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).
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.