Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Learning to Deal with Men

It's too soon to post it up, but this morning all I can think about is an email from a gentle reader who says she has never been alone with a man to whom she is not related. This is not a gentle reader from India or Saudi Arabia but from, I believe, the Good Ol' US of A. And she is in her late 20s.

Now, I did ask in my response if she meant that literally. For example, sometimes one does find oneself alone with a bus driver. Or in the work place with one's boss. Or in the hair salon with the hairstylist. Or in an office with a male prof, the paranoid prof having jammed the door open with several books. Or in  priest's office, weeping into a tissue. This would be much, much better than never, literally never, having been alone with an unrelated man. Because, really, how could one cope on a date, for example, if one had not so much as chatted with a bus driver?

And as a matter of fact, my poor reader did get ambushed by a neighbour, who suddenly popped up behind her car in the dead of night, to say that he had been watching her from his window, and she looked beautiful and like a true lady, and would she go out with him.

Terrified about the idea of being watched by the neighbour every time she got out of her car, my reader told her mother, and her mother gave her a hard time. Turns out Mr Neighbour asked her parents first, and the parents had never told her. And Mom went on to give him a chance and said mean things.

Excuse me? The parents never told their quiet, shy, never-been-alone-with-a-man not to expect the neighbour to come bounding out of the dark with date proposals? What the heck? And why did Doctor Spock never write a book called "How to Parent your Adult Daughter?"  Because, I'm sorry, my poor reader went on to have a nightmare that she had been whisked off in the neighbour's pickup truck against her will.

Someone is not rooted in reality, and it's my poor reader's mother. If your daughter is shy, retiring, and has never been alone with a man in her 25+ years, it is up to you to do something about it. You can't expect her to suddenly trust random neighbours with pick-up trucks just because they live next door and she's 25+ years old!

What Baby Boomers don't seem to get is that by tearing down society and ushering in the Sexual Revolution they have made the sexual realm so much more scary for their children. It's bad enough for girls who have to go to school with sniggering, hyper-sexualized boys; imagine the home-schooled. The girls in co-ed schools have at least learned what to expect and how to deal with it. The home-schooled go to college and discover a guy in a phallic costume shoving condoms at them during "Healthy Sex Week."

My reader's mother would probably wonder what I expect her to do, and first and foremost I expect her to tell her daughter within ten minutes that some guy is was interested in dating her. It's not like the daughter was going to say, "Oh, Mom! You ruined the surprise!"  Second, I expect my reader's mother to realize that her daughter has managed to be as socially sheltered as a well-brought-up 19th century lady and that it is up to her, the mother, to invite suitors into the parlour. It's the freakin' neighbour. It wouldn't even have to be into the parlour. It could be into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

Update: I just asked a young Eavesdropper in the house where his generation learns how to date, which was a silly question, as the Eavesdropper looks not to his own generation for cues as to how to behave but to that of General Piłsudski. Were I his mother, I would probably arrange cotillions and things like that, shoving him at lovely, bashful wallflowers and cutting off married adventuresses at the pass. Well, I suspect his generation learns how to date from television---a horrible thought, but since so many women thought "Sex & the City" a good guide to real life, there maybe a lot of men who think "How I Met Your Mother" is the way things work.

If true, that would be very pathetic. Does anyone know if the "Third Date Rule" is still floating around out there? I haven't had to worry about it for five years. But if it is, I shall have to write about it again because I hate the idea of my gentle readers finding out about it the hard way, as I did.

Update 2: And that was extremely pathetic. He was living with his mother, whom he shooed away for the night, and cooked a meal that took simply forever to prepare, so that I was quite starving, and had a special mix tape including "Rainbow Connection", which he sang along with Kermit, and when I finally realized what he was up to and asked what gave, he asked, "Haven't you heard of the Third Date Rule?"


Pearlmusic said...

These times are so confusing, and I think our parents' generation is about as confused as we are. Poor girl, anyway. What I must say is that I'm 25++, HAVE been dating men and if a neighbour popped up behind me late at night and wanted to have a date, I would be scared off anyway and wouldn't expect any good of him!
And you're right that if he'd asked her parents first, they should have at least mentioned it to her, so that she wouldn't be surprised. Or arrange something so she wouldn't be alone with him at first, knowing the way they brought her up.

Lisa said...

Poor girl! I can relate. I was homeschooled and my mother's good intentions to protect purity through separating the sexes until of marriageable age meant I didn't even know how to talk to a boy who wasn't my brother when I went to college. And when a boy approached me, my automatic assumption was he wanted to date and marry me - which freaked me out and made freshman year very awkward. But I was fortunate to go to a small Catholic school where the boys were expected to be gentlemen, and I quickly learned and adapted and all turned out well with me (I'm married now). I think your suggestions, Auntie, will insure that your unfortunate reader does too!

As far as the Third Date Rule goes, I never dated anyone who believed in it so I can't speak from experience, but from what I understand, in recent years with younger folks, it's becoming a second or even first date rule.

Stellamaris said...

The first time I ever heard of the third date rule was in your book.
No guy has ever waited until the third date (or indeed, the first) to ask for sex.

Anonymous said...

Oh poor dear. I hope she has a good friend who can help her transition appropriately from the sheltered life to a more social one. Baby steps, of course, and I suppose with the mother's blessing. :)
As for the Third Date Rule, it has also been my experience with dating Catholic men that sex is already off the table in the initial phases and only "on" in a relationship when hormones start to get the best of them.
I have learned that it is more the "Couch Date" that newly dating women should be counseled on. There is a homemade dinner, a movie on the DVD player, lights down low, and a couch. This apparently is one of the very few ways guys I've met apparently know how to initiate a first kiss (which they hope leads to more). So perhaps a post on handling the couch date...a modified "Speech" so that two nearly 30s people living on their own can still have a quiet date in, sans tomfoolery. But also, too, for girls to know that even if they do have a devotion to St. Michael the Archangel and St. Joseph....the fun (but wrong) really really makes it hard, not just on the guy, but on them.

Evelyn said...

I understand all too well. I grew up part of a fundamentalist Protestant sect where the sexes simply don't mix on an individual basis. The guys only knew how to do group dates. It left me very much adrift, not even knowing how to be friends with a guy/man, or even how to avoid panic when a cheery male friend attempted to hug me. I still catch myself reacting within the rules of the old "culture" and have to take a breath, reminding myself that I'm not a Jezebel for having an interesting conversation with a man.

TRS said...

Regarding the third date rule, yes it's still out there and taken as common knowledge/ practice in the secular world.
On tv shows like Big Bang Theory and other sit coms dating is centralized around it. I hate the episodes that actually present the third date rule as fact. Grrr.

I haven't had the opportunity to date too many catholic men, for the simple fact that they don't seem to exist. (The legend of Big Foot or Lochness Monster) but the few Catholics and serious Christians I have dated don't seem to expect it.
Secular men, totally do though! I actually had one date tell me, when he realized I wasn't going there, "the third date is pretty standard!" I may have laughed and said, "Oh, well, if its in the handbook, okay then! Where do you want me? On my back?"
Outrageous! You don't even know my middle name. Or if I'm on birth control. Much less enough about me to maybe make a baby with me! What are you thinking?

Then there are the Catholic guys who are a bit strayed from the church, who may not pressure for third date, but still expect it before commitment... To those who pressure for s@x I want to say, "oh, I didn't know you wanted a baby so soon in our relationship. Maybe we should talk about this." Thus opening the door for NFP discussions and such.

Seraphic said...

Ha! Chat about babies would, I am sure, stop a Third Date Rule style date dead in the water.

Guy: "Are you serious?"
Girl: "Taxi!"

Seraphic said...

"They beat their women" type remarks are not allowed on my blog.

Julia said...

I think my comment got swallowed by the internet, but I just wrote that I'm not surprised that your reader was startled. I got home from work in the dark last night, and if a man had approached me from behind as I was getting out of the car, I would've jumped out of my skin. I wonder why your reader's neighbour approached her this way. I'm not suggesting any malevolence on his part, but it seems an odd way to approach a woman.

"Rainbow Connection"? Serious? I laughed for about five minutes when I read that!

TRS said...

Auntie... Dry, wry sarcasm is my specialty! It would at least get a laugh before they run away!

thepinkeminence said...

Oh, sorry, didn't mean to offend anyone in particular--my father's family is Polish and I have lived on and off in Poland for years. I just didn't want the impression to be built that there is a paradise out there for single women/Catholic women/family life when every place has its own problems. The super-sheltered girl has her own, as does the one who was raised in a much more "worldly" environment. I know that living by myself for an extensive period of time, and never having had a family structured enough to "shelter" me hasn't always been fun, but from the sounds of the man-jumping-out-at-night story, I wouldn't trade my set of difficulties for others :)

Urszula said...

Wow, what a story... I must say I also don't understand letter-writer's mother. I've dated a fair amount and decidedly would never agree to a date with someone who has as little imagination as to start his wooing by jumping out from behind a car in the dark and laying his heart out. Creepiness factor? 100%.

On the other side this man may just be very, very inexperienced and clumsy - which in a way should put the letter-writer at her ease (were she ever to go out with him, which I'm not advocating). It sounds like he also does not really know how to talk to a woman alone (although it sounds like he fared better with her mother - so there is some hope at least).

As to the third-date rule, I'd never heard it before moving back to the US. But unfortunately, as stellamaris says, most men don't wait until even the first date to ask/demand. And while you think this may be true for secular products of the hook-up culture, I am still scarred by Mr. Son-of-a-prolife-leader-in-a-foreign-country who on our FIRST date dropped on his knees and begged me to stay the night at his conveniently empty large family apartment.
I had met him at Mass...

Shiraz said...

Honestly, I think whether expectations of sex or tomfoolery or "Third Date Rule" are an issue with a secular man depend entirely on the man. When I was first dating my now husband, who is not religious but is religion-friendly, the subject came up (not in an asking way or anything, actually), and I simply said that I was Catholic and hadn't had sex before and didn't intend to for a long time. He didn't freak out at all, just said OK and bought us some movie tickets. I found out later he called one of his good friend, a Catholic guy, within a day or two to ask for his advice on how best to take things slowly and be respectful of my boundaries.

But -- here is my but -- I have a pet theory about this. We were both young at the time (early twenties) and he was really very sweet and excited to have a nice girlfriend (he had had prior non-religious girlfriends who turned out to be Not Very Nice), so that helped. Also, I've found, and friends have found, that as the men you are dating get older, some of this sweetness dissipates. My friends have found that older guys expect more, and faster, whether religious or no. They are also more likely to play games, e.g. texting only after a time lag of a certain length, not signalling whether or not they are dating only you or others too, etc etc. I was wondering: what do you think about this? That yes, it depends on the guy -- you'll find jerks and non-jerks distributed through the religious and non-religious population, but that also that game playing and sexual expectations seem to increase with age? Does this hold true for anyone else, or is it just my friends who've seen this pattern?

Kate P said...

Radical feminism (notice I qualified it with "radical"!) and the sexual revolution have really ruined dating. The "hook-up culture" makes me sad. Why don't men and women know how to talk to each other anymore? Everything's fraught with innuendo.

I hadn't thought the "third date rule" was true, until a couple of years ago, the man I'd been seeing stopped calling, but later pseudo-apologized when I mailed something of his back to him, and he admitted (bragged) he'd started going out with someone else! I looked back over the timeline on the whole deal, only to realize on our third date he'd taken me to a really nice restaurant and had tried to "show" me his bedroom, lit candles, etc. I felt stupid and angry at the same time. The man had been teaching in a Catholic school!

P.S. I am wishing the best for the shy, gentle reader. (And I thought to myself, Neighbor guy is lucky he didn't get pepper-sprayed in the face.)

Seraphic said...

The top five countries in which readers live are the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and Poland, so issues particular to Poland do get mentioned here, although usually by 100% Polish Poles living in Poland or working abroad (and therefore appearing on my stats counter as somewhere else).

Unfortunately there is just enough anti-Polish stereotyping around that a remark about Poland coming out of the West gets more scrutiny than one, naturally, from Poland.

However, my principal Polish Eavesdropper, insists that a half-Pole is a Pole, so there you go. But don't worry: Poles in Poland do keep us up to date our feet to the ground regarding dating and marriage in Poland.

Seraphic said...

That's a good question, Shiraz. I shall ponder it today.

Jackie said...

Bwahahaha! Seraphic, I am laughing my head off at the Kermit the Frog "mood music"-- that is beyond hilarious! Was he being ironic, or was this done in earnest?

Also, to the poor girl in the first story: Did she ever say why her parents didn't communicate to her about the guy? Did they think it would be more "natural" this way or something? I'd be interested to hear what her mom was thinking in all this.