Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Any Guy is Not Better Than No Guy

I still don't have internet at home, so I have to pack all internet business into a few hours in the center of town.  This doesn't make for deep and reflective thought, or easy cutting-and-pasting of letters and responses. The tables are too high for comfortable typing. Grump, grump, grump.

But I wanted to talk about an email I got from a depressed young woman in that transitional phase between college graduation and a decent job--mine (in 1995) was simply ghastly--who wanted to know if she should go for coffee with a young man again.

I suspect this young man is conventionally good-looking, for she said he was attractive. However he regaled my reader with his negative thoughts about people who don't think just like him about gay rights and women's issues and admitted to not understanding why people convert to Catholicism. (My reader did not say he asked her, a Catholic, for a serious explanation of this. His remark seems to have been based in wonder at the stupidity of mankind) In short, he revealed through his preoccupations that he was not a good match for my Catholic reader.

It's not that he was a Lefty, in my opinion. It's that he was an unthinking and unimaginative Lefty, the kind that assumes all attractive women are Lefties because they are women and attractive. The kind of Lefty who is as narrow-minded as he thinks Righties are. Naturally, my own Lefty friends are rather broad-minded, or they wouldn't be friends with madly retro me.

But what really put the cherry on the cake of my feeling that this boy was All Wrong for my reader, was that he made a crack about her having to go home from their "hanging-out" because she had a curfew. (Yeah, nothing says "male feminist super-hero" like a guy pretending a grown woman is in high school.)

Meanwhile, my reader, who nevertheless finds the man attractive, asked if she should see him again. And I said, "No."

When you're depressed, you like a bit of excitement, even if it is negative excitement. The idea of going out with a guy who says unpleasant stuff but is nevertheless sexually attractive is mighty tempting. We hear "opposites attract," and when watching movies, we enjoy the friction between male and female enemies in the films and their struggle to maintain loyal to their ideals or their friends or their families in the face of overwhelming sexual attraction to guy/girls who might not be so bad.

And, no, sometimes the guys might not be so bad (sometimes they may be really bad ), but they may be bad FOR YOU. Cracks about how babyish you are for being a Nice Catholic Girl are among the biggest and reddest big red flags there are.


Jam said...

This is such a good point. I spent waaaaaay too much time and energy in my early 20s trying to prove to dudes that I wasn't a "baby". I danced awful close to a few cliff edges trying to prove that I was cool and Catholic; and while my angel saved me from real harm I know I said things and gave impressions I wish I could take back.

Athanasius Lover said...

I really liked your title "Any Guy is Not Better Than No Guy." One of the best lessons I learned from my parents' extremely unhealthy and unhappy marriage was that it is better to be single than to be with a man who isn't good for or to you. I very much feel the deficits that result from growing up as the child of such a marriage, but I am glad to have at least learned something from the experience.

anonymous this time said...

Oh A.L., I hear you. I'm the product of a humdinger of a dysfunctional marriage as well. While I've learned that not all marriages have to be that way (and thankfully, are not), I would a million times rather hold out for the possibility of a good marriage and risk eternal singlehood, than settle for the certainty of mediocrity or worse.

Julia said...

Seraphic, this is great advice. A man like that is big trouble. Arrogant and intolerant and hypocritical too. There is no way this woman should see him again.

Luckily for me - and I'd say this is by the Grace of God - as soon as a man displays intolerant left-wing opinions or exhibits mocking disdain for Judaeo-Christian beliefs and the people who adhere to them, any interest I might have had for him is extinguished. As you've pointed out, the assumption that a young, well-educated woman must by definition be 'socially progressive' is INFURIATING.

I'm sorry for anyone whose parents had an unhappy marriage. That has to be one of the roughest life experiences for a child.

lauren said...

Ah, that period of life is so hard. There's so much instability that it's very tempting to cling to anything -- or anyone -- that seems to be holding still. But you'll find your feet. Really. Peace be with you, dear letter writer.