Saturday, July 02, 2005
How not to pick up men!
How not to pick up men!
As we noted, the problem with male strategies for meeting women is that they are based on male psychological preferences imperfectly fitted to the female personality. Likewise, the same holds true for women, who too often view the true male character as a grownup variant of the personality of the ‘beaver and wally’. It is of course no surprise that many women are quickly disaffected with this idealistic picture of the male psyche. Yet, rather than reappraising more accurately the male of the species, many women as well as women pundits pursue a different alternative and attribute this unpleasant variance to male immaturity, immorality, or just plain lunacy.
This attitude is unfair and misguided because it further dissuades women from examining their own perception of the male character. If men behave just awfully, then it’s their fault, their decision to do so, and they deserve the correcting, or should we say punishing blow of righteous indignation. So, analysis is deferred in favor of the easier and more satisfying emotion of anger.
Still, a better case can be made that this female dissatisfaction stems not from any fatal flaws in the male character, but rather from an inevitable fall from a specific idealistic vision that is as simplistic as it is impractical. The classic romantic female ideal of the knight in shining armor represents just that combination of sensitivity and bravado that romance novels virtually brim over with. The shining knight is a monogamous creature, considerate to a fault, who can think of nothing better in life tan rescuing damsels in distress, caring for the poor, and pursuing idealistic and glorious quests. Sad to say, this portrait not only is wanting as a standard for contemporary male behavior, it is totally at odds with the reality of medieval knighthood. Rather than following the steps of the romantic tradition of Tristan and Lancelot, the true knight of old had far more in common with the comic strip character Hagar the Horrible, only the knight was worse. The historical knight was far more interested in smashing the poor, ravishing and ravaging, and putting damsels in distress than engaging in boring idealistic quests that paid little and hurt nobody.
The traits of sensitivity and virility don’t mix well in the male character unless guided by intelligence, and the medieval knight’s own basic stupidity didn’t provide him with that guidance. And can you really blame him? The knight was after all a warrior, and its very tempting to have the ability to resolve life’s little problems with force rather than with an uncertain time consuming analysis. Got a problem with a nagging wife? Throw her out the window! Girl next door tempting? Well, just smash down her door on your next unannounced date! It was great to be a knight, and he could rest assured that his peers, who were also ravishing and ravaging about, would provide just the moral support he needed to prevent him from cutting short all his fun with unnecessary guilt.
So why do women, then as now, tend to go for such violent and rude characters, and pass by other gentle lads of peasant stock? Simple. Knights are powerful fellows, and it is difficult for women to rid themselves of their attraction to powerful men. This perverse attraction sets the state for innumerable disappointments, as a lady’s knight invariably surrenders to the temptation of beckoning female conquests, or as least seriously entertains the thought of such exploits. So what’s a maiden to do?
Using the romantic as well as realistic appraisal of knighthood as a metaphor for the male character and male fantasies, a lady can easily maximize her chances for success with the often rambunctious male. The first thing she must realize is that the blustery bravado of a male is almost always but a balloon like veneer enveloping a lot of hot air which is in turn subject to rapid deflation upon the slightest prick. The inflated ego of most men may indeed surface in their private boasting of how many women they carried off lately, yet the slightest rejection makes most of them squeal and recoil in emotional pain.
Men want to be affirmed that they are indeed fearfully desirable creatures, yet women err if they either accept at face value this huffing and puffing, or else laugh at or ignore this as some juvenile posturing. A lady who quickly and enthusiastically surrenders to a male may in fact possess everything a man desires, yet she starts off on the wrong foot because her easy availability may precede the male’s chest thumping display of bluster. By playing easy to get, a lady unknowingly makes a male’s self-affirmation of his own superiority that much harder to prove. Thus, her availability to a man who has yet to demonstrate his winning traits tells him that those attributes are of no great importance, and that she is surrendering to commonplace characteristics that many men share. A man may indeed take her up on her ready offer, yet he won’t and indeed can’t respect her in the morning because his conquest affirms not his strengths, but her weaknesses. Women often compound their error by becoming even more available in the presence of a man’s apathy, and a man may indeed stick around for a bit longer, but not for the reasons a woman would prefer. Too many women hope that through a sort of psychological alchemy, a man’s sexual impulses can be transmuted into permanent feelings of romantic intimacy and caring, yet these dreams do not consider the male’s easy capacity in separating apart the physical and emotional components of love. Women can’t understand and often prefer to reject this male tendency, while embracing instead the illusion that a man’s physical attentions towards her represent his affirmation of her worth, when only her physical worth is valued. To determine if this is indeed the case, she would be better advised to resist her sexual urges, and tell her lover that if he really loved her, he should just send flowers, and end a fine evening with a simple kiss.
If playing easy to get is likely to imperil a lady’s effort to find romance, playing hard to get spells a more complex array of problems. In the romantic tradition, a truly desirable girl is not only hard to get, she’s often impossible to get! Now this is just the sort of thing to drive at least fictional men wild, and our culture bombards us with romantic images of endlessly questing males crossing endless mountains, deserts, and swamps for an invariably flighty and not to bright female. Indeed, if she had one whit of sense, the romantic heroine would hardly have put her lover to such awful pains, or a least would not have, so to speak, led him on. The Helen of Troy’s and Scarlett O’Hara’s of the world won ardent admiration only because they succeeded in convincing their suitors to be that crossing all those mountains and seas was an odyssey of sorts that had to be completed in order to win their very privileged attentions. So what makes these women such great shakes? It is by paying hard to get, but NOT AT FIRST. By playing easy to get, and then by withdrawing her attentions abruptly and with some hint of finality, she may often catch the male in mid fantasy. By suddenly becoming illusive, the female may encourage the male to build upon his dreams until the object of his love becomes a model of virtue and beauty, and all that mountain climbing suddenly becomes a fair price to pay. The irony of all this is that if a woman tries this tactic, it is almost always unintentional. If she does not break her relationship with a man with unmistakable finality, he may continue to dwell and build upon even small hopes, and her absence will only make his heart grow fonder and fonder. The contrast is even more striking if we realize that if a suitor does attain the girl of his dreams, his invariable let down may lead him to begin fantasizing anew, but this time about how great things would be without his beloved.
Many women opt to compromise both of these extreme positions, and play both hard to get for some things (usually sex), and easy to get for others (friendship). The problem though is that no matter how nice or caring a woman is, a warm friendship is scarcely what is on a man’s mind when he initiates a dating relationship. Indeed, a woman who dates men to be friends is apt to stir male fantasies alright: about her murder. To escape at least being psychologically throttled, a woman must divests herself of the expensive trappings of a date as soon as she realized that friendship is all she wants out of a budding relationship. Social convention and a desire for sexual leverage, not friendly generosity, promote dating habits for men. Thus, a woman who genuinely wishes to pursue a friendship with a man should opt for inexpensive entertainments, even if it is against his wishes. If she fails to do so, she may be rudely shocked when the man abruptly terminates the relationship after realizing that his financial sacrifices merit no more than a series of good night handshakes.
The best general tactic for attracting men, and in particular those men whom a woman is truly interested in, is to be moderately difficult to get. By proving to be attainable yet challenging, a lady can maximize her romantic chances with a man, and escape encountering a man’s apathy or animosity. In actuality, by proving moderately difficult to court, a woman follows a course of action that is very similar to a training course for a pet poodle. If you want your poodle to love, honor, and most of all, obey you, you really can’t give him your goodies for free; that will only insure that he remains a slobbering pup who will think nothing of chasing all the other doggies in the neighborhood. If you are stingy with your goodies, he’ll very likely run off, but not before biting your hand. Only when you learn how to pace your rewards and time them to follow good behavior will he come around to his canine senses, and be a loyal companion for life. Men of course are of course no different. As all women know, picking up men is about as easy as picking up a stray puppy. It’s the training that’s important.