Monday, 18 March 2013

Eve of Saint Joseph

I am rather excited about tomorrow although now I am wondering if opening the blog to a day (a whole day!) of masculine commentary is a good idea. I was at a party recently with some shamelessly open eavesdroppers, and they complained because I had dropped the Cardinal O posts. They said such an erasure was Orwellian. I said it was not, and explained why. They said my argument was a mess an example of feminine logic. I said that was ridiculous.

"Bless your little heart," said one, and great was the hearty masculine laughter at my expense.

"I'm glad you read my work in such detail," said I. 

Of course, I do wonder now if eavesdroppers, if they are in a terrible thought-bog worrying about the mystery and wickedness of women, cheer up by saying inwardly "Bless her little heart" towards every woman they see on the streets---as I tell you to do regarding men when you are in a thought bog about men.    

At any rate it reminded me of how boisterous men are and how tempted women are so often to feed Ritalin to them all. We often want to hear what men think, and then we are so shocked when we hear it. It's like saying, "Oh, I love seals" and then actually finding yourself swimming among a whole herd of seals and uneasily wondering what they might do.  I mean, you know: men and words.

However, as my blog is read by ladies, presumably it is read by gentlemen, so all will be well. Still, it is the internet, so I think the best way to proceed is to accept only men's comments tomorrow, and allow no immediate female responses. Regular readers (i.e. women) will have a whole day to craft your beautifully thoughtful and kind responses before posting them up on Wednesday. Does that seem fair? 

I think it seems fair because occasionally I have a look to see what those pesky Catholic dating websites are up to, and I know perfectly well men and women  jostle and joust and pout and flirt in the message-boards, and it's all so cutesy and pointless and cowardly and a waste of your $15/month (or whatever) that it makes me ill. 

Tomorrow's exercise is not about making connections but purely about the pure, unrestricted desire to know. Eavesdroppers answer your questions, and eavesdroppers ask their questions. What will they come up with? Or will they refuse to speak at all? Oh well. I suppose their very unpredictability is part of what makes them the caffeine in the cappuccino of life.


Anonymous said...


First of all, I want to thank Seraphic for this blog. as a guy, I've learned so much, particularly about the female perspective (obviously) and how what I, as a guy, say or do is interpreted and ways I can change / improve my interactions with you all. Also, thanks for the opportunity to chime in!

Before I answer some of your questions, I must give a little background. I am Catholic, 23, and have no experience dating (though I've tried and been told no several times!). I'm not saying that for pity, I just want you all to know where my answers are coming from so you don't think I have lots of experience with relationships. For this reason, I'm only going to answer a few questions that I feel I have some actual knowledge about.

Okay, first, MaryJane's question. I personally have followed the "hang out" approach. I feel it's more natural. Then again, my approach clearly isn't working, as the women I've befriended only to later ask out have all said no. I've gotten the impression that hanging out has caused them to put me into the friend zone. Out of curiosity, does that actually exist? If so, how can we guys tell when we have been put into the zone and what can we do to avoid being put into that zone if we are interested in you? It can be hard to tell sometimes if you think we're a really good friend, and nothing more, or someone whom you would consider dating.

Alisha, I love (ballroom) dancing, though I'm admittedly not very good, and Violet, I can't stand smoking either. I guess my answer to both of you is that while generalizations are usually based in truth, there are always exceptions. Honestly, I have no idea why anyone, male or female, would enjoy smoking or find it attractive.

As far as what I find intimidating, I think a popular girl is intimidating. I mean, I'm really happy for her, but if there are lots of other guys actively wooing her and she's always surrounded by her girlfriends, it's pretty terrifying. I hope that doesn't sound shallow. It's more the inability to get to know her at all on any sort of personal level (i.e. She's always in a large group) or to find out if she also has any interest in me.

I wish I could answer more of your questions, but I feel I'm not qualified too. I hope at least some of what I wrote is interesting and informative. God bless you all, and thanks for letting us male eavesdroppers have a chance to chime in.


Anonymous said...

P.S. It is St. Joseph's Day in my timezone :)

Mike again

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

By my time zone it is now Tuesday, so I will try to comment a bit before bed, and perhaps more tomorrow. Although tomorrow is quite rushed.
This will be posted in two parts because of character limit constraints.

Background first, because it will very much colour what I have to say. I am 21, engaged (getting married in July). I am Canadian, and my fiancee is American. We met on a Catholic forum and have been a long distance couple since September 2010.
I consider myself a traditionalist Catholic, and I attend an FSSP Mass. I study philosophy and commerce.

I apologize in advance for skipping some of the questions. It is either because my experience gives me nothing to say, or because I could not sort out a satisfactory answer at the moment. So, on to some of the questions posted the other day:

"How much is too much of an age difference in a woman you would date?"

My fiancee is two years older than me. Before we started dating, I thought it would be an issue for me, but I realized quite quickly that it was not. I had assumed that I would be attracted to someone my age or younger. On the other hand, two years is a rather small age difference. I hardly even think about it these days. Perhaps not the most relevant answer. :)

"Do you ask women out on dates or do you just "hang out"?"

I am definitely the "date" type, although the long-distance relationship made that difficult for obvious reasons. If I were to go back to when I was single, with the knowledge and experience I have now, I would definitely have been quite a bit more forward in asking young women on dates. Being young and in school, the culture is definitely geared more towards hanging out. I think this leads directly to the situation of the guy and girl having different expectations, perhaps being afraid to express them, and being stuck in a situation one of them resents. I say, assuming both parties are available, get things out in the open as soon as possible.

"Are men frequently intimidated by girls they find attractive? Or are they usually put off for other reasons (e.g. she doesn't seem interested, she's with another man, she's attractive but not my type)?"

Haha. :D
Yes, men are frequently terrified of girls they find attractive. And they are frequently terrified of girls for other reasons too.
We, being ourselves, know all our faults and struggles. But when we see a young lady whom we find attractive, either physically or for some other quality, then we see all those good qualities, but not necessarily the faults that we understand in ourselves. So the girl seems a much better person in comparison. We are afraid of being rejected, partially because of the perceived humiliation factor (which is huge, in my opinion), and also because in a sense we are worried that we deserve that rejection.
That is my take on it at least. I may be speculating a bit too much.

"What can Good Catholic Girls do to put Good Catholic Boys at their ease?"

Excellent question. I will talk about myself personally, and hope it applies to other guys around my age. Since it will be relevant: I am quite shy in social situations.
I would say that if a young lady, for instance at church, wanted to put me at ease in her presence, the biggest thing would be to stay engaged in our conversation, and generally be friendly. For a person like me, it is extremely difficult to carry a conversation if I perceive the other person to be uninterested. So if someone wants me to open up, then they should simply make sure they are participating in our conversation. It should be a good, balanced conversation, so a good working mix of talking and listening.
But if my conversation partner seems to be disinterested, either because they are, or because they are even more shy than I am, then I have a difficult time being confident enough to keep pressing it. I guess in a sense I need a sort of affirming feedback through the conversation itself.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

Also, what cues should a girl give if she is interested in you and wants to be classy and modest?

This one is trickier. I am not sure, because I have actually never been able to pick up on any cues that a girl may have been giving me at the time. I have always realized afterwards. I am one of the denser guys, when it comes to that.
I would have to say that the old standby "laugh and touch the arm" would work pretty well. At least it probably would have worked on me.
A sincere compliment goes a long way, if it is not expected or a simple etiquette obligation. I can think of a handful of times where I thought about an unexpected compliment for a very long time afterwards.

And conversely, what cues should a girl give if she is NOT interested in you, and wants to be polite about it?

Going back to the thing I was saying about conversations, being disinterested would work well if a girl was trying to get me to take a hint. One would not have to be unfriendly or hostile about it; simply reverse a few of the guidelines for maintaining a conversation, and it will naturally die out on its own.
For a shy person like myself, this would be slightly damaging to my confidence, but I think that is fairly unavoidable if you are trying to direct the man's attentions away from you, and it is not major damage in any case.

Where can we find you? [etc.]

Perhaps you could try local clubs and organizations that match your interests? For instance, I have taken karate classes for many years now, so if a young lady who happened to have an interest in karate were looking for nice young men to meet, she might have met me if she took up karate at one of my classes. The challenge then, I suppose, would be in sorting through the ones whose morals and values do not match your own. But at least you have one thing in common.

What are your opinions on and experiences with online dating?

Mine is rather odd, as I alluded to above. I met my fiancee online, but on a Catholic forum rather than a dating website. The way the forum allowed us to interact, we started out as friends (sort of) before we became a couple. But at the same time, it allowed a sort of distance between us at the friends stage that discouraged either of us from becoming attached to the friendship simply as a friendship. No 'friendzone' situation.
The actual search aside, long distance relationships are very hard (and can be rather expensive too). But it also forces you to develop good communication habits, because communicating is the only thing you can do together most of the time. I do believe our relationship was made stronger because of the long distance aspect. Seraphic can probably comment on that better than I can.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

Women who are naturally quiet and/or introverted are often told that we may come off as stuck-up or unapproachable to men [...] Is that actually true?

It might be. I am looking back at what I said about conversations and compliments and whatnot, and just now realized how incredibly hard those things would be for a girl who is as shy as I am.
At the same time, the sort of 'demure' persona can be quite attractive for many guys, including sometimes myself.
What do you think of the quiet girl standing off to the side, perhaps talking to only a few people throughout the evening?
For me, also shy, that girl is possibly the person in the room I would like most to talk to, but am least likely to approach. That barrier of shyness, which is doubled in my case, can be difficult to overcome.
Perhaps shy people need lots of outgoing friends to introduce them to each other. I can imagine that working rather well.

What do 20 year old men think of women who wear skirts (knee length or lower)for most of the time? Does she come off as a prude? Is it attractive? Is it preferable? To me it seems that men only like femininity when it appears sexy or in the form of a sandwich.

For me personally, I think skirts are great. Again on a purely personal level, I think there is something also to be said for just-shorter-than knee length as well. But at the same time, some skirts, particularly long ones, can give off a sort of 'dowdy' look. I am not saying that you do, but it is one issue long skirts can lead to. I am thinking of ankle length shapeless denim. So my compromising answer would be that skirts are great, as long as they are at least somewhat fashionable. And by fashionable I meant classy and elegant, rather than just-off-the-runway fashion trends.
Rather than 'sexy', which would scare a lot of Catholic guys anyway, I think classy is the key.
Personally, I would get all freaked out if my fiancee just up and made me a sandwich. I feel useless and silly if I am sitting around doing nothing while she is working on something.

That is all that I can write at the moment. I will take another look over the questions tomorrow, and if I think of anything else I will try to post again. :)
Thank you, ladies, for giving us lots of good questions, and thank you especially Seraphic for maintaining such a great blog.


Seraphic said...

Thank you Mike and Irenaeus, and especially Irenaeus for devoting so much time to your answers.

MaryJane said...

Thank you, gentleman, for such well-thought-out and honest answers!

Anonymous said...

Dear Seraphic,
Thank you for an enjoyable blog; some friends introduced me to it several months ago, and I have enjoyed perusing your site since then.
Irenaeus' answers are a hard act to follow, but I'll add my two cents. (I'll follow your format since you made it so easy, Irenaeus.) :-)

"How much is too much of an age difference in a woman you would date?"

I'm not sure how to answer this one. I'm in my early thirties and the few times that I've dated includes both those significantly older and younger than I. It depends on the woman; if the right lady came along, I would not care how young or old she was.

"Do you ask women out on dates or do you just "hang out"?"

I am shy by nature, and it takes me months to crystallize an interest in a woman. During that time, I'd probably be accused of "hanging out", though I do not consider it in that light. Once I've made up my mind, however, I will not rest until I ask her out or try to find out her feelings. (This usually leads to a feeling of intensity that probably, and rightly, turns off women; hence my hat trick for the last several times I've asked women out.)

"Are men frequently intimidated by girls they find attractive? Or are they usually put off for other reasons (e.g. she doesn't seem interested, she's with another man, she's attractive but not my type)?"

I am terrified by women who are attractive to me, largely because I assume that they would only despise me and my interest in them. Also, usually other men are interested, and they seem much better than I am and more qualified to make her happy, so I generally think that I have an obligation not to interfere with their potential happiness.

"What can Good Catholic Girls do to put Good Catholic Boys at their ease?"

Smile and talk to us... even when the conversation reaches a lull. If you are willing to wait until the talking recommences it sends (at least to me) a signal that you are actually interested, especially if you initiate the second phase/topic.
I suppose the touch on the arm thing would work, but I cannot remember the last time a woman (other than Mom and other family figures) touched me so I honestly don't know how I would react.

Also, what cues should a girl give if she is interested in you and wants to be classy and modest?

Again, speak to us in conversation and show that you are interested in maintaining that connection.

And conversely, what cues should a girl give if she is NOT interested in you, and wants to be polite about it?

Keep conversations short and give unequivocal answers regarding your availability. Please do not be harsh or simply ignore. I once had a friend simply ignore my interest (we had gone out once and then she stopped responding to my emails; it took me two weeks before it occurred to me that she was not ill or busy! haha...), and it hurt a lot. It would be better just to give a simple and straightforward "no" than quiet or ignoring.

Where can we find you? [etc.]

I have a simple life of (mostly) church and work. I usually leave after Mass because no one approaches me, and I grow weary of playing the lurking fellow in the corner.

What are your opinions on and experiences with online dating?

I have no experience. I am generally wary of it, but that is because I am something of a luddite.

And suddenly, I am out of time and must depart. Thanks again, Seraphic! I look forward to seeing the various comments and their reactions in the future.

God bless you all on this glorious feastday of St. Joseph!

I do dance, and I do not smoke unless it is in the right social context. I do not particularly like smoking, especially cigars. Your tongue tastes horrible for days... :-)

Alisha said...

Glad to hear some of the men it partner dancing, may I ask?

Anonymous said...

Dear Alisha,
I swing dance, though I hope to branch out to ballroom dancing at some point.


Ordinary Joe said...

FWIW Seraphic, this long-time eavesdropper thinks it's your blog, so you're entitled to post or delete as you wish. It doesn't seem at all "Orwellian" or "a mess of feminine logic" to me.

pomofo said...

I'll take a stab at answering some of these questions too, using Irenaeus as a template. Thank you, Seraphic, for allowing us to comment today.

"How much is too much of an age difference in a woman you would date?"

I couldn't really see myself dating anyone more than 5 years older than me. And the older I get, the less I have in common with younger people. I'm in my early 30s, so 25 is about the youngest I would want to date, and even that seems too young and immature sometimes. But obviously I would make exceptions in particular cases.

"Do you ask women out on dates or do you just 'hang out'?"

I ask women out on dates. I don't really hang out with anyone, no time to do so, but I do go out for dinner or to movies with close female friends. If you spend too much time hanging out with a woman you're interested in, she'll begin to think you're just a friend, and then when you ask her out things could get awkward.

"Are men frequently intimidated by girls they find attractive? Or are they usually put off for other reasons (e.g. she doesn't seem interested, she's with another man, she's attractive but not my type)?"

Yes and no. Some attractive women I'm just not attracted to. It may just be a little something about them physically, it may be how they're dressed, how they carry themselves, how they talk, etc. But if I find a girl attractive and am attracted to her, yes, I'm still intimidated by her. But I'm shy and don't really feel comfortable engaging complete strangers in conversation anyway.

"Also, what cues should a girl give if she is interested in you and wants to be classy and modest?"

Touching my arm might cause me to flinch, but I would definitely read that as a sign of interest. Otherwise, an invitation to participate in activities with her and her friends, or if email addresses have been exchanged, an expressed desire to keep in touch, or to do things together sometime. If we're interested, we'll take it from there.

I had one NCG who texted me several times the day after a sort-of-date, with the text in all caps, and I was so unnerved that I didn't know what to do and I ignored her. I felt bad about it afterwards, as we had had a lovely evening and she was a nice person, but I just didn't know how to handle a woman pursuing me like that, so that's definitely something not to do.

"And conversely, what cues should a girl give if she is NOT interested in you, and wants to be polite about it?"

You can be direct as long as it’s not too blunt, or you can just be noncommittal. It may take a while, but eventually I'll take the hint.

pomofo said...

"Where can we find you?"

Unfortunately, my life is so busy right now that it's pretty much just work, home, and church, with an occasional trip to the shooting range. And I've never felt comfortable hitting someone up in the confession line or at Adoration. I also attend a TLM parish where all the women in my age cohort are married or otherwise spoken for, and there's a definite lack of interaction among the TLM communities here in getting young people together for social activities.

"What are your opinions on and experiences with online dating?"

Haven't done it, don't really feel comfortable doing it, although my best friend keeps pushing me to do it since his brother met his wife through Catholic Match. As for OkCupid and PlentyOfFish, I've only read about them from guys on the gun boards who brag about how they use them for quick flings, so I would stay away from those sites. I would imagine most guys on there are probably only interested in one thing.

"Women who are naturally quiet and/or introverted are often told that we may come off as stuck-up or unapproachable to men [...] Is that actually true?"

Not necessarily. It all depends on your body language and facial expressions. Some women do look like they've just smelled a skunk, so I wouldn't approach them. But then again, I generally don't engage strangers in conversation anyway. One of these days I keep telling myself that I'll just throw my cares to the wind and talk to people, but the time hasn't come yet.

"Seraphic suggested that the reason young (student and non-student) men don't ask young women out the way they used to is because no one has extra money to pay for it. Has that been your experience? In what ways (if any) has the economic downturn affected the way you interact with women you are romantically interested in?"

Doesn't affect me, really. When I take female friends out for dinner or drinks I'll often offer to pick up the check. I don't go out all that often and I have plenty of savings, so it's not a burden.

"I had a question about getting/giving The Talk here but realized that would maybe be inappropriate. So, if men have insight that they want to share about it, that'd be awesome."

The Talk is unnecessary, except that I might have to give it to a lady sometime. I'm not a move-maker, it'll probably take me several weeks to get comfortable enough to maybe try a kiss. In fact, in my only relationship it was my girlfriend who had to force the issue. I was certainly willing and eager, but I just don't pick up those particular subtleties of female body language. Saying "you can kiss me now" might not be the most romantic phrase, but it'll get the point across, assuming you're tall enough that your voice actually reaches my ears.

pomofo said...

"Which non-physical attributes/characteristics are you most attracted to in a woman?"

Faith in God, evidence of a prayer life, calmness, serenity, unflappability, generosity, kindness, self-confidence.

"Which non-physical attributes/characteristics are you most turned off by in a woman?"

Lack of punctuality, lack of communication, lack of appreciation for the efforts of others, obstinate refusal to allow me to pay for small things (coffee, etc.), insistence on not allowing me to hold a door, viewing the world through rose-colored glasses. Those last few because of a friend who, despite being very dear to me, refuses to allow me to buy her coffee when we meet up, gets fussy sometimes when I hold the door for her (because she can hold her own doors), and often turns down offers to give her a ride home after dark because she believes that if she doesn’t think about bad things happening then she’ll be perfectly safe.

Also, I wouldn’t be able to stomach vegans, vegetarians, militant atheists, support for abortion, or women who don’t like children.

“What do 20 year old men think of women who wear skirts (knee length or lower)for most of the time? Does she come off as a prude? Is it attractive? Is it preferable? To me it seems that men only like femininity when it appears sexy or in the form of a sandwich.”

Not in my 20s anymore, but I don’t really care about skirts vs. pants. Skirts and dresses are nice, as long as they’re stylish and don’t look like she’s wearing a sack. And there are plenty of women who wear skirts who don’t give any thought to the rest of their appearance, so skirts alone are not the issue.

“What do you think about modesty? Is it a gender-specific virtue? Are there ways that girls dress that tempt you to sin? Do you think that women's clothing & its effect on men is a bigger deal or a smaller deal than what many of us have been taught?”

I’ve never really thought about the way I dress because I assume that women are not visual creatures, and it’s really pretty tough for a heterosexual guy to dress immodestly. As for women, if you wear tight clothing, we will look at you. Tight jeans? We’ll stare at your derriere. Low-cut top? We’ll stare at your cleavage. Body-hugging dress? Yup, we’ll stare. It won’t necessarily lead us to sin, but it might make you uncomfortable and bring you unwanted attention. I may be biased because I spend most of my time at work or at church, but if an outfit isn’t appropriate for the office (including casual days) or for church, it’s probably better not to wear it.