* Dedicated to Jen B. (Thanks for reading and for your topic request!)
There comes a time in every new-adventure-in-dating where we have to make a call; do we take this to the next level or is it time to move on to the next? For some of us, that next level is sleeping together; for some it’s spending the night (we all know you don’t have to actually sleep together to sleep together.) Maybe it’s making a commitment to be exclusive or meeting the parents or, in some cases, meeting our children. Whatever the case may be, it’s usually not a decision that is entered into lightly.
We may not admit it but, the truth of the matter is, we all have our checklists. We all have certain qualities that we are looking for in the person for whom we’re going to give up our other options. To be fair, don’t we all actually have a list of qualities that we look for before we’ll even go on that first date? What we look for from date one to date ten may change, it certainly should as we learn more about someone, but how much do we ever really know about another person? Every time the neighbors of a serial killer are interviewed on the news, don’t they always say the same thing? “He was such a nice guy, this is such a surprise!”
Most of us have different personalities depending on the environment we are in. We have our “work selves”; professional, diplomatic. We have our “happy hour selves”; willing to throw back some shots and sing American Girl on stage with the band. We may have our “first date selves”; on our best behavior, trying to keep all of our crazy in check. And then, somewhere inside, with a little of each of those personalities mixed together, is our true selves. To share all of that with another person is often pretty scary and it takes a lot for us to get to a point where we feel comfortable enough to do so. Sometimes I leave my clothes on the floor. Or dishes in my sink. There’s often hair on my bathroom floor because I shed like a dog. On occasion, there may be some leftovers that got shoved to the back of my fridge and forgotten about. Until they’ve turned into a science experiment. On a rough day, I like to come home, throw on my sweats, pull my hair back and sip a glass of wine while leaning against the kitchen counter and flipping through the most recent Victoria’s Secret Catalogue. It’s our “secret single behavior” and to allow someone else to know us in such a vulnerable way is terrifying.
So we hold back. There are women who will wake up twenty minutes before their significant other does, put on their make-up, and crawl back into bed, pretending they woke up looking so incredible. We shove six loads of dirty laundry into our closet like teenagers before we let our new love interest come into our home for the first time. We are masters of disguise. So why is it we’re so surprised when people turn out to be someone other than we expected?
I sometimes think that my bad-boy radar is dyslexic. We’ve all been there; that situation where we are getting to know two different guys at once and it comes time to make a decision. We take out our checklists, make a pro/con chart and phone-a-friend (or fifteen) for their opinion. Sometimes, we make the right decision and live happily ever after, so to speak. Other times, a week or so after we say goodbye to one of those options, it all blows up in our face. Mr. Good-on-paper turns out to be nothing but a disaster. And when we run into the one we let go? He’s got a great new job or beautiful new girlfriend. How could we have been so wrong?
Everyone’s “secret single behavior” is different. Some of us try to make ourselves look better than we are. I’m willing to bet every woman reading knows another female who presents herself with class and sophistication while, truthfully, she’s sleeping with a different guy every night. For some people, it’s the complete opposite. The world of men is so twisted from the world the rest of us live in so it’s hard for us to understand sometimes. When I met my boyfriend in college, I thought he was the biggest male slut in the world. He was always at some party or some bar with this girl or that girl. He liked to dance with everyone, had frosted tips (back when it was “cool”) and a tongue ring. He was a “bad boy”. It took awhile for him to break me down to give him a chance. What I learned was that he was nothing at all that I thought. He was family oriented, church going, very loving and affectionate. Sure, he flirted a lot but as for being a slut? He had only slept with one person before we met.
Women are supposed to present as angelic and men are supposed to present as tough and sexual. Right or wrong, that’s just the way it is. When women present with a healthy sexual appetite we are easy or sluts. “A lady in the streets and a freak in the bed”, right? But for men, they’re encouraged to put it all out there, whether or not that’s who they actually are. So, we wind up blowing off certain men because we think they’re getting it in with every woman they talk to when, in actuality, they’re looking for a woman whom with they can settle down. Sure, some men are just dogs. But there are plenty of them out there, sexy and smooth, who are just giant flirts and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Maybe it’s time we start to give them a chance.
To Jen, the reader who wanted to know about “the judgment of men… how they can be surprising because the ones who you think are “good” may not be “good” just because they meet all of the conventional stereotypes… that perhaps you might find someone who you only in retrospect realize is a good person… (ex. – maybe someone who appears a bit rough around the edges)”: I usually don’t give those rough-around-the-edges boys a second glance. When I’ve watched them dance with every girl in the club all night, or they come up with some cheesy pick up line, I tend to roll my eyes and walk away. Recently, I met one of those guys. And something made me stop and think about my own behavior. I tend to drink too much when I go out; I am loud and have no filter; I like to sing on stage with the band and I curse like a truck driver. I write a blog about sex and my dating life which puts their dating life out there, too. I’m a little rough around the edges I suppose 🙂 But inside, I am soft, kind, compassionate, loyal and loving. I would (and have) give everything I have to the people I care about. And so, I decided to give this guy a chance. I am still getting to know him and, he certainly isn’t perfect. But so far, I am really glad I didn’t roll my eyes and walk away. From what I’ve learned up to this point, my pre-judgements were completely wrong. My advice? Don’t listen to what they’re saying. Listen to what they aren’t saying. Don’t look at what they do. Look at what they’re not doing. (He may dance with every girl in the club but when those girls try to take it a step further, did you notice he walked away?) We don’t want anyone to judge us but we are quick to judge others. Take your own car, tell at least two people where you’re going to be for the night, make sure your cell phone is charged but…give people a chance. As you already know, they may surprise you!
“Surprisingly so You are one of my most favorite things Like notebooks, portland and tea And when you smile…you smile…you smile at me You have no idea how sweet it can be” ~ Amy Seeley, Surprisingly So