Friday, August 28, 2009

Myth 9: “The Fantasy of a Relationship is Better than an Actual Relationship”

Okay, so some of the time this is true.

All right, it’s usually true.

But not always. And the risk really is worth it.

I had this friend, who had never dated and she was in her mid-thirties. She met this guy in a book group and had this huge crush on him. When we talked about guys, she always talked about him. She was not interested in anyone else. When I asked her why she didn’t ask him out, she said, “What if he rejects me? Then I won’t even have the fantasy of dating him.”

Last time I checked she was still single.

It’s a cliché, but the difference between successful people and losers really is that successful people fail more often.

The advice. My friend would have cared less about being rejected by this one guy if he wasn’t the only guy. If she had been interested in three other guys, it wouldn’t have mattered if one of them rejected her. There would still be three more on the line. There it is again: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Up next, Myth Ten: “I can make her like me”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Myth 8: “Women Are a Different Species”

Actually we’re not. Really. You can check Wikipedia.

Women are a lot more like you than the two thousand year old elf you pretend to be every week for fun. If you can figure that out, you can figure us out.

If we tell you we’re really busy at work right now and we’ll get together when our lives aren’t so hectic, we’re not interested.

If we kiss you back, we do so not only because we like kissing but because we like you.

Clear enough?

Okay, so some things we do and say aren't as straightforward--and I'll talk about those things when I get to the "woman-to-geek pocket dictionary" in a few weeks.

Next up, Myth Nine: “The fantasy of a relationship is better than an actual relationship”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Myth 7: “The Woman Should Be the One to Initiate Any Touching”

I’ll admit that this is very tricky for men. It would make things much easier if women were the ones who did all the initiating. A woman can pretty much count on any given man being willing to kiss her and/or have sex with her, so she risks very little in the way of rejection by being the first to propose this.

On the other hand, a man can not assume that any given woman will want to kiss him (much less have sex with him). In fact, he should assume she doesn’t want to sleep with him.

But he should try to kiss her. How are you going to know unless you try? (I guess you could ask but, geez, where’s the passion in that?)

It’s a crappy deal for men. You’re the ones who are more likely to get rejected and yet you will often have to be the initiator of the first kiss. It may be backward, sexist, stupid and unfair but the fact remains that most of the time, the man has to lean in first. You may get slapped, you may get a cheek instead of lips. Then again, she might kiss you back.

No, it does not matter whether you know if she’s interested or not. You will never be certain enough. It will not be obvious to you that she wants you to kiss her. There are signs, sure. And she may even be the one to lean in first. But don’t assume she ever will. She’s not playing games (stay tuned for Myth Eleven) or even just being coy. Like you, she wants to know you’re interested. I know, I know, I said a woman is guaranteed to be kissed back. But most women don’t know that or they don’t believe it in that precise moment.

Another word of warning: if a woman does touch you first (hug you, kiss you, etc.), it does not mean she wants to have sex with you or bear your children. Geeks can over-interpret female touch. Because she hugs you doesn’t even mean she ever wants to see you again. Some women hug everyone.

The advice. Try to kiss her.

Up next: Myth Eight, “Women are a different species”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Myth 6: “If We Fight or Experience Conflict, the Relationship is Doomed/Over”

I used to do pre-marital therapy and I was always most concerned about the couples who came in saying that they had never had a fight. They were proud of this, as if it meant that they were the most perfect and meant-for-each-other couple I had ever worked with. Now some people are chronic avoiders who never feel the need to bring up conflict. This works fine if both people in the relationship are avoiders and they are both happy with a relationship that’s not very emotionally intimate. Most people want more than that, especially ones who decide to get counseling before they get married.

Let me say right now that the couples who had already weathered some fights were much more prepared to get and stay married.

We come to fear conflict as children. Especially if you have older brothers who tried to smother you under your parents’ bedspread when you disagreed with them. Many smart kids grow up in homes where being right is exalted and ever being wrong is not acceptable. So those who might be “wrong,” or have been “wronged,” do not bring it up. It makes it hard to get any experience dealing with conflict when the tacit message at home is that having conflict is bad.

This fear of conflict manifests itself in anxiety about, and the avoidance of, addressing something that your girlfriend (or potential girlfriend) did that bothers you, pisses you off or hurt you. It can manifest itself in apologizing too quickly when she brings up a touchy subject in order to end the conversation, thus preventing any real understanding on your part of the reasons for her complaint and any real understanding on her part for why you did what you did.

The advice. Take baby steps toward becoming more comfortable with handling conflict. Practice “confrontation” with those who don’t matter as much to you as a girlfriend. Tell the cashier when he shorts you by a dime. Let your boss know when she wrongly credits that lazy guy in the next cubicle for your work.

Up next: Myth Seven, “The woman should be the one to initiate any touching”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Myth 5: “The Interesting Women Only Date A**holes/Charmers/Good-Looking Guys/Guys with Money”

When will this myth die already? Okay, I’ll admit in college I dated an a**hole. My brother referred to him as the long hair with the big ego.

But he was so dreamy. He had the softest chocolate-brown hair, rode a motorcycle, and played the bass in a grunge band (it was the early nineties). True, he would show up at my apartment and assume I was spending the weekend with him even when I already had plans with my friends. And, of course, I ditched my friends--I’m lucky they were still around when he and I finally broke up. And dating him meant I never did go out with his roommate, who was an English major, a poet and volunteered at the food bank. A nice guy. He was probably perfect for me. Damn. I really screwed that up. I wonder if he’s still single?

But, give me a break, I was twenty! (Twenty-two.) And, okay, some women don’t age out of that until they’re twenty-five. Okay, okay, so there are some women who never do age out of that phase. The women you see dating those a**holes/charmers are not the women you want to be attracting anyway. I am not just crying sour grapes. These women are either too young or too broken.

Maybe the real issue is less about women’s poor taste in men than it is about the fear that you can’t attract a woman of quality. Men are so complicated. First you think you can date the hottest, smartest woman in the room and then you think the only women you can snag are ones who are dumber, uglier and geekier (is that possible?) than you are. Will you make up your mind?

Let me break it to you: maybe you can’t attract the kind of woman you want. Right now. And not because you aren’t a good match for such women. And *not* because if she got to know you, she wouldn’t be interested. But maybe your social skills (lack thereof) are getting in the way. Maybe your lack of experience picking up women is stopping you. These are learnable skills and I'll be covering them as this blog goes on so that you will be able to attract the kind of woman you really want to date.

The advice: Keep reading this blog. In a few weeks, we’ll discuss concrete ways to overcome social anxiety and build self-esteem.

Next time: Myth Six, “If we fight or experience conflict, the relationship is doomed/over”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Myth 4: “My Life Will Be Perfect When I Am with Someone”

Myth Four: “My life will be perfect when I am with someone”

This is that “you complete me” bull crap. You’re miserable now? Once you get over the first flush of infatuation, you’ll be miserable with someone. And if you’re not as miserable, it’s because you’ve given your girlfriend part of your misery and she’s eventually going to re-gift it to you when she dumps you to be with someone who’s not so depressed and depressing to be with.

If you date because you need to be with someone, you’ll end up dating someone who needs to be needed, the dreaded Martyr Girlfriend. Date because your life is so fabulous you have to share it with someone.

The advice: Complete yourself. If you’re depressed, then exercise, eat well, sleep at least eight hours each night, quit doing stuff you hate, get outside every day and expose yourself to sunlight, take your vitamins, journal, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and have body work done (like acupuncture, cranio-sacral massage).

And get into therapy.

Up next: “The interesting women only date a**holes/charmers/good-looking guys/guys with money”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Myth 3: “Someone Really Cool Will Want to Date Me”

Myth Three: “Someone really cool will want to date me”

The hip goth chick you keep seeing at your friend’s parties. The hot twenty-two year old barista. Kate Beckinsale.

You see, I say it to myself too. Maybe Clive Owen would want to date me if he got to know me. I’m smart, funny (usually unintentionally but he won’t have to know that), and while I’m not usually the prettiest woman in the room (unless I’m the only female there), I’m also not usually the ugliest woman in the room (unless I’m the only female there). But he probably wouldn’t date me.

The reason is twofold. First, Clive Owen is better than me. He is richer, more talented and better looking. Also cooler. I have nothing to offer him that he cares about. So be it.

Second--make note of this--Clive Owen probably doesn’t ultimately have anything to offer me that I truly care about. Except the money. And the fame. And the increase to my cool factor. But let’s put that aside…

The hot barista is unimpressed with your memorization of a hundred digits of pi. The goth chick doesn’t want to talk about Nova speculations on how the world will end. Tricia Helfer isn’t interested in how the social dynamics of your Wednesday night game group are a microcosm of what’s wrong in the world.

The reality is those women don’t have anything going for them that makes them a good match for you. Their intellect doesn’t match yours. Their idea of a great weekend is nothing akin to your idea. These women you find yourself attracted to are all surface or too into following the antics of the Famous and Pathetic or simply interested in things you’re not.

The advice: Face it. You will never be cooler than you are right now.

And you’re not so bad. You‘re reading this blog.

Up next: “My life will be perfect when I am with someone.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Myth 2: “If We’re Meant to Be, It Will Happen”

Myth Two: “If we’re meant to be, it will happen.”

I can hear you snorting. You’re thinking “No one believes that.”

Okay, so maybe you don’t say “Fate will take care of itself.” Maybe what you do say is “Why should I [enroll in a cooking class, learn to swing dance, go wine tasting, or any other activity friends and family have suggested that I do in order to meet women]? If she’s right for me our paths will cross naturally.”

This is the same thing as saying “If we’re meant to be, it will happen.”

Also, about your paths and them naturally crossing? Well, they haven’t so far.

What this belief is really about, of course, is not Destiny or Divine Providence.

It’s about having an excuse not to do anything different in your life.

I can hear your wounded ego repeating to itself “But I am good enough as I am. I am good enough as I am.” To admit that you need to do something different does not mean you’re not good enough as you are. (Except, of course, you’re not. Get over it.) And it does not mean your whole life to this point has been wrong. (But you are wrong about some things.) Being proud of being a geek is great. Loving your hobbies and not being ashamed of role playing, buying computer programming manuals for your light summer reading and watching sci-fi is as it should be.

But being a socially well-adapted person and being a geek are not mutually exclusive. It is not a moral stand to refuse to deign to keep abreast of mainstream culture. Nor is it a stand on principle to wear ugly, out-of-fashion eyeglasses. You have an unusual position in culture. You can take the best of geek culture and the best of mainstream society and blend the two to become the ideal High-Functioning Geek.

The advice: Take the damn cooking class your mom has been bugging you about.

Next up: Myth 3, “Someone Really Cool Will Want to Date Me.”