Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Less is More

Mmm. Yesterday I said that the ladies should not respond to the gentlemen's comments until today. Girls! You really must learn the art of delay.

Many men need to learn the art of delay, too. For example, after taking a girl's phone number, it is better to wait two days before getting back to her. After receiving an gossipy feminine email that needs no immediate answer, it is better to wait one or two days to answer it. This creates suspense, and as much as we women hate that, it might also create an interest we would otherwise not feel. Sorry to betray womankind, but it is true.

Everyone has piled on poor Sensitive Woman for wanting her swing-dancing date to be glued to her side. I think we have it sorted out now that in swing-dancing--and perhaps other social-dancing-- circles, this is considered rude, gauche and barbaric behaviour. But I also want to point out that it is also very bad strategy to expect that a man be glued to your side for hours and hours on end.

Successful dating takes discipline and self-denial, two qualities, incidentally, that are essential for marriage. As the woman, you have to draw strict time and geographical limits around your date--or quasi-date--and stick to them. If the agreed upon first, second or third  date is 5:15 PM in a cafe, you must sigh at 6:14 PM, say you'd love to stay, but you absolutely must go because of [something-or-other]. You must not stay until you are famished, suggest dinner, and end the evening in a bar or in a romantic walk along the river. You must not do that. I don't care if you're a wild, free, spontaneous kind of a girl. Even if he does not know this until later, you'll bore him to death.

One of the more maddening things about young men is that there is no direct hotline between their thoughts and their feelings. They do not know that if they get everything they want all at once, they will inevitably get bored. If they push for dates to go on and on for hours, and the woman agrees, they eventually lose interest in the woman. If they pursue women for sex, when they get the sex, they eventually lose interest in the woman. They feel bored. And, being sons of Adam, they blame the woman. It's her fault for being boring, they think. But they are wrong. The fault lies in them getting everything they wanted all at once.

You must treat the attention-span of an attractive young man the way you treat delicious chocolates. You must enjoy a small piece of it with obvious enjoyment, and then go away. In a friendly conversation, you get perhaps fifteen minutes, if you're lucky, and when he turns to someone else to chat, you find someone else with whom to chat. At a dance, you accept his invitation to dance, and then when the dance is done you smile brilliantly, tell him what a wonderful dancer he is (if you haven't already), thank him and sit down.  On a coffee date, you get one hour of chatty bliss, and then you go home. On a first dinner date, you get perhaps two hours, and then you go home. You must be entirely gracious to him, and terribly strict with yourself.

The infamous The Rules says a woman must always end the date, and I concur. Saving a man from his unfortunate propensity to boredom is not manipulation but charity. Men do not want to be bored, and yet so often they get bored. They often feel that somehow women have something to do with this, but this is only because women have forgotten how prone men are to boredom.

As there is an awful lot more hanging-out these days then dating, you must be even more careful not to attach yourself to an attractive man's side like glue. At a group event, do not speak to him and only him. Do not make sure you always get the seat beside him--in fact, take the first seat anywhere yourself, and allow the chips to fall---i.e. the men to sit--where they may. Wait until you are addressed, and then pay strict attention to what is said, and then reply with intelligence. Do not attempt to be The Life of The Party. Naturally there will be some man around who wants to be The Life of the Party himself.  The time to be The Life of the Party is when you are out with the girls, which suddenly reminds me of the time I jumped up on my friend Lily's bed during a pyjama party and sang "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." I was 34 or so at the time, but I digress.

This will blow your mind, but even married women cannot stick to our own husbands' side like glue. Traditionally, we are not supposed to sit beside them at dinner parties after the first year of marriage. At parties we are expected either to stay in the kitchen with the women, if it's that kind of community, or to be delightfully charming to every other man around while our husbands enjoy prosing on about whatever horribly boring things husbands enjoy prosing on about, so that the charmed men think our husbands are awfully lucky in love and therefore to be respected. Or something.

Personally I am so fond of my husband that I followed him into the church choir stalls and stayed there for three years until the Master of the Men's Schola succeeded in booting me out. But I am also so fond of my husband that I accepted my booting with grace and also give him a lot of space to do the things he likes to do. And of course I tell him he is marvellous every day, not only because he is marvellous, but because it is essential to men's health to be told they are marvellous. Husbands are like basil plants--you must water them and give them a lot of sunshine.

Not surprisingly, married men on average live longer than single men. The male fear of marriage is just another example of how men do not actually know what is good for them, and how it is up to women to do the emotional-thinking for them without being too obvious about it.  In some ways, it's like playing Tetris. Really, I do love men, but they really aren't women, and when it comes to romance, you have to use your head.

Update: Thank you to E.B. and R.C. for their April donations.


Mustard Seed said...

I'm great at Tetris, though not so great at restraining myself from chocolate, so I guess I break even. :)

Seraphic, what would you say is the etiquette when one person or the other is hosting a party? If a woman invites an interesting male acquaintance to her party, and he actually shows up, should she treat him differently than any other guest? This happened to me recently, and once I got over my astonishment that he actually came (I had focused much more on working up the courage to invite him rather than any expectation of follow-through on his end), I found myself torn between chatting with him and attending to my other guests and hostessing - and ended up doing both, trying to avoid being clingy but then wondering afterwards if I had been welcoming enough to him. I figured that my other guests were just as important as this guy, and he seemed to be talking with people. I did make a point of trying to make him comfortable and talking with him too (like I would any new guest). Hosting parties can be a certain type of work, though fun.

Similarly, what if a guy invites a new female friend to a party? What are the rules then? Does she bring a friend, cookies, and/or wine, or just herself? As a shy person, I worry about arriving to unfamiliar social events solo because it can be overwhelming.

If anyone has any tips on overcoming shyness with guys, that would be excellent. It was a relief to read yesterday that some people actually find shyness endearing. I feel incredibly awkward sometimes, in part because I only meet a man who interests me about once or twice a year, which raises the pressure to be oneself and make a good impression.

Anyway, great post! Thanks!

Bernadette said...

Oh, dear. I did not mean to pile on Sensitive Woman! Especially since she is, you know, sensitive. And yet, looking back, it could seem that way. Alas, I was just thinking that clinging only to your date, while it might be appropriate in bar or club-like settings where you don't know people and dancing with another person could be an indication of romantic intentions, wouldn't be appropriate for a more community-based situation like swing dancing, where dancing with another person does not necessarily indicate anything more than good manners and general goodwill. And I completely forgot that it was Guys Only day. Heavens. Next time I will be more careful.

Beth said...

Wonderful entry! A question, though: at what point do you stop ending the date earlier than you would like? When it's firmly established that he's serious about you?

Seraphic said...

No, no, Bernadette, you were not piling on anyone. You gave very useful and important information. I forget now how many people said "Ack! Ack!" I thought, "Ack! Ack!", so perhaps I felt I was silently piling on the woman.

I think after the fifth or sixth day or hang out you can start being more spontaneous and hang out a bit more. However, you really shouldn't see any guy (alone, if you see him at college, it's hard to keep your distance) more than twice a week until you have both acknowledged yourselves an item.

As a university student I could never date the same guy for much more than a year without growing bored. Isn't that depressing? And I wish I had been a lot stricter about saving most of my time for study.

Seraphic said...

If a guy invites a girl to a party, she should ask before she invites someone else along. And if it is a party for those over drinking age, she should certainly bring a bottle of wine. In the UK, not bringing a bottle of wine or something for the hostess is very rude.

Seraphic said...

That's fifth or sixth date, incidentally. As for hanging-out, really, you must figure out some form of self-discipline, especially when you are at college.

Anonymous said...

"If the agreed upon first, second or third date is 5:15 PM in a cafe, you must sigh at 6:14 PM, say you'd love to stay, but you absolutely must go because of [something-or-other]."

Brilliant. Just brilliant. As I read this, I literally said out loud,"You can do that?"

I think my concern with ending a date (too soon) or leaving a conversation or any other conclusion of interaction with a boy is that they'll take it as me brushing them off permanently. But on the other hand...several of the guys who have actually asked me out have been the ones I wasn't so interested in - as opposed to the ones I would much prefer to be asked by.

Regardless, I'm happy to learn that that it's acceptable to conclude a first date after a rather short amount of time. So much better.

Thanks, Auntie :)

american (not) in deutschland said...

That rule seems especially harsh for those of us who don't really warm up in a social situation until AFTER the one-hour mark. I mean even with my close, most trusted friends -- I don't start feeling like I've had any moments of connection until I've been there a while (unless we jump straight into an emotional heart-to-heart, which is obviously off the table for a date).

Any advice for introverts who find small talk and brief chats extremely dry? A succession of five or six one-hour dates and I think I might die of boredom myself.

Seraphic said...

American (Not) in Deutschland, although the Rules said it first, this is not some arbitrary rule. This is a strategy for dealing with a reality about the male psyche. I don't know how to advise you on your needing a whole hour to warm up in social situations. (Er, why?) Well, besides pretending that you are a glamorous spy whose job is to charm a man while your fellow operatives ransack his apartment.

Anonymouse, how soon you can say good-bye depends on the venue. A coffee in a cafe really should not be more than 1.5 hours TOPS. Meanwhile, you can always take out male-ego insurance by saying, when he asks you out in the first place, "I am soooo busy, but I would love to see you!" And then when you go, you say, "Oh my goodness. I'm having such a great time, but I have to go." To tell you the truth, I am not so sure a man would find an hour of sitting-and-chatting short. Unless they are natural chatters, they only chat because they think they have to on dates.

Anonymous said...

I love this quote "If the agreed upon first, second or third date is 5:15 PM in a cafe, you must sigh at 6:14 PM, say you'd love to stay, but you absolutely must go."
Though it's highly unlikely I'll ever be able to use this advice. On my last 'date', I was stuck with a guy for four hours because I had foolishly let it slip that I had nothing to do that night ...
Any tips for an incorrigible blabbermouth like me?

Sheila said...

Anti-Rules as I am, I concur absolutely. I have always adored cats. But for some reason I could never seem to get a cat to want to sit on my lap. So as a teenager, I read books about cats and they all said, "Don't wait for the cat to get out of your lap when they're tired of being with you. Give them a pet and a snuggle and then *walk away.* That way you leave the cat wanting more and knowing that they have to come to YOU to get it."

Men are a great deal like cats. Basil plants, on the other hand, need to be plucked regularly or they go to seed and die, whereas if I cut a man down to size, he often wanders away dejected.

I may have mentioned before that the secret to ending my now-husband's dithering was to let him know that I was tired of hanging around a man who wasn't interested in me, and please give me my space. I honestly thought this was the way to get rid of him forever so I could get over him. But apparently it was the trick to getting him to chase ME instead of the other way around. Who knew?

Alisha said...

"Wait until you are addressed, and then pay strict attention to what is said, and then reply with intelligence. Do not attempt to be The Life of The Party. Naturally there will be some man around who wants to be The Life of the Party himself."

Ok, I have a lot of questions about this. (Yes, the following is going to sound strong. This may mean men will be scared off or something. Those who aren't will be the the ones I respect.) I find I simply cannot agree with this, regardless of whether I am interested in a man or not, or a Searching Single or not. It seems really anti-feminist to me. I don't see how this is not tailoring our actions to suit men, or adjusting how we act because we look at it through a male viewpoint, and I can't stomach it. To a certain degree, it's fine - dressing well, making sure to be a generally positive presence etc...but when it spills over into altering what would be behavior according to our natural personalities, what are we doing to ourselves by this? How is it not problematic to be choosing behavior according to how it will be viewed as opposed to who we are? I know tendencies don't dictate behavior but provided that we are not breaking some moral laws and are charitable and kind (and there are many forms of this), why does it matter? Moreover, what happens if I follow all the Rules and snag a guy and he then discovers that I am not at all who I have been acting like - ie. that I do tend to speak first, take initiative, etc etc? That's going to cause huge problems. It's like a guy who uses certain tactics to woo a woman and the woman later finds out it was all a game and he's not actually quiet and refined but emotionally controlling and obsessive compulsive. (I've seen that situation.)
If he can't deal with it from the get go, how will he afterwards, esp if he has been used to completely different behavior?
For example, why should I wait to be addressed before speaking? I don't need someone's permission to speak! Yes, I think it's important to be be gracious and humble and so forth, to try and bring others out of their shell...but it's possible to do all of that and still be the Life of the Party. I don't think it should be one's goal, necessarily, but if you are so naturally, why not? What if that's part of your gift? Being entertaining is not always self serving. I am not going to stifle my wit or energy or inclinations to go for laughs just because it might rain on the ego of some man used to the spotlight. I also don't see why women shoulder the majority of the responsibility of adjusting themselves while men don't have to change anything at all. Sounds a lot like society's (anti-woman) attitude towards birth control. My fertility is not a problem to be solved nor is my personality a symptom that needs to be controlled or reduced. Faults and moral failings need correction and prudence is always in order, but other than that, I think we do the world a disservice by trying to be other than who we are. We also do men a disservice because there are things they need to change too and if we just adapt to them, they never will.

Seraphic said...

Alisha, this is all about how to get men's attention, so naturally it is about looking at it from a male view point.

Women getting wonderful grades, the jobs we want, the consumer goods we crave, is no longer a problem in the West. The problem many of my readers have is finding and choosing a man who is crazy about them. Another is chasing men but falling flat on their face.

Hunters, fishers and nature photographers can only be successful if they tailor their human personalities to the tastes of other creatures. They all have to be quiet. Fishers have to go to water. Hunters, fishers and photographers have to ponder the likely behaviours of wild life. They have to sit patiently and silently, sometimes for hours. They have huge respect for the creatures they hope to capture. They think and behave strategically, to put the wildlife at its ease or to have maximum success at attracting it. Like salesmen and missionaries, they think about their audience, as it were.

The world is bigger than the boardroom, the classroom and the stage, and most (not all, of course) women, no matter how successful and high powered their career, want to go home to a man who loves them. The talents and skills that have got them their jobs are not necessarily the same one that put new men at ease or attract men to their side.

As for anti-feminist, I am adamantly against a woman ever using her so-called "right to choose" to kill, or hire a doctor to kill, her unborn infant, so most card-carrying feminists consider me an anti-feminist already.

Alisha said...

Obviously when I say anti feminist I'm not referring to any prolife issues, about which we are in total agreement. My definition of feminism is not in any way related to the prochoice camp so I don't understand why that was raised here.
I think we'll just have to disagree. I think it problematic to think of dating as hunting, salesmanship etc. I do not see it like a hunt because a) a hunt denotes an imbalance in a relationship (man > animal) and b) we are simply not animals and shouldn't treat each other as such. I don't think anyone should be trying to capture anyone. I think if it was supposed to be that way, God would have created Eve, put her in the garden and told Adam to go capture her or vice versa. But there was no hunt. He just made both of them and gave them to each other. No, we are no longer in Eden and we are fallen, but I just think that if we are trying to live out an ideal, we shouldn't be trying to perpetuate an imbalance.
I also do not see it as related to selling because relationships should not be transactional.
Yes, many women want to go home at night to a man who loves them. Nothing wrong with that. If I did, I would want to go home to someone for whom I had not had to be strategic, or change one iota of my behaviour or way of acting beyond what is normal adjustment for company with whom you may be less familiar. If I was actively looking for a man and was unsuccessful despite being myself and being open and friendly and examining my conscience to make sure I hadn't done anything wrong, I would not alter my behaviour or conclude I was the problem, esp in this day and age where there is a serious problem with men in general and in Christian circles - perhaps not everywhere but enough that the subject of men being scared, timid, etc has been discussed here a lot - but that it was likely the cultural temperature or just no one of the right kind of chemistry or just God's will.
In short, I'm sort of saying that I have confidence that your readers (who seem to all be super sensible, smart and educated) are not the problem and so should feel free to act just as they please so long as it's not uncharitable, à la Augustine: “Love, and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love."

Verla said...

This is cool!