Saturday, 14 August 2010

But What Should Men Do?

Men are marvellous, and I wish I could help you guys more than I have. I spent most of my youth being afraid of men my age, and then when I got over that, I assumed men thought just like women. Writing my Singles blogs, however, has made it easier to understand men and being married has made it easier to identify with you. For the first time in my life, I've written a story from the perspective of male protagonists. I never dared to before.

The past fifty years were a weird time for men to be born in. The whole concept of masculinity, which was once narrow but easy to figure out, has been questioned. Women, freed from some bad stuff but also robbed of some good stuff too, often treat men terribly. But deep down, women, like you, want to be loved just as much as they want to be respected. The longing for love eats us up.

I think it a tremendous shame that the Women's Revolution, the Sexual Revolution and the so-called "Spirit" of Vatican II (as opposed to Vatican II) all happened at the same time. Amongst the casualties was the bloodied corpse of traditional Catholic courtship. Hands up everyone whose parents (or grandparents) met at a dance in the parish hall. When was the last time you were at a dance in a parish hall? Ah ha ha ha.

When Singles ask me what they should do, and I say "Get out there, make lots of friends, pray, be patient", I'm thinking mostly of women. And if you think it's easy for a woman to point out that men are different from women in many important ways, you haven't been excommunicated by the feminist sisterhood by being bodily carried out of the Woman's Day parade and dumped on the side of the road.

I think Single men, too, should "get out there, make lots of friends and pray" but I don't think you should be so patient. If you want to get married, get cracking. Go to Catholic social events (like coffee after Mass), find out who knows the cute girls, and get yourself introduced to the cute girls. You are less likely to get instantly shot down if someone who knows a cute girl introduces you to her. This was common knowledge in every century before this one.

Do you have a sister? Does she have cute friends? Has she introduced her to her cute friends? Why not?

Do you have an off-limits female buddy? Does she have cute friends? Have you asked her to introduce you to them? Why not? Is it because she'd hit you? Are you sure she's off-limits, then?

Do you have a priest you're good friends with? Have you told him you want to meet the future Mrs You? Has he suggested any Catholic events you might go to? Has he introduced you to any nice Catholic girls he knows? Why not? Rabbis and Evangelical Christian pastors think getting people in their religious communities married to each other is part of their job.

It is absolutely bizarre that every effort is made to throw Catholic boys and girls together before they are mature enough to marry, and then very litle effort is made to throw Single Catholic men and women together after they graduate from college. It's like you have the three- or four-year window of college Catholic Society to find somebody, and even then most are too young and poor to marry. However, that's how it is, and we just have to suck it up, and you men have to take matters into your own hands. Catholic women really, really, want you to.

By the way, you can also help out your buddies by introducing them to each other. Around the same time Invocante was telling Benedict Ambrose he should read my cool blog, Aelianus was lecturing me over Skype about my supposedly-heretical love of Lonergan and I was interrupting him by looking at photos of his Facebook friends.

"Can't you set me up with any of your friends?" I whined. "What about X? X looks cute."

"Oh, X. He got sent down from Oxford for [egregious scandal]."

"Well, what about Z?"

"Oh, Z. He got sent down from Oxford for [even more egregious scandal]."


"Would you like to live in a Historical House?" asked Aelianus. "My friend Benedict Ambrose lives in a Historical House."

Now I live in that exact same Historical House. We both already liked him a lot, but now Benedict Ambrose and I think Aelianus is the veriest cat's pyjamas.


Time to take the locks off the comm box and solicit suggestions from Catholic ladies and other ladies of good will to their Catholic brothers as how to go about finding the future Mrses Them. I want DOs, please, not don'ts. Keep it kindly, remembering that they are your brothers in Christ, whom Christ died to save just as much as He did for you.


Annie said...

One of my dearest friends, who's now in seminary but did do quite well with women before he felt called, had three rules for meeting women which most of the female friends generally consider to be rather astute.

1. Be Desireless- Essentially this means that when you walk up to a woman that you find attractive, interesting, etc hope for nothing else than getting to know her better. Women can sense an agenda miles away and are often immediately turned off by it. If you approach a woman hoping only for what she might want or to have a nice conversation, you will likely at least engage in a wonderful conversation with someone who is worth getting to know.

2. Be Excellent- Women aren't attracted to men who complain, are downtrodden, or project negativity. If you're trying to appear attractive to a woman you're interested in, make sure you highlight your positive qualities in a positive way. If you're kind, make sure she sees it. This does not mean you should boast, but rather to make sure you leave her with a wonderful picture of who you are.

3. Be Gone- Don't be a woman's puppy dog for hours. Chat with her for a while, making sure you get to know her, and then move on. Women are more likely to be attracted to you if they have the time to reflect upon how wonderful you are and miss you.

Anyway, hope this helps! God bless, boys!

Julie said...

This is something I try to think about every now and then, how would a NCB find me, and it is not easy (both the thinking and the finding, alas), but here goes. Of course the first thing is to follow Auntie's advice and focus on making friends. Asking out girls about whom you know nothing except that they are (1) female (2) single and (3) Catholic/Christian is not great, unless you are very dashing. So: friends first.

I am pretty active in my local parish. I read at masses, I volunteer for the parish picnic, I go to the meetings accordingly. So I think the first thing is for chaps to do the same. Get a foothold in your local parish. Now, I am also a regular Latin Mass attender elsewhere, but I think it is right and proper to invest in the church four blocks away if only because now you might get to know the people you run into at Starbucks, and the coincidence of being in the same general vicinity AND of the same faith helps, I think, in making friends. (As you can see I am an urban NCG.)

I will point out that more young men (or men period) being active in their parish is an important thing, a very important thing, for the health and welfare of the church broadly, so there is another incentive. Sign up as a lector or an usher and to run the beer tent at the parish picnic. Now you are not an anonymous guy in the pews, you are that guy she has seen around. Bingo. Plus now you have opportunities to walk girls home (or drive possibly), and if "may I" seems scary and overly romantic, then "would you like me to" is perfectly gentlemanly once evening sets in and it is not the first time you've seen her.

Youth groups were ever my bane as a kid, and young adult groups are my bane now, but it is hard to deny that they serve a useful purpose in meeting people and making friends. I find I hate young adult groups much less when I am the one planning things (what a coincidence). So I would say, go to a regular meeting at least once, if only to confirm that it is indeed nothing you are interested in, to meet the leader(s), and to get on the listserv. Go to the social events; be a member, however inconsistent. Then think up something that would hook your own interest (a concert? museum exhibit? trying a new restaurant? field trip to a tridentine parish, even?) and, after a sufficient passage of time, suggest it to the leaders, simultaneously volunteering to (help) plan it. Then you will see what girls come, and what their interest is, you see?

Finally (yes really), in order to make a good first impression in a group setting, you must cultivate positive opinions about things, especially: books, music, movies, tv. I don't have a high opinion of the modern cultural milieu but there is something offputting about a guy who, when everyone is discussing movies, can only scowl, "I never go to the movies, it's so expensive, and why can't anyone make a movie that doesn't involve copious fornication?" If the only tv show you can stand is Doctor Who, fine, but realize that when you tell the Lost fanatics that you don't even have tv service because it's just all so stupid now, you are not making friends and also you are putting off the girl who might also love the Doctor and hate Lost but does enjoy watching cooking shows. So it's better to practice saying "Does anyone like Doctor Who?".

My advice is probably a little girly but I have a good excuse, being a girl :) Something to reflect on, anyway.

fifi said...

Dancing is still an option, but it's no longer in the parish hall. Hence, not all women in the dancing scene are NCGs, but some of them are, and most women just love men who can dance, period. My sisters and I dragged our brothers along to swing dances and ceilidhs. They were so skeptical at first, but when they realized how much fun it was, they couldn't get enough. My brother is set to marry his dance partner later this year!

Also, I think people get stuck on the idea that they have to hang out with people who are only in the right age group. Rubbish! Cultivate a relationship with a professor, a young family, an old lady, your office delivery guy, the barista at your coffee shop. These people all have sisters and nephews and cousins and neighbors who are great, searching singles. Meeting someone at their cousin's first communion, or because you did the music for their sister's wedding is so much less awkward than trolling for a mate in a single's group.

I think ministering to others is also a good way to meet people. Organize some young people to work at a soup kitchen, fix an old lady's house, take a trip to Haiti, get involved in the pro-life movement, get on the Theology on Tap organizing team. I just found an intriguing group called Singles Serving Orphans that goes down to S. American orphanages.

A lot of times women are doing all the heavy lifting to keep groups like this afloat. If they see a guy who's an organized, dynamic, effective leader/servant in one of these groups, they think "At last! Here is a man I could follow! What a relief to meet someone who can pull his own weight!"

Of course, there's a fine line between joining (or forming) these groups to serve God, and joining these groups solely to meet women. You have to have your priorities straight. My point is more that serving others is what we singles should be doing anyway. I think too many of us are sitting in front of the tv, or hanging out with the same group of friends all the time, and completely forgetting to volunteer in our parishes and communities. Even if you don't meet Mrs. Right along the way, you'll be doing something valuable with your time, and you'll be becoming a better person. More importantly, you'll be serving God. The relationship between you and God will be what ultimately sustains you, no matter who (or if) you marry.

B said...

This is somewhat paradoxical advice, but I've decided to leave it anyway in case it's helpful for someone. First, be willing to be friends with many people, whether or not you are romantically interested in them. Sometimes attraction grows, and the person you first dismissed as unattractive becomes more and more attractive as you come to know her. Also, women who think well of you are more likely to recommend you to their friends, which means you will have more opportunities, and a more favorable reception when you find a woman with whom you want to be more than friends.

However, at the same time, be very careful to distinguish between friendly attention and indications of romantic interest. For example, don't make appointments to spend one on one time with a female friend unless you are romantically interested in her. This will not only protect you from Drama, but will make it easier for the girl you're actually interested in to perceive your interest. I have had at least one promising relationship fail because the guy was constantly surrounded by various female friends, and I didn't know for sure that his affection for me was any different until it was much too late.

More important than this, however, is my last bit of advice: live your faith! Pray. Go to Mass. And demonstrate your faith by living a life of service. I remember the first time I really noticed a particular young man: it was when he got up after a community meal and started clearing the table. All the other guys trooped out into the living room and started playing video games, but this young man helped with the dishes. Guess which one got a date first! Girls notice things like who actually helps round up chairs for the meeting and who stands around and lets someone else do the work. Pitching in when asked is nice, but doing it unasked? That's what's really impressive.

Alisha said...

These suggestions ROCK! They should be forwarded to...I dunno...several dioceses!!! Seriously :)

Christine said...

Everyone has posted some AWESOME suggestions. I agree with many of them from personal experience.

If I may highlight some points already made, men who are seriously searching should remember to:

-Be positive! Being a danny downer won't get you more than a few introductory dates, in my book. The virtue of hope in spite of a fallen world in very important.

-Be a model of prayer. Be willing to talk about your faith.

-Serve. Like the girls said, (for everyone) it's important to serve the community and be a faithful steward of the talents and resources you have been given. Also, I'm inspired by the men in the young adult group I go to. All of them ALWAYS do all of the heavy lifting, cleaning up of chairs, etc, after meetings. These are men of God.

Be brave! A man who's too timid to ask out a girl and take the lead when he wants to discern marrying a girl, he's no warrior and might not be able to protect his future family. At least that's what goes through my head when I meet a timid guy.

Hope that's helpful (and not too demanding - I hope Seraphic Dorothy agrees) :-)

Seraphic said...

This all looks great to me! If guys are wondering what women really want from them, your comments are a fine place to begin looking for the answer.

aussie girl in australia said...

If you do ask a girl out on a date, make sure you organise the date properly. Suggest somewhere specific where you want to take her, make a specific time, pick her up and take her home again.
Asking her out and then asking her to suggest a place to go is not a good move.

Also, if you disagree with her about some topic of conversation, be charitable but do state your own opinion honestly. Women know when you are just agreeing with them so they like you and "yes men" are not attractive. It also does not project moral strength that is desirable in a husband and father.

Kate P said...

These are sounding pretty good! A few suggestions that might speak maybe a little more to the introverted (like myself):

--Put your best self forward. Learn everything about yourself, and make peace with your past and/or your personality (if you need to). For example, it took a bit of research on my part into the introverted type of personality to accept that huge crowds aren't for me.

--There are different definitions for "putting yourself out there." Do things you enjoy. (I know I'd rather meet people doing things I actually enjoy; there's a basis for common ground right off the bat.) Be true to yourself. And be good to yourself so you can be good to others.

Cordi said...

A lot of times women are doing all the heavy lifting to keep groups like this afloat. If they see a guy who's an organized, dynamic, effective leader/servant in one of these groups, they think "At last! Here is a man I could follow! What a relief to meet someone who can pull his own weight!"

Girls notice things like who actually helps round up chairs for the meeting and who stands around and lets someone else do the work. Pitching in when asked is nice, but doing it unasked? That's what's really impressive.

These statements are both so true--being a leader in working for good causes or planning social events, and being proactive in lending assistance are definitely both traits that make men noticeable and very attractive.

Seraphic, have you thought about asking your masculine readers to give similar input to us girls? That would be interesting and helpful.

theobromophile said...

My advice:

*Be kind. It's hard for men to understand how women will get on the phone with their girl friends and say, "I think I finally found a nice one!!!!!". (That does not mean forsaking your personality, which is not attractive; it's about being the best version of yourself possible.)

*Likewise, be happy. Nothing wrong with human misery in response to the tough stuff in life; just don't be one of those people who is never, ever happy. If you're not happy with your life, you aren't going to be happy with us, and we'll find it impossible to be happy while around you. Contrariwise, if you're happy, you're a joy to spend time with.

*Get involved: it makes you a more interesting person and widens your social circle. Everyone has mentioned your parish, but there's other things to do, too - pro-life groups, professional associations (if they aren't totally boring), recreation (run 5Ks! ultimate Frisbee!), etc. In fact, if life is work and Church, you'll be very emotionally and spiritually fulfilled, except for that whole not-having-a-wife thing. It also helps you with Advice #2: it's easier to be happy when you have things going on in your life.

*Disagreeing with some advice above, and I'm sorry for the "Don't" instruction: do not date women whom you've been friends with for a while, but are only now feeling some attraction. This is for her sake, not yours. :) Also, don't ask me how I know this unless there's margaritas and tissues handy. :)

theobromophile said...

Oh, another: be forthright about your attraction. (It's the positive aspect of my "don't"!)

While you can overdo it and be a puppy dog, or be overbearing, most men go too far in the opposite direction. For women who aren't emotional masochists, emotionally available men are attractive. (Also, making your intentions known makes you appear very confident, which is an attractive trait.)