Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Women's Checklists About Men

This is really the week of the car. It's incredibly ironic because my husband and I don't have a car, and I can't even drive. And when I told my husband my ideal man had an expensive-looking car, I got into trouble. Whoops. I then explained that my ideal man was B.A. himself with a Rolls and a chauffeur while he shouted into his mobile to his agent not to go above £50,000 at Christie's, and thus B.A. was somewhat mollified. He pointed out that £50,000 was not a lot of money to spend at Christie's, however.

Anyway, the whole car issue has made me think a lot about Men Without Cars Who Complain About How Shallow Women Are. Such men are one of my peeviest pet peeves. They are such a pet peeve that I forget to say "Bless their little hearts", which is of course the way to get out of an anti-man frame of mind. Being in an anti-man frame of mind scares away all good men but somehow attracts bad men, so you should try very hard not to man-bash either in public or in private.

Men sometimes worry about what makes them attractive to women, but not--I suspect--to the extent to which women worry about being attractive to men. Many of the less imaginative men think women are attracted to money, which suggests to me that they themselves are attracted to money and therefore if she wants to attract such dorks, a woman should look as rich as possible.

Because I kept saying that cars are less important in some areas (e.g. Paris, France) than in others (e.g. rural Ontario), it occurred to me that women's checklists about men must also change from area to area and from culture to culture. For example, in Italy no woman would be staggered and doubtful if she discovered that a 30 year old Single man still lived with his parents. However, in rural Indiana, this would cause a woman to wonder about his ability to fend for himself.

Thus, as a SERVICE TO MEN, and as amusement to the vast majority of readers who are Catholic women, I thought it would be nice if we women, by area, mentioned what circumstances of Single men we date make us (collectively) go "Hmm." (You don't have to say what town you are in. You can just say "urban east-coast USA" or "Australian outback".)

It occurs to me that if (IF) women really do prefer men with cars, this is good for men to know, for then they could get a car and thus improve their chances with women. There is no point to them sitting on the bus crying about how shallow women are, as this will certainly not improve their chances with women. Bless their little hearts.

Now I do not feel that I can speak for Catholic women in the UK, so I will write a checklist for Catholic women in general in Toronto. I will make the hypothetical man 27 years old and not in a PhD program. The questions are the question that first spring to the lips of friends. If there is no question, it is because the friends do not yet know what to say but will say it after the girl dating the guy leaves the room.


1. He doesn't have a job. (Friends' Question: "Is he looking or...?")

2. He lives with his parents. (Question: "Is he Italian or...?")

3. He doesn't have a car. (Question: "Is he anti-car or...?")

4. He is divorced. (Question: "Did he get an annulment or...?)

5. He has a child (or children) out of wedlock and never married his (or their) mother. (Question: "Was he really young or...?")

6. He is in the seminary. (Question: "Are you CRAZY?")

7. He smokes grass. (Question: "Are you okay with that or...?")

8. He still drinks like a 19 year old frat boy.

9. He even just occasionally uses hard drugs.

10. He doesn't go to church. (Question: "Is he okay with, mm, you know, chastity and stuff?")

11. He is pressuring you for sex. (Question: "Why do you like him?")

12. It's been two months, and he hasn't tried to kiss you, and you don't know why. (Question: "Does he have a really strict confessor or could he be, you know, do you think, maybe, hmm...?)

Okay, mes petites filles. Reveal the things that make Catholic (or other Christian or Jewish or Muslim) girls in your area go "Hmm." If guys don't like it, then they should count to 10 and say "Bless their little hearts. They're only trying to help."


Anonymous said...

I live in a city, in a European country that's quite small, lots of public transport, health care almost free, a bit of a shortage of jobs at the moment.

1. He's been at university for over 6 years and doesn't even have one degree to show for it.
2. He doesn't have a job and doesn't do everything he can think of to get one.
3. He's had three of more jobs in the last five years.
4. He's had three or more girlfriends in the last five years.
5. He has an expensive car, but lives in a rental home or with his parents.
6. He's Catholic, but doesn't go to mass weekly (or at least several times a month).
7. He's christian, but he doesn't volunteer anywhere.
8. He smokes or does drugs.
9. He drinks more than the occasional drink (let's say more than five portions of alcohol a week).
10. He talks bad about his parents, family or friends.
11. He has health problems that could be prevented with basic health care (dental caries, warts ...).
12. You're together, but at times he just disappears for a few days, no calls, no texts, nothing.

I think I could go on for a long time. :-)

Seraphic said...

Oooh! This country cannot be Scotland because women here rather assume men drink more than five portions of alcohol a week. In Canada I have one a week, and in Scotland I have at least eight. This is considered rather abstemious for Scotland.

Which goes to show you about local standards. If a Scotswoman rejected a man in the grounds he drank more than 5 pints of beer a week...

Anonymous said...

I hesitated quite some time before deciding on the number of drinks. Five is certainly okay for me. Eighty would be okayish.
I don't mind men drinking alcohol, but as I have family members with alcoholism, I'm very cautious about people drinking a lot of alcohol.
According to the statistics, the average alcohol consumption in my country is 11 portions a week, so I guess I'm just very strict on this one.

Seraphic said...

Ahhh, now I understand. Well, I'm hoping to get something approaching "community standards", not personal preferences, as a response to this post.

Jam said...

Things that would give pause in Chicago, for a 27yo:
1. Is divorced or has child.
2. Lives with parents or eats all his meals there so as to avoid providing his own food.
3. Has a female roommate, especially if she is the only roommate ("But she's JUST the roommate, right?").
4. Lives in the suburbs but works in the city.
5. Falls too heavily into a stereotype subculture (hipster or bro)
6. No job is ok; no computer or Internet at home indicates a worrying level of poverty.

I am tempted to add "never enrolled for any post-high school education" but I know how Seraphic feels on that count :)

Seraphic Spouse said...

Yes, I am a big fan of the trades. I am such a fan of the trades I should have no problem writing romances about thatchers and carpenters and mechanics for "The People's Friend" except for my sense of humour. I wonder if the readers of The People's Friend would go for POLISH thatchers, carpenters and mechanics but, sadly, probably not. Pols are very down on Communism and not so hot on Presbyterianism.

Can you tell I am procrastinating now?

Ciska said...

Hmm, I can't edit my answer.
Sorry about the misinterpretation of your original question. Considering your comment, you should delete 7., the first part of8. and the last part of 9.
And of course, several other points are only frowned upon in Catholic circles.

Seraphic said...


Anonymous said...

well, I lived almost half of my life outside of my Eastern-Europe home-country, but I could still speak for my culture in listing the dubious aspects that would make me question if the man is worth seeing:

1. He is Catholic, but he is too busy to practice his faith :)
2. He is critical of everyone and of the whole world-situation, but doesn't change his own life for the better
3. He waits for the perfect job to come to him, but doesn't support himself till he finds it, expecting his parents to do it (I have a lot of respect for someone who is not ashamed to work, even if it's not the ideal job for the moment)
4. He is a genius and can talk about any topic, but is not capable of relating to people who are simple and poor
5. He thinks that being smart and witty is enough, forgetting his manners with ladies
6. He is poor, so he thinks it's OK not to keep...clean
7. He is divorced
8. He is separated, no anullement
9. He doesn't see why he cannot be the boyfriend of all the many beautiful and attractive girls that he meets, at the same time
10. He loves speaking about being charitable, but doesn't take care of his parents and his grandparents

so, that would be offence to anyone meant! I am sure that all the readers here are the opposite of my dubious-guy list ;)

Anonymous said...

PS: Bless their little hearts! ;)

healthily sanguine said...

He is not warm to your friends.

sciencegirl said...

Mid-sized university town, studying at the ritzy grad school, southern USA. I'm only going to mention red flags for Catholics, since it's possible BEING A PRACTICING CATHOLIC could be a red flag for women from the general university culture. Some apply to everyone, though.

1) lives with parents, or plans to after graduation
2) has never traveled out of state, let alone abroad
3) dates lots of different women
4) is Catholic, doesn't go to Mass
5) racist
6) druggie
7) divorced, esp. w/ kids
8) clearly hates teaching AND research -- it's okay to hate one, not both
9) no means of transport (bikes are ok, esp. for international students)
8) gossipy, mean-spirited

sciencegirl said...

ps just in case I scared undergrads that their graduate teaching assistants hate them, we usually like teaching...and the ones who don't find ways to avoid it.

Seraphic said...

Oh yeah. Guys, it's a bad idea to be frosty to a girls' friends. Why would you be frosty to a girls' friend, though? A bit scared of our x-ray vision--fair enough. But hostile? Not a good idea.

Sarah said...

Urban/Suburban Midwest-- (this is in no particular order)

Doesn't have a job: Has he been looking very hard? Even in this economy, it's pretty easy to find a job in my city if you look for one. Most everyone I know does.

Doesn't have a car: If he lives downtown, that would be sort of acceptable, but he wouldn't be able to get to many places other than work and restaurants.

Is a liberal, politically or religiously: How are his critical thinking skills otherwise? Do his reasons for being so make sense? Is he willing to explain his position articulately and listen to mine with consideration? Still, I don't think I could be with someone with such a fundamental difference in principles.

Doesn't tip waitresses well, or treats hospitality staff in general rudely. Actually, I once was very upset with one of my male friends for not tipping fairly and at the time, he thought I was being very uptight. But now we're dating and the next time we went out in a group, he quietly tipped for the entire table, the amount I would have if it were up to me. Even if he sees it as uptight, the fact that he'd do it anyway because it matters to me is good enough.

Never drinks: Is he too puritan? Will he be upset if I have a drink?

Vegetarian: Let me be fussy about food-- you just eat a burger, k?

Is divorced

Is a hipster, or as someone above said, falls too heavily into any stereotype.

Under dresses for occasions that require more than jeans and a tshirt.

Smokes habitually. This would not be a deal breaker, but I would have to take time to reconcile myself with how his clothes, or potentially, our future furniture would smell.

Does not have any interest in any particular hobby, sport, artistry or trade.

Does not hold the door open, pay for dates, call, or offer to carry heavy things.

Has no future plans or goals, or has very unrealistic ones.

Sheesh, my list is longer than I thought it'd be.

Sarah said...

Oh, one more-- is unhappy and/or whiny about his situation/the situation of The World-in-General, and sees cheerfulness and resilience as optional.

RMVB said...

I grew up in small west coast town but now live in small east coast town. I was surprised at how hard this one was,'s easier to say what you don't want when you see it before you. So unfortunately, these are all examples from men I do or have known....

1. Unemployment is understandable in the US economy, so that would only be a problem if this were 5 years ago- but of course the effort to find one is important.
2. Has never not lived with his parents. OR doesn't have other men friends - not just acquaintances, or aren't freinds with anyone outside their family.
3. He does drugs, or thinks that doing drugs is funny.
4. He is trying to join the youth ministry volunteers and hasn't gone to Mass in years
5. He tries to get women to pity him.
6. Preaches modest dress but jokes about/draws attention to/doesn't look away from scantily clad women in movies.
7. Is willing to spend money on computer/tv/video game things but complains about being poor.

This probably isn't exhaustive, but like I said, it's kinda hard:)

Morgan said...

Red flags in NYC:

1. Is a "serial monogamist." I don't find any particular number of past girlfriends alarming, but I do find it alarming when a man seems to see no value in being single, i.e. has never taken the time to discern (and I mean "discern" loosely here -- in the sense of being temporarily and thoughtfully single).

2. Always has a new smartphone (or laptop, or whatever men buy when they don't own a car -- most don't here) but is scornful of spending money in social situations, for cultural outings, or on dates.

3. If he is Catholic and has lived in the city for a while: has never made an effort to make at least a few Catholic friends. Not that his social circle must be Catholic -- but I'm wary of people who avoid all such friendships.

Jam said...

Well, to become a plumber in Chicago you have to serve an apprenticeship, which, as I have just looked up, "also involves classroom work, which is often completed outside of regular work hours." Electricians also have to undergo training and apprenticeship. (NOW who's procrastinating! :D ) When I say "post-high school education" I include this kind of training.

I'm thinking in terms of having coffee with a friend and hearing her describe her newest interest. If she said he'd never started college or even trade school there could be a perfectly good explanation but I would want to hear it! There are SOOO many colleges in this city, many nearly open-enrollment. Plenty of people don't finish their degrees but nearly everyone seems to start one. At age 18, he finished high school and... what? Sure, maybe his real passion is making and selling coffee, that's great, but you want to know he's got that energy and curiosity and drive -- and isn't just slumming at Starbucks because he's been too high to care about the future or too angry and proud to think that anyone could teach him anything.

Anyway, the first thing the future girlfriend learns about the guy is "oh! So you're a really driven, self-educated coffee entrepreneur! That's impressive!" not "oh! You didn't go to college!" It's the friend of the girlfriend who says, "wait, did he not go to college?" and needs to be convinced: "no, but he's worked in all the top coffee roasters in town and lived in Seattle for a year and traveled to Guatemala..." which no sane person could claim is inferior to dozing through a bachelor's degree.

Rambling, rambling, procrastinating. Anyway, as far as community standards go, I do think that if a guy hadn't done any post-secondary training or degree, people would instantly want to know what he's done instead. It's part of figuring out, what does he do, what does he want to do, how seriously does he take it, and how seriously should others take it! And around here the standard would be several years of schooling or training.

Sarah said...

Jam, I agree with you about trade education, (I would LOVE to date a guy who was a self-taught coffee entrepreneur) but I was wondering if you could expound on a couple other things...

Namely, I have a single friend in Chicago who lives in the suburbs, but travels to the city for work as a very successful businessman. I'm not familiar with Chicago, but why is this a negative?

I could see where a female roommate MIGHT raise some questions, but the man I'm seeing lives with a girl (and her brother) and we're all friends and heck, sometimes I just hang out with her. I've never worried about it. Obviously, though, all the things on our respective lists are subjective to the individuals they concern.

And finally, I don't have internet at home, lol, but I'm not poor. (well. not impoverished. I do wish I had more money for extras, like shoes. :) I just see it as a waste since I don't really need it at home. (I have a desk job and can do whatever facebooking/blog-reading between projects) And then, some people just don't really want internet all that much.

Boz said...

I'm a fairly regular guy reader and I found it too tempting not to put some of myself out there for comments.

The age mentioned is 27. What questions run through the minds of women when they meet somebody who is older than the norm--say, early 30s?

What questions do women have about guys with relatively small social circles?

Angie said...

Small-town, USA.

Lately, as many couples in my community are getting divorced, I've just been wondering what the in the world the women were thinking in marrying these guys in the first place....Because it's not like the behaviors that are causing the divorces are new ones, the problem seems to be that the men didn't change in the way the women expected. (FYI, I also notice that many of these relationships are ones in which the guy is MUCH older than the woman, and has some sort of addiction/mental health issue. And sadly, the couples now have mulitple young children in the middle of this mess.)

So I guess, that the only thing on the list was that they were "in love" with the guy....major revision needed.

Jam said...

@Sarah- Well, again, I'm not saying these things are red flags or dealbreakers. They're things that I think the friend of the girlfriend, or the potential girlfriend, would notice as "weird" and outside of the norm. There could be a really good explanation, or a really problematic one, who knows. They're things that would make me say "hm, why?" So...

Single guy in his 20s who works in the city but lives in the suburbs. Hm, why? I associate the burbs with long commute/travel time and settling down. So, did he get a really great deal on a house? Do his friends all live out there? Is it where he grew up? What does he like about the place he lives? How does he get to the city, and doesn't he mind commuting? Has he lived in the city in the past? etc. I feel confident in saying that the community expectation is that single people in their 20s who work in Chicago will normally live within the city limits. The biggest exception I can think of is people who grew up in the suburbs. Anyway, like I said, could be totally reasonable! But the first thought is "hm, why?"

Single guy in his 20s who has a female roommate. My number one concern would be, this isn't an ex-girlfriend, right? No funny business? And once that's been answered -- no problem. Old college pal? Great! Former coworker? Awesome! Serendipity? Whatever works! But as a Catholic, and as a Catholic who's never had trouble finding a same-sex roommate, I would just initially think, "hm, why?" Even secular people want to clarify whether roommates are roommates or something else.

And as for internet at home, I see the appeal of not having it. There are many common work-arounds including phones, using the computer at work, etc. But -- unlike cable -- no one blinks at a 20-something without cable -- not having internet seems really strange. Again, this one I feel confident is not just me. And again, there are many good explanations -- but I don't think it's something 20-somethings in general would just shrug off the way they would shrug off not having a car or having four roommates. For better or worse, it's unusual not to have internet at home if you are a 20-something living in Chicago, so unusual that you figure the person is either really trying to save money or has some kind of odd moral/ethical objection.

But then the city's a big place and probably my "community" doesn't line up with everyone else's!

Salixbabylonica said...

I live in rural/small town southeastern US, but the culture is not Southern. (My born-in-Mississippi Daddy say they're all Southern Yankees here).

Red Flags

1. Unemployment without strenuous effort to find a job.
2. Unwillingness to take a non-high status job when that is all that is available.
3. Inability to fix things (by age 27, you need to be able to change your own oil, do basic household repairs)
I guess 2 and 3 could be generalized as "unwillingness or inability to do physical labor."

4. Having a child out of wedlock (bigger red flag: mentioning said child without shame)
5. Afraid of his mother / passive-aggressive toward her
6. Doesn't even try to behave normally in social situations (it's okay to be shy, but you should at least be making an effort to make polite small talk and interact socially with new people, instead of ignoring them.)
7. Must have car. In my area, not having a car at 27 means you're a drunk and lost your license.
8. Has been in prison.
9. Casually mentions friends who are in prison as if it were normal to have lots of friends in and out of prison.
10. Lots of tatoos/piercings.
11. Drinks a lot.
12. Has no interests outside of his guns, his truck, his dogs, his fishing tackle, and beer.
13. Doesn't like children, or is unkind to/intolerant of children.

Seraphic said...

I totally forgot about prison. This just goes to show you how Toronto I am because it never occurred to me that I or one of my friends might date an ex-con.

Anyway, I am with Jam. The question is not about our own personal preferences or deal-breakers, but things that make us (collectively, according to our local community) go "Hmm!" We are startled when a guy does or lacks X, but we're willing to hear a reasonable explanation for it.

Boz, anything a woman expects a guy aged 27 to have accomplished or not to have done, she definitely expects a guy over 30 to have accomplished or not to have done.

The one exception may be divorce: men over 30 are more likely to be divorced (and with kids) than men under 30. This, however, still leaves a NCG grappling with the unhappy problem of whether she should be dating a divorced guy. And her friends will still greet the news with "Hmm....!"

Seraphic said...

By the way, my daddy is from Chicago and my uncle lived in Evanston. A whole bunch of my family are buried in Sacred Heart cemetery on the border of Evanston and Chicago, so I am loving this Chicago conversation.

The next time I'm in the midwest, I want to visit Chicago, and not just South Bend!

Jam said...

Woo, I love Chicago (and Evanston) too, and you should definitely come here (preferably when I'm here of course)! Apparently we are almost a third of the way through a "year for young adults" right now and there is a local author doing talks about her book about Catholic singles. Just got the email about it. Anyway, yes, your next foray to the midwest should include the Second City.

Maggie said...

Other than the obvious (prison, good gracious), here are my "red flags"
(midwestern US, small town)

1. unemployed with little initiative to change that or work a low-end job to temporarily make ends meet
2. employed in an industry or position that could not support a family on one income (within reasonable frugality) with little realistic hope of advancement/promotion
4. lack of friends, especially male friends. (I dated a guy once who was incredibly popular with women but had less than four close male friends. Didn't go very well).
5. Claims to be Catholic, but disagrees on essential Church teachings about Mass attendance, importance of personal prayer, sexual/moral ethics, etc.
6. Doesn't like or want children
7. Drinks to the point of drunkenness (social drinking is fine, but acting like you're at a frat house is not)
8. Has friends who are not good influences; ie if he's the the only good apple in a bunch of immoral, materialistic, or bachelor-mentality guys, that's not going to reflect well on him.
9. uses profanity. An occasional swear under pressure (in heavy traffic, a tense situation at work/etc is okay, but habitual profanity is just so uncouth.

Maggie said...

Ah! 3. was deleted somehow!
Here it is:
3. is either ridiculous irresponsible with money (has eight credit cards and the latest gadgets and is very focused on having "cool" things) or, alternately, is so terrified of spending money that he's practically a tight-wad (ie, dates don't need to be at five star restaurants, but a gentlemen is willing to organize thoughtful things to do that might require a few dollars and step up to pay without the awkward "should I reach for my wallet?" dance)

sciencegirl said...

Boz, I'm confused about your question about "guys with relatively small social circles."

I guess I would think a man in his late 20's/early 30's would have some close friends, a lot of friendly acquaintances, and many more casual acquaintances. His very close friends might all be back in his home city, or scattered all over the country after college. He might not hang out with his co-workers after work. If he is new to a city (< 3 months) I would expect him to not have loads of friends yet. Any of those situations I would find normal.

It would be very strange, though, for him to not even have the friendly acquaintances -- people who think well of him, and he of them, but who don't do much together. I would think "Hmm, why?"

Eowyn said...

The age mentioned is 27. What questions run through the minds of women when they meet somebody who is older than the norm--say, early 30s?

Questions from a woman in a major Canadian city upon meeting an older guy (let's say older than 35):
1. Why is he still single?
2. Was he in the seminary for awhile, is that why? If he was, did he leave for good, discerning reasons, or because of some issue with the Church?
3. Has he been out being productive, working, travelling, studying, whatever, or has he been living in his parents' basement doing nothing?
4. Does he flirt with/seem attracted to women who are much younger than him (let's say more than about 8 or 9 years younger)?
5. If he's Catholic (we're assuming he is here), does he not have many Catholic friends? Does he live under the perception that there are no good Catholic girls left in the world? Is that why he hasn't found "the one"?
6. Does he seem a little desperate? Can I name 2 or more friends who have told me about awkward situations where he came on too strongly? Does he have a reputation for acting interested in every single woman he meets?

It is not necessarily a bad thing to be older and single, but it does raise some questions.

Little Mary said...

I ditto most of the above comments. Some men need to watch their scent -- they overdo the cologne (1 spritz is plenty, generally) or are unaware of musty or funky personal odors. Also, baggy clothes, not matter how dressy are not good. Also, man jewelry is generally bad.

"Hey do you want to hang out" is not an acceptable way to casually ask a woman out. Women love men with plans! Plan that date!! What to do, how to extend it if it is going well. Consult with successful older guys on your date game plans... Be a good listener, ask questions about your date and be interested in her as a whole person.

Don't just talk about religion. Don't be scared of your date; be tender to her. Do not go on a date and never touch your date, obviously there are boundaries to be respected.

If you are unemployed, create a mini-business -- consulting, doing friend's landscaping. Women like signs that you are a secure, mature adult, like having a car, gettiing along with your co-workers, having mature friends,living on your own, etc. Show resilience in tough times.

Maggie said...

To be fair, Seraphic, could you ask your male readers to make a similar list of "red flags guys see in women" in a future post?
Inquiring minds want to know!

amlovesmusic said...

I really like this list! Its giving me something to ponder, because the man I've gone out on a couple of dates with has one of the issues listed. I will need to get to know him more to see if pursuing a relationship with him is worth it.

I wish I had more to add to this seems like everyone has been quite thorough!

Athanasius lover said...

Okay, I will try to make this red flags in general and avoid the temptation to make them my own red flags. I live in a mid-sized midwestern town/city.

1. Does he have a history of ending long-term relationships? If he dates a woman for several years and then breaks up with her, I have to wonder why. I might make an exception for a college relationship when marriage isn't much of an option for several years, but it would make me (and many women I know) wonder. If he'd done it more than once, I certainly wouldn't date him.
2. No job, especially if he's not making a reasonable effort to find a job.
3. No car.
4. Lives with his parents.
5. Has been in prison.
6. Problems with spending habits, like excessive debt beyond student loans (this is a very personal red flag for me as well).
7. Has been divorced.
8. Has a child. (I must disagree with the person who said it's a red flag if the man mentions an out-of-wedlock child without shame. I would find it a red flag if a person was ashamed of his child. It would seem to me like a failure to fully accept the consequences of his decisions and I would feel awful for the child. It's possible to regret the decision to engage in extramarital sex and still be proud of one's child.)
9. Has never dated. (It's not fair of me to mention this because I've never dated, but it would raise eyebrows around here.)
10. Blames his problems on other people or acts like most of the people he knows are out to get him.
11. Smokes more than the occasional cigar, drinks to excess, or (especially) drinks and drives.
12. Uses illegal drugs, or otherwise breaks the law.
13. Among my Catholic circle, it would be a red flag if he didn't go to Mass regularly or didn't like our beloved Pope, but this wouldn't be considered a general requirement by every woman in my area.
14. Does not follow through when he says he will.
15. Promiscuity, and even flirting with multiple women.

Boz said...

This post really generated some interesting thoughts.

Sciencegirl, most of my close friends are married, so as they have started raising families, my social life has quieted down. I have looser acquaintances in their 20s who seem to know and hang out with all sorts of different people, but since all the likely women in my life right now seem to be younger than me, I was wondering what sort of questions they might have about me.

Eowyn, thanks. Very helpful. I always sort of knew they would be asking "why is he still single?" but your answer unpacks the question :)

Boston said...

1. He doesn't have close male friends. What have all the men around him already figured out that you haven't and when will that thing become horribly, horribly clear to you?

2. He doesn't have a kind word to say about his mother or (and this is worse) he claims she was/is an absolute saint.

3. He comes from a completely messed up family (rampant disfunction, substance abuse, violence, mental illness, etc). Oh but he's separated himself from their drama and he's fine now. No he isn't.

Ellie said...

O.k., I'll respond to the over 35 and single concerns because they are slightly different than the the 20-something concerns.

1-Is he still discerning the priesthood or religious life? If so why and how long will this continue? Until you find the right woman? (I've known two in the past year doing this)

2-Divorced, o.k., but has your marriage been annulled? Are you working on it?

3-How long has he been divorced and annulled? Did he immediately jump into another relationship or take time to discern why the marriage failed?

4-Does he own a house/car/401k plan? At this age he should have something to show for the last 15+ years. It doesn't have to be much but it shows a pattern of saving, and planning.

5-Does he have kids? If so, how does he relate to them as their father? How does he relate to their mother?

6-Does he honor his faith even through his tough personel situation? I know divorced fathers that have taken their kids to Catholic retreat weekends so they can get though this difficult time and not loose their faith. I even know one divorced couple that take their kids to a weekly Catholic family prayer night together.

7-Does he realize that we all make mistakes? Did it make him grow in his faith or make him revert to a 20-something frat-boy (I've seen this too).

Many have put "divorced" on their red flag list. If I were a young single Catholic woman, I would too. Why bring this baggage into your life unless it is unavoidable or you have received and seen that he has healed. I speak from experience.

The Sojourner said...

I am skimming past the comments to add a little qualifier to my vote in your poll: I said that my ideal man would own a car clean enough for me to sit in. It's more "It would be ideal if my man owned a car clean enough, etc." The actual flesh-and-blood ideal man doesn't know how to drive, for reasons I shan't go into here. It's inconvenient but not insurmountable, given our particular set of circumstances. Obviously it's not a deal-breaker, or I wouldn't be marrying him. (And we live in the Midwestern United States, where car ownership is considered a necessity.)

The Sojourner said...

Okay, having read the comments I have nothing else to really contribute...I can't generalize standards for my area based on my own experience/the experiences of my friends.

Seraphic said...

Thanks for all these interesting lists! Some are personal, and some speak more generally to our communities, but they should all give men who dare to read some food for thought.

Maggie, the problem with asking men to tell us what their red flags are is that relatively few men read this blog.

leonine said...

The only flag I would add to all this is unkindness. Everyone has a bad day from time to time, but if a man is rude to a waiter, unkind about a friend, or extremely sarcastic to me in the first few dates, I sit up and think, "Hmm."

I can be rather sarcastic myself, but I don't like fielding sarcastic remarks or being teased by men unless I know them very well. It always seems overly familiar and a little presumptuous to me.

Deirdre said...

I'd add a few to the already more general lists (Urban area, California):

- Is unmoved by things that ought to move him (i.e. something terrible happens and he doesn't express any horror/dismay) or can't control his emotions.

- Brings up negative things about a friend (their ignorance, habits, etc.) - including to their friend's face, in public, before other mutual friends - without good cause.

- Complains when friends ask him to do a reasonable favor (e.g. a ride to the airport).

- Is habitually late to appointments, parties, etc.

- Is non-European but very touchy (i.e. hands-on).

- Does not have a cellphone.

- Does not drink.

- Is careless/slovenly/lazy about his appearances.

Chicago_girl said...

Seraphic, yes, please come visit Chicago! I live here and just moved away from an apt that was less than a mile from the cemetery where your ancestors are buried.

Andrea said...

I don't think anyone put this one down for a mid-size Canadian city: In his 30s he has never dated anyone for longer than 8 weeks. (Why not? Is no one good enough for you? Are you serious about being in a relationship? Do you understand what relationship means or are you too perfectionistic to try?)

That's a new one for me but it's a red flag now, for sure. (And I'd also say dating too much, all the time, or being serially monogamous with different women is another different kind of red flag.)

some guy on the street said...

Hmmm... as a gent (or aspiring) I was hoping to find more surprising orange flags; many of these make fairly good sense wherever you are. But I am puzzled by some; what is it about temperance in Urban California, for example, O Deirdre, that is cause for pause? (I don't drink much myself, mostly because most of the stuff I just don't like!)

I'm also intrigued that no-one's orange flags include active military service; for it's a recurrent news story that my home's army hasn't got enough psychiatric support for the families of returned troops, that it takes them extra support to learn again a peace-time domestic demeanor. But at the same time the military figure clearly has a strong allure for some women --- and of course good service is just cause for admiration, which I have recently read [;-)] is something women delight to give their beaux and husbands.

Seraphic said...

My guess, Some Guy, is that a guy in California who does not drink is either an alcoholic or belongs to a not-so-compatible-with-Catholicism religious sect.

Meanwhile, women admire physical courage. Although there of course must be women who would say "Military service?! What's that all about?", they are probably not reading this English-language, very-popular-with-Americans blog.

berenike said...

Soliders iron their own shirts. Definite plus.

Deirdre said...

Seraphic has it correctly. Here, I have often found that people who don't drink on principle practice or believe a number of odd things (e.g. they don't drink because it is polluting the body, are vegetarian for the same reason, but are ok with birth control/etc.). So it would make me go "hm... I wonder."

Christine said...

Suburb outside of NYC (from a NCG perspective)

1. Doesn't own a car (unless he lives in the city or one of the more metropolitan neighborhoods in these suburbs)
2. Not in full communion with the Church and her teachings
3. Complacent (Won't try new things, won't learn important skills)
4. Unemployed.
5. Talks imprudently. Even if he's experienced a conversion from a "past life," he clearly can't be that different if he talks about past sexual episodes, etc.

1. Underemployed. Even if he's still working on a degree (BA or Masters, etc), he should still work hard to provide for himself. Also, I would say "hmm" if he seemed to not strive for a career that paid decently and used his abilities to their fullest.
2. Lives with parents. (Unless he's helping them with the bills and with other needs, taking care of them a bit, but still it's an issue, or seriously saving up for a down payment for a home of his own)
3. Best friend is female, and is his confidant (Dated a guy with this situation once).
4. Lacks "man" skills (care, home, etc). Very important to me, personally.
5. Wallows in: (a) self-pity (b) complaint.
6. Isn't naturally helpful. (ie, he'll watch someone do something difficult without offering to help and sitting on his butt instead).

theobromophile said...

Boston area, men over the age of 30 (which is my dating pool, pretty much):

1. Seraphic will hate this, but Massachusetts leads the nation (yep, #1 of 50 states) in percentage of people with at least a bachelor's degree, as well as #1 with percentage of people who have a graduate degree, so red flag: has only a high school diploma.

(This is not to disrespect the trades, but a lot of people around here get their college degrees and then get their plumber's licenses. Also, as a personal thing - my family has been pushing the importance of college since the early 20th century - someone who never pursued higher education wouldn't fit in.)

2. Boston red flag that I personally despise: waiting for marriage. Certain assumptions would be made. However, Catholic women likely feel very differently.

3. Over the age of 40 and never married. While men who are over 40 can't do much about it, men who are under 40 can/should understand that it's easier to find a woman at age 35 than at age 45. (I dated a man in his early/mid-40s, never married, and I think everyone in the world warned me away from him.)

4. Boston thing, not necessarily a me thing nor a Catholic thing: wants to get married in his early 20s.

5. Divorced more than once. (Hey, Massachusetts standards here.)

6. Has children from a previous marriage if you don't.

7. Unemployed because one was fired from a job (as opposed to being laid off), or unemployed and not looking very hard/not doing much with one's time.

8. Most women want someone who is liberal. There's a woman I know who tells a story about a pro-life singles event... in which 35 men and zero women showed up.

Things that probably don't matter as much around here:
*Not owning a car if you live in the city or are in graduate school.
*Living with your parents into your 20s. Housing is ridiculously expensive and, as per point #1, everyone has shelled out for education.

Things that are so basic they don't even make the list:
*drug addiction
*prison time
*a drinking problem (and a "drinking problem" by some Boston standards means that your liver has already failed by the age of 40)
*Yankees fan

kozz said...

South India, arranged marriage scenario (which is mostly the norm). Remember our marrying pool is very limited as Catholics are minority. Plus we have to deal with all the caste/community divides, in a typical conservative setup.
1) Drinks a lot or does drugs
2) Parties a lot, even though he is over 30, and should have learnt responsibility
3) Divorced/divorced with kids
4) No steady job
5) Is overly fixated on me or my parent’s “financial” status; mentally assessing how he can financially benefit from the marriage, and the “freebies” he can hope to demand.
6) Mama’s boys, i.e, cannot really make decisions nor want to take responsibility for their actions.
7) Fixated on the fair, slim archetype
8) Has no interest or hobbies apart from work/home. This is a flag cause it indicates a rather dull personality.

Ashley said...

Here are some things that would make me go *hmm!*

1. He is emotionally unstable or more emotionally needy than I am
2. He talks about himself all of the time
3. He isn't close with his family or has unresolved issues from his family background (usually with a parent)
4. He has a tendency to be moody or despondent
5. He doesn't have a job or any motivation to find one
6. I feel either like the leader or anxious when I'm with him
7. He frequently uses profanity or tells jokes riddled with innuendo or has a disrespectful disposition towards women
8. He lies or has a temper
9. He is lax about his faith life
10. He drinks too much or is actively involved with pornography
11. He is such an introvert that he has no close friends (especially guy friends) and rarely socializes
12. Complains a lot, especially if he does nothing to remedy the situation
13. Doesn't make an effort to take care of his health (eats tons of junk food, never works out or does active things, sloppy appearance)
14. Smokes
15. Is overly clingy or prone to jealousy

Wow, this list is getting long. I'll hope over the the positives and write a list there to balance it out, lol

Ashley said...

PS. I forgot to mention that was for the New England area, US (but would also apply to other areas of US).

Anonymous said...


[1] Won't even attempt to dance
[2] Dislikes the outdoors

Moral failings the both of them ;-)