Friday, October 5, 2012

Gloria Steinhem Sunk My Ship. (In which I learn dating is political.)

Controversea, that is what I am navigating, dear Reader.  The balmy, salty swirl of debate!  Since I yanked the anchor last week and set sail alone, adrift in the unfathomable oceans of romance, I have caused a little ripple in the pool.  You haven't read my last blogette: The Love Boat Sailed Without Me. (Bugger.)?  Tsk, Well, here is you second chance!

Interestingly, much of the gritty critique was not posted publicly, but sent discreetly for my eyes only, or to my ears, over a mound of humus and glass of wine.  But, regardless of medium, golly gee, crumble my crackers and unleash the ravenous sea gulls, people shared their opinions on this!

Yes, whilst most Facebook postings lambast political puppets—have you noticed all politicians have over-sized noggins?  Were they dropped as children?—my message feed has been choked with encouraging fists, cheers, whoops, “go girl”-s and delicate advice.

It has been very lovely, thank you one and all; but it is interesting to see this almighty continental drift and dating divide in this Sesame Sea!  

Whoever thunk there could be a political swing for dating technique?  WHO KNEW?  Let’s discuss this!  (Without getting all political and boring.)

I am an oxymoron, a Demi-can, a Repubi-crat.  I know this.  I am a Rah! Rah! high on estrogen, go-getting, team-playing entrepreneur with traditional, romantic sensibilities.  I like a challenge, I like to win, but I also like to be won.   I'm the kind of girl who would happily enjoy claiming her social freedom of paying for the raw cut of steak Johnny Random has just wolfed down, without pausing for breath, but I’d probably enjoy it far more if he paid.  And this is where my feminist convictions start to let me down, because I will admit--on behalf of the honest/drunk female population--that when a woman says, “Oh, I’ll get this,” what we really mean is: “I could and am willing to pay for this; however, it would be grr... oh so manly if you insisted and while my back was turned paid anyway.”  (You will also greatly improve your chances of action.)  That sounds awful, I know.   Gloria Steinhem hates my guts right now.  She's lining my row boat up in her sights and is about to launch the cannon.

Yes, I like it when a chap looks after me.  I said it, Gloria.  I wish it weren’t true, like the existence of mascara mites, taxes or Justin Bieber, but let me explain: this is not about money, but a show of care.  If a date insists on paying and rejects my offer, he is showing care and respect, and could be kind and generous and gallant; and kindness is one of the most highly sought after character traits that women over 30 look for in men.  (According to a study conducted by me, on me and Monica.  Sample size: 2.)
Mr. Spiky certainly will not get any.

I often assert my dinner-paying intention and sometimes Johnny Random lets me win, and I feel virtuous and proud, like I have just eaten something vegan and kept it down.  But do I really like it?  Do I really feel fulfilled with his protection and caring and courtship, assured of his kindness?  No.  I do not.  And thus, I think, despite my gong-banging, high-kicking, fist-pumping girl power, I am an independent failure as I DO want to prized, protected and adored.  Books about harnessing my Inner Goddess do not keep one warm at night; being harnessed in the capable arms of some kind, achingly funny gent, now there you are talking.

I feel like I am letting the side down, like I am all mouth and no trousers, striving to be an Independent Kick Ass, but waiting for an Independent Ass Kicking Chap to swoop in and save me.  The conservative feedback chorused loud and clear here:  the more successful you are, the more intimidating men will find you.  Maybe there is something thorny and unalluring about my business suit, fishnets and 3 inch heels?  Maybe it is too dominating and ignites fear in the pit of every man?  What do they think I am going to do with those heels? I don’t think it is a coincidence that more than one SOB (Significant Other Bloke) has commented that they prefer me in jeans and boots, hair flowing and eyes unadorned.  Do they not understand the lengths I go to?  Regardless, this seems to be the take home message: women in suits are spiky and untouchable. 
In fact, the text directness that I was brazenly emblazoning in my last blogette, is spikiness textualized.  I think, and correct me if I am wrong here chaps, but men want phone foreplay too.  Directness might circumvent confusion, but it does veer into head on, unavoidable collision.  The blunt, no frills, no additional adjectives of “Do you want to go out tonight?” is breath-catching in its forthright punch-and-there-you-go delivery.  It’s like jumping to the naughties without any wordplay.  Rough and uncomfortable.  

I say this because I tried it, this liberal, no asky no getty approach.  I hit the override switch on my pride protection, breathed air into my heart and tentatively typed the words I thought I should say to get my message across to him.  I deleted the message, re-wrote it, mulled over the phrasing, wished I could make it sound less demanding, all whilst waiting in line for my chicken sandwich.  Just as I was about to delete the whole thing and settle of a harmless emoticon, my sandwich was ready and in my fluster of fists, I sent it.   I dropped my purse, tossed my sandwich and fumbled my phone, watching the screen with horror as bar reached 100% sent and the text invisibly shot into his hands, to his eyes, brain inbox, and mental junk.  Yes, Dear Reader, I was direct.  In that message I was wearing directness like a new pair of shoes!  It wasn’t all that comfortable, but all my girlfriends said it looked really nice!  Guess what I learned?  If the shoe doesn’t fit, the shoe DOES NOT FIT, because being direct, asking what I want is really difficult, and can be confrontational, and stiff, alienating and intimidating and just not me.  And, as you can probably tell from my reaction, being direct really invites an emotional fist in the face.

A male friend commented, 
“Aren’t you lowering the romantic bar?  Being direct and all, aren’t you doing all the work for him?  Aren’t you saying that you don’t need to be treated as a lady in the traditional sense, that he can treat you like an equal, like a friend with benefits, and you are okay with that?  Because patently, you are not okay with that.”

I AM NOT OKAY WITH THAT!  I do want to be equal, and I do want to be romanced.  And I don’t want to have to do all the fucking work. 

“Eleanor, you deserve to be treated like a lady.  Don’t you want to be treated like a lady, to be treasured and adored?”  I found myself nodding like a droopy-eyed puppy. 
“Yes.  Yes, I do.” I mumbled inaudibly.
“Because doing what you are doing is intimidating to men.  You know, they are gonna see you out all bubbly and holding court as you do and it frightens an insecure man.  You just need to find a good southern man who’ll treat you right and be man enough to see and appreciate you.”

I defy any lady, however powerful, to deny she doesn’t want to be romanced.  Everyone wants to feel special and as if they are a first priority.  

I have just finished reading Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel, Gone Girl, a compelling portrayal of relationship apathy and pyschopathy.  Odd that I would find a heart-hugging kind of romance in such a twisted tale, but actually, I did.  I found Self thinking how lovely it would be to create a treasure hunt for your beloved, with clues in locations of significance, the last ending in a big ta dah!  (I really would love to surprise someone I adored with a big ta dah!)  It’s not direct, it’s not restrained, it is just comfortably honest.  In fact, as much as I loved this novel, in it’s raw, shot-of-Jameson, clear-your-senses, sting-your-gums kind of way, I liked the Acknowledgements most, because after such a rollercoaster, the wholesome, unconfrontational appreciation, just got me:
“Brett: Husband!  Father of my child!  Dance partner, emergency grilled-cheese maker.  The kind of fellow who knows how to pick the wine.  The kind of fellow who looks great in a tux.  Also a zombie- tux.  The Guy with the generous laugh and the glorious whistle,  The guy who has the answer.  The guy who makes my child laugh till he falls down.  The man who makes me laugh until I fall down…The man who read and reread and reread and then reread, and not only gave advice, but gave me a bourbon app.  You’re it, baby.  Thanks for marrying me.”    

Sure, she has written this after they have been married and have a child, but if I could adopt a similar openness, I wouldn’t need to hide behind the righteous show of being direct, lobbing a text grenade that lands at my feet; or to sit conservatively waiting, like Patience on a monument, my principals and pride botoxing my face, my heart, my stomach while I wait.

As I forensically examine the bloody corpse of my last romantic interlude, I wondered if my Southern friend was right; the big-ballsed, straight-shooting, spiky-suit-wearing, direct-texting version of me is too manly.  Who knows?  Maybe Johnny Random just needed to be needed; or maybe he just never really cared much in the beginning.

So as I watch the Presidential Candidates fight like Punch and Judy and verbally bash each other over the head, I realize dating is not so such a fifty shades of grey area, it is red and blue; and maybe this should be our guide when wanting to date a certain type of partner and enjoy a particular style of dating.  If you are liberal, you can embrace directness, equality and fabulous feminism, and you should date people who similarly hug the same ideals of social go gettery; maybe if you are conservative you long to be swept off your feet and you should seek a partner with a strong back and good health insurance.  But what happens when you want liberal reverence and traditional romance?  I suppose I'll have to find a man with big enough balls to find out!


  1. In a Sociology book I recently read, there was a passage that stated people seek an "acceptable, equal partner." There is no such thing as love at first sight, but people in fact look for someone that they feel is going to fit into their life. This is usually the reason doctors marry other doctors or nurses, or lawyers are with other lawyers. They are each others equal intellectually, financially, and socially, and therefore are a "match."
    Damn "Pretty Woman" and Disney for creating the thought that a hooker could end up with a rich business man, or a maid could end up with a prince!
    Fortunately , my dear Eleanor, you are not a damsel in distress and are in no need of rescuing. But you are a Queen and deserve to be treated as such. Unfortunately, this area is crawling mostly with toads, and not the kind that transform when you kiss them! ;)

  2. Oh E.

    As always, your escapades are entertaining, your words comically enlightening, but your conclusion is wrong. (or perhaps your sample size should be just a bit larger).

    Powerful women are not intimidating, at least not to a man that has a scrap of self-confidence. But, if you do find a man that gets shaky at the sight of your briefcase, then politely thank him for flicking the switch on the otherwise unnoticeable"should not be mated with" neon sign just above his helplessly insecure head, and quickly walk out of Denny's. The power suit doesn't scare off "Mr. Right"---rather, it creates an impenetrable "Mr. Wrong" repelling force field that protects you, your sense of independence, and also your lady-goodies (which, ultimately, is good for the gene pool).

    The issue isn't intimidation. It's time.

    Men don't exactly need to be needed (believe me, any self-respecting man is more than happy to be just a bit more than a plumber that you have sleepovers with) It's more about being wanted.

    Just like women, men want to know that they matter in the eyes of their SOB (significant other broad). Any person worth being with is busy. Period. But when romantic entanglements are constantly squeezed in between everything else as opposed to THE primary focus of life, then what's the point? An Ipad can't give you a hug. (not yet anyway, but there may eventually be an app for that)

    Women: Be suited. Be powerful. Be busy. Set the world on fire, cure cancer, hell---keep a phone booth hidden in the garage just in case an oversize novelty spotlight crosses the nighttime sky and you need to quickly slip into a spandex body suit made of bullet-proof, mad-scientist-proof, and aerodynamic---yet figure-fabulous---fabric. Have a blast!

    But, for the love of all things holy, find time to pencil the SOB in for a cuddle session or two. Yes, that's right. I said "cuddle session."

    Because just as the old "check-tango" makes you feel prized, protected and adored--- the undivided, undistracted, and un-preoccupied stare of a beautiful woman in our arms makes us feel, well, pretty frickin' quacktastic.

    Yah dig?

    Oh, and as far as jeans are concerned---speaking from my own personal experiences, when I'm on a date---I want to be on a date, in a comfortable restaurant, and talking comfortably; not in a boardroom, with a silk-Calvin Klein-noose around my neck, talking about market projections for the next fiscal year.