Thursday, 18 July 2013

Auntie Seraphic & the Befuddled Eavesdropper

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

know I'm not supposed to be reading this blog, but having read it, I find that I can relate somewhat easier to NCGs. Your work is wonderful, and I pray it continues.

However, as a single-ish Catholic young man (I've been on a few dates with an NCG, but I get the feeling as if I'm Mr. Emotional Rebound after her rather nasty breakup with her ex-boyfriend, though they're now on speaking terms, so I have no idea where it's going), I notice a distinct lack of advice on the Internet in general for Single Catholic men. 

Truth be told, many NCBs are just as clueless about the issues you elucidate as the girls are (which led to the breakup I mentioned earlier, incidentally). Where would a guy in that situation go as to advice or resources? The want of such seems to be a factor driving them into the hands of the PUAs and all the horrors it entails.

Yours sincerely,
Somewhat Befuddled.

Dear Somewhat Befuddled,

Thank you for your email. You are absolutely right. One of your fellow eavesdroppers, the kind I have to see in person drinking a gin-and-tonic shortly after I write something extremely personal, keeps threatening to start a blog called "Beatific Bachelors." Unfortunately, he is just joking. 

I will post your letter soon. Meanwhile, you may continue sneakily reading my blog for insights in the the feminine psyche and I recommend a blog called "The Art of Manliness." "The Art of Manliness" is pro-family and subtly Christian and not-so-subtly American. However, I know at least one man, not American but from a macho culture, who thoroughly approves and recommends "The Art of Manliness."

Grace and peace, 

Not a particularly adequate answer, I see now. What I should have added is something like, "Tell little Miss Emotional Rebound that you don't want to hear her talk about other men when she's with you." Life is much more exciting and clear when men just speak up about what they want and what they don't want and what they like and what they don't like. 

I'm not saying men should say, "I don't like you in that purple dress." I'm saying that they should feel free to say, "I don't want to hear you talk about other men when you're with me." Such forthright language tips off Emotional Rebound Girls that you're not just a sexless teddy bear she can cry into because Mr Macho was mean.  It suggests a chap is also a kind of Mr Macho, only better. In general, women like manly men who say manly things. Nagging, of course, is something we associate with our mothers and therefore femininity, so don't nag. Just say "I want to see that film. Do you?" and "I'd like to take you to dinner Friday. Okay?" and, especially, "I don't want to hear you talk about other men when you're with me. I want you to think about me."

Personally I think the Beatific Bachelor Blog idea best left to a man, although suddenly I am struck by the idea of starting a mock blog by the same name in which I pretend to be characters based on one or two of my Young Fogey friends, e.g.:


Dear Beatific Bachelors,

My girlfriend makes me take her out to expensive waterfront cafes and then tells me to shut up while she watches the sailors. What should I do?


Continental Fogey: You should slap her.

English Fogey: No, no, no. You cannot slap women in this country, you barbarian.

Continental Fogey: What do you mean? I have a hand. I can slap.

English Fogey: I mean you may not slap women in this country.

Continental Fogey: If I do not slap them, how can I make them behave?

English Fogey: That's what this letter is asking, you troglodyte.

Continental Fogey scowls, looks up troglodyte in the bilingual dictionary on his phone.

Continental Fogey (twisting end of moustache): Humph! It is the same. And that is not very respectful! Chhhuh..... (Puts away phone.) Well, if he cannot slap, he can shout at her.

English Fogey: Maybe he should take the chair facing the sea so she has to take the chair facing the café. That way she couldn't see the sailors. 

Continental Fogey: Faugh! He might as well shoot himself in the head right now!

English Fogey: That's not very helpful. 

The only drawback to this amusing enterprise would be the ever-present threat of lawsuit--which reminds me that I should state for the record that this is an admittedly outrageous caricature and as far as I know not a single one of my friends would ever slap a woman.  These fictional scenes just develop in my head, and I have to write them down or die. 


Anonymous said...

Dear Seraphic,

I agree with most of your letter, however, if a man I'd only been on a few dates with said to me "I don't want to hear you talk about other men when you're with me. I want you to think about me." -- especially that last line -- I'd be mildly terrified. It sounds a bit scary and mind-controlling.

Maybe if delivered in a joking manner? Even then, though...

Other things that might be a little less immediately creepy but could make a girl think: "Why are you telling me this?" or, "Are you sure you want to keep telling me this?"

Just a thought from a fairly NCG who has dated guys with alarming tendencies.


Elizabeth said...

"Women like manly men who say manly things"

Amen, of course we do.

I always appreciate when people (of either sex, but especially men) are clear about what they want or don't want and I want to encourage guys out there to follow Auntie's advice and just ask a girl straight out (for coffee, dinner, a movie or to stop talking about other guys in their presence) without beating around the bush!

Of course one can't necessarily say these things to men in the course of a general conversation.....

Seraphic said...

Claire, I didn't mean, just out of the blue. I mean, when some girl is going on and on about her ex-boyfriend or some other boy she sounds like she's stuck on.

It is actually very rude to prose on about some guy when you are out with another guy, just as it is boring and frustrating when a man takes you out for coffee, and you discover it is because he wants to talk about soe other girl.

Obviously you can talk about Marx or Hegel or C.S. Lewis, if these gentlemen are pertinent to your conversation.

Seraphic said...

Actually, I think a guy telling you that he would like you to think about him when you are with him rather sexy. It's not like he's telling you what to think when you are elsewhere, or that the sky is pink when it is blue. He's just telling you he won't put up with any mental rivals while he's taking you out. And since all a guy can expect on a date is "the pleasure of your company" your company should be a pleasure, shouldn't it? And the best way to give anyone pleasure is to hang onto and respond his or her very words and thoughts as if he or she was the only other person worth knowing in the world. This is called charm.

Anna said...

Please do start that satirical blog!

Seraphic said...

Hmm... Yeah, I may have to gauge the lawsuit factor... I walked to my Pilates class and all the way my fictional characters kept nattering at each other in my head to sort the fictional letter-writer's problem out. In the end they asked the fictional cleaning lady.

Meanwhile, the problem with "Why are you telling me this?"--a question men are prone to asking--is that the correct answer, which is "I'm talking to make myself feel better and if you were a woman you would instinctively know that and just make the right comforting noises?" is too embarrassing. Also, "Why are you telling me this?" sounds like a reproof. It doesn't give us any clear information like, "I don't want you to talk about other men when you're with me, as I would naturally rather you thought about me. For lo, I am not a woman. I am a man and I need the nourishment of female flattery and attention in order to thrive." Actually, very rarely will they say the last part, but it is true.

Stellamaris said...

I would totally read the satirical blog.
Also, I'm very into men being manly. I suspect a lot of good men, or men who are trying very hard to be good, think that they must act like women to please the women they love and possibly want to court. This is not true! It is possible to be sensitive while remaining wholly masculine. And much more attractive!

Anonymous said...

I've never been on dates with a (super) creepy guy, so maybe that would change my opinion, but I'm with Auntie Seraphic. He should tell her straight up he doesn't want her to talk about him when they're together. He could say, "I'm sorry that guy hurt you, but when we're out together, I don't want to talk about another guy," if that is more comfortable with him.

Overall, though, I'm wondering why he's so interested in her, when she's so hung up on another guy? Maybe he should find someone else... It seems like you would DEFINITELY tell a woman who was going out with a man still hung up on another girl to move on- maybe the same thing applies?


PS I'm not really supposed to be reading this, either! I'm married and about 4 1/2 months pregnant! Ha.

Seraphic said...

I don't mind married women reading my blog (I'm married, too), just so long as they don't make my Single readers feel badly.

Men are interested in whom they are interested, and not in whom we think they SHOULD be interested.

(That's one of the Seraphic SIngles mantras.)

Jackie said...

"Men are interested in whom they are interested, and not in whom we think they SHOULD be interested."

Seraphic, I think I should cross-stitch this on a sampler or pillow! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I hope I don't make any of the Single readers feel badly!

The mantra is certainly helpful when talking with women. It is true! Time and time again, much to the chagrin of us women, it is true.

But when talking with men, isn't it sometimes helpful to say, "She's not worth your time. She's messing with you," etc, etc? I told that to one of my husband's friends about a year ago, about this girl who was flirting with him but not really interested, and now he is grateful. I guess I don't think that men need to pursue every girl they're interested in, though maybe this particular girl isn't so clearly bad news.


Sherwood said...

I like Anamaria's "when we're out together, I don't want to talk about another guy" much better. It doesn't sound like he's telling her to do or not do something - he's just stating that he doesn't want to participate in a certain activity.

Urszula said...

I second Annamaria's version, it gets the point across about a man's interest without being excessively firm.

I don't know that it would be embarrassing to admit to a man I was dating that sometimes I don't want solutions, but just a shoulder to cry on or a hug. I'm pretty good at stopping myself during a rant and just saying that I'm PMSing or I had a bad day at work, and I just want a hug and a gentle pat on the head. I've found men react quite well to such directness because at least then they know what to do (and they usually want to help, so it's useful to tell them how!)

Seraphic said...

Yeah, but you don't want to tell him you just seem to have this need to talk about other guys.

Anonymous said...

To clarify, the "ha" at the end of my original post was meant as "haha, I'm also not the target audience, but yet not only am I reading this, I'm also going to comment" NOT "haha, I'm married and you're not." I hope that no one took that the wrong way. I'm definitely not married because I did something "right," except say yes to the gift of love when it was offered, undeserving as I was.

Urszula, admitting that you just want a shoulder to cry on is nice and direct. But it being about another man is problematic, to say the least.


Anonymous said...

A lot of this depends on the man and how socially skillful he is. Seraphic's suggestion certainly COULD be creepy if said in the wrong way or by the wrong man. But it could also be quite attractive and almost comforting. I like firmness in a man. But I am also highly attuned to the potential-creep factor, because I have Been There.

"Let's not" is a good phrase, because it implies togetherness and is definitive, but not controlling. "Let's not talk about exes when we're on dates."

BTW, because it seems relevant, there will be a post on Orthogals soon about just what creepiness is. (A Nice Orthodox Boy was asking about it one of the last times all 3 of us were together.)

Seraphic said...

Oooh.... I hate "let's not", though, when what the guy means is "you." "Let's not talk about our exes, shall we? Hmmm?" Passive-aggressive and feminine.

But actually guys are just going to say what they are going to say, and the simplest thing for them to say is "I don't like it when you talk about your ex-boyfriend." And "I'd like it if you thought about me instead."

The bottom line is, however, that is is rude to go on about an ex or any other guy you're emotionally involved with when you are on a date with another guy. And it is not smart for a guy, especially a shy guy, just to listen, just as it is a waste of our time to go along playing free therapist for the guy we have crushes on.

sciencegirl said...

It would be rude of a guy to ask a girl, "Could you please chew with your mouth closed?" but I think the girl is far ruder.

I just can't understand anyone who would spend a date -- particularly an early date -- talking about another guy or girl. It's not attractive and is probably boring. Most failed romances are, save to other women who love you. EVEN IF he doesn't feel jealous, bored, or irritated, surely he will think, "Hm, if WE break up, I guess she'll run around talking about me to every guy she meets for coffee." I know a few guys whom I exiled to the friend zone after they spent an evening complaining about the past girls who had got away/wronged them romantically. Maybe if I'd have had the sense to say, "Hey, don't talk about other women to me," we would have gone out on proper dates, but I wasn't totally smitten, so instead their talk just quelled any interest I'd had. So if the guy actually says something to you, rather than stirring his coffee awkwardly and then never calling again, it's a good sign.

Years in, when you are happily married and laughing about old times, a few lines like, "Ah, I was so naive then. I actually thought my old boyfriend would like getting manicures with me!" could be fun. Until then, why ruin a budding romance with talk of a blighted one?

Anonymous said...

Ah that's true, let's not can be passive aggressive--I was thinking of it more in the cheerfully firm sense that he would also make an effort not to, though presumably it would be easier for this particular NCB than this particular NCG.

Yeah...playing the Free Therapist almost never has good outcomes in a romantic situation. Or most situations. There's a reason good therapists charge; they're worth it, and deserve it.

Urszula said...

I agree, if I ever ranted about a man to someone I was on a date with that would be the clearest sign I am not interested in anything serious with my date. There are so many more interesting things to talk about, and hopefully the date would fall into that category!

Sheila said...

My then-boyfriend took me out for my birthday and spent the entire dinner talking about a female mutual friend he was angry at. I was miffed! Should have tried the, "Enough about her, I want to talk about you!" approach!

I heartily second The Art of Manliness. I am an eavesdropper there and I love it. I would go out with an AOM guy any day of the week if I were single. Instead I share the posts on Facebook in the hopes that the guys I know will get addicted to AOM.

Cordi said...

Yeah, The Art of Manliness is awesome. Sometimes when I feel discouraged about men in general (or in particular!) I go read their articles to be reassured that my standards of manliness and marriage are not just inventions of my womanly mind.