Apparently all men in my age-range have been cuckolded. And the younger ones have been exposed to too much porn. These are my recent experiences. As a mom of five boys (and three girls), I’ve learned a few “dos” and “don’ts” that I’ve started imparting to my sons. There’s more I wish I could tell them, but… they’re my kids. I can’t share everything. But if I could, here is what I’d lay out, to help amplify their chances of success in their relationships with women:
Rule #1: If it’s apparent that a woman has put effort into her appearance, at least tell her she looks nice – acknowledge her effort. Even if your socks aren’t knocked off. I was excited to go on a recent Second Date with this one guy. We’d had an amazing first date, and I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a Second Date in over a year. I asked a few of the wives at the company picnic that day for “second date wardrobe” advice. After much deliberation we finally decided on my blue dress. (It was the first time this guy was going to see that I had legs — I’d worn jeans on the first date.) I spent 20 minutes curling my hair and another 10 picking out the perfect accessories. But my date didn’t seem to notice any of this. He never said anything. I was left to think that either he didn’t notice that I looked any different… or that maybe he thought I looked worse, and he was being polite by not saying anything. Hmmmm….?
That same night, when the bill came, the waitress put it down right in front of him, on his side of the table. I was ready to leave, but he still sat there, completely ignoring the bill. We were having a really great conversation, but after 5 or 10 minutes (that’s how long it felt like), I was in disbelief. What is he doing? Is he waiting for me to pay? So I did. And I wasn’t entirely happy about it. Rule #2: The man picks up the tab. Always. (With the exception of it being his birthday, and his female friend insists.) In a dating scenario, the man always pays. This is an expensive rule, but it goes toward demonstrating: (a) that the man wants to take care of the woman he’s with, (b) that he has worked hard and has the means to do so, and (c) it is a way of showing deference toward the entire gender – a nod, if you will, toward the “weaker” sex, who, btw, still make less, on average, than men for doing the exact, same job. Yup, even in 2016 America, this is still true. This is what I’m teaching my boys, screw women’s lib. You’re the man, you pay. I have male friends who refuse to let me pay, even though we’re just friends. (“You’re the woman, I’m the man, I’m paying,” they say. I love that one. It ennobles me. Also: “You’re a single mom! With 8 kids! I’ve got this one.” A humbling reminder of my realities, and makes me grateful that they see a more-complete version of who I am.) When I took out my wallet, Second Date Guy made a rather weak attempt to stop me, but, being miffed and proud, I of course said no, and plunked down a few twenties. He let me. We’re just friends now. (*But let’s face it: you can’t wish people would magically be who they’re not. If a guy doesn’t believe or adhere-to this “rule,” that’s okay. The rules of Planet Mouse don’t apply to everyone on Earth. It doesn’t stop me, however, from searching for new Planet Mouse inhabitants. A girl can dream! 😉 )
Rule #3: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Otherwise your words become meaningless. This one shouldn’t even need explanation. Ladies, raise your hands: how many of us have stayed too long with guys who said they were “gonna do” something, but it was all just empty words…? My last boyfriend — guy I dated in Summer 2015 — was “going to” take me out “somewhere nice.” I helped him organize his apartment, clean out ancient storage units, haul heavy-ass display shelves to show off his hobby stuff up to his apartment, feed his pet spiders…! He kept saying he was so happy with how everything was going, how he really wanted to take me out to a nice restaurant, etc. Weeks turned into months. We worked on his life in-between my life with my kids. And somehow we never went out anywhere — okay, lunch on the fly, on the way to the home improvement store, in shorts and t-shirts, but not “anywhere nice” — unless I was paying. (Yeah.) Finally, I had an epiphany. It took a really awful thing/event for this epiphany to happen, but it happened during a moment of clarity in which I realized that this guy was never going to take me anywhere nice. He’d demonstrated that his words meant nothing on enough of a repetitive basis that his words were moot. And I knew I was done.
Actions mean a lot more than words. Just sayin’.
Rule #4: Always take care of her first, before you take care of yourself! Okay, not only should this one should go without saying, it’s basically in the Guy Handbook. If you don’t believe me, try reading GQ or Cosmo. Or Men’s Health. Or 50 Shades of Grey. Or the Internet! Why are there any men out there who don’t understand this??? There are even books about it! That’s just bad form to leave your partner flapping in the breeze to have to take care of herself, after the fact. Seriously bad manners, this one. (If you have to ask if this is you, then yes, this is you. Shape up, and fix it, dude!) After conversations I’ve had with my female friends, I really, really, really want my sons to understand this basic thing, that, though simple, pays so much respect to a female-partner.
Rule #5: Women are people, not objects. On a recent sans-kid weekend I went to see a play with a girlfriend. Beforehand, we went to a restaurant across the street for drinks, appetizers, and to catch up. Halfway through, though, the waiter stopped by our table… and asked for my phone number, and if I were single. Huh?!? “I’m single — I’m on Match — but you’re too young…!!!” I sputtered like someone for whom English wasn’t my first language.
“How old do you think I am?” the waiter asked.
“Uh, like 27?” I replied.
“Yeah,” he said, “I’m 27.” That tidbit helped me recover a bit. It put him in perspective – with my kids.
“Well, I’m 47,” I said. “I have a daughter only a year younger than you. Thank you, I’m flattered…, but no.”
“Okay, point taken,” he said. However, later, when I asked for the check, he’d tucked his phone number inside. Still giggling about having been hit-on by this cute kid, I texted him:
“Thank you for making me feel pretty tonight! You’re way too young to me, but thank you! Hugs!”
Two hours later, when my friend and I were at the play’s intermission, I saw that he’d responded: “Ha, you were gorgeous tonight. And you realize I’m not trying to wife you up, right? Or be a publicly acknowledged ‘interest?’ Just curious if you’re that charming all the time. Embrace your cougar capabilities, [Mouse.]”
Reading that, everything inside me went cold. While I realized that this kid probably thought he was being complimentary, the actual picture he’d painted was that he was interested in me for free-sex-in-a-back-closet. And, wow, as much as I’m all for hot-sex, this cold, relationshipless concept he was offering is absolutely the farthest thing from what I’m looking for. Kinda made me feel icky/dirty, after reading it.
Problem is, he’s not the first 20-something to approach me with a similar ideal. I’ve had others, who, when I’ve told them flat-out that I’m not a cougar, have responded: “Awwww, darn! Well, do you have any friends who are?” (This is a verbatim quote.) Fortunately for young adults everywhere, I’m the last person who’d ever take them up on it. They’re all so young, they just remind me too much of my own kids. Eew! Maybe they sense this, and that’s why they’re drawn to me: I’m “safe” that way. 😉
My love languages are action and touch. Those mean so much more to me than anything else – even words (yeah, weird for a writer, huh?). Women are different from men. We need to be held, cherished, protected, taken care of. We need to know we matter in a special, unique way to the person we choose to be with. We want someone who wants to spend time with us after we’ve had an intimate night together. Not someone who only wants the fun, date-night stuff, and then takes off out the door when the real world kicks in. Someone who also wants to be there, shopping for a house-project. Or going to the grocery store, so we can make dinner together later. I want someone who can, ultimately, integrate with all the parts of my life. And who cares about me as a whole person.
Really, this is about self-respect, on the deepest level. I hope I’ve taught/am teaching this to all my kids–not just my boys: to respect themselves that much. To try different things, but to hold out for someone who treats them better than they treat themselves. Otherwise, what’s the point?