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The real dirt on how to catch your man

What do you think a man is – some kind of game animal?

When I was young my mum told me that you had to let men pursue you.  Your role was to act as if you didn’t give much of a stuff, and that would make them pull out a ring, eventually.

Robert Wright says, in his controversial tome Why We Are the Way We Are, that women instinctively know where they are on the Great Ladder of Desirability, and that girls who know they’re hot will hold out, while girls who know they’re not will grab it where they can.  Reading this, I instantly recognised myself as a girl who grabs.  The only men I hold out for are the ones I don’t want, and the ones who don’t want me (this last, obviously, involuntarily).

Moral ANimal

But after fifty-one years of puzzling over the correct way to catch a man, I think finally I’ve come up with a few nuggets of wisdom, and they are these:

  • It doesn’t matter if you sleep with a guy on the first date.  They don’t care.  If they like you they’ll still want to get serious, and if they think you’re a slut, you wouldn’t have wanted them anyway.
  • Every man is different.  You can’t apply the lessons you learn in one broken relationship, to the next one, because each one is its own challenge.  One man might be a rabid cheater, so alright, you decide never to tolerate another flirt – but the next one will inevitably be something else entirely.  Different shit happens.
  • Men are romantic.  They’re more romantic than women – who, let’s face it, are often scarily pragmatic at bottom.  They like buying roses and whispering sweet nothings and the thought that one day you might be seen together in Harvey Norman looking at couches.  Try telling one all you want is his body for the night, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Some men, like some women, get anxious when they have to chase you around.  River God seems to blossom on assurances of everlasting devotion and availability – and he gets very upset when I don’t text him something nice at least twice a day.  It’s hard for a girl that was brought up on ‘whatever you do, don’t show them you like them’.
  • I haven’t met a man yet who really likes the fact that I’ve had sex with lots of guys before him.  I’ve met guys who say they do ‘oh that’s great, that just makes you more experienced and sexy!’.  I’ve met guys who say they don’t care.  But inevitably, it makes them nervous, and then they either get jealous ‘But can you REALLY just give it all up…for me?’ or competitive ‘I too can rack up double figures of meaningless bodily interfaces, if I want, so there!’.
  • There’s no hurry.  You don’t have to ‘catch’ a guy when you’re young.  Lots of guys like women more or less their own age (although I will admit they tend to have a bias to 5 years younger) and I personally know of many romances which have blossomed in the nursing home, so relax, do what you want with your life, and pay no attention to The Princeton Mum (instead, read the Other Princeton Mum).
  • You don’t have to be beautiful.  There are all sorts of men and they like all sorts of women.  Some of them even like me, and I’m not remotely beautiful.  If you are beautiful, it doesn’t really help, anyway.  Men leave beautiful women broken-hearted too – you only have to read Who Weekly to know that.
  • Men are not the Buyers and women are not the Product (or vice-versa).  It’s more like an op shop kind of arrangement – you go in looking for a black jacket and come out with a purple silk shirt, and that’s all good.  Don’t think you have to sell yourself – you’re a person, not a used car, for chrissake!

There are three slogans it’s pretty useful to have up on the wall above your bed, as you embark on your quest for lurve.

One: Be Happy.  Don’t let him interfere with that.  If he’s bringing you down, go watch a funny movie.

Two: Chill.  If you feel yourself getting into a tizzy, take a deep breath and sit on it.  Now is (probably) not the time to have a tanty or make big decisions about make or break.  It will probably look different in a day or two.  If Romeo and Juliet had just chilled…we would never have heard of them.

Three: Everything that is wrong with your guy, is going to be apparent in the first three weeks – if not to your cerebellum, to your gut.  If you’re like me, you’ll probably go ‘oh yeah, whatever, I can deal with that’.  Ok, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

And never EVER darken my doorstep again, you evil bitch!!!

Yes, tis the season for receiving long scorching letters of disgust and disapproval from disappointed suitors…am I the only one who gets these? Am I really the baddest ass in town?

I seem to do romantic disengagement really badly.  For instance, years ago, I told a guy I was dating/sleeping with that I didn’t see it going any further.  We were in bed at the time – not the best choice of venue – and he’d just given me a red rose to symbolise…whatever red roses symbolise.  But WHY, he asked.  Tell me, I really want to know! Well, after a while, I did – I didn’t find his body shape attractive.  He was nice about it.  He got out of bed and went home.  He slid into a state of serious depression which lasted about two years and nearly cost him his job. Nice work, evil bitch.

Then there was the mad guy I dated a couple of years back who was already planning our honeymoon after two meetings, and who got very annoyed indeed about having romantic phone conversations cut short by phrases such as ‘but now I have to go and cook dinner.’  That ended in an email so excoriating I had to put it behind a firewall for several weeks until it was safe to touch, and a threat that if ever he saw me again he couldn’t be responsible for the demonic fury which would then be unleashed.

And now, there is the letter tucked in my bottom drawer at work, of which so far I’ve only dared to read the first two sentences.  I’ve been dating this man for eight months, and so far we’ve held hands, kissed (with our mouths closed), and walked a few blocks clasping each other’s waists awkwardly.  Enter my beautiful river god, and I soon realised that this dalliance would have to end.  But I don’t know what got into me – instead of just sending a Dear John email, I had to accept the guy’s invitation to dinner and a movie, and then – sitting in his loungeroom clutching his specially bought fizzy grape drink – come out with ‘I’m sorry but I’ve met someone’.  The atmosphere turned in a second from cozy to icy.  And no wonder.  In the ensuing silence, I felt impelled to add that things had been going along rather slowly between us, and so, um, and so…Yeah, quite.  Anyway now I am the Hitler of interpersonal relationships, and serve me right.

It hurts.  I normally think of myself as a nice person.  But clearly, on these occasions, something goes badly wrong. I break rules, I behave with ill-considered callousness – to tell the truth, I get hopelessly embarrassed and then my limbic system takes over and woe betide!

Phew!  Clearly, there is a right way and a wrong way.  But what are they?  Come on, I need a crash course!!

When you expect sand..

I’m the kind of person who’s always expecting to get sand kicked in her face.

So what I do is, I hang back from people.  I draw a line around them, at the point where if they do kick sand in my face, I’m too far off for much of it to stick.  Then if they say ‘nyah nyah, got you that time!’, I can pretend I didn’t hear, or they were talking to someone else, or that it doesn’t matter.

There are downsides to this.  The main one being, if anyone happens to come within the magic circle, I get irrationally anxious.  WHEN will they kick the sand?  WHAT if I’m not ready to jump back when they do?  WHAT if they start shouting nyah nyah, and I turn red and cry?  Crossing that line is a scary thing.

Hippy boy and me have run foul of the line several times now.  But I think he’s ok.  I don’t think he will kick sand in my face.  I trust him not to.  I MAKE myself trust, because it’s the only thing to do.  To me, it’s like walking into a lion’s den with my eyes open, because Daniel said it’s alright.  They’re pussycats really.

Does anyone else get this?

It’s not love but…

I’m entranced.  There’s no other word for it.

The swell of those biceps.  That smiling face, half-moon lips, innocent-cunning eyes, that I could look at and into for hours.  And hours.  That lazy-deep voice, with the funny almost-stilted phrasing that I can’t place.  The thick curly hair that I sometimes catch my fingers in by mistake.

There are more cerebral aspects, if you could call them that.  The easy way he shoots the balls down the pockets at pool – pow, bang, snap!  The way he corners the car, as if he was born at the wheel.  The way he sings along to the blues, and stops and blushes when he catches me looking at him.  The funny little things he says, that leave me with no quick answer.  The slow, easy sweetness of him.

And yet, he likes football and cricket, for chrissake.  He thinks black lipstick is sexy (that indefinable look that says ‘roadkill’ like nothing else can!).  He reads two books a year.  This year one of them was mine.  The other was probably on mud bricks.  But hey.

It’s not like I haven’t got choices.  I could choose the man whose intellectual interests match mine like pearls match a twinset, who is kind and emotionally mature, reads more books than I do and writes them too.  That’d be the right thing to do, I guess.  After all, I’m too old for this impulse-shopping shit.  Right?

Oh but this other man, there’s no other word for him but beautiful.  He shines.  I can’t pass that up, not yet.

Screw the six month rule

Read any book on how to develop a lasting relationship and it’ll say, wait till you’ve thoroughly checked him out before you fuck.

Fucking, they say, leads to emotional connection, and you don’t want one of those until you’ve established you are intellectually, spiritually and culturally compatible.  So if you meet a guy you like, give it six months before you do the deed – then you’ll be sure you’re mating with the Right Person.  Right?

WRONG.  I mean, not wrong if you like that sort of thing.  Nothing much is.  But some of us – by which I mean me – like good sex even more than we like good conversation.  So if I meet a guy who presses all the right buttons, conversationally and intellectually speaking, but doesn’t press the one button that counts ‘down there’ as that Shades of Grey chick would say – we will never a great relationship make.

Whereas, if I meet a guy who wows me in bed, and is somewhere between 5 and 10 on the ‘other compatibility’ scale – that is, he may not be utterly brilliant, he may not like to have long conversations about death (my favourite topic), he may not read a hundred books a year, he may not understand the basic rules of Socratic dialogue – but hey, he’s cuddly and delightful – then this is what we call a Real Candidate.

And how do we pick a Real Candidate?  Not from a hundred paces, over coffee, locking gigantic intellects – but from up close, with all our clothes off, in the Scientific Laboratory of Love (otherwise known as bed).

And maybe it doesn’t work out.  Maybe he just pulls too many dumb faces on facebook, or believes in the Great Cosmic Cheese Monster, or likes to listen to Elvis (he does).  But the alternative – two people who like one another very much, stuck in a bedroom together with a micro-penis and a sexual connection that would re-freeze the Antarctic ice-caps – is worse.

When things get complicated….

There once was this woman called Jane

Had her eye on a hippy – called Shane.

They made out, like, twice,

And it was so nice,

She wanted to do it again.

Only thing was, she liked him so much,

It was doing weird things to her brain.

Yeah right, said the voice in her head – you dumb punk,

What the hell makes you think you can pull such a spunk?

When you are some plain looking weird writer chick

And hippie boy’s got such a magnificent, I mean his personality is so fully sick!

Maybe it’s just cause you’re a half decent fuck….

And THEN he invites her to his house – what luck!

But hang on – says brain – does he REALLY want her to come?

Nah probably not, says the brain – which was dumb.

But in its defence, she didn’t have his address,

So she couldn’t have visited Shane – least, unless

He told her.  But he didn’t, which just goes to show

Says her brain – he didn’t really want her to go.

So she stayed home – but then, as the voices died down,

Jane thought, you have stepped in the shit now, you clown.

If you try to explain, you’ll sound like a kook,

There’s nothing you can say to get off this hook!

Your mum always said it was wrong to be rude,

And now you’ve been horribly rude to the dude,

And for what?  Cause you got in a stupid old mood!

Cause he didn’t say ditto when you said he’s sweet,

And he thinks that you’re falling in head over feet,

And you aren’t!  That takes time, but in the meanwhile

You’re a little bit crazy for this guy and his style.

Yeah but hey – this is only some shit in a text!

Sure but Jane is a writer -so she’s easily vexed,

She can sit on a pile of words till she’s hexed!

Anyways, the thing is, what it matters to say,

Is that Jane likes HB and wants him to stay

Around long enough so she knows who he is,

And she doesn’t get into this sort of a tizz,

Which is caused – to be clear – cause she thinks way too much,

And she’s scared, and embarrassed, and lustful, and such

And they all mix around in a horrible stew!

But hey hazel-eyed hippie, I do really dig you!

Author’s note: but not scarily dig. Just like, dig.

 

What does blogging have to do with infatuation?

Not much – but here’s one major link I can’t ignore.

When I’m infatuated, it’s REALLY hard to blog!

He looks like Mr Tumnus out of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I’m still looking for the nubby little horns on his head, in amongst all that curly grey-brown hair.

He cuddles like a dream.  He doesn’t wear any underpants and has six shirts.  He’s a DUDE, with a dude’s voice, deep and sweet.

He’s worried I only like him for his sex appeal.

This roller coaster is hovering at the top of the curve, with a view of Sydney Harbour and a man-scented breeze tickling my cheek.  Up here, the internet seems very small.

If I start to haunt the net-waves on a daily basis, you’ll know I’m either very dedicated (I am), or I’ve swooped face first into the valley of lost love and sicked-up popcorn.

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