Posts Tagged ‘what men want’

The girl sitting across from me on the subway was an exact replica of me at fourteen years old: chubby face, disobediently curly hair, a slim body struggling to develop and a slightly rowdy innocence that would one day cause some trouble. She looked so much like me I had to do a double take, convinced a miniaturized version of me was within arm’s reach.

I may have gone on without giving the matter much thought, except that there was something even more me-ish about the girl than her plump cheeks. She was pining away over a boy who apparently was giving her the run around. Moreover, she was testing the limits of friendship by giving the pal next to her every minute detail of their last conversation.

Me much?

The boy had told the girl to stop calling him. He didn’t want to talk to anyone right now. He wasn’t replying to any of her texts or returning her calls. Every so often, she’d call late, sometimes after midnight, and was surprised when he wasn’t home.

Fourteen-Year-Old Me was confused. Older Me knew there were only a few causes for such behavior and they all revolved around other girls, lack of interest and overall jerkiness.

“He says he can’t handle a relationship right now,” the girl told her friend. “He’s worried about his mom and he has to get a job.”

The girl lifted her chest and proudly said, “And I was like, ‘you expect me to wait for you?’”

Older Me hoped either the guy fell to her feet in tears or she gave him the grand heave ho.

“’He told me, ‘no.’ So I asked, ‘do you want me to?’”

It took everything in me not to take the girl by the shoulders and shake her senseless. “Get some strength in those knees and stiffen that spine. You cave to this creep and you’ve got years of male crap to put up with. Get out now!”

“Honestly, Mary, I don’t know,” the girl continued. “I was like, ‘I can be your girlfriend and support you through this.’”

No, you can’t, I thought, trying to use mental telepathy to communicate with her. You can’t because he doesn’t want you to. Or someone else is his support. Or he doesn’t have a problem, he’s just making up bull malarkey because he’s afraid to cut the cord.

“I was like, ‘I’ll be waiting for your call.’ He didn’t call me, so I called him.”

You just earned another year of lessons from the Relationship School from Hell.

“He was on the phone with his cousin.”

Yeah, right.

“He kept crying and crying and I was like, ‘I’m right here for you.’”

Man, was this girl tugging at my heart strings. How many times have I begged some big wounded boy to let me love him? In fact, nearly every female I know has blubbered to me about some damaged soul who won’t let her heal his pain. Few things are as confusing to women as men who turn away love and support.

I wasn’t angry at the apple of Fourteen-Year-Old Me’s eye. Sure, guys like him can be selfish and plain mean. But they’re just snot-nosed little boys and it’s up to the women who adore them to cut their losses when the writing’s on the wall.

Unfortunately, it can take decades before a woman learns to stop hanging on to dead end love. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me, but will confess to making tons of stupid decisions, dating scads of nincompoops and coming face to face with lots of not so pretty truths about my own inner workings. Most importantly, it took the real love of a couple good men to show me true connection isn’t something you have to beg someone to share with you.

I wanted to tell Fourteen-Year-Old Me to let this cad go and avoid love she has to wrestle to the ground. Spare her the agony of heartbreak or an on/off affair with someone who only kinda likes her. But like every hard lesson, you’ve got to learn it on your own.

All I could do was give her a smile that said, ‘you’ve got a long, hard journey ahead. But you’ll get there.’

She probably didn’t grasp my message. But maybe she will in twenty years, when her own Mini Me sits across from her on a train.

Read Full Post »

Women can fake orgasms.  Men can fake entire relationships.

This juicy tidbit marking the romantic distinction between males and females recently made its way onto my Twitter feed.  Enjoying a brief chuckle after reading it, I soon realized how closely this alleged truth hits home: my friend Jay is in a fake relationship and I’ve been wondering if I should tell the girl.

Jay is one of those good-looking, charismatic fellas who rarely have trouble finding a female companion.  A decade ago, he was madly in love with a special lady who dumped him after his ego decided to feed itself by convincing him to cheat.  Since then, Jay has steered clear of anything “too heavy,” opting instead for casual relationships with dippy bores or overly controlling kooks whose mania gives him the perfect excuse to jump ship.

But every so often, Jay wants someone to care enough to check in on him each day, someone for whom he can make elaborate dinners and buy gifts, someone to offer him regular sex and hold him in the middle of the night.  And so, Jay gets a “girlfriend.”

There was the pretty actress with whom he spent every weekend for nearly six months and the slightly neurotic realtor with whom he went on a Roman vacation.  Both of these women were mighty surprised at the end of their relationships to find out Jay was never really feelin’ it even though his actions suggested otherwise.

Then there was the Latin American gal who flew herself back and forth to the States whenever Jay reemerged begging for her company.  The night I met up with them, I watched him walk hand-in-hand with her down the street, introduce her to his friends and fill her imagination with daydreams about a shared future.  Jay’s behavior offered the kinds of clues every silly women’s magazine might say is evidence a dude is thinking long term.  Obviously, the Latin American believed herself involved in a long-distance romance.  But in fact, she was one of a handful of women satellite-ing within Jay’s orbit.

My friend may be an extreme but he’s far from an exception.  I’ve known many guys who’ve gone through the romantic motions with women in an effort to avoid loneliness.  I even know a guy who stayed with a woman for five friggin’ years, knowing every single day there was no way in hell he’d ever marry the chick.

My gut tells me no woman would ever do such a thing and not for any noble reason, like sparing someone else’s feelings.  I just think most women are too gung ho on finding Prince Charming to waste time on a peasant.  And I can’t imagine any woman being able to turn off her emotions or even worse, pretending to feel something she doesn’t feel.  If you’ve ever seen a Sharon Stone movie, you know how to fake an orgasm.  But love?

So, Jay has started up again with the Latin American and is even considering giving in to her demands to be more exclusive.  From the beginning of this relationship, he has said, “I don’t love her and know I never will.”  Meanwhile, his girl is fantasizing about lifelong love, marriage and family.  So is Jay…with some other woman he hopes to meet one day.

I only met the gal for the second time over a group dinner, when she indirectly expressed doubts about Jay’s intentions.  She dropped hints about being open to any insight those of us who are his female friends may be able to provide.  Whenever I considered cueing her in, I remembered how perilous it is to place oneself in the center of a couple’s battlefield.

However, I also wonder if sometimes all it takes for a man like Jay to finally make a commitment is to force himself into one.  If certain men tell themselves they’re not in love in order to make sticking around seem less confining.  In the end, can fake love ever become true?

What say you?

[Photo from the film Lars and the Real Girl, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment]

Read Full Post »

Months back, my friend Corey got a peculiar email from a woman with whom he’d gone on one date.  The email included an invitation to a second meeting, a string of compliments…and a picture of the girl buck naked.

Corey spent the next several days titillated and curious, but mostly confused. What did the Naked Girl, as we named her, hope to achieve with such a move?  If she was offering herself up as a booty call, should he dial her digits?  If she was a damaged soul, how could he make a clean break?  Ultimately, Corey was convinced to put an end to the madness.

I checked in with Corey about the Naked Girl the other day.  He’s still seeing her.

And how ‘bout this?  My friend Tommy introduced me to his pretty, sweet, kinda quirky new girlfriend at a gritty downtown pub.  We were sharing a plate of nachos when a glob of sour cream plopped onto the table.  Tommy’s girl plunged her finger into the glob then sucked the cream off it.  She ate food off the table. Did Tommy blush or chide her under his breath?  Nope.  He lovingly rolled his eyes then kissed her on the forehead.

Then there’s Jay who just caught his girl lying about dating other dudes online.  A few months before, she’d come home with an STD.  Jay was a wreck last week when I spoke to him about these recent events.  This week?  They’re working it out.

One more.  A chick who works with a friend of mine had a whirlwind, week-long romance with a guy visiting from out of town.  After the week was over, she “surprised” him by showing up at his apartment half-way across the country.  Although the act freaked him out big time, the gal continued to call constantly, send obsessive emails and make surprise visits.  You’d think the guy would move to Mars to avoid such insanity.  But he didn’t.  A few weeks later, he asked her to move in with him.

Boggles the mind.

I feel sorry for all the kind, stable, lovely single gals I know still struggling to find a partner.  The kind of gals who offer humor rather than nudie pics, wit rather than venereal disease.  These are women who don’t have to follow some arbitrary set of rules to land a man, they’re decent people so know them already: be considerate, give a man space if he needs it and love when he’s ready, be yourself but don’t be afraid to be a little dazzling and feminine.

Certainly, everyone deserves love, including the aforementioned females.  But how come so many gals who break every rule in the book are walking hand-in-hand with the apples of their eyes, while ladies with their act together stay solo?  I believe when someone feels a connection, nothing his or her partner does is wrong, including eating nachos off a table.  But I also wonder how many odd situations come together simply because people don’t want to be alone.

Regardless, I’m changing my tune as far as doling out romantic advice goes.  Screw the rules, I say.  Be a slob!  Be a psycho!  Give ‘im the Clap!

Worse case scenario, you suffer some embarrassment.  Best case?  You fall in love.

Want to know how Corey and the Naked Girl first met?  Check out “The Naked Girl.”

Read Full Post »

Sandra Bullock’s hubby has been cheating on her with a tattoo model / porn star.  Hollywood studs cheating on Hollywood babes isn’t shocking.  What’s weird is how often we find ourselves saying, “seriously?  Her?” whenever we see photos of the other women.  Some of our finest looking dames have been made a fool by their better halves – Halle, Sienna Miller, even Angelina supposedly got cuckolded by Billy Bob.  Tiger’s wife looks like Venus emerging from the half shell compared to the silicone-injected Plain Janes he bagged on a regular basis.  Boggles the mind.

One theory suggests men coupled up with women who outshine them beef up their egos by schtupping lesser females.  Hence, the male partners of A-list actresses bedding B-list bimbos.  However, it seems equally possible career-obsessed folks, whether male or female, are too obnoxious and neglectful to make their partners feel loved.  You don’t become a megastar like Sandra Bullock by spending a lot of time stoking the home fires.

Though I don’t know Sandra Bullock personally, I’d see plenty to commit to if I were her man.  All I’d think of when looking at his “Bombshell” mistress is dirty sex.  And therein lies the rub.  Chicks who work so hard to be sex objects – fake boobs, surgically enhanced lips – will probably do anything a guy wants, for as long as he wants and will buy his BS about his (non-existent) divorce and how his wife no longer gets him.  Unfortunately for these gals, men probably see them as little more than blow up dolls come to life.

Maybe the wife isn’t the person with whom you do certain sex acts, so you find “a bad girl.”  Maybe you and the wife are regularly apart, so you screw some brain-dead hottie who won’t threaten your relationship.  Are these desirable solutions to relationship challenges?  Probably not.  But I can imagine this Jesse person thinking Sandra Bullock is the greatest thing since sliced bread yet still screwing some gal he doesn’t give two shits about on the side.

Of course, these are famous people.  They’re vain enough to want the entire planet to know their names, believe themselves deserving of $25 million pay checks and have an endless line of tail offered to them on a daily basis.  Famous people are aberrations and nothing like us.  Drawing conclusions about relationships based on the behavior of celebrities is like basing financial decisions on what the Rockefellers might do.

But what’s unsettling is how often I hear normal men call their own gender out as canine.  “Men are dogs,” some of my male friends say.  “We’re basic, weak, can’t be trusted.”  The other night I heard a dude at a bar say, “Guys will always go after other women.  We’re men, that’s what we do.”  Last Tuesday, I saw a Henry Rollins show.  He said men would even screw trees if they had breasts.

And there’s the sinking feeling every woman suffers.  The fear that no matter how loving and supportive we are, no matter how much we stimulate men’s minds and ravish their bodies, no matter how much freedom we need for ourselves and thus are ready to give them, there will always be some chick with a nice rack he’ll cast us aside to bone.

So, if, as Chris Rock says, “a man is only as faithful as his options,” what are we supposed to do?  Decide the dog myth is true and become bitter and suspicious?  Decide it’s not true and risk being naïve?  Decide it doesn’t matter and turn a blind eye?

I kinda don’t believe it.  I’ve known plenty of men who’ve turned down hot, easy ‘tang because they’re devoted to their main squeezes.  I also appreciate the inevitability of temptation so rarely let it get my panties in a twist.  I even think I could get over my man admitting to a meaningless fling, even if the girl was a tattooed, former stripper, porn star, fetish model who poses in Nazi gear (really, Jesse?)

But the last thing any of us should do is blame bad behavior on anything other than choice.  We aren’t animals, none of us are dogs.  If we’ve got seemingly unquenchable desires mucking with our ability to form healthy relationships, we may want to work on them.  If you’re a career freak who neglects relationships or a booty hound who can’t keep it in his pants, you should probably do something about it.  Relationships are good things.  The people we let into our lives are decent folk with fragile hearts who are just trying to love us.  Why not put our egos aside every once in a while and try to love them back?

Read Full Post »

My friend Rebecca and I noticed something strange about men when we were living in Spain.  Despite the care we took to cultivate our respective “looks” whilst on the prowl (I went artsy, sex kitten Boho, Rebecca was a naughty tomboy), our greatest romantic triumphs never happened when we were all dolled up.  During one sweaty afternoon, my friend and I came to realize we were most attractive to men when we were, of all things, jogging.

Rebecca and I made it a habit to run around Madrid’s Retiro Park on sunny days.  Always, we went without makeup.  Unshowered.  Hair in messy ponytails.  Mismatched, though admittedly snug, running shorts.  Not exactly the most glamorous of looks, but from the cat calls given to us by male passersby, you’d have thought we were Halle Berry and Julia Roberts on Oscar night.

Back in the States, men seem to be equally bowled over by female joggers and, in general, get googly eyed around exercising women.  Of course, when women work out, our cheeks are flushed, our lips are moist and we’re panting.  Plus, everything female and pretty on our bodies bounces around.  Doesn’t take a Freudian scholar to figure out the fantasies the sight might stir in the male mind.  Maybe we’re running slo-mo in guys’ heads as they imagine us like Pamela Anderson, Baywatching across a Malibu beach rather than hoofing it on a Bally’s treadmill.

The other day, I went to pick up my one exorbitantly priced beauty expense: a $35 bottle of shampoo.  In my world, this is costly but I know there are legions of women who would spend three times that just for the bottled water with which they wash their overly pampered manes.

Anyway, I hadn’t done much to pretty myself up that afternoon.  My face was naked save for a line of lip gloss, my hair was in a tight, somewhat fuzzy bun, and I was wearing a bland T-shirt over a boring ol’ pair of leggings.  Still, I got checked out more than I had the previous night painting the town red.  Two men asked for my number.  By the time I got to the store and held that $35 bottle of shampoo, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why in God’s name am I spending this money?”

An article I read said women spend $13,000 on makeup alone in their lifetime.  Imagine the green we’re spending on haircuts, bikini waxes and, Lord help us, clothes.  Used to be all the luxury makeup and beauty products were for rich, old gals, the rest of us went to CVS.  Nowadays, entire cosmetic lines and boutique shops have opened up to sell us $50 eye shadow kits and $120 moisturizing cream.  Lots of gals feel they can no longer get away with lip gloss and a cute haircut; they gotta get their eyebrows sculpted, teeth bleached, foreheads Botoxed, biceps and thighs yoga’ed into oblivion.  The American cosmetics industry makes over $20 billion a year, while beauty salons alone gross $72 billion of our hard-earned cash.  And for what, if dudes can just as easily drool over us doing downward facing dog?

Still, there are two dazzling conclusions to be drawn from this discovery.  First, maybe we don’t need to spend the money and time to look like we’re walking the red carpet with Halle and Julia when we’re living normal lives.  Men want us to look good, but they seem to like us just as much when we look real.

Perhaps the more fun conclusion to draw is that men no longer have a leg to stand on when they complain about the money they spend on dates with women.  These days, a guy may spend $150 bucks on dinner, drinks and a movie.  Jack that up to $200 if anyone wants a snack at the theater.

While some of us gals look decent without breaking the bank, think of what those trendy, über-stylish women spend to go on that same date: mani/pedi ($60), facial ($90), eyebrow sculpting ($25), bikini wax ($70), hair style ($65) and pre-date yoga class ($20).  A $330 price tag for one night.

Dudes, you so need to be the ones putting out.

Read Full Post »

I love my mom.  But I think I’m going to have to cut her loose.  Apparently, she’s destroying my love life.

Lots of women have mothers who nag them about their figures, wonder aloud why their daughters haven’t found a decent fella or tsk disapprovingly about the way they raise their kids.  Not mine.  For the most part, my mother leaves me to my own devices.  Or so I thought.

According to a study by the University of Western Australia, the overt ways mothers try to influence their daughters’ personal lives don’t hold a candle to their more dire biological hand-me-downs.  Scientists studied the DNA of 150 college students and found “the more varied [her] genes…the more boyfriends a woman was likely to have,” the assumption being genetic variation leads to attraction.

The study was cited in an inspiring online article called “Still Single?  Not as Skinny as You’d Like?  Blame Your Mom.”  While few activities are more satisfying than condemning others for your own personal failures, the article is misleading, considering any person’s genetic makeup depends on a mother and a father.  Still, the theory is this: if your dumb mother mates with a man whose genes are too similar to hers, dudes aren’t gonna dig you.  Conversely, if she’s sharp enough to breed with someone from the other side of the genetic fence, well, attach a revolving door to your bedroom.

I’m no scientist, but this theory has lots of holes.  How does having more boyfriends necessarily ensure commitment and marriage?  I know at least five women from my high school who married, and are still married to, the guys who pinned carnations to their dresses at senior prom.  They’ve only had one “boyfriend” during their entire adult lives.  On the other hand, I know tons of women who’ve gone through men like Tiger goes through porn stars, yet still cry themselves to sleep each night because no guy presents a ring.

The study, or more accurately the article based on the study, suggests women with a melting pot for a genetic code should have men beating down their doors with marriage proposals.  But if you believe other stats, most marriages in the US are still made up of people from like backgrounds.  People may wade across the gene pool while dating, but unfortunately, they seem to go back to their side of the tank come settlin’ down time.

And here’s poor Jennifer Aniston again, the go-to girl in any discussion about women relationship-hunting men avoid like the plague.  The article uses her to prove its point that uninteresting genetics doom one to singledom.  But further research shows Aniston’s dad was of Greek heritage and her mother was Scottish and Spanish.  Thus, she should have lots of boyfriends.  And well, hasn’t she?  Why, come to think of it, she’s also had a husband.

Comparing oneself to Jennifer Aniston feels like romantic suicide, but admittedly, there are similarities between us.  I’ve got a genetic mix, too, with African, Italian, Irish, English and German blood coursing through my veins.  I suppose I should thank my mother for her procreative wisdom.  And, like Jen, I’ve had a marriage, and a handful of relationships intermingled with periods of romantic drought.  I’d say that’s par for the course for most people.  In fact, I’d say Jen and I have had fairly robust romantic lives thus far.  Is this because of or in spite of our blend of DNA?

I think universities and magazine writers just want to create controversy, so come up with flimsy facts and build worlds of truths around them.  I mean, I just disproved this DNA theory in seven hundred words.  Where’s my six-figure research stipend?

So many reasons are blamed for the state of our relationships: feminism, genetics, male psychological dysfunction, women in the work place, the advent of birth control, economics, education gaps.  It’s hard to accept we’re having so much trouble making relationships happen.  Love may be about scientific truths and social realities, but it’s also about luck and just following the natural course of life.  Ultimately, we’ve got to accept this, ignore the research and leave poor mom alone.

Read Full Post »

Last fall, I had drinks with Kevin, a sensuous though somewhat slippery restaurateur I briefly dated years back in New York.  We talked about our latest love interests and while I went on ecstatically about my man’s creativity, his devilish wit, the sexy way his lip curled when he smiled, Kevin was a bit ho hum about his new lady friend.   

“She’s pretty,” he said.  “We have similar backgrounds, our working lives are compatible.”  With a casual shrug of his shoulders, he concluded, “she fits.”  

Kevin said nothing about love, intimacy or how his loins stirred when his gal walked into the room.  He only said she fits.  

Before Ms. Fits, Kevin dated an iron-willed wild child who he fought and made up with in deliciously seductive turns.  Kevin’s mild-mannered persona often balked at the sparks of behavior thrown off by this lovely ball of fire.  And unlike Ms. Fits’ quieter life as a caterer, Wild Child’s skyrocketing success as a playwright gave Kevin’s competitive streak a run for its money.  The boy was hooked.  I never quite understood what had happened to make him quit the longest, most invigorating relationship he seemed ever to have had.  All he told me was how it “stopped working,” and how, at present, this new gal “fit.”  

So, of course, I obsessed for the next few hours about “fitting.”  Would I “fit” into my new love’s world?  What piece of my life – job, upbringing, socio-economic status – would I have trouble “fitting” into the grand puzzle of his? 

It’s as if our romantic lives are now run using corporate strategy, like they’re deals being brokered in some company’s Mergers and Acquisitions department.  According to Wikipedia (yeah, I had to look it up), Mergers and Acquisitions is all about the “buying, selling and combining of different companies that can aid, finance, or help a growing company in a given industry grow rapidly without having to create another business entity.”  

Perhaps it’s absurd of me to be using business or math analogies since I still count on my fingers and can barely tell time, but the point is clear:  you’re either an acquirer or a merger.  Either you’re looking for someone who can install themselves into your world without much adjustment on your part, or someone who can push out the edges of your world and make it big enough to fit two gigantic lives into one.   

Kevin’s an acquirer.  He and his gal have checklists of needs that apparently can be met by both parties.  In Ms. Fits, he has acquired a life partner.  Which I guess makes me a merger.  I’ve got my own life story but am jazzed by the possibility of being woven into another person’s story so a whole new tale can unfold.  Acquirers don’t want the hassle of creating a new entity.  But mergers want to discover the new galaxy that will take shape after the big bang blast of two souls colliding.  They have the urge to, uh, merge.   

Surely, if you want to build something with another person, the puzzle pieces of your lives need to fit in some way.  But in the long run, do you stay together because the new entity is made up of the right parts, or because you’re so mad about each other, you make it work?  

Like most folks, I look for evidence to support my own beliefs.  Therefore, when Kevin suggested we go back to his pad for a more intimate reunion, I considered it proof that acquisition is the least effective dating strategy.  If his gal was such a great match, what gaps was he trying to fill by reaching back into history with me?  I politely declined the offer then found out from a mutual friend six months later that Kevin had not only married Ms. Fits, but she was seven months pregnant.  

The first conclusion to draw is that Kevin is an a-hole.  Maybe Ms. Fits was an ideal mate for Kevin because she could nestle nicely into the landscape of his life.  Or maybe fate, and his overeager seed, forced him to make her fit.   

But the second, more important conclusion is that a person has to do more than complement your life to make love last.  A relationship should be so emotionally snug that you feel comfortable, lusty…and able to keep it in your pants.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »