dating and the single man

I don’t know how to act around women anymore.
Or do I?
Come to think of it I’m not sure I ever did. If I really think about it, it seems plausible that my awkward and goofy self just got lucky to find someone to marry me. I’ve always been awkward, a little goofy and insecure with people in general. I guess it worked because regardless of long term success ratio I did date a lot of women before I got hitched and some of them were out of my league in a lot of ways. Despite my perceived shortcomings.

Something changed over the years. At some point in my marriage I found that my reservations about my ability to speak to women diminished a ton. Maybe it was because I could hide behind the cloak of being married, and it needs to be said that I never flirted with the intention of cheating, I just got caught up in what I call “the Dance”. Flirtation is natural, generally harmless if both parties know the rules, and is way more common than any married man or woman wants to admit. Long story short, I became fearless. Not intentionally brazen, just completely uninhibited and I began to speak as freely with women as I did with men. It was liberating, and just a bit too successful. As it turns out, women really are attracted to married men.

I was the king of fidelity despite a very unhappy and physically ungratifying marriage. I really don’t know how many men could survive 10 sexless years (yes, your read that correctly) without seeking a mistress. But I did. It was extraordinarily difficult. To have an attractive wife that you can’t touch is torture. She rejected me entirely but I still had urges. Not just for sex, for intimacy in general. One thing people don’t know about me is that I am a mush, I love hand holding, hugs, kissing…well you get it. It was very difficult for me to be deprived of it. It was a need unfulfilled. When it became clear that my marriage wasn’t going to improve, I set my sights on the orgiastic delights that I could look forward to once eventually and inevitable divorced. With my brazen and unfettered ability to speak confidently and flirtatiously to the superior sex I was bound to meet someone, or many someone’s and get that part of my life back.

Here I am. Divorced and single. I know how to talk to them now. Unfortunately I have developed a new neuroses…second guessing myself after every encounter.

I had a really nice day on the boat with a nice, attractive and age-appropriate woman. We talked for hours. I know that we are very different. She is quiet and very composed. To be fair, she was much more outgoing that day then when I first met her. But she is VERY different from me, which can be a good thing. I ended the day feeling good about things.

Now, two days later and one unreturned text offering to hang out, I am thinking the worst. And I really have no reason to feel insecure. But here I am…

I’m sure she’ll get back to me. It’s just an example of how much I hate my neurotic and insecure side. In every other area of my life I’m confident and bold and I almost never look back at the trail of destruction in my wake. But the period between a first and second get together with a woman that I am interested in? Fucking neurotic city.

Sigh…my grandfather always joked as our family dog chased a car down the street. “What’s he going to do with it when he catches it”?

Be a man!

“you can start by being a man!”

It’s a famous movie scene. Johnny Fontaine is sobbing to the Godfather on the day of his daughter’s wedding. He tearfully exclaims “What am I gonna do?” To which the Godfather loudly and angrily yells, “You can start by being a man!”

Be a man! Every boy and a few grown men have heard it. One problem as I see it is that, historically, few have known what that expression means and it would have benefitted them to ask for clarification. The second problem as I see it is that it no longer matters. All masculinity, toxic or otherwise has become marginalized and now sits firmly in the taboo section.

I fear for the boys coming up today. They are fighting so many forces. A historic lack of nuclear families is leaving many boys without a male influence (yes, boys need a father). A thick grey line in gender roles, and gender itself, is confusing our boys. Most importantly, society is condemning traditional male behavior as toxic, aggressive and dangerous.

In fairness, some traditional “male” behaviors should be condemned. For example, when flirtation, a natural instinct, crosses over into the realm of misogyny then it needs to be controlled. Flirting is perfectly natural and it is part of the mating process of all mammals. Catcalling is not flirting, it is insulting and degrading to women and in today’s day and age should be a thing of the past. However, there was a time when a woman could handle a flirt gone bad with a snazzy retort or to simply ignore it. Women are not helpless and any strong woman can easily shoot down a man who gets (verbally) out of line.

“Boys will be boys” is not just a saying or a luxury. All boys need to be boys before they can become men. Boys need to chase windmills to feed their imagination. Boys need to slay dragons to grow confidence. Boys need to fight to learn how a victory and a beating feel. Boys need to do the flirtation dance with girls to teach them how to treat a woman. Boys need to play games with winners and without participation trophies because winning is a thing and it is just as important that they know what losing feels like. Boys need to be boys, but they aren’t allowed to anymore. Masculinity is not toxic. It’s in the DNA.

This is a complex subject that needs to be treated carefully and with dignity. It is something that, if not addressed, we will be cursed with a future filled with men whose pheromones could easily be mistaken for perfume. We need to acknowledge that it is not a bad thing to “be a man”, that to be a man is impossible if the boy is stifled, and that women will someday crave a “real man” only to find that the species as we know it has gone extinct.

It is imperative that, in order to handle this topic in a fair and balanced manner the reader must understand that this is, at the end of the day, my opinion. I will attempt to differentiate good masculinity from “toxic” masculinity and give examples of what a “good” and “real man” is.

Lord knows someone needs to get to the bottom of this issue while there is still time.

Stay tuned. I hope you enjoy.