Monday, 29 July 2013

Boys Bludgeoned into Making Dates By Their Friends' Moms

I'm having difficulty rewriting an Auntie Seraphic letter in such a way as to protect the innocent, so I'll just give you the story.

Mary (not her real name) is going to Bigtown, and her mother's friend Anne (not her real name) says something like, "Oh, you should meet Joe (not his real name), my son's friend. He's living there currently and he's such a good guy, a real NCB. You should meet up. I'll give him your phone number"

Mary quite naturally thinks that it would be nice to meet a real NCB in Bigtown, so she hands over her phone number. She is taken aback when Anne tells her Mom, who tells her, that Anne said Joe was such a good guy, he was thinking of becoming a priest. However, Mary figures she and Joe could still hang out, if Joe bothered to call her, which she now doubted he would do. 

Mary wisely forgets all about it.  Not so, Anne. After Mary has been in Bigtown for awhile, she gets a call from Joe who says, "Hi, Mary. Anne gave me your number. She told me to contact you, so I'm contacting you. Do you want to get coffee sometime? I'll be leaving Bigtown at the end of the week."

Mary is so pleased Joe has the guts to phone a stranger instead of  texting her that I'm wondering if our standards for male courage have fallen that low. They decide to meet that evening, and have a great chat. She asks him what he wants to do after college, and he says, "Help people." He doesn't say "Become a priest," as Mary thinks a Discerner would. (Ha!) It occurs to her that this feels more like a blind date than anything else.  However, that little thought gets nipped in the bud when she says "See you later" to Mr Joseph Leaving At the End of the Week, Esq., and he says, "Well, probably not, actually."

Fair enough. Mary's okay with that. But that very same night Joe sends her a text (no brave phone call this time) to ask if she'll be free two days later.

Mary says she is free two days later, so they meet again. They have a great time. Joe walks her home. They hug. Joe leaves. Mary texts Joe soon after to thank him for a great time. Joe texts back that he had a great time too. She texts it's a pity they didn't meet sooner. Joe texts back he'd really like to hang out with her more. "Me too," texts Mary. Text, text, text, and then they text goodnight. 

Since then they've exchanged a few texts "but nothing much." And so Mary emails your Auntie S to ask what I think. And what I think is that we ladies of 39++ can be a meddlesome bunch. Who calls up a young male acquaintance and says, "You should call this girl, she's so nice! Call her. CALL HER!"? 

Actually, I think I did something like that once or twice. But what I said was, "You could have gone out with X if you had just asked her to dinner" and "Why did you not make more of an effort to talk to that cute guy I introduced you to?"  I'm more of the post-possibility eye-rolling type. But oh dear. How humiliating. This on-the-spot examination of conscience has turned up evidence that I, too, am a meddlesome 39++ lady. Wah. Mea culpa. Generally I try to sit on my opinion until asked for it, but I too am weak. Blah.

Meanwhile, obviously that first date was not a date. It was a way of pacifying Meddlesome Anne. The second date, however, was a date. And what did Joe think he was doing, making a date with a NCG when he was just about to leave Bigtown forever?     

I don't know. But I do know that Joe did want to see Mary again. And that Mary made it easy for him, by being free the very night he proposed they meet--two days later. And that Joe was not slated to leave for another three days after that, so he could have texted, "This may sound crazy, but listen. How about Saturday? Or Friday? Or Sunday-for-Mass-and-brunch? I promise I'm not a weirdo." But he did not. Why not?

I don't know that either. I wonder if Joe does. And I wonder if Joe is a Discerner because, although you starry-eyed romantic types may have forgotten this detail, Anne told Mary's Mom that she thought Joe was thinking of becoming a priest. And this is such a red flag, Mary should have waved it at Joe on (Non-)Date 1. "Isn't Anne great? Such a character. By the way, she told my mom you're thinking of becoming a priest." Then a flaming-faced Joe would have had to admit it, and not be tempted to ask her out later.  (Here's my most famous post on Discerners.) 

My overall opinion is that Mary was very level-headed about everything until Joe asked her out on his own steam and not at gunpoint. She answered his text right away instead of letting him sweat until the next day, which would have created anticipation rewarded with relief. She said yes to a Xday date on Xday, which is somewhat understandable as he was leaving Saturday or Sunday, but she could have delayed it a bit, with the polite equivalent to "Oh I am so busy and in demand as so many other people are interested in me and I have an amazing interesting high-status life anyone would want a piece of." And most definitely she did not need to text him first and immediately afterwards. 

Girls should never text a man first after a date. Argh! 

I am not saying Mary turned off Joe in any way. Obviously he was smart enough to see on their non-date how cool she is, for he asked her out on a real date. However, as Joe's career plans are so vague, I am wondering if Joe himself is not rather vague, open to this possibility and that, without wanting to make firm decisions on anything.  And because she said "yes" to a real date with a guy she was unlikely to see again for a very long time, Mary opened herself to the possibility of hurt.  

The thing about guys and long distance is if a guy is crazy enough about a girl, he will do long distance--or do anything to bridge that distance. I get sad and angry letters from girls who were told by their erstwhile admirers that they don't do long distance, only to discover later that the admirers have met girls while on vacation in Europe and are now moving to Europe.  


Cordi said...

Why no texting first after a date? Isn't it the more casual equivalent of a thank-you note? It seems like if a man has organized a meeting with you, and bought you food and tea, a quick text saying "Thank you for the tea! I had a lovely time!" is just good manners...

What if one doesn't particularly care what the man does next, but just want to be polite?

Seraphic said...

My dear girl. Surely you thank the man at the time and in person? "Thanks for dinner! I had a great time!" Then you kiss his soft (or bristly, I suppose, by 11 PM) cheek and toddle indoors, leaving him feeling all gratifed on the doorstep.

The exception is if he invited you do a dinner party and cooked. Then you may post him a card.

No texting boys first.

confused lurker said...

Wait, wait, wait! Girl kissing boy on cheek after first/second date? How is this Auntie-permissible? Hmmm. Confused. Is this a being-charming thing? Sorry if that's a stupid question...

Seraphic said...

Oh, maybe it's an urban British/European thing or a Young and Old Fogess thing. "Mwah...mwah..See you later, dahhhling!"

I kiss any number of charming young men on the cheek, but now that I think about it, maybe I didn't do that in Toronto. Trying to rememberrrrr....

Well, if this would be TOO MUCH outside the UK and Continental Europe, don't do that.

Jackie said...

I'm just cringing vicariously on that invite! "Mrs X told me to call you, so I'm calling you. Wanna get coffee?"

Talk about sweeping a girl off her feet! ;-P It sounds like she really has a great attitude and is a great date, though.

I am writing down your line about "She's such a card-- what a character! And by the way she told me [X] about you."

(And you are also right about guys who will drop everything and move to the ends of the earth, for the right girl. This should also be engraved or embroidered on something!)

Antigone in NYC said...

This post is great timing. Earlier this year I met a sweet, funny, and good looking man---a few weeks before he left the country on a two year commitment. I could tell he was taken with me and we went out a few times (all initiated by him and no hanky panky beyond a couple very nice good-bye kisses).

He told me more than once that he couldn't believe he was meeting someone like me right before he had to leave and asked if I might feel comfortable visiting him at some point. His last words were an unprompted promise to be in touch with me. That was in early May.

I haven't heard from him since that day. I know not to write or text him, and after this much time I've (mostly) given up. But, as I wrote, sweet, funny, and good looking...

What happened?

(And, sigh, I know I opened myself up to this by agreeing to go on the dates even knowing he was leaving the country. But I was really taken with this guy, too, and that's not usual for me.)

Urszula said...

Life is so much easier if you just accept that men will like who they want to like and do what they want to do. If they want to text or call you, they will. if they want to ask you out, they will. I feel I wasted half of my life secondguessing men or attempting to convince myself that they were interested when they weren't.

This just to second the thought expressed in your last paragraph.

Another question - what if you know a mom of a teenage daughter who encourages general foolishness on the part of the daughter, and you are in the capacity of 'trusted advisor' or aunt-like figure? I know a case where a mom kept trying to 'comfort' her daughter by telling her that yes, her teenage crush object was interested in her but just didn't know how to express it, and even agreed to go talk to his parents (!) to see if he could return her daughter's affection. Is there any way to stop such insanity?

amlovesmusic said...

RE: texting "thank you" after a date:
In my limited first-date experience, I often get flustered at the end of first dates.......because I never know if there is going to be a kiss involved or not, and if the beer or glass of wine has worn off, I am quite nervous saying goodbye and goodnight. Not being experience in the kissing thing makes me nervous about it, and not all guys kiss on the first date, so I can't always expect it. So I usually text afterwards "thank you" because I can never remember if I managed to mutter out a thank-you at the end. To me that is justified.

Now, what about texting men who are friends, but may be interested in something more, but you're not sure? I try not to text first as a rule, but occasionally I will.

Seraphic said...

Oh, Antigone. That's so sad. But you have to make an impression like a bomb blast for a guy to remember you after he crosses the ocean. Crossing large bodies of water is in some ways like crossing the Lethe, which is why I always recommend international travel to the heartbroken.

Oh, Urszula. The insanity has me with my head in my hands. Who are these mothers? Did they marry their high school sweethearts or what? Were their marriages arranged by parents? Do they have any basis for their comforting remarks, or are they just unrooted in reality? As I can't imagine getting between a teenage girl and her consoling mother, I don't know what to say, except, "Maybe he's not in a place right now where he can see how fabulous you are."

amlovesmusic, it's not a question of being justified. It's a question of the male psyche. I don't care what you do; I just think you would like it better if he texted you first than if you texted him first and he never replied.

Urszula said...

My fear is that nowadays so many parents want to be friends of their kids that they think it's more important to 'comfort' a child (in an unrealistic, ultimately harmfully deluded manner) than to calmly tell them the truth and support them in difficulties. At least that seems to be the case in the situation I described above. I liked your suggestion about the boy not being in a place to realize how fabulous the girl is - it sounds like something a teenage girl mourning an unrequited love needs to hear.