Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Imaginary Vibes?

I got a great email today, which can be summed up as "Are these vibes? Am I just making it all up? How do make myself stop making stuff up?"

What was brilliant about this email was that it was evidence of a woman, one rather like me as I began to read the philosophy of Bernard Lonergan, S.J., slowly realizing that her thought processes might not be rooted in reality but in wishful thinking.

Is there any adventure more thrilling and important than the great hacking through mental fog towards understanding things and people as they really are and not just as we would like them to be? Is there any battler nobler than the great clash between Intellect and Will, in which Will, like an unruly dog, must be brought into proper submission and yet friendship with the Intellect?

Well, I suppose Virtue vs Sin is even more thrilling, important and noble, but personally I want season tickets to Intellect vs Will.

As far as I know, I am the only Lonerganian in the world to consistently apply Lonergan's thought to dating. You should see my Lonerganian paper on gas-lighting and emotional abuse. I got an A + from Robert M. Doran, SJ, people!!!

Anyway, my correspondent cited a number of things which made her believe in the existence of vibes between her and men around. They included glances and group invites and such other things that, frankly, suggest that my correspondent thinks men are as subtle as shy women.

In general, men are not as subtle as shy women. When a man is interested in a woman he is obvious about it, and even if the woman is oblivious (because, for example, she is busily measuring the vibes between her and some completely uninterested guy), he is still obvious to onlookers.

But the first thing we have all got to understand is that unless we are very pretty or very charismatic most men are not going to fall in love with us. You know your friend, the one that multiple guys are always in love with? Most of us are not like her. No. Most of us are The Friend of Beautiful. But that is okay because there are something like 3 billion men in the world, and even if we appeal only to 0.001% of them, that is still 3 million men knocking themselves out to bring us a coffee.

(Jeepers! Can that be right? Never believe any number I put up without testing it, girls, because I have dyslexia of the number, I really do.)

So do not be down at heart about being The Friend. Be happy and chipper and agree with Single male friends when they growl that picking up women "is all a numbers game." God has a plan, of course, but I don't see any harm in going to respectable places where you may meet new people. Look at me, exposing my sunny personality every day to hundreds of people on the internet. (Um, not that married I am looking.)

HOWEVER when you meet these new people you must think in terms of friendship, not of courtship, because there is a strong possibility that none of them will belong to the Golden Three Million and you do not want to make an ass of yourself.

If some guy belongs to the Golden Three Million, he will eventually try to bring this to your attention. There is no need for you to sift through his every word and glance. He will do the following:

He will consistently come up to you at gatherings and start conversations.

He will not go away at once when another guy comes up to speak to you. He will linger about. He may look faintly annoyed or distressed that you are speaking to another guy.

He will give you things. Not big things, I hope, but small things that cost very little money, e.g. his jacket because you look cold, his pen because you might need it, a coffee from the coffee table, a glass of wine from the buffet table.

He will ask for your phone number. He will use it.

He might blush. I would love to write that only good men can blush for no discernable reason (lots of men good and bad go red with anger), but I don't know if this is true. But at any rate, it is a sign of sincere interest.

He will get you alone in some sneaky way. He might ask you out to something. If it is a group thing, he will plot in advance how to get you alone eventually.

He will offer to walk you all the way home, without you asking, before sunset. After sunset, he might just be a nice, gentlemanly man you can be proud to know, but he is not necessarily that into you.

He will do at least three of these things. Please don't assume Scooter is in love with you just because he rushes up to you at every party and sticks to you like glue. Scooter might just be too cowardly to talk to anyone else.

You can seriously mess up your own ability to recognize one of the Golden Three Million if you take matters into your own hands and go after men who have not shown three of the above behaviours.

Again apologies for comparing men to dogs (although I very much like dogs), especially after comparing the Will to dogs, but if you set chicken before a dog who prefers beef, he will eat the chicken anyway because it is there. But when he smells beef in the vicinity he will rush off towards it instead of eating chicken again.

Oh dear. That didn't sound very elegant. But you know what I mean. Don't go after a member of someone else's Golden Three Million or you will be sorry.

Anyway, trust in God and trust in your own attractiveness to at least three million men worldwide.* Don't get impatient and make stuff up. As some other lady, one richer than I (I hope), said "You can't hurry love. You just have to wait." Put your energies into work, school, community service, hobbies and having fun with friends. Be open to meeting new people, but don't hunt them down. And, especially, make sure your Will is in the keeping of your Intellect, not the other way around.

*Don't think they are all abroad, however, as actually most men apparently are attracted to women of their own (or their mother's) ethnic group or race and this increases as they get older, as an over-40 Chinese guy made sure to tell me the one time we went to a restaurant together.


Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

So helpful - a good check on reality. I tend to be quite bad at detecting vibes (miss ones that are there, imagine ones that aren't) so that's helpful. Of course the one fellow I quite liked who did 3+ I met the week before moving back to my home continent, and his email address didn't work right. But oh well - lots to do, and I am fortunate to have good friends, and I think that's just fine. :-)

Anonymous said...

This is easy advice to take after you've seen how men who are interested behave; hard advice to take if you were in your late twenties by the time that happened.

(Which is to say: if you've never seen men behave that way towards you - perhaps towards your pretty, flirty friends only - it does not seem rooted in reality.)


Rae said...

Hmmm…perhaps I should print this and refer to it often...

Seraphic said...

It certainly is rooted in reality, especially the fact that a lot of men (especially young men) are interested in our pretty friends and it takes more-ordinary-or-late-blooming us longer to bump into the men who also think girls like us are pretty (or we aren't attracted to them so we shut them out forget about them and then complain that men never act like this towards us).

It's hard to explain dispassionately, really. But it's kind of like most 25 year olds agreeing that Ryan Gosling is handsome and not understanding how anyone can think that Hugh Laurie is handsome, whereas many 40 somethings, while agreeing that Gosling is cute (but kind of young) would be delighted to find themselves on a plane next to Hugh Laurie.

Other 40-somethings (like American football fans) would admit that Gosling is cute (but kind of young) but say "Meh" to Hugh Laurie and be absolutely delighted to find themselves beside Tom Brady (Is that his name?).

Anyway, there's no point getting too cranky about it.

Seraphic said...

Nzie, of course I want to think the best of this fellow, but you should be aware that some men act like this not because they think they might like to marry you one day but for other goals. They are still interested in YOU, of course, but their intentions are still unclear.

When getting 3+ of these signals, you can be sure that a man is interested. But the question is, what for? Only time, and his character, can tell.

This is particularly useful to remember in the case of a man who knows you are leaving town in a week, or if he is leaving town in a week. I knew a man long, long, long ago who hit on a female colleague well known for her enjoyment of one night stands. He spent his last night in town in her bed and then went happily off to the airport in the morning. He was engaged to someone else, but they had "an open relationship." And I (and everyone else) heard this story from the female colleague in question.

Eee, I feel a "watch out for men on holiday" post coming on. A tad ridiculous as I actually married a man I met in person when I was on holiday, but this is not the norm. NOT THE NORM, PEOPLE.

Mustard Seed said...

I think the 3+ is a good rule for starters, but time and consistency seem to be other important factors. One of my flatmates has a theory that if a person is crazy, he/she will reveal the crazy within 90 days of knowing that person. It is a remarkable rule. I dated a guy recently who showed plenty of interest but before Day 90 arrived, had flaked out so many times that I had no clue what his intentions were. He later admitted - without me asking - that he "hadn't really thought about it ahead of time." So now when I get all up in butterflies about a man, I remember the 90-day rule. It helps.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Seraphic, I think in this case it was a technological problem (his email address bounced really oddly) and a practical problem (I gave him mine but on a slip of paper while at a camp-esque set up) - and reinforced by the fact that I was moving back to my home country, rather than staying in his, and we were both starting serious studies (him neurology, me law). I would like to be friends at any rate, because that's what we are, and he's a good person. I met him because he organized a Catholic Youth Conference for that far region of his country, and I went along and helped translate for a group of American college students who went. Two of the American girls I made friends with there seemed to think he was interested, and it really did seem so, based on criteria. We weren't dating, and so I do the reality check as needed, but I have tried to maintain friendships with numerous folks from that area and would like to include him in it, that's all.

This is not, unfortunately, the other fellow I mentioned to you, Mr. Overshare and Ask Inappropriate Questions as Part of Honest Friendship. I wouldn't mind if that one were farther away, and he's already on the opposite coast. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Seraphic, I do NOT disagree with you; I was pointing out that it doesn't seem rooted in reality for those who have never experienced it. Imagine if a man had never brought you flowers, treated you to dinner, made excuses to take you out, asked to meet your family - but had otherwise expressed romantic/sexual interest in you. How would YOU take "Men who are interested do these things"? It's easy to say it and understand it if that has always been how men treated you; otherwise, it seems really fairy-tale like.


Alisha said...

I agree this is a good list...but it has its limitations. Such as, this would have to be a guy who was regularly around to observe his behaviour: i.e. if there is never an opportunity to walk you home, or if you are never really together in crowds, it would be hard to check those things. (If you come from two different circles and you are the only person he knows, when you get together, you will either be alone with him or in a group where the other doesn't know anyone else and it will be likely that you stick around each other.) I have a friend who is an extremely generous guy - he loves giving gifts to his friends. He loves connecting with all kinds of people and will get into conversations with them. He has done things for me that I think many girls would find signs of interest simply because they are out of the ordinary, (Example: he recently travelled an enormous distance to do a show with me at great personal cost, he brought me back things from his travels, wrote me a note to encourage me, etc.) but those things are just who he is: it's also how my brothers and brotherly friends treat me. Moreover, I have seen how he reacts to women he finds attractive (he's candid about it - will verbally say that she is pretty, etc or is visibly more smiley etc) and that's not how he is with me. I say this because I think it's important to observe the person with others to see what they are like and check with people who know him before coming to any conclusions.

amlovesmusic said...

Oooo, the 90-day rule!! I like it! I wish I had heard about it before I met the last guy I dated....nothing happened that really scarred me, but it was a learning experience. And it proves the 90-day rule! He showed his crazy within 60 days. Well, I also woke up to his craziness within that time too.

I think that most of us who are late bloomers to the dating/relationship world tend to get over-excited every time a man shows interest in us. And if we are interested in him, it's even more exciting.....and the possibilities are more fun that the reality of the situation. I am so glad that those of us who are Catholic have some good guidelines for behavior before marriage. Sure it is hard, and it might seem crazy to the rest of the world, but in the end it leads to stronger relationships and marriages.

Elisabeth said...

So, what do we have to do to get a copy of that A+ paper?