Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Praise Them

Well! Gentlemen's Day went very well!  Thank you, St. Joseph, and thanks to all the gentlemen who turned up to answer our questions. A few of you girls were a bit naughty, jumping in to say what you thought right away instead of waiting for today. Fortunately, your comments were usually of the "This is great!" variety. Saying "This is great!" encourages men to speak whereas sometimes the slightest hint of "What do you MEEEEEEEEEN?" causes them either to clam up or to get all aggressive.

There are few things men enjoy more than praise from women. The kind of woman who is constantly badgering men to be better men and never compliments them on anything is a woman who is constantly discouraging men, too--in more ways than one. If you have a number of single men in your social circle, you may want to consider praising them from time to time. This is not from some ulterior motive; it is merely to make them happy and confident. How they will have the confidence to ask girls out and get married when the women of their own social circle never hand out any compliments is beyond me. 

Praising men doesn't have to be over the top or fake or anything like that. It should merely follow upon a random thought that flits through your mind. Most times you admire something about someone, it is a good idea to tell them. I still remember my flush of pride in Toronto's Pearson Airport a year ago when a young woman, a complete stranger, praised my floral ankle boots and asked where I got them. Well, I think men, who live in a near-constant state of competition, appreciate praise even more keenly. 

I myself am very lucky to have a goodly number of handsome, intelligent and skillful Single men in my circle. It is a great joy to me, especially as I am so far from my brothers and sisters and nephews and niece. Some dress beautifully, and they inspire the other men to dress more beautifully. (One of the more amusing, and sometimes scary, aspects of men is the extent to which they influence each other.) At least two are excellent cooks. One paints. One composes music. One has an incredible eye for antiques. One is a very hardworking academic. So actually I find it very easy to praise them: they keep doing praiseworthy things. Of course, they often talk a lot of rubbish, but with men it's not talk that matters (unless it is abusive, in which case you must escape them) but deeds. They do many good deeds. 

And the Eavesdroppers have done us a good deed by answering our questions and minding their language and generally being good chaps. There was only one comment I couldn't pass, and that was because it mentioned a female body part men really should not mention to women they are not married to, unless they are their doctors. Most women get offended by that, never mind my beloved readers, The Most Easily Shocked Women on the Internet and Proud of It. 

"But Seraphic," I hear you squeak, "what about all that stuff the Eavesdroppers said about being cold and freezing a guy out so he won't think we're interested in them?"

I think this technique is better used on strangers than on friends, personally. I also think we all have to stop being so cowardly about men's feelings. Men are not women. They do not like it when you say "No" to them, but they will not curl up in  bed listening to Taylor Swift eating chocolate and weeping, as so many of us do when they say "No" to us. I think it a much better idea to get a good reputation for being the kind of girl who really appreciates her male friends and then just handle unwanted courtship attempts with graceful firmness. 

Anyway, let's face it: we're all mixed up about whether we want courtship attempts or not. Which is worse: guys never showing any interest, or the wrong guy occasionally showing interest?  Lucy Maud Montgomery hands Anne of Green Gables marriage proposals like badges of freaking honour. 

Well, that's enough from me. You girls talk in the combox about what you heard from the boys. Agree, disagree, exclaim, wonder--go for it. 

Because our eavesdroppers turn out to be such a decent bunch, I will consider having more Gentlemen's Days in future. For the time being, though, this returns to a girls-only zone. If you're dying for heart-to-hearts with men you cannot see and will probably never meet, there are dozens of Catholic message boards on the net and, of course, the dating sites. 


MaryJane said...

Someone in one of the comboxes below (Antigone, maybe?) mentioned that age does make a difference for a "date" vs. "pre-date" thing. I agree. In my early 20s I would have been much more concerned about a "coffee date" leading to marriage. Now I think a coffee date might lead to a nice chat. Or not, but I'm happy to find out.

I was really saddened by the guys who mentioned asking out NCGs and then the girls put up the wall... and I wanted to say, "hey ladies, stop ruining it for the rest of us!" :) (In a nice way. Like I said, I used to be more like that so I understand.) Can we all just agree to go for coffee when asked, unless there is some glaring reason not to? (E.g. he is a drug addict.) And all the eavesdroppers will silently agree to start asking ladies for coffee?

And then Seraphic's blog will have started a quiet revolution in the very messy Catholic dating-not-dating world.

Thanks again to all the men who chimed in. I thought it interesting that many admitted to being kind of shy. I think maybe shy people (of either gender) read blogs more than their extroverted pals.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I really enjoyed having the fellows around, Auntie, and I do hope we invite them around more often - nice to have their perspective. Also, I saw some give-and-take in the combox, of course, but maybe they have questions they'd like to pose to us?

Overall, I found it informative and quite appreciated everyone's (NCB guests and Seraphic ladies) contributions, and I second MaryJane's comments above.

~Nzie, grateful and waving hello/goodbye at the fellows.

Jules said...

Ah yes, cheers and thank you to the gents who participated in yesterday's conversations! I enjoyed your insights and found it quite interesting and tasteful. (Auntie, it does appear that we do have some decent eavesdroppers!)

Something that I understand, but found a bit paradoxical from the conversation yesterday is the thought that the more a woman improves upon herself and appears to have her life together, the less likely a fellow will be inclined to give things a shot with her. It appears to him that he has nothing to add to her life, and that- other, presumably "more qualified" men should go after her. And perhaps, those "other" men are more qualified than those with this kind of discouraged outlook. Then again, I guess this helps to weed out the lads a woman would likely not want- no one wants an insecure fellow that you would have to coddle and reassure all the time that, you do in fact, like them... much less the lack of courage he possesses. Women want stable men! Indeed, women do have to be the choosier of the two genders (from an evolutionary standpoint as well as that we generally require more from men to be attracted to them. By this I mean that, generally, at a primal level- men need to be physically attracted to a woman, whereas a woman wants to be physically/mentally/emotionally attracted to the man.)

I'm with Archbishop Fulton Sheen when he says, "The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood.
This is because there is a basic difference between knowing
and loving. In knowing something, we bring it down to the
level of our understanding. An abstract principle of physics
can be understood by an ordinary mind only by examples.
But in loving, we always go up to meet the demand of the
one loved. If we love music, we submit to its laws and dis-
ciplines. When man loves woman, it follows that the nobler
the woman, the nobler the love; the higher the demands
made by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That
is why woman is the measure of the level of our civilization."
(Quote is from "The World's First Love")

I apologize if the formatting of the quote looks wierd.

Anonymous said...

Dear Auntie Seraphic

It was a wonderful idea, this St. Joseph's day experiment, and I write to thank you for conceiving and bringing it to life with such panache!

I have been struck by many things - some of which I learned as new and some of which confirmed pre-existing niggling suspicions of my own - but most of all, I was simply struck-dumb impressed by the sincerity and honour present in the answers. The soft heart of a woman can become bruised much more often and much more painfully than she would find it comfortable to admit, but in the warmth and humility of the answers, a gentle and true healing takes place.

So, in short: thank you gentle men, and thank you Seraphic auntie.


lauren said...

Whoops, mea culpa! I didn't realize we weren't suppose to say anything yesterday... or I realized and forgot.

Many thanks to all the eavesdroppers.

JustAnotherCatholicGirl said...

Thank you gents! Very insightful!

I must admit, I almost died laughing when one if the gents mentioned that most women are bad drivers, and how good driving can be a non-physical attribute. Lol

Sarah said...

Those comments were really great to read.

While I appreciated all the guys' input, the one that stuck out to me (or at least, what I was mulling over on my jog today) was when someone (I forget who) asked if the "friend zone" actually exists.

I say no. I have lots of guy friends and if any of them have been ruled out of my interest, it's definitely not because they are too good of friends, I don't want to ruin our friendship, I've been friends with them too long, etc, etc... Actually, all the men I've been serious about and/or dated have started out as very good friends.

I have a feeling that some guys made up "the friend zone" because it's easier to think that you were, against your will, "put" in it, than admitting the girl is just not interested in you.

Kate P said...

Informative and heartening. Thank you, Auntie Seraphic and responding gentlemen!

Maria said...

I will chime in with my thanks! I found the responses very interesting and the consensus on my questions heartening.
I ruminated a lot on friendzone yesterday after reading that comment. I go back and forth myself on the subject: does it exist or not?
I would point out that boys also know at least one girl who they think is Very Nice, but she is Not His Type; he Doesn't Feel It. It doesn't matter how sweet and funny she is, or how much she seems to like him. Nothing she can do can move her up from Friend to Girlfriend. Yet no girl I have ever known has ever complained about being put in a friendzone. So why do some men get so upset about the fact that girls feel that way about men they know? It's not a case of "oh, but you are too good a friend, I don't want to ruin that". If any girl says that, she is just euphemizing for "You are Very Nice, but you're just Not My Type and I Don't Feel It."
That said, I really think this "getting to know someone as a sister or brother" thing has to stop. If you try to get to know me as a sister, I will think of you as a brother and the thought of going out with you, should the matter eventually arise, will gross me out. Ick ick ick.
If you hope to apply sooner or later for the position of boyfriend, then you can't act that way.
I hope that's helpful.

Withmycupoftea said...

I think there is a friendzone, actually. I have some beloved guy friends who I definitely don't find unattractive, certainly more attractive than brothers, but I know for various reasons that I wouldn't choose to be in a relationship with them.For these, it is a deliberate choice to place them in a "zone" of friendship so that I am clear with myself about my attitude towards them. As such, what I would consider my "friendzone" isn't so much a place to shove the unwanted males in my life, but a categorization that helps me treat them fairly, rather than semi-boyfriends.

Sunnysaffer said...

Yes, thank you Seraphic. I found it fascinating to read their thoughts. This must be why they eavesdrop on us!

What stuck with me is the idea that many NCGs have a 'bunker' attitiude. I have been reflecting upon this and I think that perhaps in my efforts to not get carried away and start picturing our wedding day etc., etc., when I meet a NCB I DO tend to be a bit too reserved. This is because my hopes have been dashed in the past. What appeared to be a NCB has turned out to be a man who isn't sure he believes in God, doesn't think he would be faithful as women are his weakness, is addicted to p*rn, thinks all sexual acts are aceptable outside of marriage as long as the woman can't get pregnant...these are all real examples and I could go on.

How does one find the correct balance of protecting one's heart but not scaring off the good, decent NCBs (like the lovely men who commented on this blog)?

Gregaria said...

I found the gentlemen's comments quite enlightening. I agree with the bunker attitude. Honestly, for so long I've been afraid to date. I'm not sure why, but I found I could give off this "vibe" which said, "I don't want to date." And no one ever asked me. Well, sometimes they did, but then I would say, "Well, we don't know each other well enough to date." I found that so funny because it described me exactly! I also have a friend zone, which was more so I could protect myself from dating. I guess I was just afraid of dating.

Then, a few years ago, I began to develop a lot more self-confidence and became a bit less fearful and now, when a man comes up to speak to me or asks me out, I talk to him and I go. It's a relief to realize dating isn't the awkward, temptation-fraught nightmare I thought it would be. It's even kind of fun. I also had to get over the idea that dating should only lead to marriage. I'm slowly coming to realize that a few casual dates now and then with nice young gentlemen (even non-Catholics) aren't evil. It's ok. I might have a good time and I don't necessarily have to marry them.

Anyways, I guess I had a lot of misconceptions about dating and I've begun to see I was wrong and dating isn't so bad after all. I've taken down the force field.

Sarah said...

Withmycupoftea: I think you are talking about something other than what guys usually mean when they complain about being put in the friend zone.

Your guy friends are in the friendzone because you are not interested in them, not the other way around. It's not that you're not interested in them BECAUSE they are in the friendzone. Know what I mean? Guys think that there is a certain line they can cross where they are too good a friend to a girl for her to ever be interested in them as a potential boyfriend, and I just don't think that's true.

Everyone, of course, has "categories" and friends that they KNOW they will never be interested in "that way." But it's not the category itself that's to blame.

Alisha said...

Je suis d'accord -I liked this very much! I sincerely wish everyone all the best in their romantic and friendly pursuits, caffeinated or not :)

Withmycupoftea said...

Sarah: I meant that if I am somewhat interested (but not enough), then I make the distinction to help me stay in line.

But I know what you mean too, cause if I was really into someone I might worry that it would spoil the friendship but it still wouldn't stop me from going out with them.

Cordi said...

I just wanted to say that I completely agree with Sarah about the "friend zone" thing. I have declined dates before because I didn't know the guy well enough, but I can't imagine saying "no" because we were already good friends. Rather, I am significantly more likely to accept an invitation from a man who has indicated an interest in me as a person, and not just a potential girlfriend/wife, by befriending me. There are men I am simply not interested in dating, but that has nothing to do with whether or not they treat me as a friend (hanging out, group activities, etc.) before asking me out. I actually don't really understand where this whole "friend zone" thing came from...?

Urszula said...

I didn't realize either that we weren't supposed to jump into the fray - or indeed that there wasn't supposed to be a fray. I apologize! That's what comes from posting on this blog while waiting to check in for a flight :)

Thank you to all the lovely men who participated, and I do hope the next one happens sooner than in a year!