Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Fake Rules Girls & Man Friends

Occasionally I get an email from a girl who says she is trying to be a good Rules girl and so tries to keep emailing and calling a guy first to a minimum.

Somewhere in this mass of bedding, tissue and cups of tea is my new copy of The Rules, and I am very sure The Rules says you are never allowed to contact a guy first. I don't think it mentions email or texts, as The Rules was written in the 1990s, but its principle is clear.

If you are the pursuer in a relationship with a man, you are NOT a Rules girl at all. And it is okay not to be a Rules girl. Some of my female readers, and probably 99% of my male readers, hate The Rules. I personally think many of the rules in The Rules perfectly sensible, especially as a way to keep women from flinging themselves at men who simply do not give a damn. But I am happy to discuss the book's flaws.

What does not make me happy is girls saying that they are Rules girls when they are obviously not Rules girls because saying so shows that they are not rooted in reality. And you can't stop chasing boys until you have admitted to yourself that you chase boys. I chased boys right up until 2008, even though from 2005 I tried really hard not to, and its a miracle I didn't chase B.A. There, I admit it.

Even though I am happily married, I certainly understand the appeal of chasing boys. Men are, after all, the caffeine in the cappuccino of life, and fun to have around. It is fun to hear their news and get their perspective and have them turn up at my dinner parties.

But sometimes men are not interested in being even just friends with women. And some of them are just lazy correspondents. Women are famously the busy little bee of relationships, keeping families together and sending their mother-in-law's birthday card and making the thoughtful phone call to find out if a missing fellow parishioner is dead or was just ill on Sunday morning. In general, men are not so good at this.

Through much trial and error, I have discovered that I write way more letters and emails to male relations and friends than they ever write back, and the only cure for this situation is to stop writing letters and emails.

Of course, this does not mean that the men friends do not appreciate the emails. Sometimes when I stop writing to male friends during their holidays, they return and reproachfully ask why.

"Because you didn't write back," I say and they look confused.

But I like writing letters regardless, so now I just write them with unconditional writerly love. I have learned to appreciate the few emails and letters I do get. Nagging, I feel, would spell the death of friendship.

But friends are just friends; nobody expects them to behave like like men-in-love. B.A. called every day when we were engaged, and also wrote me long emails, because that's how men-in-love behave. If they can get to phone, men-in-love call. That's just the way they are. There's no need to ask them; they just do it.

Husbands are not that frantic about it unless something is wrong. Husbands are a whole other category of men. They aren't male friends, exactly, although they are male and hopefully they are their wives' best male friends. They aren't men-in-love, exactly, although hopefully they are deeply attached to their wives. They're husbands. They're different.

And now I will fall back, exhausted, against the pillows because I'm still really sick. Poor me.


Sheila said...

I break the Rules all the time. But then I never claimed to be a Rules girl. I think Rules girls are likely to find one kind of guy -- a guy who really wants to do all the chasing -- and girls like me find another kind, that's shyer and not very relationship-savvy. I'm cool with that, but not everyone wants my kind of guy, so maybe the Rules are good for most people. Just not me. ;)

Anonymous said...

Agree with Sheila.

It's not just about getting "a man"; it's about getting a good one. As Auntie keeps reminding us, there are worse things than being Single - like being Married to the wrong person.

I used to be really quiet, and that came off as "intriguing." Add in a lot of long blonde hair, and every creepy dude on the planet was trying to get to know me. Not all male attention is created equal, and the whole experience left me wondering why these men seemed to think that I existed to give them intrigue and a mystery to solve - oddly, I've thought that dating/marriage is about finding someone you love and building a life together.

That said, I don't chase men: it's far more instructive to watch what they do, and it's hard to figure other people out when you're getting in the way.


JoAnna said...

"But I like writing letters regardless, so now I just write them with unconditional writerly love. I have learned to appreciate the few emails and letters I do get. Nagging, I feel, would spell the death of friendship."

As a fellow lover of epistolary things, I could not agree more! I must say, though, that this can be very hard at times. Most ordinary letters don't come with delivery after a while it becomes very difficult to continue the act of 'unconditional writerly love' when it feels as if your correspondents are no more sentient than a brick wall. Especially since I am of the type of people who see writing as our most natural form of communication. One can also never entirely know the value of unanswered letters. I write often to old friends, especially those who are very far away-very few write back. But occasionally I receive a note telling me how much my letters cheered someone up on a stressful or lonely day.

Auntie S. is also very right about most men not being attentive correspondents. I am routinely disappointed by this. How I long to meet a wonderful, N.C. man who does love writing letters! Where are they to be found?

Seraphic said...

Theobromophile, I am inspired by your remark with a new subject for a blogpost. I have to think about it a bit first.

JoAnna, to be frank, when it comes to men most likely to write letters, I'm thinking soldiers and the imprisoned! Although come to think of it, my brother did not write to me from army camp as often as I wrote to him in army camp.

Obviously I'm not recommending writing to serial killers, as some women sadly like to do. You could get in touch with PEN, Amnesty International or the Red Cross about writing to political prisoners overseas or to a support organization for soldiers about writing to soldiers.

You could also contact a "pen friend" organization and say you'd be happy to help someone overseas practise his English writer skills.

Notice how I never assume questions are rhetorical!

Jam said...

For penpals, the Letter Writers Alliance is a fun group!