Thursday, 19 January 2012

Oh, Women! Oh, Men!

"Oh!" exclaimed a man at a party in abject frustration. "Oh, women!"

"Wave your hands around when you say that," I suggested.

He complied.

"Oh, women!"

I do not foresee that men will stop crying "Oh, women!" in confused frustration or that women will cease to shout "Arrrgh! Men!" anytime soon. At least, I hope not. If we cease to be staggered at the mystery of each other, we will certainly become bored.

Of course, when I say this, I immediately think of a young man named... Let me see. What will I call him? I think I will call him Jason. Something like a quarter of the Canadian men of my generation were named Jason.

Jason was a teenage pro-lifer when I was a teenage pro-lifer, only I believe he was 17 when I was 19. And I thought he was really, really cute. A lot of the other girls though he was really, really cute. He was a small-town boy, possibly even sort of a farming boy, and Protestant and also only 17, so he was not an ideal boyfriend for yours truly, the uber-urban, Catholic 19 year old Seraphic. But all the same I sighed a bit, as did all the other girls.


But we sighed in vain for he never showed any of us more than friendly attention, just as if he were a fellow girl, and then one day we had the most awful shock for out of the blue he announced that he was engaged to a 22 year old waitress.

Chagrin is one word that could sum up how we girls all felt about that. I in particular felt chagrin on account of having felt a bit of a cougar at 19 for having sighed over a 17 year old, and here he was actually engaged to a 22 year old waitress.

But one must wear the mask, and the next time I spoke to him, I congratulated him on his engagement. And he said--I have never forgotten this as it completely blew my mind--"I can't believe I've actually found a girl who likes me!"

MEN! Oh, MEN!!!!!


Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

"I can't believe I've actually found a girl who likes me!"

That's something I would say... have said, in fact, and I meant it just as sincerely as he did. :P Most of the guys I've ever met feel the same way, as far as I know. What's with that, anyway?
On a few occasions I've been told after the fact that some girl liked me, or was flirting with me, or whatever, and a significant portion of the time I *still* don't see it.
Is there something about guys' brains that makes us oblivious to the interest of women?

Seraphic said...

I think that the likeliest explanation.

hip2bsquare said...

It's definitely the case that men are very bad at figuring out whether or not women like them.

I've had some of the same experiences as Irenaeus. One of them involved a woman at a party giving me her phone number, unsolicited. I eventually figured that one out for myself. At the time it happened I was utterly oblivious.

My concern, however, is that women are very good at figuring out which men are interested in them, even if the man hasn't acted on his attraction yet.

Christine Falk Dalessio said...

great story! I guess so many of us think that way - so hard to break through our own self-perceptions, and so wonderful when someone shows us how.

Sarah said...

It's true that women have a much keener sense for these things.

I intuited that my current boyfriend liked me for a long time, and the final straw was when he got very huffy with me for mentioning that I found another man cute. So I asked him out-right if he was upset because he liked me and was jealous. He now claims that-- due to believing that I could never like him back-- he had suppressed a lot of his attraction to me and didn't even know quite how much he liked me until then.

He certainly didn't know I liked him, though I had spent the entire time I'd known him worrying I was being too obvious. Go figure.

Men are clueless. Absolutely clueless.

Charming Disarray said...

Then why do men run when chased? Do they run without realizing they're running?

Seraphic said...

Men run when chased by the wrong girl. And men run when chased by the girl they thought could be the right girl but now seems crazy.

hip2bsquare said...

Can you elaborate on what running away looks like from your perspective, Charming?

AveLady said...

I'm with Charming - if they're so very clueless, how do they so frequently and quickly know they're being chased, and head for the hills accordingly? Hip2bsquare, I can't speak for Charming, but from my perspective "running" can be any number of things, from avoidance where chumminess once was to (with the brave ones) "The Talk," even when the girl has not technically *done* anything. Usually in the latter case she has indeed been pretty obvious, but the point of the above comments seems to be that obvious to girls is not obvious to guys... so how do they always figure it out? Does some other girl tip them off?

hip2bsquare said...

Ave Lady, to say that men are bad at figuring out that a woman is into him does not preclude that even the dullest of men tend to figure it out eventually. For some it may be an eureka moment and for others it might come from a friend's tip-off.

The difference, I think, is that a woman can probably tell if a guy is into her in one to three encounters, even if he's not consciously trying to convey that interest. Conversely, there are men who are so clueless that they fail to pick up abundant signs of interest explicitly intend to convey openness to being asked on date for months or even years.

Of course, when that realization finally dawns on him you have the reaction that Auntie Seraphic describes (although I would like to hear her elaborate more on "the men run when chased by the girl they thought could be the right girl but now seems crazy" part).

As annoying as this behavior must be for women, I would like to make a plea for understanding the difficulty that men face when presented with unwanted female interest. When a woman isn't interested in a man, she can turn down his advances and for any honorable man that should be the end of it. But because in the dating game women are the pursued and not the pursuers, it's harder to find a graceful way to discourage them.

After all, it's a bit arrogant to go up to a woman and tell her that you can totally tell that she's into you, but you just don't feel about her the same way. Right? How would women prefer to be treated in this situation?