Thursday, 18 October 2012

Auntie Seraphic & the Chap Who Was Teased

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

Your post about gentle raillery made me think about a girl in my social group who teases me mercilessly. She always smiles as she does it but I can never quite tell whether she's into me in a middle-school sort of way or she finds me faintly ridiculous. For my part, I enjoy the banter. Do you have any ideas about how to determine the difference?

Chap Who Was Teased

Dear Chap,

The best way to determine the difference is to ask her if she's doing anything this weekend and then ask if she'd like to go out for a coffee. If she says yes, she's into you in a middle-school sort of way, and if she says no, she might find you faintly ridiculous.

I'm putting my money on "yes", however, as women tend not to want to talk to men we find ridiculous. We avoid them, look at them blankly, sigh, roll our eyes, move to the other side of the room and hiss complaints just out of earshot.

On the hand, a "No" might not mean she doesn't like you either. She just might be a "one of the boys" type girl who thinks joking around a good way to stay firmly in the friend zone.

Anyway, ask her out and see.

Grace and peace,

Advice for men is sooooo easy. Seventy-five percent of the time (so far) it comes to "Ask her out and see." Twenty percent of the time it comes down to "Don't ask her out again unless she is being very encouraging." Three percent of the time it comes down to "This girl is stalking you, and from what you have told me, I suspect she may be mentally ill. You both need help. Consult your priest/Dean/campus sexual harrassment officer/police."

On the other hand, there are the "I am very lonely, but I am afraid of women/sexuality" emails. And then there are the emails from guys who may have Aspergers or another form of autism that is preventing them from getting along with women.

These emails are heart-wringing because I don't know what to write, other than gentle suggestions that these men talk to their favourite priests. And I don't feel it would be appropriate to tell a complete stranger that he might have Aspergers. For one thing, I am not a doctor or a psychatrist, but just a humble little laywoman M.Div.

I once got an email from a very lonely man in southern Europe, English none too good, who was absolutely afraid of women. He is the only person to whom I can remember suggesting a Catholic dating website. He was just so shy, I thought the only way he could start communicating with women his age at all was through the safety of a website. Of course this would be a very poor second to meeting and talking to women face to face, but at least he would have practise putting words together.

And I suggested he speak to a priest.


Occasionally I do get a letter from a young man whose heart has been broken. And then I say that I am sorry that happened. Strangely, it is easier to address one man's broken heart than another man's fears. I suppose because I know what it like to have a broken heart, but I haven't the slightest idea what it means to be afraid of women.

Men who don't like women--and that includes men who don't like women but have no trouble attracting women--scare me, but men who are afraid of women merely confuse me. Does anyone know of a book or link on the subject?


Bernal Diaz del Castillo said...

Aunt S, I've been reading you consistently for a few months now, been digging the blog immensely, but have respected your ban on male comments the few times I've been tempted to comment.. Which would be violating my general rule of not commenting online and wasting time and vainly shooting my mouth off, anyhow, so thanks for that added enforced discipline.

This is a pont though, that I think you could use a bit of male input on, so I'll break my silence.

Why do many men fear women? Simple. You tend to fear what you desire most, when you cannot control it. Or her. Especially when that desire is irrational and consuming, as with many men's desire for women.

In my life, it has been the women that I most desire that used to un-man me. I've grown into my own skin lately, and have grown spiritually some, so that beautiful women no longer have that power over me, but through my teens and twenties it was impossible for me to interact normally with women I found really attractive. I had a lot of romantic relationships but they were without exception with women who lacked this power over me. Pretty was fine (in fact required) but gut my heart and leave it flapping, that I could not handle.

I stripped myself of erotic power, too, incidentally, by letting myself get a bit overweight, and not dressing well (etc.), with the (then mostly subconscious) goal of not having to deal with my full erotic power, because when I am in full form, I am attractive, and being attractive to women I really desired was too much for me to cope with.

It was much easier to disarm, and then not hunt what I wanted most. Whom I wanted most, but could not be secure around. So I veiled myself psychically, and stood back, and only took what landed in my lap. A boy's strategy, born of immaturity.

Things have changed, incidentally. Still, that's how it was for me. Most women probably don't fully appreciate how idolatrous and radical male desire can be.

That curve, you know. It's the oddest, most inexplicable thing. When traddy guys get on your cases about pants and such, just know they're doing it because they're so abject, because it really does slay us in ways you probably will never understand.

Wound in the side, missing rib, all that. Blessed curse..

Terrified of Men said...

I don't think men are alone in that thinking, Bernal. I know I can't stand being around men I find really attractive. It really is terrifying. I hate feeling out of control and powerless because I know, if I really really like a guy, I can't think straight and can't be on my guard. My liking him gives him power over me. This is why, I think, I can be really mean to the men I like the most. I'm protecting myself because I'm terrified. It's so counter-intuitive. I'm not sure what to do about it. It would be nice to fall in love and also feel sane and in control and, most of all, at peace. I'm beginning to think this is impossible. It makes me not want to get married. *sigh*

Seraphic said...

Thank you Bernal and Terrified for your helpful remarks!

Well, I am taking a more humble than usual stab at the problem, and I think the solution is rational trust.

Hopefully by the time we have reached adulthood (which to save time I will assume most of us have reached by the age of 25), we have learned how to judge which people are trustworthy and which people are not, and also learned that you can't trust anyone right away and spontaneously, especially not with your most personal and private feelings, not to mention your body, including and especially its immune system.

Some beautiful people can be trusted, and some can't, and some ordinary-looking people can be trusted, and some can't. Of course, it could be that the very situation you describe--sexual attraction overriding reason--will upset the natural process of deciding if someone is to be trusted.

I suppose a professional counsellor might have insights into how to relate more comfortably with men and women one finds most attractive. It would be sad if nobody married the people they found most attractive. It's unfair for the attractive people, and I believe very beautiful women are sometimes sad because nobody seems to have the courage to ask them out.

I know a very beautiful woman whom everyone I know found very beautiful, and then everyone wondered why she was dating the man she was dating and not someone else. It turns out that he actually listened to her opinions (instead of aggressively arguing) and asked her out for dinner. She found both these things very respectful.

I wonder if the beautiful don't have a problem with men and women subconsciously thinking their beauty is itself aggression and then behave aggressively back (or fearfully) instead instead of just in the ordinary, respectful way the actual personality and behaviour of the beautiful person should elicit.

Seraphic said...

And these reflections have led me to today's blog subject instead of the subject I was going to write about.