Friday, April 03, 2015

Finding the Positive in the Opposite Sex

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the opposite sex. I had an epiphany that had never occurred to me before: It’s almost always a 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 think men might 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 40 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. Sometimes, even less.
After years and years of being single, I’ve been disappointed over and over again. I’ve lowered my expectations considerably. Oh I still have high hopes, but reality keeps them in check.
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. The once great boyfriends eventually broke my heart. Whether it’s an unrequited crush, cat calls from a man on the street, a bad breakup, most of the experiences I have with men are not positive.
There are a few good guy friends out there. And occasionally I’ve had a decent home teacher or two. (I mention this only for the sake that I know someone will bring it up in the comments section.) But these positive social interactions with the opposite sex are the minority of my experiences, not the majority.
My experiences with my own sex are different. We laugh, joke, share, and commiserate together. For the most part my experiences with my own sex is very positive. (In other words, it’s not me. I do have positive relationships.) These are not the experiences I frequently or regularly have with the opposite sex. The positive experiences I have with men are getting farther and fewer between.
And I worry about that.
I worry that my little heart will build bigger defenses, higher walls, and tougher callouses with every additional negative experience to the point that no one will ever be able to get past them. 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. Or at least that’s what my guy friends tell me. But that’s the problem. I’m jaded and calloused when it comes to men breaking my heart. I expect it now. (Reality over hopes.) But really, the heart under those callouses is soft and tender.
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. Otherwise, my heart may turn into one gigantic callous. And that just sounds gross.
I know I’m not alone. And I know this isn’t all one-sided. Maybe all those tough manly men won’t admit to it, but I think they suffer from the same afflictions.
How can we expect anyone to couple up and fall in love if they never have positive experiences with the opposite sex? How can we even expect them to bother to look at or speak to each other?
Consider this my challenge to you- be kind to the opposite sex. Ask someone on a date. Do something fun and positive with a member of the opposite sex so that they have a reason to believe that there are still “good ones” out there. Surprise someone with a card or a call. Invite someone to go for a walk. Take them a plate of cookies. Give a member of the opposite sex a reason to smile. Just this one time, don’t worry that you will lead them on or give them the wrong idea. Just worry that maybe you haven’t done your part lately to give the opposite sex hope or a smile. Because wouldn’t you like someone to do that for you?

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