Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Define "Normal"

Things are heating up in a recent combox in part because of the distinction between hanging out, which is fun but not serious, and dating, which is serious but not necessarily fun.

But the larger controversy, one that one reader has admitted may apply only to the USA, or only to conservatives in the USA, is that it has been proposed that available church-going, doctrine-abiding Catholic men are not normal.

Which leads to the questions: "What do you girls mean by normal?" "What is a normal Catholic man?" and "Can we expect Catholic men to be normal when many of the norms of the world are opposed to Catholic doctrine?"

Personally, I have come across very few Catholic men who have made me actually uncomfortable with their eccentricities. But I have met many men who have made me uncomfortable with their slavish conformity to popular culture.

Take your thoughts to the combox, and as usual, ladies only, although keep in mind various men are still reading.


Britta said...

Oh dear me..."normal." Well, for example, you commented on the previous dating post "BECAUSE...first dates kind of ARE job interviews." And I immediately thought to the sometimes funny, but more often crass movie Van Wilder in which the titular hero says to pretty blonde reporter, who is protesting that she is meeting him for an interview, not a date: "But first dates are interviews, Gwen."

My thought is that "normal" men would not blow up at me for knowing this. Or quoting it in regular conversation. Because they are doctrine abiding, they call crass when they see it, funny when they hear it, and because they are "normal," understand that too often many things of our world combine the good and the bad, and they're not going to become eccentrics in their avoidance of anything that has one ounce of bad.

So "normal" to me (and I am just one twentysomething in Urban City) is living in the world (so we can bond over mutual taste or distaste for common literature, television, music, etc.) but is not in it (so in his own behavior, acts like a gentleman).

Maria said...

This is a tough and delicate question. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
I wouldn't necessarily say that "Catholic" and "Normal" intersect rarely in young men. What I would say that "Catholic" and "attractive-to-me" haven't. On the other hand, I've met very few men indeed I actually felt like dating, and none I wish I could have married; as I don't know many practicing Catholics, it would have been a bit of a statistical anomaly if one had happened to also be attractive-to-me. I try to remind myself of this whenever I feel the "still single" blues coming on.
(As I write, I can't help thinking of the one really fetching young Catholic man I met once, only to find out about an hour into our conversation that he was a seminarian. I don't think I've ever been so annoyed at God in all my life.)
I've made this comment before on this blog, but I think non-Catholic men who are out trying to get as much action as they can are getting practice at making themselves attractive to women with pretty much instant feedback. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what moral equivalent to suggest for NCBs who quite properly wish to avoid breaking hearts and falling into sin.
I understand that good men sometimes feel girls only pay attention to "bad boys", but I think they're looking at the question wrong. There are good men and bad men; and there are men who have good instincts for attracting women and men who don't. This gives us 4 categories in all:
1) Good, naturally attractive men don't make themselves noticed because they don't leave a conspicuous trail of broken hearts, tend to get married young, and stay married.
2) Bad, naturally attractive men have the ability to hurt and lack the conscience to avoid it. Their "success" is very noticeable and they take care that it be so.
3) Bad, unattractive men go unnoticed by all because they (presumably) hide in their parents' basements playing violent video games and resentfully wishing they could also get away with what the bad attractive men are up to. Occasionally, some will emerge, take a few courses in "Game", and move "up" to the bad, attractive category.
4) This leaves our last category: the good men who don't quite have the knack for attracting women and need a little help. "Game" courses are not an option; there are no Catholic alternatives; and I suspect Catholic dating advice for men can be summed up by "Be as Godly as you hope your wife will be, and don't expect her to be too hot. By the way, have you ever thought of being a priest?"

Anonymous said...

Normal in my mind is someone who doesn't over-moralize everything, has a sense a humor about life, can talk about something other than theological topics, has a healthy outlook towards sports (I think there is something wrong with men who don't like some form of sport, and there is enough variety for everyone). Is a gentleman, which is demonstrated by his actions and words and not preachy snippets on what a gentleman is.

Finally, I guess a man that has some interests so that he is interesting. I just feel like so many Catholic men are so caught up in being Catholic they forget to be human: read a book, watch a movie, hike a trail. Have goals and dreams that he is working towards. For crying out loud DO something!

That is my idea of normal.


Jam said...

Loose thoughts:

Anyone, male or female, who commits him or herself to Serious Catholicism* is bound to realize how far out of the mainstream they have put themselves. Men though are much more likely to THROW themselves into weird beliefs and behaviors. What I mean here is, espousing strident beliefs like "women shouldn't wear pants!!" and eagerly telling everyone else what they're doing wrong and thinking it's a great idea to go around referring to Protestants as "heretics" in casual conversation. All of which are behaviors of a type encouraged by the particular features of American conservatism at the moment. Think of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, who apparently think shouting insults at people is how you get them to change their minds. Look at all the manly men who respond to the merest prospect of greater gun control by stocking up on ammo. More fundamentally, "manliness" is often associated with strong opinions, fearlessness, etc.

Oh sure, women can do this too; I certainly am no stranger to gung-ho women like this, and history bears out the fact that women are not immune to extremism; but women are generally more sensitive to what others will think of them and more likely to think that moderation is an ideal/consensus is a goal, and I do think we don't tend to throw ourselves into something unless there are other women around us doing the same thing. I know that when I realized the implications of my faith, I was angry and tearful at the thought that God was going to make me an outcast. Whereas men, particularly mild-mannered men who have been more or less locked out of sexual one-upmanship, are probably more likely to think, "ooh! I'm a Maverick now! What a badass I am!"

I'm rambling and not making sense. Of course it's impossible to talk about "men" because not only do they have different temperaments, but there are men who grew up conservative-Catholic and men who became that way. But I think when faced with "that's not normal" (whether the thing in question is opposing abortion or insisting that the Masons are Behind It All), conservative-Catholic men, as a group, are more likely to react by committing more strongly to that thing. Thus exasperating women who would like to see the slightest shred of evidence that a guy can consider viewpoints other than his own.

In closing: I'm just throwing this out there as one possible dynamic/set of dynamics. I sincerely hope I don't offend anyone.

*I'm sure this also applies to people of other traditional faiths.

c'est la vie said...

*I tried to post this before, not sure if it worked.

I don't believe that 'normal' should be defined as 'conventional' or 'conformist'--I think its meaning is closer to 'healthy' and 'ordered', in the sense that a normal person is emotionally healthy and has ordered priorities in life.
As Seraphic points out, social pressure can make it extremely difficult not to feel torn between what ‘everyone else in the world’ thinks and what the Catholic must think. In my opinion many practicing Catholics are emotionally scarred by the effort to stay Catholic amid the hostility of colleagues, and even friends and family. So an eligible Catholic man who is entirely comfortable in his Catholic skin is something of a rarity. You can tell that he is comfortable because for him religion is neither all negatives nor constant hype, but a calm-inducing framework through which he sees all of life. As others have said, no hysteria, non-theological interests, and social skills!
And ordered priorities, to me, mean people before things.

Maggie said...

Catherine's idea of normal is pretty close to what mine is. I'd like someone who is well-rounded, who has a variety of interests because I have a variety of interests; intersection of interests is good, but not necessary--I just want a man who's passionate, knows what he likes, and is working towards something.

Scarlet said...

I sympathize with what's been said, especially Catherine and Jam. Having a sense of humor is so key.

I'm wondering--since I have friends in committed relationships with normal Catholic guys--if a little bit of help from us wouldn't lessen some of these eccentricities. Say, using Jam's example (I've been there, girl!) at a party, when a young man makes fun of Protestants, you could say something like, "I understand that you're making a theological point, but could you be a little more respectful? My father is a Southern Baptist." (True for me.) In all likelihood their bravado is mostly for show, and once they realize their making you uncomfortable they will stop.

(On a side note, there are men with conservative values who can see more than one side of the issue. And there are men who use their Catholicism to back up their political beliefs. Politics come first, faith second. I try to avoid that type, despite the fact that I am quite conservative too.)

I'm NOT saying all men are broken and need women to fix them. I really detest it when girls say they're "training" their boyfriends. They're not dogs. But since Catholics as a whole, at least in the US, tend to get to the dating scene a little on the late side, or are starting anew and trying to forge Catholic friendships, there can be a bit of a learning curve on both ends.

MaryJane said...

So far, I really can only second what everyone else has already said. By "normal" I never intended to mean "conformist," but rather "well-ordered," "balanced," or "integrated."

Practically speaking, this shows itself in what the other commenters have already listed as general qualities: a commitment to the faith without forgetting that we live in a material universe; a sense of humor about things and a realization that the world is imperfect and not to be shunned entirely because of it ("in but not of it"); an interest in some things, whether it be sports or history or politics; and just a certain sense of how to interact with others in a way that is not socially awkward. Also, the confidence to ask a girl out on a date if he is actually interested.

Perhaps it might be helpful to list some things that have happened to myself or friends, which I would consider not on the normal list:
-- A man who is obsessed with The Need For Women To Wear Skirts {admittedly, a US Trad Cath/ Evang. Prot problem}
-- A man who refuses to buy a woman a cup of tea because "he does not believing in dating, only courtship, and therefore this is not a date"... even though the two of them are meeting over coffee to get to know each other for the possibility of a relationship
-- A man who corrects a woman for which translation of the Bible she is reading (which happens to be the official version used in the novus ordo... maybe not great, but certainly legit)
-- A man who won't take no for an answer (to a date or to a break-up)
-- A man who always wants to hang-out but never actually asks a woman out on a real date
-- A man who acts at least half of his age at least half of the time

Incidentally, I know "normal" Catholic guys (= friends' husbands) who agree with the analysis that there happens to be a dearth of normalcy in Catholic guys. They have trouble finding friends who both reject porn and like watching sports.

To be clear: I really do think men are great and I want to affirm their existence as the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. Over the years I have had friendships with men who I would not consider particularly "normal" but some of whom are now happily married, I believe. Obviously, as Seraphic has pointed out, a lot of this depends on our definitions!

Sarah said...

I think-- and I think this is what Seraphic is trying to say too?-- the whole question of "what is normal" is moot.

Even if to me, that Catholic extremism, non-sense of humor having, unbalanced, whatever means I don't like a guy, probably someone else will. I know plenty of men who I find insufferable and weird who are married.

My preference in men-- what I happen to like-- is aligned with what you ladies are saying: have interests, be human, don't burn my jeans. But that is merely the kind of person I find attractive and fun to be around. I wouldn't necessarily say it's "normal."

When I meet a man I am attracted to, I don't ask myself merely, "is this guy normal," but "Do I like this guy, whether he's "normal" or not?"

Jam said...

In the sense that normal means "common", sure, it might be a sort of unreasonable thing to expect. Wanting a guy to have "common" male interests like sports and cars is a matter of personal preference. And of course, as has been pointed out, there are a lot of things that are "common" in our day and age that we definitely don't want our Catholic men doing, like watching p**n or expecting sex.

But in the sense that normal connotes the ability to mix with wider society easily, I think it's perfectly reasonable. Normal has the connotation of "healthy", like MaryJane's comment about "well-ordered". No one wants to bring home a guy who won't be able to carry on a conversation with their parents; which is a big dividing line when I think about guys who are and are not "normal".

When I was a kid in the 90s, every TV show and book had some message about "being yourself", "no one's normal!" Those are important messages, but obviously it can be taken too far. Being able to find common interests with other people, being able to mix with people civilly, these things are still important. Maybe I'm just feeling contrarian today, but I don't think "normal" should get dismissed too quickly as a meaningless term.

Anonymous said...

um... do y'all want the protestant lurker's perspective? (hey I love the blog, what can I say, most of it is not particularly only applicable to Catholics after all). I think there's a large number of "not normal" (in the "healthy and ordered" amd "well rounded and has a variety of interests" definitions from comments above) out there in general. Anyway - not that I have much to add beyond that, I just wanted to let you gals know that us Protestant girls are going through some of the same things...

Gwen said...

This is a very good question. In reflecting on it, I realize that some of my characterizations of normalcy are pretty superficial. Maybe this is a sign that I'm less mature than I thought. Also, as someone who considers herself orthodox but not ultra-trad, sometimes i get overwhelmed by men who seem extra eager to prove their tradness. For instance, I've been to Bible studies and other faith-based discussions where a handful of men dominate the conversation and seem overbearing in showing off their knowledge of religious facts and quotations, rather than simply discussing how these ideas can inform their practice of the faith and engaging with the others present... because often only the same 4-5 men end up speaking at said types of events.

I totally get the "in but not of the world" bit. I'd like to meet someone who understands and appreciates culture, but isn't controlled by it and can still think for himself. Someone interested in travel, music, sports, family/friends, and whatever hobbies/causes he may have, in healthy balance with his faith and how he lives it out and how he treats other people.

If I'm completely honest, I also just haven't found most of the men at the Catholic gatherings I've attended to be physically attractive. I realize looks aren't everything, but I don't know how to change my perspective on it.

Anonymous said...

I like quirky guys myself because I am quirky. So not being normal is not a put-off for me. But I have often noticed that when I go to non-Catholic events I connect with men and get asked out and when I go to Catholic events I struggle making conversation and never get asked out. In fact, I have never really been asked out by a Catholic guy except at structured events like "speed-dating" but I used to get asked out by lots of non-Catholic guys.

So "normal" to me is someone who is able to connect with you on a basic human level. You laugh at the same things and have the same interests. When you talk to a "normal" guy you feel like he is really listening to you and when he talks he actually responds to what you said. (Think Hitch, "listen and respond")

In contrast "non-normal" guys tend to glare at you like they are angry with you when you talk. They also tend to dart their eyes around when you are talking. When you ask them questions about themselves they may go on and on forever or they may answer in one word grunts with the expectation that you are there to keep the conversation going. They also try to make mean, sarcastic jokes about what you wear, eat or what you say. And many, many men will instinctively contradict most of what you say without really thinking that they may actually be the ones that are wrong.

The large majority of Catholic men I have dated or interacted with fall into the second category, but not all. Most married Catholic men are fairly "normal" or easy to talk to.

I think its the "boys on the one side of the room" and "girls on the other" culture prevalant in Catholic sub-culture. It's also a misunderstood notion of what male leadership is all about. It is also probably the difficulty in trying to toe the line between being "masculine" as defined by American culture and also being "compassionate" as a Catholic. Why non-Catholic men do not have this difficulty I do not know. But Catholic guys are more rule-following, rigid and black and white types who probably have difficulty with social skills due to the fact that it requires the ability to deal with shades of meaning, nuances and ambiguity when you are in social situations. The reason that a lot of them are attracted to the faith in the first place is because it gives them a sense of moral certitude.

I think there are so many good, handsome and quality men out there that would make good husbands. I think men have a need to be formed socially in the way that women naturally learn by being in girl "cliques" throughout their lives. With Catholic men, you don't have as many venues for male bonding. You also don't have the social conventions that you used to like the old notions of chivalry. The one advantage the non-religious man has is more contact and experience with women outside of relationships tends to be more frequent whereas Catholic men tend to avoid forming close friendships with girls so as to not lead them on or to avoid inpropriety.

Kate D.

Seraphic said...

Heavens. So many comments! I'm just checking in now, and I am once again extremely grateful for the reasonable tone, deep thought and maturity of my readers.

Hello and welcome to the Protestant Lurker. You're not the only one, 'cause I have a Calvinist pal who reads often.

I'm seeing some patterns, so I think what you girl means by "normal" is "able to have a reasonable, polite conversation" and "can think about something besides Catholicism" and "is capable of watching a football game or doing a crossword puzzle."

Kate D, I am particularly struck by your description of "non-normal" guys who are also Catholic because I recognize the type--although I've met the occasiona non-religious men who act like that too. Your explanation (for Catholics) is insightful, too. I have been wondering about male knee-jerk contradictions and mean jokes. I don't get it other than to wonder if some guys just find it easier to treat women as "the Enemy." Heaven knows why unless they are overwhelmed by attraction to women or disappointment in Woman.

Sarah, I think "Have interests, be human, don't burn my jeans" should be emblazoned on T-shirts.

My ex-husband wouldn't let me wear jeans. I think there is something serious wrong with men who won't "let" their wives or girlfriends wear jeans. And I don't really LIKE jeans--at least not on me.

Magdalen said...

Oh, Catholic speed dating! The Toronto Newman Centre hosts such an event every so often, and a friend of mine dragged me, oh, about a year and a half ago. The men were decidedly not "normal". Quite a few of them harped on about how I was the only "Canadian" looking woman there (my friend was also "Candadian", by which I assume they meant "Caucasian and speaks English without a noticeable accent, but she's Polish with dark hair and tanned skin, often mistaken for a Latina). Anyway, I was considerably taller than 90% of them (I'm 5'10") and the only one that I found at all physically attractive had what seemed like profound mommy issues. *Sigh*.

As an adult, I haven't dated any Catholic guys, and believe me, I'm looking. Where are they hiding? The ones who enjoy (or don't mind) cultural arts events, can carry on a conversation about current events, and have some working knowledge of the faith they profess to hold?

My friend Melissa and I were bemoaning this on Saturday after a girls' cocktail night with two other close friends, both Catholic, both of whom have non-Catholic boyfriends (one a Scandinavian atheist, the other a super-liberal Methodist). It may even have devolved into a humorous duet of "If I Can't Love Her" from Beauty and the Beast.

We're both attractive, personable women, who have active social lives, but nether of us seem to meet any suitable men! Ah, well.

Seraphic said...

How's your Polish?

Lauren said...

Just chiming in as another long-time Protestant lurker -- although trying to lurk less these days -- to second c'est la vie's remark about "normal" meaning "well-ordered." That's a great way to think about it.

I don't really know any church-going, doctrine-abiding men of my religious persuasion these days. I'm the only youngish single person in my parish. Well, to be precise, there's one other, and, bless his heart, he bored me to tears.

Magdalen said...

Is Poland really the only place to meet a NCB at this point? I am rather attached to Canada. And my Polish, alas, is non-existent. But I might tag along to a few Polish cultural events with my Polish girl friend :)

sciencegirl said...

I really haven't had a similar experience; most of the Catholic men I've met have been far more entertaining, well-rounded, and personable than the atheists in my field. Then again, perhaps being a scientist means the bar is set fairly low.

Granted, many of these lovely young single Catholic normal men did not seem that interested in dating me! But that is okay; we all have different things we look for in romance. I have met maybe 3 genuinely weird Catholic men, one of whom loudly proclaimed his schizophrenia diagnosis. I've met dozens of nice, normal Catholic men. Dozens!

I think that Bible studies are not great places to meet people. You have to get the mix just right, and they are generally my most awkward experiences as a Catholic. A bunch of people, sitting around straining to find new things to say about the Parable of the Lost Sheep, with no ability to reference outside sources for inspiration... ergh. DOES not show people at their best! Catholic men who hate awkward social interactions are going to come one time and then quit.

Actually, you see, horrible secret: I always LOVED the blatherers at Bible Study who went on about the Diocletian Heresy, because at least what they had to say was new to me. Loved it! I also thought those guys were hot and dated a couple of them over the years. I also joined in if I had any ideas. I resented the crowds of silent, judgey Catholics who were "just listening," but kept rolling their eyes when the nerdier guys spoke. But... the guys were talking about theology because we were at Bible study; when it was over, they had a lot of other interesting things to say. And they never went on about jeans!

Anonymous said...

I am married now, but was single for a long time (until age 37). I dated within Catholic circles in a major city in the northeast US (but not NYC). I met many weird men in my single days, and my girlfriends often had the same experience. By 'weird', I don't mean eccentric, which can be charming and fun. Heck, I am eccentric. Faithful Catholics are probably all a bit eccentric. By 'weird' I mean 'odd', 'unbalanced', psychologically unhealthy. I came to the conclusion that there were a lot of great women at all the Catholic events, but the men often had issues. So where were all the great men, I wondered. I somewhat sadly came to the conclusion that the best men were either in grad school or working on their careers, and did not have time to attend Cathlic events every night of the week as so many of these guys did. This was a very disheartening conclusion, as I was hoping to meet a devout Catholic man. Having given up on the church circles, I turned to internet dating and I met my husband. I know Seraphic is not a fan of this method, but it worked for me. My husband is a faithful Catholic, but I don't think I would go so far as to say he is devout. He thinks it is funny that I have a million books on the Pope and my Bible in the kitchen, and that sometimes he will wake up at night and hear me saying the rosary. He loves to make jokes about my love for the Catholic faith, but I know that he loves me for it. And as for me, although I sometimes wish I had someone to say that rosary with me, I have hope that my husband will come around. He goes to mass with me and says prayers with the children. And it is hardly as if I am not gleaning some spiritual benefit from my spouse. He is far more generous than I am in so many ways and I have certainly benefited from his example. And even besides that, I am so strongly Catholic that I probably need someone to tether me to this earth and keep me real. What it took me so long to figure out is that we all have an idea of who are prince charming will be, but it is important to be open to other men that don't quite fit our pre-conceived notions. There are many wonderful men out there, and so many of them really need a good Catholic/Christian woman, even if they don't exactly know that yet. Lisa

Seraphic said...

Magdalene, I think it might be worthwhile to go to Polish cultural events because they will probably be fun and interesting and also give you the opportunity to meet Catholics whose ethnic culture is so inextricably linked to Catholicism, that they are likely to be a bit relaxed about it or at least take it for granted. Merely cultural Catholicism is not fantastic, but it is off-putting than the guy who simply cannot stop talking about Sister Faustina and the Divine Mercy (one type of Polish guy I have indeed met) .

Meanwhile, possibly Toronto "ethnic" dating culture has changed a lot since I dated in it, but there are people who really want to marry within their ethnic group, which may be why those guys at the Newman mentioned that you were the only "Canadian"-looking one. They were probably worried about being shot down at once by the Filipina girls, Goan girls, et alia, or maybe they would prefer to marry Canadians of European extraction, being Canadians of European extraction.

So don't discount the "Oh, you're a nice Polish girl!" factor and be nice to the grannies.

Seraphic said...

Lisa, I agree, and I don't think it is settling if devout Catholic women marry the "merely" faithful Catholic men they fall in love with. In fact, I think there is tremendous potential for marriages between devout Catholic women and hitherto merely culturally Catholic men, particularly if those culturally Catholic men already associate Catholicism with women they love.

By the way I don't loath internet dating when it actually works. I'm glad it worked in your case.

There's an issue I just thought about, which is when the husband is more devout than the wife. This works against the stereotype and possibly against the norm in Britain and North America, but as a matter of fact, I think my husband is more devout than I am--although I'm stricter about laws of fasting and abstinence, so maybe it evens out. At any rate, I can see a need for Catholic women to be patient with their husbands' enthusiasm, when it is greater than our own. For example, my husband loves apologetics. He can bang out defenses of the Faith for hours and hours, which I personally find boring, but he loves it, so there you go.

Seraphic said...

Oh, Magdalene, I think I may have got you mixed up with Magdalena, so I assumed you are ethnically Polish yourself.

MaryJane said...

Seraphic, if you sell the "have interests, be human, don't burn my jeans" t-shirts, I will be the first in line to buy one.

I was thinking about this: the good (normal) Catholic husbands of friends have never once suggested that I might have success meeting a guy at a Catholic event. In fact, they suggest I take up a sport (which is really uproariously funny to me given my hatred of running around sweating and trying to achieve eye-hand coordination with some flying object.) But I suppose they may have a point in terms of where the "normal" guys are.

Oh, and Protestant girls, please come out of the woodwork- we like hearing your thoughts too!

Anonymous said...

um...you might not want to hear from us Protestant girls if I mention that the lovely (normal) man I went on a first date with recently who seems interested to continue to "see where this goes" is Catholic... Actually reading the posts makes me feel a little guilty - except I really do like him too much to say no just because you Catholic ladies are looking! :D (Then again I will admit to being a Catholic-leaning Protestant of a sort...maybe it's the 1/4th Polish blood in me!)

Single Christian male reader said...

More single Christian men should read this enlightening post and set of comments. It doesn't do anyone any good to keep this to yourselves.

Gwen said...

I appreciated Sciencegirl's comments, because it does definitely make sense that people would pull out quotes and references about faith at a Bible study :) I'm not being facetious - I hadn't quite thought of it as not the best way to meet guys as a social event. Because it isn't a social event first and foremost. Anyway, I also had never pictured my reticence as silent or judgey, but more awkward and ignorant, as the couple comments I did offer up were met with blank stares and vague nods... not the most welcoming reaction to a new, self-conscious Bible-study-goer, and I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything that crazy.

Anyway, I am curious where our married readers did meet their husbands.

MaryJane said...

Anonymous, totally jealous but happy for you! :) The one year I spent frequenting Catholic events I met one guy for a date: and he was Protestant! And very normal, I might add.

Seraphic said...

Gwen, that's a good question. That may deserve a post all to itself.

Antigone in NYC said...

Yes, please do do a post for married readers to relate how they met their husbands! I love stories of how couples met, and they fill me with hope.

Meredith said...

I am going defend the NCBs here, partly because I have committed some of the same sins of "oddity": being oblivious to hints of romantic interest and being a bit too nerdy to be attractive.

The datable Catholic boys/men I have known break down as follows:

- sweet, nerdy, intelligent college kids
- blustery, triumphalistic college kids
- intriguing, devout college kids

- devilishly good-looking, gloomy, hedonist Trads (they may have been against ordaining women, but it didn't stop them from dating them!)

- brilliant, kind academic types - not interested in me romantically.

- My fiance! Whom I met in Communion & Liberation, and who is, of course, attractive, intelligent, witty, creative, and unbelievably kind.

Maybe I just have a powerful filter... but I love Catholic men! :-D

Seraphic said...

That's fine, although nobody is really attacking NCBs. It seems to me that readers are just expressing frustration with some N (or not so N)CB behaviour. Of course we all want to get along with Catholic men, so why do some of them make it so hard for us? (Wah!)

Actually I have remembered one evening with some awkward NCBs: the spring roll guy and Mr Bargle.


Lillian said...

In defense of the men, I should note that I am a Seriously Catholic 20-something NCG who abhors small talk and getting-to-know-you chatter. This is partly because I studied philosophy in college via a program with a discussion-based format, but it is also strongly because of personal inclination. I really prefer to jump right into weightier matters ranging from politics to religion to moral issues -- and this is with EVERYONE, not just dateable men. I freely admit that this is sometimes a burden socially.

I should also add that I am recently engaged to a Seriously Catholic NCB who likes arguing, etc., as much as or more than I do -- and is actually more comfortable than I am making getting-to-know-you chit-chat with people.

I recognize that I am not normal in this preference, but I just wanted to defend the men by pointing out that some girls DO find it enjoyable and refreshing to jump right in to discussions of doctrine or finer points of theology.

Seraphic said...

Nobody is attacking the men. We are trying to make their--and our own--lives easier by pointing out that most women really don't like aggressive debates in place of polite social conversation.

If only the kind of men who scream about "feminist" this and "liberal" that (or "reactionary" this and "Republican" that) or dismiss their own thoughts as rubbish would learn to rein it in when meeting new women, they might get a lot less frustrated and confused by the way women respond to them.

As a beloved but extremely hot-headed and stubborn young friend of mine once said, "The problem with women is that you cannot tell them that they ideas are stupid without them getting mad at you." Well, no.

Seraphic said...

"Their own" meaning "the women's own", of course.