A woman I dated for about a month and change over the holidays shared an interesting article the other day on her Facebook page. The relationship ended amicably. While we were very physically compatible, we were both looking for more in a relationship. She didn’t feel her emotions for me developed further than our initial chemistry. In hindsight, I did have feelings for her but it was more of a slow burn which grew gradually rather than a passionate fire. Que sera, sera.
The inspiration of the blog post is the article linked above.The author of the article recounts a story at a party I am all too familiar with. Back in CÉGÉP, I was vice-president of the Anime club before later becoming president; *geek swag*. The club’s early membership was mainly a sausage fest with a few female members who hung out but weren’t into the raison d’être of the club. Until the day when one did.
Immediately, the levels of testosterone in the club spiked to the levels of an aging bull (I did not make a typo there) around a cow in heat. While I was initially attracted to the woman, I quickly noticed the posturing between the other guys. Every single one of them bent over backwards to try to impress her without actually trying to flirt or flat out asking her out. I decided the whole affair would be more trouble than what it was worth. I resolved to befriend her, firmly entrenching myself in “the friend zone” as its mayor. Over the next year, I became somewhat of a mentor or older brother to her. Since her biological younger brother was kind of a douche, I’d like to think I promoted an example that not all men are terrible. Her dad was pretty cool too.
This didn’t stop the other guys from trying to sabotage a relationship they erroneously perceived as a stratagem to seduce her. All the while, I was oblivious to a woman pursuing me while her then-current relationship with her boyfriend was rocky. The competition was quite fierce until she finally succumbed to the more canny guy. I wished them both well, but they broke up over the following Summer. By then, the other guys had wallowed in their defeat and I maintained our friendship. We quickly grew apart once we moved on from CÉGÉP though.
There are some profound insights in the content of the article and the psyche of the author, but in some ways I disagree with one of the conclusions. The author claims “men ruined dating”. I briefly dated another woman last year who actually expressed the opposite. Her argument was along the lines of “why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?”. I.e. why would guys want a serious relationship if there are promiscuous women out there “ruining” dating for those wanting to settle down into a monogamous relationship to start a family.
How then do we resolve the conflicting view points? My take is both are right and wrong. It’s far too simplistic to lay blame to a single factor. There have always been promiscuous men. In fact, western culture (I’m not fluent enough in Eastern cultures to comment but I strongly suspect they do too) idolizes these men. There is a certain prestige to one’s status in male circles based on the number of partners one has had. Think Don Draper in Mad Men. One need but look at the field of marketing for exhibit A. As the male of our species, it is our biological imperative to reproduce. Seeing as we don’t have to deal with the gestation, the best way to pass on our genes is to spread them to as many partners as we can. With the population of the planet over 7 billion and counting, I can conclude we’ve been largely successful in this regard.
However, we also have the benefit of sentience. Our higher orders of thinking allow us to contemplate other thoughts and emotions between one another beyond those of other species other than primates and some other mammals. Some people are compelled to relationships out of loneliness. They feel incomplete and pursue a relationship out of the desire to fill a gaping hole within themselves. Others pursue physical gratification for the same purposes and go from partner to partner largely unfulfilled. With our higher brains, we do not necessarily need to establish a romantic relationship purely to reproduce. In fact, with concerns of overpopulation it might not be such a bad idea not to. Instead, we can find other qualities for which we can admire a partner and form bonds just as strong or greater.
I also find both conclusions to be somewhat offensive. On the first hand, the author blames most men for essentially being “pigs”. The other to certain women for enabling “men being pigs”. While I don’t dismiss there are some men who pursue only sexual conquests it implies there is something inherently “wrong” in this. The second conclusion then shames women for doing the same. I feel both opinions are judgmental. So long as those involved are forthcoming with what each other is looking for, what is the harm? Unfortunately, there are those who are disingenuous and will profess seeking something serious while really only desiring sexual gratification.
Why I’m still dating
I’m not the first to liken dating to a job interview, nor will I be the last. Yet it is also a learning experience. With each new encounter or relationship you learn something new about yourself, what qualities you are looking for in an eventual partner or exposition to a new activity or facet of life you never knew existed. Typical first date questions like “What is your favourite movie?” leads you to think: “What is my favourite movie?” (Jurassic Park for the record).
I am an only child of parents who eloped and later immigrated to a foreign country on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I was never surrounded by a large support structure or social circle. I’ve not only grown accustomed to, but also enjoy the silent moments of contemplation. I do not harbour feelings of loneliness but I do occasionally feel a euphoric high when around those I care about. I feel I have a lot to offer as a person and as a man. So I stubbornly pursue in hopes that I find a travelling partner to continue on the journey of a lifetime (literally).