Say what you will about social media, but one thing it does quite effectively is gives us a glimpse into other peoples’ personal lives. Ironically, the people who post the most intimate details about themselves and their relationships are often the same people who complain that there is no privacy anymore. But, that is for a different article.
With this relatively new ability to observe how others act, what they think, and what they do – comes many lessons and conversations to be had, particularly on the topic of dating and relationships.
With half of the United States now being single, it is clear that something isn’t ‘working.’ That is, if your definition of working is monogamy. But I do believe that we are naturally drawn towards the idea of having someone in our lives to share our journey and experiences with, so keeping in mind that many people do want to be in a a relationship, I’ll stick with the idea that something is not working. But, what it is?
While it is natural in any situation to point the finger in the other direction and not accept blame, it is also not productive nor does it allow for collaboration or problem solving. Men think women are crazy and don’t appreciate a good man, while women think there are no good men out there to appreciate.
Obviously, neither of these are completely true. Sure there are crazy women and sure there are bad men, but that does not mean that everyone in that gender falls into these categories.
Let’s be honest about this for a second. What people are really saying is that there are no non-crazy/good members of the opposite sex (or same sex) that I am attracted to. And this is a much different communication to put across. So, there is the first speed bump, we are drastically narrowing down the opposite sex into those we personally find attractive. This is obvious, but we have to be honest about it. The good news is that everyone likes something different, so everyone will be attractive to someone.
There are plenty of good men in the ‘friend zone’ and there are plenty of great, successful, sane women who are left at home alone on a Friday night and cannot figure out why. Yet, these people very seldom seem to cross each other’s paths.
I think people are creating misconceptions about everyone else (and themselves) in their own minds. They are losing the game before the whistle even blows. I think men are too nervous to approach women for fear of being rejected or finding her to be closed off and rude – and I think women are nervous about being approached by men because of negative experiences in the past or stories on the news. This begins a vicious cycle of men not approaching women because they don’t think women want to be approached – even when they do.
Then, there is the exact opposite issue where things are too easy. Men can go out to a bar or a nightclub and take a woman home without any commitment, so he will never see the real value in a relationship if he continues to get his short term needs fulfilled on the weekends. That is, until he begins to understand that true fulfillment doesn’t come from this, but from sharing a real lasting bond with another human being. Though, some realize it later than others.
But men only get away with putting in this small amount of effort because women allow them to. They cannot go home with a woman if there is no woman to go home with. Sure, women want to have their fun too and that’s great – but only if their actions match their words. Women who want to find love and have a lasting relationship need to make sure they are presenting themselves in a way that is congruent with this.
There is too much complaining about no good men in the world from women who never choose to date good men.
There are too many excuses being made by men for not acting right because they don’t think women will appreciate it.
Men need to be better at building a sense of comfort with women and realizing that we are automatically starting behind the 8-ball. It’s just the way things are in today’s society. It is increasingly difficult to even start a conversation with a woman without her immediately recoiling. This leaves essentially no room for a dialogue and is discouraging to men over time.
Women need to be more open about the idea of actually meeting people if that’s what they are interested in doing. It is like ordering takeout but then not answering the door when it arrives because the order has been wrong in the past. Women certainly should be on guard because the world is a dangerous place, but constantly pushing men away will never put you in an emotional place where you are open to one of them actually being right for you.
Men need to try harder. Men are using the excuse that women want to be treated equal and therefore are giving up the privilege of chivalry or being courted. If one out of a hundred women tell you they feel patronized when you open the door for them and then you stop opening the door for everyone because you think that’s not what women want, that is on you, not on her. Men need to step up their game more and show women that we are not all the same and that some of us do actually care enough to notice small details, put time and effort into getting to know her, and value her as a human being rather than just a notch in our bedpost.
Women need to be more receptive to this. When a man performs an act of kindness like opening a door or pulling out a chair, telling him that you can do it yourself or feeling disrespected (for some reason) by it, will chisel away at his confidence when it comes to doing something else for you in the future. When too many men stop doing these things, women begin to complain about ‘all men’ which then makes us all feel slighted and punished for the actions (or lack of actions) by our peers which we are not responsible for.
Not all men are naturally chivalrous – but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a chance to have you communicate your standards to them and be given the chance to improve.
I think we need to communicate better as a species in general. We need to make more eye contact. We need to smile and strangers more. We need to look up from our smartphones and really see the world. We need to see those around us and realize that they are people who have loved and lost and face challenges and make decisions every single day – just like we do.
We need to build connections rather than just friends lists. We need to talk more than we tweet. We need to have conversations in more than 140 characters. And as these things happen, we will notice the bonds that we can make with someone else that we may not have seen before when we were too distracted.
We all need to put effort into this. It starts with you, and it starts with me. Make a pledge to yourself to smile at three strangers every single day. You may find that so many people smile back you might want to make it five. And then 10. And then they will start smiling at people. And then you will start talking. And then, who knows what might happen from there?
How tragic of a thought it is that we may walk past the man or woman of our dreams in the street with our heads down updating our Facebook status complaining about how there are no good people left in the world.
Food for thought.
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