Not a ladies’ man

It seems an old conversation, a theme that keeps recurring: why is it so many people assume that I’m a ladies man?

It happened again today. I’m back at work and I stop by the desk of one of my friends and ask how her Christmas and New Year was. She then asked how my break was. Before I could answer the dude behind her swivels in his chair and with a big smile says “he was busy dating all the girls.”

I thought, WTF? He’s a cool dude, but I don’t really know him that well, so his comments came as a total surprise. Before Christmas some of the girls got hold of an old photo of me and went on about how handsome I was. When he saw it he said something like “you must have pulled a lot of chicks back then”. I’m only guessing that’s where this comment has stemmed from. The problem is he said it right in front of the girl I like and I figure she won’t much like the idea of me being a ladies man, besides which, actually, I’m not.

There’s something always deflating in episodes like this. They’re surprisingly regular, so there must be something to it. I dislike it because it’s a misrepresentation, and because it presumes me to be more shallow than I am, and because there’s a taint of profiling in such easy assumptions.

I asked Donna why this happens to me so much. She came back straight at me: because you have a swagger. Because you’re cocky and confident and comfortable with women. Because you have the demeanour of a man who reckons he can charm his way to anything.

I can only take her at her word – she probably knows me better than anyone. I was a little surprised though. A few years back I would have accepted it a lot easily. Once upon a time I sat very easily within my skin. Since then I feel a lot more frail, so it’s a great surprise that I still give off that vibe. Is it a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. What’s not so good is how others interpret it.

So I was annoyed and actually felt downhearted afterwards. And I was deadly concerned about what she would think. I’m an authentic dude I think, and I want her to think it too. I want to be absolutely square.

I thought about it when I went to lunch. Of course I did. It occurred to me that this concern actually aligns with my desire to be less glib. That’s a reason I want to be less glib (though I do it so well). Glib sits well with the notion of the ladies’ man. It’s easy to believe that someone so slippery and ready with the one liners is like that on a personal basis. That’s not what I want.

I can’t change my nature, and I don’t want to. I’m happy to be confident, as much as it is. I’m glad I can be charming and witty. And being comfortable with women is no bad thing. If that’s all there is though I’m apt to be misinterpreted, and because I’ve been so guarded so often that’s all acquaintances see of me. And so they draw conclusions.

I’m upset by this, but it affirms my intention to be more open and vulnerable. It gives context and balance. It makes me authentic.

I’m trusting that no significant harm has been done with the girl I like, but she’s gone home since and I can’t tell. Otherwise, I’ve taken the plunge and opened up to someone I trust this morning and told him about my homeless/unemployed interlude. He was fine with it, and in fact confessed how he lived with his parents for two years after his divorce. I felt good letting it go. It’s not such a big deal, which is how it should be.

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