I went to the soccer the other night and was walking home a little after 10 when my phone rang. We’d had a decent meal sitting in the sunshine of the city square, as well as a few cold pints and a glass of wine before the game even begun. By the time I was walking home I was pleasantly weary and looking forward to winding for an hour or so before climbing into bed. Then my phone rang.
It was Donna. She had been to her first ever speed dating event the week before and had connected, she thought, with one guy in particular. As it turned out she was mutually agreeable with three guys, including the one she liked. Problem is that he had written to her saying he enjoyed meeting with her, but only wanted to be friends.
Donna was in a predictable tizz. She was upset and confused and searching for answers. Once more she felt rejected, and her expectations defeated. She wanted to know what this meant and what she should do from a ‘male perspective’. Her inclination she told me was to send an email demanding to know what had happened, the tone veering from hectoring to sarcastic.
By this time I was home with Rigby jumping all over me. I rolled my eyes once more at the extreme reactions of Donna and attempted to put her straight.
She feared that she had put him off when the conversation veered to the topic of her ex, a subject she’s always pretty vociferous about. That was a no-no I told her, and hardly likely to help, but the damage was done – learn from it. Absolutely no future in sending anything narky, or even asking for an explanation – it sounds weak and nothing to gain from it. Best to let it go altogether I told her, but if you have to respond then be cool with it – a single line, composed and in control.
It’s never as easy as that with her. We probably spent the next 30 minutes going backwards and forwards over the same argument. Like a lot of women she agonises over every nuance of expression and possibility. What does that mean? Why did he leave his mobile number? Why did…? He was giving her the polite brush-off, that was that. He had the hand, and if she wanted to change anything she had to get it back.
She grudgingly agreed and when finally we disconnected I was exhausted by the perpetual to and fro. I went to bed.
At about 2am my phone tinged as it registered an incoming message. I was sleeping well and so picked it up. It was Whisky from KL, exasperated he said by the complexities of women. He went on to explain that he had knocked back an offer of sex from some woman and she had exploded. They had been friends for 7 years and now she threatened to have nothing more to do with him. Why were women like that?
I sighed lying there in the dark. This was the other side of the argument from earlier in the night. Tempted to give a glib response instead I gave him my opinion. Sex is something men do. We disconnect ourself from it. If we miss out it’s generally no big deal – another bus will come along soon enough.
It’s different for women. For most women most of the time there is an emotional commitment to sex. It is, in some sense, an expression in that moment of their feelings and emotions. When we reject the sex we implicitly reject them, or so it appears to them. For men sex is mostly physical; for women it’s personal. This sense of rejection is deepened knowing that many men will fuck anything that moves – so what’s wrong with me?
This morning I got a message from Donna. She had taken my advice and sent a cool and non-committal email to the man in question. Her first response was an excited “I’ve got the hand!” He had responded asking for more. Nothing intrigues a man more than a woman in control – and nothing deters a man more than a desperate woman.
Men can learn a lot from women, and vice versa. It is in our make-up as men that we almost always have the ‘hand’ early on even in a relationship – though it can change later. It is our nature to skim the surface initially, to avoid premature commitment and generally the more intimate emotions.
We should be better than that. But so to should women abstain from getting too caught up too soon, from feeling things too personally. That can come, but in the meantime there are only positives from being in command of your own feelings and expression. It’ll draw more men that way than not, will fascinate many men and give a more equal relationship – as it should be.
Today Donna thinks I’m the oracle. Everything I said has been correct, but that’s because I’m a man, the uber man in a lot of these respects (Donna believes in the event of a nuclear holocaust the cockroaches and my confidence will both survive), I think like a man and know how other men think. And I have that ruthless, hard-nosed way of thinking most men do in certain situations, black and white, it works or doesn’t and move on if it doesn’t.
Now Donna has that to, for now – and the man comes running.