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This excerpt is from my book "Why You’re Still Single: Things Your Friends Would Tell You If You Promised Not to Get Mad".
It ran on MSN today and after receiving a few thank you emails, I was convinced to rerun it. Hope you enjoy.
Repeat this to yourself one thousand times:
Screwed-up people are not more interesting than people with their heads together. Baggage is not fascinating, romantic, or exciting. It is very, very tiring. Men who are polite and emotionally mature are hot. Learn it, love it, live by it.
I have no idea whom to blame for the romantic mythology surrounding brooding, emotionally limited, narcissistic yahoos. I’m tempted to chalk it up to movies, where most men who start out as selfish jerks are eventually revealed to be wounded birds of some sort. Or it might be the uglier side of the therapy culture, which tempts you with the idea that these jerks might be amenable to solution, like crossword puzzles.
For whatever reason, there are a surprising number of women who are attracted to guys who can’t commit, who can’t relate, who can’t get along with anyone, who can’t tell the truth… these guys get a lot of action.
It’s not that women really want jerks, exactly. I think it’s a matter of mistaking emotional clutter for emotional complexity. Here’s an analogy: Imagine a messy apartment. You walk in, you survey your surroundings, and there’s an incredible quantity of stuff lying around. Books in tall stacks, Chinese food containers in the corners, DVDs in and out of boxes scattered around the TV… the place is in chaos. And while you wouldn’t really want to live there, there might be some part of you that would look around and grudgingly admit, “There’s a lot going on here.” Now, imagine the same apartment, once somebody has managed to get it cleaned up. The books are on the shelves, the trash is thrown away, the DVDs are alphabetized. This is a much nicer place to live. But it’s a little… you know, boring. And that’s in spite of the fact that the same books are being read, the same food is being eaten, and the same DVDs are being watched. You’re just in the presence of a person who knows how to clean up after himself.
I think that for a lot of women, guys in turmoil seem strangely fascinating, as if they are, by definition, more interesting than everyone else. There’s more of that clutter, so there’s more going on, and there’s more to sink your teeth into, and there’s maybe even more emotional depth to such a person.
Let me tell you something about the guys I know who are emotionally mature. The ranks of the healthy and rational include plenty of guys who have been in rehab, or been divorced, or seen their parents’ marriages end horribly, or had their own dreams thwarted in some ugly way—all the things that creeps are fond of waving around as explanations for why they lie or cheat on you or generally continue to be creeps.
The difference is that the healthy and rational people have at least undertaken the process of digesting all of that stuff and placing it in some sort of perspective so that it doesn’t have to become your problem. They know from suffering, just as much as the ones who sit around brooding into their beers and writing free verse and dragging everyone else into their little theater of agony. The sane ones are still working on their crap, too—who isn’t? The difference is that they’re not fetishizing their own misery or asking you to embrace it. And that’s a benefit to you, because the only thing you can guarantee yourself about that kind of hair-pulling drama is that if you cuddle up next to it, it’ll get on you.
You’re going to get plenty of emotional complications from anyone. Even people who have their lives very well pulled together are going to give you lots of opportunities to practice patience and understanding. There’s no point in starting out with someone who isn’t even trying.
According to Linda, many intelligent women prefer men with emotional complexities, even if it means that he can be verbally abusive, inaccessible, and generally loonier than Courtney Love on a bender. …
Why He Disappeared is the smart, strong, successful woman's guide to understanding men. If you want to learn how men think, and rediscover how to have meaningful relationships - all from a man's point of view - click here to learn Why He Disappeared.
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