Monday, 16 August 2010

What Men Think

Cordi thinks I should open up a combox to such male readers as are left (small exodus when I got married, alas), and ask them what they think women should do to further Catholic courtship. Cordi, how many times do I have to say, Don't "DO" so much? :-D

One of the greatest compliments a woman can pay a man is to not assume he thinks just like a woman. And sometimes asking a man what he thinks can be a very jarring experience. Sometimes you really don't want to know. You think you want to know, but you don't want to know.

An evangelical Christian website did a huge survey of young evangelical Christian men, asking them what they thought modest dress for women was. They had to vote and comment on specific types of clothing, jewellery and hairstyles. Do you wear heeled black boots that come up to your knee? If you do, there's a whole lotta American evangelical Christian boys who think you're a sinful temptress out of Babylon. Meanwhile, one of you gals told me about a Catholic boy who honestly believes and argues that all women should dress like Our Lady, i.e. in what we think was first century Galilean women's dress.

This hyper attitude towards women's clothing stems from the fact that most young men have sexual thoughts all the time. They float through their heads like fish in the sea. Sometimes a man hooks one of these thoughts and contemplates it, but others have trained themselves (through long practise) just to ignore them. All of them know that just blurting out exactly what they're thinking (why do women always ask men what they're thinking?) at a given moment is probably a very bad idea.

Then there is the question of whether masculine thinking has anything to do with sexual attraction whatsoever. My friend Lily told me this great story of a young man she knew who got stupidly involved with some woman or other.

"What were you thinking?" demanded his female friend.

"Thinking?" he replied, incredulously.

Lily found this very witty, and so do I. Thinking had nothing to do with his actions.

Of course, some thinking has to go into courtship, but it's usually before and then after the sexual-attraction fact. A guy may go to Daily Mass to find the right kind of pretty girl, but he's still going to fall for the girl he thinks is prettiest. (Fortunately, men's ideas about female beauty are way more openminded than ours.)

To tell you the unvarnished truth-as-I-see-it, men are brilliant at figuring out how to build stuff, compose arias, and solve ab+cd/zq, but they are not so hot on knowing what they think about women. How many of you have wondered, since logically you are perfect for Mr. Nice Catholic Boy, why he is in love with some mini-skirted trollop who isn't even Catholic instead? Your average Nice Catholic Boy thinks that he prefers women who don't wear any make-up, hipsters or low cut tops. He is wrong.

I'm not saying to go out and buy trampy club gear. I'm just saying that men don't think like women, and they certainly do not call up their men friends to have long, involved, intricate discussions on what they like and don't like about certain women. I recently tried to trap a man into explaining what he meant when he declared a mutual female acquaintance to be beautiful, and he looked exactly like a guppy in distress. Either he didn't know, or he would have chosen to sew his lips shut rather than to tell me.

I say all this not to snoot at men, most of whom are marvellous, but just to underscore once again that men don't think like women. They don't think like women, and they don't think like women. They think about things, not about relationships, unless dragged along to a counsellor and forced to.

That all said, what the heck. The combox is open. Male readers are invited to say what they think they want women to do to make Catholic courtship easier in this year of grace 2010. Keep it clean, and remember that Our Lord died just as much for women as He did for you. Men ONLY, please, so women can see the tumbleweed blowing through the combox and learn as much from your silence as from your words.

15 comments:

dominic said...

Well, while the whole post is rather astute, I can, particularly, wholeheartedly agree with this part

"I'm just saying that men don't think like women, and they certainly do not call up their men friends to have long, involved, intricate discussions on what they like and don't like about certain women."

We CERTAINLY do not do that!

On your final question, I will give the matter some, erm, thought, and hopefully get round to answering later!

some guy on the street said...

"to say what they think they want women to do to make Catholic courtship easier"

Hmm... is this a trick question?

You know, I'm not entirely sure that Catholic courtship even ought to be easy. I suppose there's probably something to be said for not creating unnecessary new difficulties, but I'm not sure what those would be; I am sure they would vary somewhat from place to place. So the best I can come up with is that Single NCGs should consider and treat Single NCBs with charity.

Personally, I am always grateful for plain dealing; in conversation, what a person says should be the clear meaning of their words, for example; or if someone wants to know something, they should ask directly. Naturally, I'm quite often guilty of deviating from this standard myself...

hip2bsquare said...

I really wish I could be of some assistance here. But I'm a believer in a man taking the lead and asking a woman out in a way that makes it clear his intentions are not platonic. I don't think there is all that much that women could be doing to make the process better.

Actually, I'm not entirely sure what kind of information your reader is looking for.

William H. said...

My sister asked me to read this post; she wanted to know what I thought. I am 23, and I can say at least for myself that I do notice a lot more about girls than just how pretty they are. For instance, it is a big plus when girls take an interest in broader political and intellectual issues. If a girl does have this kind of interest, it strikes me very quickly, and I would say that it does just as much to make me attracted to her as her looks.

So I think that often what makes women attractive to men is not merely passive beauty, but also their actions and pursuits. I am not saying that women should take the initiative in a relationship, but I do think that when they take initiative in their lives to pursue great goals and ideas, they make themselves all the more interesting.

Seraphic said...

Thanks very much for your comments, gentlemen!

Note also, ladies, the influence of sisters. I may write about this one day--although perhaps my brothers would rather I didn't!

invocante said...

Regarding appropriate dress, I imagine Catholic girls will be rejoycing at the return of the maxi dress/skirt which allows a woman to be elegant and stylish without being dowdy.

IA said...

So true...

When first asked, "What are you thinking?" My response was... "Huh?"

After thinking about that question I responded, "I guess I don't really think."

Your average Nice Catholic Boy thinks that he prefers women who don't wear any make-up, hipsters or low cut tops. He is wrong.
Yes. NCBs have spent years trying not to think about women in that way under embarrassment of confessional. But women do these things because it works... its hardwired into men. The Lord created Adam to seek Eve. In so many of his years before NCB meets NCG he must steel his discipline so as to suppress this biological mandate. No NCB I know (save for one who wasn't so N) has complained about NCG's dress embarrassing him even when before they were dating he officially wouldn't have approved. That being said I must point out that what men are attracted to is not necessarily skin but rather femininity.

Also one thing William H. pointed out was that it is usually more than looks that makes a guy interested in a girl. (But looks are a requirement.) Something special. For William H. it is political issues. For some its sports, maybe a foreign language or accent, how gracefully she moves, or how she acts around children.

Cordi said...

Seraphic,

Thanks for writing in response to my suggestion! I hope you don't mind my commenting in a men-only section, but I wanted to respond to hip2bsquare, and also clarify to you what I meant by my original suggestion.

I agree with you 100% that women shouldn't DO anything proactive regarding romantic relationships with men. What I meant, I suppose, was more how women should BE. How should women BE (and to a limited extent, what should they do) to make dating them easier and more appealing.

As a girl, I know what a man can be/do to make himself the kind of man that a girl (or at least the kind of girls I know) will notice, and want to date or marry. For example, my girlfriends and I often marvel at how few men know how to dance, considering that dancing well makes a guy look good, stand out, and is a great way to meet girls. That made me wonder if there are things that guys wished girls would do (or not do), but girls just don't know about.

And sure, I know that beauty is a big part of attraction, but after polling several of my brothers, I realize that there are specific characteristics that at least some men wish women had, or didn't have. (Such as don't be air-headed, domineering or motherly, do be pleasant, modestly dressed, thoughtful and intelligent in conversation, and if you like the guy, encouraging)

Girls are often very eager to give men constructive criticism, and I just wanted to see if men had any to offer us.

Seraphic said...

Because girls are eager to do something is never evidence that men are eager to do the same thing. But anyway, men are doomed to fall in love with who they fall in love with, no matter what they say about motherly, modest, blah, blah, blah.

I love men, but they are not very logical when it comes to the heart. They will say "Be a well-read, modest, pleasant Catholic girl" and then they will fall for the cutie in low-rise jeans whether she is Catholic, well-read, modest or not.

But I do agree that, in general, being air-headed, motherly or domineering are all stupid ways to behave. Happy, happy, happy! Fun, fun, fun!

hip2bsquare said...

Cordi,

Thanks for the further explanation.

I wish I could be of greater assistance. But I'm afraid that Seraphic is right, more or less, when she says that men are attracted to whom they're attracted.

I could tell you about my own idiosyncrasies, but I don't imagine that'd be very helpful.

Still, I want to help, so I'll give it a shot.

I think one thing that is helpful is to not sugarcoat the situation when you reject a particular man. The nicer a woman is, the more likely it is that she wants to let the guy down easy. The fact is, most guys would prefer a definitive "no" than a disingenuous "maybe" that is really a no. I think Seraphic did a poll that confirmed this result, way back in the day.

There are obvious things a lady can do, like smile and be friendly. Showing interest in a man's pet ideas and theories always wins you points (I've yet to meet the man who doesn't have a couple of absurd theories or ideas that he wishes could get a general hearing; I include myself in this). This doesn't mean passive acquiescence to whatever he's saying; it merely means a respectful hearing.

On one point I will (sort of) disagree with Seraphic. Nice Catholic Boys are indeed attracted to women who are physically beautiful but lack the other attributes they desire in their future wife (for their part, Nice Catholic Girls are also occasionally attracted to the wrong sort of man). But if they're really serious about their faith, they will avoid getting involved with these women.

I think this is about the best I can do, but if there's anything more specific you would like to know, just ask.

claire said...

What a great post, both this one and the previous one! Seraphic, I've just discovered your blog recently and I really, really enjoy it. I have an anecdote that kind of corroborates your statement that guys always fall for the girl they think is prettiest, but it leaves me wondering . . .

I've been wondering for a while how it is that a certain friend of mine has gotten asked out by six or seven of the NCBs (mostly non-daters, I might add) in our larger circle of single Catholic friends. She is very cute, but she can't be the ideal "form of beauty" for all of them, can she? Personality-wise, she is very outgoing, friendly, vivacious, loud even, the life of the party. I think that this fact has more to do with all those dates than her looks.

But that leaves me wondering . . . would I have to try to take on her personality to get asked out by one of these guys? I'm a friendly person, take an interest in these guys, start conversations, etc., but I'm just not as vivacious as she is. I can be uber-talkative and witty with people I'm comfortable with, but not everyone, especially with people who don't pull their weight in conversation.

So what's a girl to do? Gentlemen, any help?

Seraphic said...

Goodness me, when will you girls learn this is one way young gentleman cannot help you!? If you need a lid off a jar, they're your men. If you're trying to figure out how to disassemble a car and put it together again on the roof of Cath Soc, they're on it. If you need a family of mice evicted from your flat, men to the rescue. But young men cannot tell you why they act the way they act around women. They are a mystery to themselves, bless their little hearts.

For example, they don't know that they are all asking out your friend BECAUSE the other men are asking out your friend. They don't know that she is the Queen Bee of your group and they all want to be King Bee. Men on their own want what they want, but men in a group want what other men want. It is sad.

My guess is that one of the reasons why your friend is so popular is that she just likes to have fun and likes these guys as friends and is totally relaxed about it. You, on the other hand, "take an interest" in these guys (first mistake), and "start conversations" (second mistake) and are "uber-talkative" (principal female mistake of the past 100 years).

Has a man EVER fallen for a woman because she was "uber-talkative"? Maybe if he thought she was really, really hot. Women find talkative women fun; men don't, really. Men like women who listen, and who ask them questions about what the men like/think (about things and ideas, not women and relationships).

The way to start a conversation with an attractive man in my not-so-humble-and-definitely-reactionary opinion is to smile at him and LET HIM SPEAK FIRST. If you smile at him, he knows that you feel friendly feelings towards him. And that gives him the confidence to come over and speak to you IF HE WANTS TO. If you charge up to any old guy, he might feel trapped. The only way you can know that a guy wants to talk to you is that he talks to you.

Obviously I am going to say "don't try to be like your friend." But I'm not going to say "just be you" either. The most important things I ever learned about getting along with men was (A) to stop talking so much and (B) to just smile and let them take the initiative.

Cordi said...

Hip2bsquare,

Thanks for responding to me! It is helpful to hear from a guy that being a good listener is attractive, and that not sugarcoating a refusal is the best way to go.

I really appreciate your input!

Steve said...

Men are more attracted to women that they find, well, attractive.

Big help, huh?

Well, let's drill down a bit then.

As a general rule, physical attraction is paramount, absolutely. Moreover, youth generally is preferable to age. Sorry, it's the way we're wired.

HOWEVER, individual women can increase (or decrease) their over-all, long-term attractiveness to individual men through various means.

(Please note, I am assuming since the discussion is about Nice Catholic Boys, of which number I mostly count myself [the not-so-nice personal elements I take to Confession], I am further assuming that these NCBs are serious-minded, religiously faithful, and interested in matrimony, not in the repulsively but accurately named “pump-and-dump.”)

IA made perhaps the key point: “…I must point out that what men are attracted to is not necessarily skin but rather femininity.” That is fundamental, and a point that most Western women, after marinating in feminism all their lives, have never realized. I work with many women. One is from Russia. She, when making a point, will sometimes lightly touch my arm. Another, from New Jersey, will sometimes punch my arm. Whom do I find more attractive? Men, serious men who are working toward establishing a family, compete all the time in the workplace. The last thing a man wants is to come home and compete with his wife. Western women have been raised on competition—“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan”—but that’s not attractive to men. Sure, you may have gone to Yale, but we’re not looking to hire you. And a hyper-competitive woman is far more likely to leave a man in the future, after raking him over the no-fault divorce, automatic-child-custody coals. NCBs are attuned, and repelled, by this sort of attitude. Smacks of “Kinder, Küche, Kirche”? Well, that’s what a NCB should want, and what a NCG should want as well.

Another example is the matter of dress and grooming, which has been the province of women eternally. To steal a quote, serious NCBs men prefer “a woman to be elegant and stylish without being dowdy.” I ride the New York City subway daily. New York is renowned for the beauty of the women residing (or commuting) therein. I find that the women most beautiful to me are without exception (so far) elegantly and stylishly dressed. Yes, I’ve seen some raw talent that’s objectively more beautiful, but would require a good hosing and scrub-down before I’d step up to them. (Of course, a Naomi Watts fresh from painting a catacomb would overcome that rule, but most people never encounter a Naomi Watts in real life.) Dress also tends to indicate a certain personality that’s aware of the world and her place in it. The jumper-clad crowd reject the world, and inspire the mental image of marrying a Madonna-on-the-half-shell statue, with all the warmth, affection, and charm that that connotates. A woman who understands her own level of physical attractiveness, and dresses to accentuate it, makes herself doubly attractive.

I’ll keep noodling this, Seraphic. Gotta go for now.

Seraphic said...

Thank you, Stever. Very well articulated and informative.

If I read you correctly, clothes and manners make the woman--or rather, the woman a feminine woman.

The point about competition is very well taken. I have read this (and heard this) again and again. Men do not want to come home to more competition. I can't imagine women would either; I wouldn't.