"Why he didn’t call you back" / "He’s just not that into you"/ "You lost him at hello" .........
The above are just three titles of a growing genre of “self help” literature aimed squarely (but not fairly) at single women. On the assumption, presumably, that they are hapless lost souls searching in vain in the mysterious world of dating for a bloke to fancy them. The second simplistic and faintly insulting assumption is that these poor gals are constantly missing the boat because they are too befuddled to pick up on the glaring gaffes they are making in the game of attracting “Mr Right” or even “Mr OK for Now” (which one of them seriously suggests is a reasonable option when the pickings are slim).
The latest offering, “Why he didn’t call you back”, is claimed to be a collection of “exit interviews” conducted by a woman researcher with 1,000 men exploring their reasons for failing to follow up after a date or “online flirtation”. She allegedly wheedled from these guys “unabashedly honest and raw answers”, refusing with steely determination to accept any lame excuses such as “there wasn’t any chemistry”. Fairly reasonable explanation I would have thought. Still one must admire the gal. Most attempts to get at the raw unabashed truth when it comes to men are singularly unsuccessful, prone as the delicate chaps are to cut off their right hands rather than deal straightforwardly with anything remotely emotionally confronting.
I have yet to be enlightened as to what specific justifications for summary dismissal these chaps listed, however the none too tactful implication is that every single cotton pickin one of them is the result of subconscious “signals” that us poor silly women are apparently sending unawares. These glaring sins (whatever they are) are apparently as blatant as if we had neon signs plastered to our heads flashing “unworthy” and completely turn off these otherwise almost certainly perfect for us guys. Who would of course, but for these little behavioural quirks of ours, be just hanging out to offer us love, devotion and life long commitment. Stupid stupid us.
Fortunately though, all is not lost, we are about to be regaled by practical advice that will fix these unfortunate problems and send those nasty little off putting signals packing. We are promised a virtual deluge of men slavering to get it on with us if we just buy this book and learn from it.
Apart from the fallacious notion that every time a couple meet and don’t click, it just has to be the woman’s fault, I take issue with the proposition that any half intelligent woman could possibly be consistently behaving so doltishly that she would be incapable of fathoming out why she was turning off desirable men on a regular basis. I can believe this of men, certainly, and from unfortunate personal experience know several who go through their whole lives in blissful ignorance of their basic repugnance to the female race.
The other aspect of this line of “helpful” advice that I object to is that it reinforces women’s already strongly ingrained tendency to take the blame for things that don’t run smoothly in romance, or any other personal relationship for that matter. We as a gender are far too quick to turn the beady eye of criticism onto ourselves when things go wrong and come over all conciliatory and apologetic, thereby letting the other person (usually male) off the hook.
It takes two. If he doesn’t call back after the first date, email, sleepover or whatever, too bad. It wasn’t meant to be. If you have to draft a strategic plan to make him want to see you again, well yes he’s obviously not that into you, but I don’t think you’ve lost much. I'm not recommending that you act like a desperate fool of course and rush headlong into a date with your heart not only on your sleeve but plastered all over your face - we all do better if we play it a bit cool at the start. But, if you have to consciously manipulate someone into liking you or wanting to be with you, or just having the decency to phone you when they said they would, then it seems to me it’s not a great basis for a relationship. At the end of the day, everyone has to drop the games and grow up if it’s going to work, and these sorts of books are pretty light on about how you deal with that eventuality.
But if in the interim women are conned into thinking the promised pearls of wisdom just might change their lives, what are they to do if they don’t? What if they rush out in droves to buy the latest book of revelations, slavishly follow the instructions contained therein to the letter, practice their new found man-magnet behaviour on the next few blokes that hove into view, and then, shock horror, it still doesn’t bloody work? Are they going to go home and lash themselves, slash their wrists, turn lesbian, or what?
Hopefully not. Hopefully they will concentrate on living their lives as well and fully as they can for themselves and if someone comes along and likes them for that, great. If not, well they could just stay home and write about the 1,000 reasons (or more) why a woman might reject a man!
Poem of the week: Fiametta by John Peale Bishop
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