|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.
I LIKE YOU!