Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dating fun

I just finished reading Bridget Jones Diary – The Edge Of Reason. Yeah it's a chick book, but it's enjoyable and really funny.

I must also state for the record that I am astounded and dismayed to learn how much analyzing and talking and assuming and presuming and worrying and concluding that (many) women apparently do. Gadzooks. It seems like women are constantly setting themselves up for disappointment, primarily with the following thought pattern:

If I were my boyfriend, I would do X.
My boyfriend hasn’t done X.
Therefore, [insert tragic conclusion here].

She might conclude that he’s seeing someone else, or he doesn’t like her any more, or a hundred other things that have no basis in fact. What may have actually happened is that he wasn’t thinking at all. Or maybe, that he just wasn’t thinking about how his actions affected you. Because you’re like spaghetti (see previous post), apparently there’s often a little strand of thought connected to your relationship even if you’re doing something else. Because we’re like waffles, as astounding as it may seem, sometimes we’re not thinking about you at all.

I recently read that women readers and movie-goers are especially interested in the development stage of relationships. That women especially like to read about/watch the getting-to-know-you part. That writers of TV shows and book series featuring the same characters have to be careful: one might think that what women viewers/readers want is for the romantic leads to get together – and they do want that, no question – but once that happens, many women lose interest and look for a new show/series about a couple getting together rather than actually being together.

In real life, during the development stage of a relationship (assuming it’s one the woman is enthused about), she is likely to be thinking about the guy a lot, guessing what he might like, trying to surprise him with a cool gift, analyzing his words/actions, trying to guess his motives, etc.

The problem is, she wants and expects the man to be doing the same thing. She wants him to be fascinated with her and constantly thinking about her, etc. She wants him to be trying to figure her out, asking her opinions and feelings, etc, wanting to get her little gifts, etc.

But we aren't built that way. We learn to do it, yes, but it’s not because we feel like it – it’s just that we know that’s what you want, and it’s what will get us what we want. The early of a relationship is exciting for us, but mostly it’s a baser sort of chemistry – it’s not necessarily exciting that we’re getting to know a new person, it’s that we might get to see a new set of boobs or whatever. For many of us, the getting-to-know-you part is actually quite stressful and frustrating.

Anyway there are three main reasons that we fail to act the same way you do when first entering into a relationship:

#1, As mentioned in a previous post, we are waffles. We compartmentalize well. While we're at work, we're not thinking about you. When you call us up for no reason in the middle of a meeting or project, etc, we’re not charmed, we’re frustrated. For you, it was a matter of sliding down one of your spaghetti strands, and Presto, you arrived at “Let’s call Jack and talk about possible vacations we could take.” For us, we have to drop all the stuff we had going in one of our waffle compartments, and shift over to another compartment, then later come back and figure out where we were in the first one. Context-switching takes energy, and it wastes time and resources – we’re not as good as you are at multi-tasking.

#2, We’re practical. When it comes to gifts -- or anything else, really -- we’re not big fans of guessing games.
You buy us stuff like watches, wallets, sunglasses, etc – it’s nice, but personally I’d rather pick that stuff out myself. If you get me something I don’t like, now I have to use/wear it. Basically, I’d rather you gave me something you *know* I like, like sports tickets, or cash, or best of all, some of your sweet lovin’. :-)
By the same token, we want you to tell us what you like so we can get/do/be/buy that. And it’s hard enough to guess what someone likes when they’re consistent, but it’s really frustrating that women seem not to be able to figure out what they want half the time anyway. Or maybe they know what they want, it’s just not the same thing as it was yesterday. It’s like trying to shoot mosquitoes with a BB gun while blindfolded.

#3, Re opinions: Men like to think that we operate from cold hard facts. We don’t, actually – humans seldom do – but we *are* slightly more objective and less emotional than you are. So we like to think we have some basis for our opinions. We like to get as much data as possible beforehand. We don’t think out loud much, we don’t throw everything out to our friends for review. Feelings about an issue don’t loom large for us as things to talk about. What does it matter how we FEEL about something? That makes no difference to what will happen – what matters is what to DO. Everything comes down to Action Items for us – when we’re thinking, we’re devising a plan of action.
In fact, when there’s no task for us, we’re kind of at a loss. If there’s nothing for us to actually DO, we usually just power down into standby mode and think about sex, sports, and things to do in 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
As one guy responded to the “What are you thinking about?” question: “If I wanted you to know, I’d be talking instead of thinking.”


At Thu Oct 21, 11:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mosquitoes with a BB gun while blindfolded!!!

At best!



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