#2173 The problem with boys

Jude Law in Alfie – the personification of this post.

I have this friend named Jack who does very well with girls. He’s tall, good looking, supremely self confident, and he gets away with murder. For the past three months he’s been spending a lot of time with a girl named Kate, but they’re not dating. Despite seeing her most days of the week, sleeping at her apartment every other night and doing everything a normal couple does, they’ve decided not to put a label on things. You see, at the very beginning of the relationship when they first started hanging out, Jack was quite clear about one thing: He wasn’t looking for a girlfriend. Kate was fine with this, she told him she wasn’t looking for anything serious either. But Kate recently cornered me late one night at a bar after she’d had a few drinks, and told me that she secretly hoped Jack would come around. The next day when I told Jack what she’d said, he shrugged it off, saying, “Na, it’s all good, she told me she likes things the way they are – she wants to keep it casual.”

It gets better: Because Jack and Kate are not in a relationship, whenever he goes out with the boys, he acts like the single man he believes himself to be – hitting on girls, hooking up with girls, going home with girls. And if he finds himself alone at the end of the night, he calls Kate, who’ll buzz him into her apartment no matter what time he finishes up.

The thing is, Jack’s a great guy. He treats Kate well, he shows her a good time and he never acts like a jerk. Sure he might sleep around with different women on a regular basis, but it’s not cheating – he and Kate are not technically together. He’s just emotionally detached from the relationship, and because it suits him better this way, he chooses to listen to what Kate’s saying when she tells him she’s happy keeping things casual. This way, if Kate ends up getting hurt, he’ll be well within his rights to tell her, “I never lied to you, I was always completely up front about how I felt – I didn’t want a girlfriend. And I’m extremely surprised you’re hurt, because you told me that you weren’t looking for a relationship either.”

I see this scenario constantly. Whenever you have a guy with a little bit of self confidence and an easy way with words, he’ll somehow manage to convince a girl to give him all the perks of a relationship with none of the commitment. It’s the perfect situation because he never has to take responsibility for his behaviour – they’re not in a relationship. Anytime the girl tries to begin a conversation about where it might be headed, he’ll cut her off, saying things like, “I’m just not ready for anything too serious right now, but if that’s what you want, you should find a guy who can give that to you.” Or, “But things are going so well right now, why put a label on it?” Or, “This is just a crazy time for me right now. You’re the perfect girl, if I’d met you five years from now, I would marry you in a heartbeat.”

It’s my opinion that the difference between men and women is that when women act self destructively they end up hurting themselves; when men act self destructively they end up hurting someone else.

When I wrote my post about the problem with girls last week, I got a flood of positive comments about how ridiculous women are. At the time of writing, that was basically my one-sided thinking: Girls are crazy, they’re constantly putting themselves in hurtful situations. Who does that!?

The three most interesting responses I got though, broadened my opinion significantly. One came from Jenna Sauers, a writer for Jezebel and a friend who never shies away from telling me what she really thinks, who told me: “I agree people – especially women – need to call people on their sh*t in relationships more. It’s hard to do that though when you’ve been socialised to prioritise others’ needs and boundaries above your own, which women obviously still are.”

Another came from my Mum, who told me that my post was sexist. “What about the behaviour of the men in these relationships?” she asked. I responded immediately, saying, “Girls are crazy because they should know better – I expect guys to behave like shmucks. It’s how it is. Everbody knows that.” To which she replied, “That’s precisely the problem: It’s an expected mode of behaviour which somehow legitimises that behaviour. Men get away with it because we all know what men are like? How is that not sexist?”

The final response was an email from a friend who said, “The thing that upsets me most about this is how you’re not concerned with how the male is acting, your concern is with the person who can put a stop to it. Fair words on the surface, but the issue goes a lot deeper than that, and you and I know that these girls only act like this because of the treatment of them by these emotionally abusive men. Therein lies the root of the problem and this NEEDS to be driven home more! Calling girls dumb for something that they might really hate about themselves and want to change strikes me as really cruel and unfair and an uneducated insult.”

 Obviously this problem is not going to change in a hurry. We’ve no doubt all been in a relationship at some stage in our lives (romantic or platonic), where the other person is clearly the weaker party. And no matter how nice a person we might like to think we are, it’s incredibly difficult not to take advantage of that weakness – it’s hard to treat somebody with more respect than they treat themselves.

To the girls: When somebody shows you who they are, believe them.

And to the guys: There’s no glory in breaking hearts or using people or taking advantage of somebody’s vulnerability. Don’t play dumb, you know what you’re doing. Like my wise old Dad always says, “If you want to find the right girl, exhibit the qualities that you want in a relationship.” I can only imagine those don’t include selfishness, callousness or a refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions.


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  1. papercranes. says

    Although you’re meant to be a fash blogger and shit, thanks for all of this. 

    It’s nice reading about this and relating to it like a horoscope. 

    Why is it that I, a female, always fall for these shmucks?

    I KNOW that I am and I convince myself it’s okay but at the end, I have to deal with the consequences. I use conversation with others about how I’m suppose to deal with the situation and I don’t even use my own advice. 

    Perks of a relationship without the actual commitment. Dayum you got dem words all right. 

    Thanks for this. 

  2. Lion says

    Nice mate, well done. A lot of stuff I’ve never thought about, however something every guy should.

  3. Charlotte says

    This is the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality to a tee, and the downside to this is ‘girls will be crazy’. It’s unfair and it’s about time this was highlighted more. Ok, yes, sure some people – guys or girls – are idiots and fall for douchebags who will only treat them like sh*t, but will hide that by ‘having all the perks of relationship without the relationship’. You call them an idiot, it seems so simple, don’t go there. But we need to look deeper, where is this behavior stemming from? From years and years of patriarchal (yes I said it) bull that allows and grooms men to be the unhinged eternal childlike bachelor and for women to act as the little emotionally needy hanger-on. 

    The sad thing is, we’ve become so conditioned to these stereotypes that if a girl isn’t ‘crazy’ or particularly needy in a relationship she’s cool but I suspect somewhat suspect within a relationship. (firsthand knowledge, I think). 

  4. says

    I thought that both this and the girls piece were spot on. 

    Personally I have friends of both genders who do this sort of stuff and it’s so hard to be sympathetic. I always tell one friend, with a penchant for the casual relationship (but secretly wanting more and then gets heartbroken), that if she wants guys to not walk all over her and treat her like a booty call – then be straight up from the start. I think that’s the key for girls, because not being straight up at the start is only going to hurt them more in the long run. 

    Then on the male side of the spectrum, guys need to stop encouraging each other to be douchebags. Another friend – who’s a great guy recently got angry at a girl when she wouldn’t sleep with him after he bought her a drink. He was drunk, it was a once off, but instead of telling him that he’d acted like a dick, some of our guy friends high fived him for telling her who’s boss. What’s cool with that?

  5. isaaclikes says

    Yeah that pack mentality is definitely a problem. In my group of friends, if a guy brings a date somewhere, none of the other guys have any qualms with having a crack at her. It’s pretty much may the best man win. And it is most definitely encouraged. There’s almost like a: I’m not even angry I’m impressed reaction to it from the guy who’s bringing the new girl into the mix, which just goes to show the massive emotional remove at play.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  6. Anonymous says

    I like the quote your Dad said. That pretty much got me the girl of my dreams. The only difficulty is maintaining the angelic persona.

  7. Skye says

    You’ve inspired me to write my Auckland Uni cultural studies sociology essay on Girls, Isaac. So thank you!

  8. Guest says

    When I read ‘the problem with girls’ I was going through a similar situation. I’d been seeing a guy through mutual friends for a few weeks, we’d hooked up a few times and went on group dates but he made no effort to see me during the day time or get my number, he gave me his business card. 

    I continued to hold onto hope for the situation as all my girlfriends continued to tell me ‘he’s a nice guy’ or ‘he’s just shy’ and instead started to blame myself for not contacting him. A few days after I read that post, telling myself this situation was different, I went to say hi to him in town and he outright ignored me and acted like a stranger. My point being, the problem with girls is that we give people the benefit of the doubt, hoping for the best in people. I’ve got a self-destructive habit of putting others feelings and needs above myself. I’m aware of this and am trying to change but being an idealist doesn’t make me dumb, just naive. 

    Society puts pressure on guys to initiate dates/calling/texting and this automatically gives them a position of power in relationships. No matter how self confident a girl is we can all fall into this trap. It’s the passiveness of guys with the ‘power’ in relationships to take responsibility for how they affect others feelings that I agree with the feedback to be the main problem here! 

  9. polaralex says

    Dear Isaac,

    Just before my current phase I was in a real relationship. After that was over, I decided that a lifestyle similar to your friend’s would suit me better.

    And boy, am I right!

    I believe that when you are upfront about something and you don’t lie, then there is not problem. If one of the two partners in a “situation” want to, he/she can just leave.

    Finally, I can be like this and as you say “get away with it”. But, still, I’m giving a good time to any girl and I treat them with outmost respect. Like a great friend. On the other hand, if I were to succumb to a woman’s “wants” then my past stories would repeat themselves: the woman would ultimately find a great way to screw me over, to make me feel bad and sad.

    I prefer being the more “unethical” person in a relationship, if that keeps the sum of “bad feelings” to the possible minimum.

    *I hope my English make sense. :p

  10. Ndoudkevitch says

    This is in response to ‘the problem with girls’  . I’m a young woman and I firmly believe that women have just not yet fully evolved emotionally to not be stupid when it comes to men.  I constantly see girls believing every word a guy says even though most of her friends and his know better. Women somehow still have the ability to shut the common sense part of the brain in the believe that “He loves me, he will never do that”or my personal favourite “Let me ask him because he will definitely tell me the truth”. I’m not at all being self righteous because I don’t exactly have the best track record but it is what it is.

  11. guest says

    wow. I’ve spent a year and a half with a complete dickhead who I thought would ‘come around’. 
    Funny how simple it really is.

  12. Adam Charles Mccarthy says

    Your English makes perfect sense. Word of advice however – don’t hold on to that fear forever!  Find the courage to be emotionally available and meet a nice girl.  If you continue with your preference to be the “unethical” power-monger, you will eventually have to pay for female company.

  13. Adagium says

     thanks for writing so beautifully, it made me think of the painting  ”  Ceci n’ est pas une pipe” 

    see Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images

    The Treachery of Images (La trahison des images, 1928–29, sometimes translated as The Treason of Images) is a painting by the Belgian René Magritte, painted when Magritte was 30 years old. The picture shows a pipe. Below it, Magritte painted, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” ( pronunciation (help·info)),French for “This is not a pipe.” The painting is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe, which was Magritte’s point:The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe,” I’d have been lying![2]it does not say what it is, but is written under a drawing of   ” une pipe” But suppose now I swam across the Atlantic, and just SAID it  wasn’t swimming across the ocean?WHY would anyone do anything like this?That ‘s the big question  – it is not so easy nor false on boys side  as you make it seem nowWe all know men are reproached or laughed at if they do xpress their feelings;  and we also know they are not very good at  independent living-  women are more capable, with their much more extended friendships (the dreaded flocks of girls)…while men have to live up to all kinds of expectations concerning their independence . Mix this with lots of testosteron and what do you get?  A truly  nasty potion.Makes me think of  ” Of Human bondage” too .(old Bette Davis movie, still worthwhile). Truth is, all of us  have to find out  about relations by trial and error, as we  can only know anything about ourselves in relationships, given time and occasion to practize and find out.  Of course you hit the nail right on the head if it comes to powergames and taking advantage.. A clear message. But often it is not really so simple.   The paths of all adolescents boys and girls are strewn with roses, with magnificent flowers and huge  thorns.  Romeo and Juliet revisited, allover, ( including suicides)  time and time again.Suicide is not a solution, only an indication of how feelings of pain  are overlooked and ignored, while they are so important and have to be expressed.  There is no other way,  as we learn by expressing our feelings.  And it is truly a very painful period in life.  Of course pain is like a red light, a warning sign, a splendid device to help us learn very important life’s lessons.  If only it did not hurt all the time. ( but if it did not, we would be very happy to forget it). 

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