Lessons From A Dork: Volume II
There are aspects to dating, and I mean trying to find special someone, that are just nonsensical. For most of us who are single, that's pretty obvious. For people who are married or in 'relationships', well, sometimes I have to remind them how tough it can be. How fruitless. How mind-numbingly, sigh inducing, and utterly ridiculous it can be. And that's just the first date.
It gets even tougher when you don't understand the opposite sex. Or yourself. Or what message you're supposed to convey. Or why the opposite sex responds to things they're not supposed to respond to. Or why they always want to be your friend. Or why they always want more than friendship.
This is true whether you're a Christian or not, religious or not; it's all the same, because these principles are universal. I'm not saying that makes it easier. If anything, it just makes it more difficult. Christians have certainly tried hard enough. Have you ever tried to read one of those ridiculous Christian 'dating' books? Yeah. Those are a big help. Especially since they're inevitably written by an old married guy who hasn't been on a date in twenty years. Ahhh. So you want me to 'court' the woman, whatever that means, and then make sure I ask permission before I bring my father's carriage over for a Sunday afternoon ride in the park. Helpful. What do I do when they won't get off their cell phone? Put the horses into a light canter?
I have to be honest, I don't worry about dating a whole lot these days. If a woman thinks I'm mean, or an idiot, or goofy, or whatever, I can smile and walk away. Don't get me wrong, I didn't get to this point because I suddenly understand the whole Mars/Venus thing. (Except for a basic premise that women and men are equal. That seems to be a big deal. Too many guys still attach their egos to their rims or their stereo or their finely tailored suits. It is called compensating, big guy, and its pretty obvious to the rest of us.) No. It happened when the information became so confusing at some point I just stopped caring. Little did I know that I was on the right track to becoming more interesting. Little did I know that I was starting to exhibit the behaviours and habits women were looking for. (Apparently I was showing confidence by not caring what they thought, although I may have wanted to care and wanted them to know that, but by not caring, it showed that I cared about the things that mattered most, which is what they cared about.)
Yup... it's confusing. Some authours try to divide their 'theories' specifically for men OR women, but the principles are the same. A friend tried to explain it to me a few years ago, but back then, I didn't really understand what he was saying.
Three years ago...
She was short, with curled brown hair that nestled around her shoulders and just past her graceful neck. She walked with an easy grace, and as she passed by she noticed me at the table and smiled. I tried to hide my surprise as I smiled and quickly looked away.
"I saw that." Jeff said.
We were having a coffee at my favourite cafe, and I was wrangling the confidence to ask him how I could be more successful with the opposite sex.
"You looked away. Why did you look away. Do you feel unworthy or something?"
"No. I mean- she just kind of surprised- it's not about being worthy- I just-"He laughed.
"Well, maybe you can help me, dude."
I'd already thought about this. I figured someone who’d been dating four girls when he’d met his wife (to whom he remains happily married) could help my romantic skills. At this point I was being realistic. My track record spoke for itself.
He snorted and laughed when I asked him his secret.
“Are you serious? You want advice for dating women?” he said, taking a quick peek around, as if I'd asked him a national secret. I knew what he was thinking. What dork would openly admit he needs help!?
“Yeah. Like you’ve dated so many, and now that I’m back in the game, I want to get a handle on what’s changed.”
Jeff gave me a skeptical look, as if to say I’d never played the game, not at the competitive level anyway.
“Well, the first thing you need to do is not talk so much.”
“Don’t talk so damn much. Women hate it when you barrage them with information. It makes you look desperate. Be cool.”
“What makes you think I talk too much.”
He raised an eyebrow and took a sip from his coffee.
I nodded. Crap, I hadn’t remembered telling him about her.
“Okay, talk less. Got it. What else?”
Jeff scratched his head. I could tell that he thought this exercise was pointless but he kept going.
“Well, the main thing is that you have to not care. You have to not care if she likes you or doesn’t like you. It can’t bother you if she doesn’t call you back or if she ignores you at some point when you first meet.”
“What? That doesn’t make any sense at all. If she doesn’t know that I want to know her, how will she know that I’m interested?”
“You don’t want her to know that you’re interested in her. You want her to be interested in you.” Jeff said, barely able to contain his frustration.
"But two minutes ago you told me I shouldn't have looked away, that I should have maintained eye contact."
f course! When you looked down you basically told her you were unworthy of her, that she was not at your level, that you would do anything to get her approval."
Now that didn’t make any sense at all. I sipped my coffee, pretending to think about what he’d said, but he might as well have been speaking Latin. What the heck is he talking about? I did all that. All I did was to sip my coffee?
The good friend that he is, Jeff sighed, sensing my lack of understanding, and tried again.
“Women want mystery. They want to know that you’re not easily available. They want to feel special, and so when you do give them attention, it means something. No woman is interested in a man who is obviously interested in her.”
"So... what do I do?”
“Ignore her. Let her make the first move.”
"Except when I first see them."
"Right, you need to establish that you believe you're worthy of them."
I stared at him blankly.
I’m going to be single for the rest of my life.
Jeff stood, his frame full of sighs and smirks and gentle humour.
"Burnsy, you’ll never play the game. Might as well stay out.”
“Wait! Don’t give up on me, pal. I hear what you’re saying. Let me see if I got this right. I need to talk less, hardly say anything, and when I see a woman that I’m interested in, I have to not care if she’s interested or not. I stare at her first, to establish my worthiness. But later, well, that’s when I ignore her, to give her a sense of mystery about the whole thing, and if she doesn’t make the first move, I shouldn’t worry about it.”
Jeff laughed so loud and so long that tears began to roll down his face.
"Oh, Burns…” Was all he could say before he broke into reams of laughter again. I sighed.
“I’m going to be single for the rest of my life, aren’t I?”
He patted my shoulder in reassurance.
“Believe it or not, Burnsy, there are women out there who don’t play the game. That’s who you need to find.”
Right. Piece of cake.
I remembered our conversation a number of months later after an unsuccessful foray into the female domain. What Jeff had said was pretty similar to the stuff John told me on a regular basis, but for whatever reason, I had trouble putting the whole thing into practice with the women I’d met. I can’t tell you how frustrating it all was.
I remember walking my friend Joanne to her car one day outside the school parking lot, when the subject of dating came up. She’d been single for nearly a year, and I was wondering if she’d met anybody interesting in the last month.
“I like being single, Steve. Right now, I just don’t want the responsibility of calling someone three times a day and knowing where each other is at all times and checking to make sure its okay if I do something with them.”
"Hey, Joanne, what do you think about this worthiness stuff?"
I told her what Jeff had said.
She laughed and then nodded.
"That's about right. A woman needs to know that a man will call her on her crap. If he's always looking for approval, it won't be good." She paused. "Would you want a woman who was always trying to please you?"
"Nope. I guess not."
As I watched her drive away, I wondered how my past relationships had affected me. Was I doing that? Looking for approval?
It amazes me how many unhappy couples I see. They fight on the bus, in the supermarket, in the coffee shop. Someone needs to tell them that they don't have to be together. Aren't relationships a choice? When did we decide that they were so important that you couldn't have a whole life without a romantic relationship? I think that a part of the problem is definitely related to our search for approval. That without someone telling us we are worthy, or implying our worthiness by their presence next to us. (Look, someone loves me. I must be valuable.) And we hold on to those relationships even when they are destructive.
Yeah, relationships can be great, but there are far too many people who are miserable in their relationships. Luckily, I don't need to produce a study to back this up. Just walk around and listen to people. (As a side note to you couples, please don't argue in public. We don't want to hear and see your crap. It isn't cool. If I go to a bookstore to relax, I don't want to hear you fighting over the new wallpaper or whether the crib should be corral or peach, or whether your sister-in-law was flirting with you. And that goes for people (single or not) on your cell phone. News flash. WE CAN HEAR YOU! Go outside or something.)
The voices in society tell us a lot of things. They tell we need this, that we must have that. They tell us we are worthy only if we are or do something a certain way. How cool that God loves us with all of our crap. Relationships are only worth it if they are worth it. If they aren't, then what are we doing?!
If I had figured that out when I was seventeen with my first girlfriend, it would have saved me a world of heartache, but that's a story for another day.