Like Meghan Daum, Heather Havrilesky is another author and Facebook friend whom I haven’t met yet. She, too, is a Duke graduate from the 90’s as well as a noted advice columnist, and I’ll be the first to admit that she’s probably better than I am.
Not because she’s spent fifteen years studying dating and relationship dynamics like a I have, but because she’s one helluva writer with a uniquely powerful voice who puts WAY more thought into her blistering columns than I do with mine.
I could pull any one of her Ask Polly diatribes she writes for New York Magazine, but this one, entitled, “Why Don’t Men I Date Ever Truly Love Me?” really struck a chord.
Not only is the question – from a woman who is liked but never loved by her boyfriends – a well-written one, but Havrilesky’s answer gives me goosebumps in its fierce clarity.
“There’s nothing wrong with you… You’re probably attracting a wider swath of men than is good for you. They aren’t self-selecting themselves out of contention, because you seem perfectly healthy and reasonable. If you seemed impatient or intolerant, you might slough off some of the wishy-washy slackers in the mix. If you were a little temperamental, you might lose all but the most fervent admirers. Instead, you are healthy and sane and no one will object to being a team, and when you hit month 18 you’ll (very wisely) assess the situation with your therapist: “Welp, he’s either going to pop the question or hit the road, and I need to be fully emotionally prepared for either eventuality.”
This reminds me of my wife – a woman who is so happy and even-tempered that she could always get men to date her, but was so happy and even-tempered that those same men took it for granted and wasted years of her life without fully committing.
After Havrilesky validates the OP, she gets to work and points out the flaw of being too agreeable and waiting for some guy to choose you.
Because let me tell you the god’s honest truth: A lot of women out there are afraid of being something. The template for us is pretty clear: We are meant to have clean skin, a pleasant demeanor, and a nice rack. I’m not speaking up against nice racks, Lord knows. But there are lots of ladies around me, everywhere I go, who hesitate to say what they’re thinking and feeling. They go with the flow, they never make waves. And eventually, they don’t even seem to know what makes them who they are. They live to serve. They read the books hat other people are reading. They say the pleasant things that other people are saying. They never put their needs first, unless it indirectly serves someone else – a manicure, some highlights. They make sure everyone around them is 100 percent satisfied. Like grocery-store managers. Like customer service reps. Like masseuses who also give free happy endings.”
A woman needs a nice guy…with balls. A man needs a cool girl…with boundaries.
You may be surprised to hear me say that because I publicly talk about the value of being warm, friendly and easygoing. But I also talk about being the “benevolent CEO” of your love life and treating men like interns who need to perform to earn the full-time tenured job as husband. My point is that these two things complement each other; they don’t contradict each other. A woman needs a nice guy…with balls. A man needs a cool girl…with boundaries. Someone who loves herself and holds out for a man who truly loves her, not tolerates her.
That’s where Havrilesky and I converge:
“You should be cherished, too. Cherish yourself. What kind of work are you doing in therapy? Is it time to stop being so good and start discovering what’s going to transform your life into something big and vibrant and shocking? Do you want to get little pats on the head and control your expectations and quietly hope for more? Or do you want to say, for once and for all, NO MORE KIND, MATURE SLEEPWALKING. NO MORE WISHY-WASHY DUDES WHO LOVE THEMSELVES BUT FIND ME WANTING.”
I’ve given a lot away here, but do yourself a favor and click thru to read the whole ass-kicking piece. If you are not inspired to dump the wishy-washy dude who shows no signs of cherishing you, better get prepared to get strung along and dumped once again.
Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.