Over the holidays I’ve had a couple of occasions to get together with some dear friends. Most of them are men whom I’ve known since our college days back in the ‘80’s. I love them to pieces, and like back in the day they still confide in me in a brotherly/sisterly kind of way. The big resounding theme that kept bubbling to the top was dating and relationships.
What surprised me was that they blew away one of my longstanding beliefs — that men have the upper hand in dating and relationships. I’ve always believed that it’s men who make the first move in picking their potential mates by asking them out even though I believe their criteria are unrealistic.
Such is the case with my friend Jim*. He’s been divorced since March and he’s been on the prowl, not for a soul mate, but a bed mate … a booty call as he shamelessly puts it. He has a profile on a number of dating websites and I’ve seen him in action – he always has his eye out for extremely attractive and much younger women. I’m not saying he’s not a nice guy. He is as my friend, but to his sexual prospects he comes off desperate and predatory. He doesn’t even try to get to know women as people. He goes straight for the sex jokes and double entendres and wonders why he goes home alone at the end of the night. It’s not as if he’s heard the hints about appropriate behavior from me and the other guys in our group; he just hasn’t listened.
Then there’s Carl*, who is newly divorced and is dating for the first time in 25 years. The whole concept of online matchmaking is completely foreign and frustrating to him. It’s not that he wants to get laid immediately, but he doesn’t want to go through three weeks of email banter before a woman agrees to text or talk on the phone. “I just want to meet with someone face-to-face,” he says.
My friend Rick* is getting back into the dating scene after being unemployed for a rather long time. He’s held off because he couldn’t afford to pay to play. (In other words, he’s the kind of guy who would never let a woman pay to go out.) He’s a gentleman, gregarious, intelligent, a great conversationalist, and a die-hard romantic. The only thing getting in his way is his fear of falling in love with a gorgeous woman who will turn out to be bitchy and abusive like his last two serious girlfriends. He also told me some horror stories about some women who have come onto him in very sexually aggressive ways … the female versions of our mutual friend Jim. It’s not what he’s looking for. It’s not what he’s all about.
Another friend, Matt*, is a lot like Rick. He, too, is a survivor of two long-term relationships with beautiful but toxic women who broke his heart. He’s a sweetheart and a deep thinker with a strong creative streak. He’s confided to me on more than one occasion that he wishes he could have someone to snuggle with in the evening. At one of our get-togethers he was flirting with a woman who seemed equally smitten with him. He wasn’t bashful about casting a smile at her from across the room and she coyly accepted every opportunity he took to have a conversation with her. Did he ever ask her out? Nope. His excuse: “I’m not the looker I used to be. “ I said, “Bullshit,” but of course, he heard that as a biased gal pal talking. Honestly, he’s aged well … very well. I just get the feeling that he’s mourning the loss of his 28-year-old self-described cougar bait who left the room 20 years ago.
My friend Vince* brought his lovely lady, Diane*, his first serious lady friend since his wife passed away three years ago, to one of the gatherings I attended. They’ve been a confirmed item for a couple of months. Their biggest connection is through their church where he’s really gotten involved, mostly because of her. However, he confessed to me , “You know me, I’m a heathen. I want to get freaky with her, but she’s been holding out. I love her to pieces. I just wish she knew it and believed it, but I’m bound and determined to hang on to her for as long as I can.”
And Pete*, well, he’s still hanging onto the woman he calls his “arrangement” (AKA booty call/friend with benefits). He says she’s crazy, but she gives good head and they both get what they want. In the meantime he’s hopeful that he’ll find the right gal, but admits that he’s not going out of his way to find her.
In some instances, I think some of my guy friends put up their own roadblocks to dating and relationships. I just hope that we have very different conversations about women, dating and relationships this time next year.
*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.