Now, I can’t speak for all men, but while I may have tolerated similar behavior, I can’t say I’ve ever preferred it. Any time I found myself dating a woman who was an emotional roller-coaster, the only reasons I stuck with her were because a) I was lonely and her presence in my life helped to fill a void or b) I was getting the best sex of my life. Lame, but true.
Put another way: Could you ever picture a man saying out loud, “There’s something that’s just so mysterious about her. Sometimes I look in her eyes and I feel like she totally understands me, and other times, I have no idea what she’s thinking. She runs really hot and cold but I can’t get enough of her. I think I’m going to stick around until I can crack her shell. One day she’ll learn to be more emotionally available and loving.” Tolerance for female ambivalence is not a stereotypically male attribute.
This isn’t at all to castigate women, as much as it is to acknowledge that women see more nuance in every scenario, so it’s no surprise that they give undeserving men the benefit of the doubt. But what for? Hasn’t every woman since the beginning of time had a thing for jerks and realized at some point that jerks were always going to be jerks?
I was the nice guy in high school who enjoyed being friends with cute girls who wouldn’t go out with me in a million years. I figured, “If that’s as close as I can get, I’ll take it. Maybe one day they’ll realize what I’m worth.” I would listen to boy problems galore — essentially, nice girls being treated badly by jerks — and not once did any of these girls ever say: “Hmm, Evan’s a great guy with a really kick-ass mullet. I’ll bet he’d be a wonderful boyfriend.”
But it’s not simply the rejection of the nice guy that’s keeping so many women single. It’s the acceptance of the screwed-up guy. Because screwed-up guys draw screwed-up women into a whole Misery Loves Company episode of Love Connection—where both parties are brought together not by the audience but by their insecurities and inadequacies.
All that “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself” stuff? So true. And if you’re choosing to date guys with major issues, you’re just as guilty as he is. Yes, everybody’s got issues, but not necessarily deal-breaker-type issues. Which is why women often say they’re seeking men who can fit their baggage in a carry-on. Unfortunately, there are lot of men who try to sneak a 75-pound trunk onto the plane and protest that it has wheels so it’s technically a carry-on. Women with issues are the ones who choose these guys.
Women who have their act together simply don’t have the patience. Admittedly, there are a few people who probably enjoy the histrionics and the moods and the make-up sex that come with dating drama kings and queens. But I’d bet that most are just willing to tolerate the drama, because, thus far, that drama comes attached to the “best” person they could find. Essentially, they’re saying, “Yeah, he’s inconsistent, selfish, and distant, but he’s all mine.” Just realize that every second you’re spending with the wrong guy is a second that you’re not out looking for the right one — the guy who gives, the guy who listens, the guy who learns.
Excerpted from Why You’re Still Single by Evan Marc Katz and Linda Holmes. Reprinted by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Evan Marc Katz and Linda Holmes, 2006.
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