slightly nicer shirt than usual..."

4) If she likes you, she'll want to spend time with you. She try to subtly work it out so she sits next to you at parties, rides with you during carpools and ends up working in the same group or team as you. She'll unnecessarily prolong conversations and change her mind about skipping an activity when she hears you'll be there. On the other hand, if you're always the one approaching her for conversation and then she chats for a moment before wandering away to talk to someone else, she's probably not into you.

5) If you can't figure out why a nice girl like that would ever be flirting with a jerk like him, there are two possible explanations. One is that she doesn't believe she can do any better, because she's been on one date in the last five years and figures any guy who's acting interested in her might be her only shot at having been kissed by the time she's 40. If that's not the case, then instead of blaming the bad boy you should blame the supposedly "nice" guy who broke her heart. The moment she walked in on him cuddling with another girl is the moment she decided all guys are the same and it will hurt less if she's dating a known player and can therefore see it coming. She doesn't want to trust anyone again, and she doesn't want to hurt anyone else by leading them on, but she also doesn't want to live like a nun. Non-committal flirting with a bad boy is the perfect solution in her eyes. Also, confidence is sexy. Sometimes it's a refreshing change to deal with someone who's not so timid he's still afraid to try to hold your hand by date number six.

6) If you're busy complaining that nice guys finish last, you might need to re-evaluate how nice you really are. I read a blog post once that explained that there's a difference between a "nice guy" and a "good guy." The distinction was a brilliant one I really wish I had understood when I first jumped into the dating pool. Good guys are nice to everyone, even people they're not romantically interested in, because that's just who they are. Nice guys are nice out of a combination of wimpy-ness and a realization that the being-nice strategy works better for them when it comes to getting what they want. Women swoon for them because they open doors and give compliments and lend their jackets to girls who are cold. But eventually those same women realize the "nice guy" is only nice as long as it serves him well. If it gets him out of a confrontation or gets him attention from the opposite sex, he's nice. But if the nice thing to do makes him step out of his comfort zone or is inconvenient or means he can't keep his options open with several women at once, well then it's a different story. And eventually women get tired of that.

7) If a woman is mad at you and you don't know why, ask yourself: Did I do or say something that made it clear I was only pretending to listen to what she was saying the other day? Did I slight one of her friends or family members? Did I not return a text or make her feel neglected in some other way (i.e. forget an anniversary, suddenly ignore her for an unusually long period of time, forget plans you made together, etc.)? Chances are good it's one of those things. Even if you don't know exactly which one it was, it all boils down to her feeling like she (or by extension her feelings or opinions or the people she cares about) isn't important to you. Make it up to her by doing something that sends a message that she is indeed important to you. Sometimes it's as simple as putting down the video game controller for once while she's talking.

There, men. That wasn't so confusing, was it?

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