Monday, September 01, 2014

The Opposite Sex

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my feelings and experiences with the opposite sex. I had an epiphany that has never remotely occurred to me before.
It’s disappointment with the opposite sex.
First, let me start out by making this one thing clear. This post is not a “down with men” or “down with love” sort of diatribe. Far from it. I am a woman writing about her feelings and experiences with the opposite sex. This could just as easily be written from a man’s point of view. At least, I wonder if men feel this way too. I’m not sure. And that’s why I’m putting this out there to spark some thoughts and conversations on the subject.
After twenty-plus years of dating, I’ve become jaded of sorts. My expectations have been lowered significantly on the romance front. The twenty year old version of me dreamed of the day her crush would ask her out and bring a dozen roses to her on the doorstep. The 39 year old version of me has never had a man bring her roses on a date, and is impressed when a guy actually offers to pick her up, and doesn’t suggest she take public transit to meet him somewhere. Actually, the older version of me is just impressed when a man asks her out. That’s about all it takes to impress her now.
After years and years of being single, I’ve been disappointed over and over again. I no longer expect much. Oh I still have high hopes, but they are kept in check with a heavy dose of reality.
Nearly all of my experiences with the opposite sex have had negative returns. Even the good guys have left a bad impression at some point in time. Whether it’s an unrequited crush, cat calls from a man on the street, a bad breakup, or the guy at church yesterday who said to me, “why would anyone ever want your opinion?” most of the experiences I have with men are not positive.
My experiences with my own sex are different. We laugh, joke, share, and commiserate together. These are not experiences I have with the opposite sex. The positive experiences I have with men are getting far and few between.
And I worry about that.
I worry that my heart will build bigger defenses, higher walls, and tougher callouses when it comes to the opposite sex. You have to have a “strong center,” or “be mentally strong,” “have thick skin,” etc., when it comes to attempting to befriend the opposite sex.

In the long run, can all of these negative experiences be good? We need the positive experiences. We need to seek them out and find them. We need to start to like them again, and not just associate them with bad experiences. 

4 comments:

  1. I agree that it is really easy to become jaded, even while I know that the expectations I had when I was younger were not realistic (i.e. not every guy is a flowers-and-gifts guy, and that has nothing to do with the depth of his character). One thing that has kept me from despair about men in general is being true friends with some good guys who were just not for me (too young, too perfectionistic, whatever), and seeing that they are also doing the best they can. I am a few weeks into dating a guy who meets criteria I didn't even know were meetable (i.e. he has worked in the very country in Africa where I grew up), and while he is a really great guy who communicates and tells me how great I am and talks openly about his desire for marriage and kids, he still didn't pick me up on the first date! I told him later that I was hoping he would, and he said that he used to always offer but women never wanted him to pick them up, so he stopped asking. I think that comes from internet dating - I never let an internet date pick me up for the first date, and I used to say no when they offered to pick me up for second dates, too. One thing I have learned: let the guy pick you up when he asks, as long as it's not for the first internet date and he is not scary. Now my guy usually picks me up, although we also meet on his side of town sometimes. All of this to say: I think the fairytale isn't realistic, but a guy who is really interested and available will be willing to talk about what you need and what he needs.

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  2. Anonymous8:12 PM

    you are right this could have been penned by a man. You are also correct concerning the need not the desire but the need for positive experiences. Finely you should be concerned as the negative outweighs the positive and what it does to you.

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  3. Perhaps the problem is we expect more from the men in the church and are bitterly disappointed when they not only treat us like the guy making that idiotic remark to you but also get away with it. No wonder our lds sisters are crying out for a little bit more equality and respect. I hope you slapped him in the face. What a jerk.

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  4. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Reading this post reflected my own feelings, but from the viewpoint of a mom with three daughters. I don't think there are any men out there anymore who not only strive for virtue (courage, integrity, wisdom, loyalty, kindness, etc...) but who even know that they should be striving to live virtuous lives (and here I mean more than no drinking/smoking). It makes me extremely sad for my daughters.

    I wonder if while growing up men were reading old books, such as those by Homer or Dante, they would understand what men used to be and what men used to strive to be. Spending a good portion of your youth playing video games, as most young men now do, doesn't really help with character formation.

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