Friday, April 28, 2006

Men and Women?

I happened upon this quote from Katharine Hepburn: "Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then." I feel like that sometimes. I understand women better than I do men, although a male friend of mine claims that understanding men is easy: they always and only say what they mean, and there are no secret agendas or hidden meanings. (Up for debate in my humble opinion, especially since said friend admitted that he often "tricks" women into "stealth dating" him by proclaiming interest in a professional collaboration, and then transitioning that into a romantic relationship.) But as much as I enjoy the company of women, I also enjoy being a woman in the company of men. There's something energizing about being surrounded by men, especially those who are just drunk enough to be uncensored but not dangerous--it's like an all-access pass into an entirely new way of thinking and speaking, like a vacation from the mundane. Of course, always being in the company of men and being able to hold one's own--whether the discussion is politics, philosophy, dating or pop culture--can sometimes transform a woman into just one of the guys, privy to locker room talk and lowering blinds that prevent her from being seen as a woman. She becomes an audience, or a brain, or a sharp wit--good because she ceases to be the enemy and may even achieve the status of a conversational equal. But maybe there are things that men say to men that they shouldn't say to women. What do you think? (More substantive posts to come next week, hopefully...)


Anonymous said...

Hi Esther. Although I think it's an interesting topic ... and I can certainly understand the need to discuss it ... I believe this is another one of those topics that is going to promote generalizations ... something that IMHO is not healthy to do.

I believe that when a man and a woman who are right for one another get together, they should be able to live together and talk on the same level about many ... if not most things. It certainly shouldn't be necessary to live "next door" to one another and just visit. I don't doubt that there are many more examples of when this doesn't occur in relationships than when it does. That says something about the "emotional health" of one/both of the people involved ... of about the emotional health of the relationship.

Perhaps I'm being too much of an idealist.

Have a nice weekend!

Blogger S.

Treifalicious said...

I think there's a large extent to which you are right. It's called "mystery" or "mystique". Ask your grandmother about it.

VJ said...

Ah another untouched post. Well how special! I got a chuckle out of that bit on men. That "they always and only say what they mean, and there are no secret agendas or hidden meanings"?! Is that the proposition up for for consideration here? Um yeah. Against that bit of hookum I present: The Bush administration. No wait! American Politics since the dawn of time. And like ALL of history. Ever since recorded history, there's been double dealing and political & personal intrigues of every nasty sort. I'll see and raise any objection with the plays of Shakespeare for a start. We can even finish with Tennessee Williams if you like. I immediately thought of the Morrison's book 'Powers of ten' here, the contradictions were that great.

It's simply the kind of facile, farcial & nonsensical assertion that one can only make when deep in one's cups. And of course this is proved out by your friend contradicting himself soon(?) afterwards.

But it sounds like you had a fun time, and at least you were entertaining & entertained by your companions. What more can you hope for on most nights out? Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

VJ said...

Upon further reflection The Great Kate may have had something here: "Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then." This can be borne out by a survey of long marrieds. Most of them live apart in one way or another. It's the distance in either time or space that keeps things even & 'fresh'. I notice this in all my long married friends. They either have young kids at home, (and hence need the extra hands), or they really have separate haunts. It's really a natural way to stay together for long lengths of time I suspect. Just a thought. Cheers, 'VJ'

Chutzpah said...

I have tried the "stealth dating" technique on many virtual contacts and it has never once landed me an actual date.

Examples of what a dude can say to a dude but should never say to women, even if they are in the friends zone would be:
1) Jeez, when was the last time you worked out? Get your beer belly to the gym.
2) You got more hair in your sink than on your head.
3) You reak bro...forget to shower?
4) Check out the tits on that chick...
5) Man, I need to get laid.

Shall I go on or does everyone get the point?

T.A.B. said...

A follow-up question to the situation regarding stealth dating: Do you think he prefers using this method to date women? In other words, is he doing it because that's the type of dating he prefers or in reaction to the behaviors of the females he pursues?

Esther Kustanowitz said...

I think he stealth dates to protect himself, to explore what dating her might be like in terms of conversation, and to ingratiate himself with the female in question, on the theory that "if she gets to know me, she'll love me." Which I understand, in theory.

drumbumJ said...

fabulous topic, esther. this has been perplexing forever. VJ already said this but i'm gonna pipe up here too on that commment about guys saying what they mean. what a load of horses**t. sometimes i think guys play more mindgames than women.

what i've noticed is that the foundation for anything a guy says, is self-protection (i am SO gonna get flamed for this). for example: when a guy says he just wants to be friends, that's a similar tactic to the stealth-dating thing. check out the rapport with this girl, see what she's like and if you're digging her, move on to step B. if you don't dig her, you're safe (don't need to go through the unpleasant task of dumping her etc.) b/c you were never anything more than friends, right? (btw - i'm not this smart. on older and wiser friend explained this all to me when i was in the midst of utter confusion in a relationship.)

and VJ's observation about long-marrieds and their distance is fascinating. the longer i'm married (almost 10 years), the longer i feel a need to have my own space/identity... i need to ponder that point a bit...

Simcha said...

It's been written (perhaps in the Talmud, if not maybe it should be:

"Men have 2 emotions: horny and hungry. If he doesn't have an erection, make him a sandwich".

Even I will admit that this is an oversimplification.

It does seem though that men's talk is geared around problem solving, life's 2 most pressing problems being obtaining food and sex. Or at least getting psyched up to solve problems.

Women on the other hand seem to talk because they have a hard time breathing in and out without having the air vibrate their vocal cords. Hence they constantly voice things that a man would be content to think.

Example: Woman: "Do you think I'm right? Or is she right? She could be right, or maybe I'm wrong and we're both right? Or I'm right and we're both wrong? Do you think I should apologize? Should she? Huh? What do you think?"

Man: Let's eat, we'll discuss this later. (When later comes, he romantically kisses her good night and says "Can we discuss this in the morning?".

Here's what a man should never ask a woman.
1. "Heard any good jokes?". Woman don't tell jokes. Female humor is often "She wore WHAT? She said WHAT? Hee hee."
2. Been getting any lately?
3. How about them Mets?
4. How's work on restoring the '57 Chevy going?
5. How's real estate prices in your neighborhood?

Stick to reality TV, shoes, overpriced gourmet food, and she's right, her mother really doesn't understand her. Now you know why I'm single. Simcha

Anonymous said...

Gosh Esther- I too am a female who has always meshed with men easier than women. However, despite what those guys might think about our "platonic" friendships, I have never experienced a situation where hanging with those guys -particularly the one I may be interested in- forgot that I am a woman. Here are the 2 secrets: 1-Look at him. Hard. 2-YOU don't forget that you are a woman. That's pretty much it. Good Luck. :-)

Anonymous said...

I once had a supervisor, a divorced clinical social worker, who said that a man is always wondering if the woman he's with will sleep with him. Every woman. Always. Once he's determined that she won't, only then can he be friends with her. But up until that point, he'll be pursuing her sexually, whether it be via overt flirting or "stealth dating" (hey, didn't I invent that term?).

I've written about the differences in how males and females communicate here.

Dr. Janice

Simcha said...

who said that a man is always wondering if the woman he's with will sleep with him...Dr. Janice
I always wonder if they'll cook me a delicious hot meal. THEN if they'll sleep with me. Simcha

Anonymous said...

Dr. Janice missed step one. Men do usually look at every woman as someone who he may want to sleep with. If he is not attracted and wouldnt want to sleep with her, then it can move to friendship level. If he does want to sleep with her, but he realizes she doesnt want him, then he moves on period. No friends. Nothing.

In any event, as to open communication. Turst me on this one. Women do not - DO NOT - want to hear what some guys talk about when no woman are present. You know how there is that unwritten rule that men dont talk about certain things around women (e.g. weight, looks etc). That doesnt apply if women arent around. If some women kew what their boyfriends/husbands said about them when they were not around, they would file for divorce pronto.

Also, Esther, one surefire way to never get a date, is to become the girl who hangs out with all the guys and becomes one of the guys. Unless you are way hot, its shooting yourelf in the foot.

drumbumJ said...

anonymous ^: word (on that last point). but are you sure about "if he isn't attracted to her, then they move onto friendship" ? cuz i've been told that there's "nothing" onyl when he's not interested...

Esther Kustanowitz said...

I guess my only solution is to become "way hot" instead of my current state of "moderately" hot.

Men do usually look at every woman as someone who he may want to sleep with.

OK, that's totally scary.

If he is not attracted and wouldnt want to sleep with her, then it can move to friendship level.

For him. Unless the feeling is utterly mutual, she might just hang in there, on the theory that if he gets to know her, he'll become attracted. I know that men are different, but I have to assume that some men do this, too. (Example, my stealth dater friend, who claims to have stealth dated his way into several long-term relationships.)

If he does want to sleep with her, but he realizes she doesnt want him, then he moves on period. No friends. Nothing.

Unless he hangs in there, per above. Because hope, springing eternal, is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Let me clarify dear ladies. If a man is not attracted, he may be cool with being friends with a women. However, if a guy is attracted he may put on a face of friendship at first, but only until he wins you over or accepts the fact that he never will (a very hard thing to do, but you got to be honest and real and face the facts). Once the guy accepts that he cannot have the woman, he will not remain friends with the woman. Simple.

(Im sure its the same way with women, but women hold on in hope much longer and have a harder time facing reality when a guy isnt interested).

Now, from the above, the problem is that if a guy is assuming a friendship role you may not know what his intentions are - is he not attracted and wants to be only friends? Or is he inching in, unsure of the woman's feelings, and take the strategy of starting as a friend, hoping to move it forward when he learns what are the woman's feelings?

What you ladies must do in such unsure times is to make a friggin' move. Send out some major signals that you are interested and see what he does. Such signals include asking him out on a date (wow, so bold!), some subtle (and not so subtle) touches and looks. If he bolts, he is not unto you (or he is so desprately screwed up intimacy-wise that he isnt worth it). If he is into you, and somewhat healthy, he will respond and be happy you made the move...

Simple. Enjoy.

VJ said...

I was thinking here of the possible return of the discrete use of Blow guns with drug laced tips. And then applications of duct tape, and plenty of it. The object being catch and release ladies. If they come back for more, you're an official 'item'. It's still cheaper than Jdate on an ongoing basis. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Janice missed step one. Men do usually look at every woman as someone who he may want to sleep with. If he is not attracted and wouldnt want to sleep with her, then it can move to friendship level."

You sure that women don't follow the same process with men?

"If he does want to sleep with her, but he realizes she doesnt want him, then he moves on period. No friends. Nothing."

A generalization that is much easier to say than to prove. I don't deny that this may be your personal experience. But this is just not always the case. I've had several female friends in my life. Some I was attracted to (and nothing ever developed but we became good friends) and some I wasn't.

It's too easy to get caught up in generalizations, stereotyping, and bias in dating. And I understand the tendency cause I tend to do it myself. But dating is a numbers game ... a war where one must come out of each experience (sometimes bloodied or injured) and jump right back in until the battle is won. Generalizations won't help you jump back in ... only to discourage you from doing so.

Blogger S.

Anonymous said...

Blogger S. - Remaining friends when you have feelings for the person is a very difficult thing to do. You and some others may have been able to do it. But then again, there are masochists in this world. You may be one.

Most people I know - both men and women - permit the friendship to dissolve when both accept that one is interested and the other isnt. It happens intentionally or sometimes unintentionally (e.g. when one starts dating someone else).

Hate to say it, but I kind of have both pity and disdain for those who cant accept that the friend they are in love with is just not into them. Life is too short.

Anonymous said...

very much enjoying the topic - have a related problem - i am in love with (or have big crush on - not sure which) my flatmate...he has no romantic feelings for me at all...we were friends before we moved in together...thought i would he the happiest person ever living with him but its turned out to be the opposite - now i have to listen to how he goes on and on about other girls -how much he likes this one and that one blah blah blah...drives me mad - before we moved in as flatmates i tried my luck a few times i.e. flirted like mad but no luck...i just need to get over him but its so hard cause i have to see him everyday - and there is nothing i can do to make him like me -i have to stop myself being too nice - want to do nice things for him like cook dinners, buy presents, etc etc - have been advised to move out but other then that im happy there and dont want to - i am such an idiot!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting predicament. I've never developed a crush on someone with whom I was already friends. I've always started the 'friendship' with the attraction, hoping to move it forward. (Stupidly!) The way Ive gotten over the crushes is to focus on the person's negative qualities. In most relationships, we often tend to overlook the negative in the beginning, as we are so wrapped up in the chemically-instigated giddyness of it all. After time, when the "honeymoon phase" ends, we notice how awful or abusive or whatever they are and we move on.

Unfortunately, when you are only a friend and you are not intimately involved, you dont get a first-hand peak at their negative qualities. You get stuck on their wonderfulness and that "honeymoon" giddyness never has a chance to leave.

What you must do to get over him is to try to focus on the guy's negative qualities. I know you may think "but he is so great and perfect". But he isn't. Noone is. He is not the perfect guy, and he is not the perfect one for you. Focus in on those point if you can, and you'll realize that he in reality is not for you, and you will be able to move on.

Indeed, I will give you a head start. The guy knows you are interested - you have flirted and made your feelings known. Nevertheless, he is insensitive enough to constantly taunt you with the other women in his life. A good guy wouldn't do that.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

he guy knows you are interested - you have flirted and made your feelings known. Nevertheless, he is insensitive enough to constantly taunt you with the other women in his life. A good guy wouldn't do that.

Unless he's so unsure of how to handle things that he thinks, "gee, if I tell her about all these other women, she'll really 'get it' that I'm not into her," in which case he's insensitive and maybe a bit deluded, but not necessarily a bad guy. Could be a good guy who makes bad decisions when it comes to emotionally relating to women. He wouldn't be the first.

Anonymous said...

I agree - talking about other women may not make him a bad guy. Just minimally empathic and somewhat insensitive. Wouldnt be the first guy...

But I agree, with other anon. The man isn't perfect. Focus on his failings, and you'll be able to lose the interest.

Though, off the topic - isn't moving in with a platonic roommate of the opposite sex (or same if you are gay) a risk...?

drumbumJ said...

i was wondering the same thing...

Cheetarah1980 said...

I believe I saw you at a reading at JCC on March 30. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. I liked your reading then, and I like this post now. I often tell my female friends that they would be perfect for me if they were male. But then again, I don't think I'd want to date a man who borrowed my shoes.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Cheetah, that was indeed me. Thanks for visiting. And I'm with you on the shoes.

Ricardo said...

Hi came across you blog through the Jewish bloggers ring, love it. I've never tried "stealth dating" but it seems like a defense mechanism to me. And I can't entirely blame him given my experiences as a singly guy. I enjoy having the company of women when out because it's a new look on things. And I have gone out with groups of them and have heard many things they would have never said to me one on one. The only thing I dislike about that is that is they have issues with men they turn and attack me. The end result is me being more cynical when out with the guys looking for women to meet.

ptwelve said...

Dr. Janice,
Your link says:
I frequently see this dynamic played out when singles are dating. Women will complain that men talk on and on, and they hesitate to interrupt their date's soliloquies.

I completely take issue with this. Few men are fluid talkers. One big problem I have on dates is that these guys don't talk (though I would add that maybe this is because we have nothing to say to each other).

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Welcome to cheetarah and Ricardo and whoever else is new...please come back for more soon.

As someone who routinely finds herself infatuated with men who like her but "not in that way," it's somewhat comforting that there doesn't seem to be one way to handle it, and that others are as mystified by the inequities of attraction as I am.

VJ said...

On that last bit E. I always thought that an open field tackle was worth a try, but only for women. It's a pleasant satisfying crunch, and they're almost always caught completely unawares. But it makes a definite impact! Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'