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Do you think there’s a tipping point?


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Do you think there’s a tipping point?


I’ll get to what that question means in a second, but first, a little back-story.


I take the long-distance girl back, after two weeks we’ve been apart. She had a bad date, a nervous breakdown, a family crisis, and said to me in an emotional telephone conversation that she loved me and what we had together. Essentially, everything that I needed to hear to come back. So I traveled the four hours to go see her several days later.


Fast-forward fourteen days (two of those spent at a boyfriend-purchased bed and breakfast because the lady had no hot water or comfortable sleeping arrangements at her abode and the sir wished to lavish her), and there’s an email in my inbox that begins “I have done some thinking and I have decided that I don’t want to be your girlfriend, on Facebook or in real life.” It goes on to say, in conflicting excerpts, “I’m too independent,” “I need someone who can be here for me all the time,” and “I’m not ready for a boyfriend.”


After a phone-call yields a voice mail and no reply, I draft a response to her email. In that response, I tell her:


“I want to leave you with one last thought. You ask anyone for their definition of love, and you’ll find a whole new meaning for the word. Your definition makes love a verb, something that you do. I disagree. Love is a somebody.


It’s not the man with a complex about women taking over the world, using it as an excuse to cheat on you. It’s not the man who lavished you with a thousand headscarves for Muhammad. It’s not the jerk who orders your meal for you, when he doesn’t even know if you’re allergic or not. It may not even be the grad student who lets women castrate him and throw him in the dumpster. But love is more than a body to keep you warm at night, something to be upgraded when you have a doubt or change of scenery.


I hope you will understand what I mean before the world has passed you by. Nobody deserves such a lonely fate. For you to suffer in that fashion would break my heart more than your spineless rejection ever could.”


No reply.


I mulled over this catastrophe with one of my good friends, an unabashed pessimist, also loyal, whose objective understanding human behavior proved useful on many occasions. He said he could have slapped me for going back to her. I agreed, asking if he’d do that the next time I do something so rash. Actually, I asked him if he could kidnap me, throw me in a basement, and convince the woman that I was dead, ala Saving Silverman.


We talked about the crux of the relationship- the different expectations. I tried to forge a connection based on mutual compatibility (intellectual, physical and emotional), and she wanted somebody to squeeze. There were expectations of that “squeezee,” (literacy, education, hygiene, body type, what have you) but history indicated that the kind of compatibility I was looking for wasn’t a primary concern for her.


“You see, you’re looking for compatibility,” he said. “Most don’t start looking for that until they are older.”


“I don’t want to be a last-resort, you know?” I said. “I don’t want a woman who says, ‘ok, well, I’m done having fun now. You’re a safe bet, I guess you’ll do.’”


“It’s not like that,” he said to me. “It’s not that they give up. What they want changes.”


Then, in a conversation with my cousin: “Did she have a pretty face?”


“Yeah she had a pretty face,” I said. “She was gorgeous.”


“Then she won’t have a problem finding a boyfriend. If there’s a better option, and there always is, they’ll take it.” He said. “Monogamy is hardly anywhere in nature, and human beings were not meant to be monogamous.”


“But other animals don’t make art, have civilizations, make war,” his roommate chimed in.


“Humans are social creatures,” I agreed. “I think monogamy serves a social function, so then people can be monogamous. It can happen.”


I enjoy reading female bloggers who discuss that sex’s side of dating and relationships. Don’t get me wrong- It’s not a pastime. But when I’m looking for an answer, I go to the source of the question. And so I found this post, juxtaposing the seminal 90s grunge-rock coming of age romantic comedy Reality Bites with today’s dating atmosphere particularly illuminating: “It was remarked recently that you know when you’re a grown up when you no longer find Ethan Hawke’s scruffy, smart-ass character in Reality Bites charming, but see him as the dirty hipster he is.”


(Cant Post URLs - article is on link removed. Search for Irin Carmon's "Reality Bites: In Which The Girl Never Has To Play Dumb")


But I’m kind of confused as to why the author didn’t realize Ryder’s character in the movie has false dilemma. On one hand you have Hawke’s character, who’s too lazy to make anything of himself. On the other you have Stiller, who’s character is either morally irresponsible or without a backbone. Where’s the smartass that actually does something? Those do exist. Nobody is perfect, however, including Ryder, and perhaps this is why the author ignores this option. That’d be too convenient and unrealistic.


That’s beside the point, however. The point is that Ryder must choose, and she doesn’t have an ideal option. She can either end up straddling the motorcycle to nowhere with the hot deadbeat, or the bland provider lacking the “it” factor. And judging by the comments on the post, and the billion related scenarios all over the internet, it seems the consensus is “settle,” meaning play to the inevitable endgame where the female never emotionally commits: either the heart throbs for one, or aches for the other.


Or, take Lori Gottlieb's "Why it’s OK to settle for Mr. Good Enough" (in the Atlantic, but mentioned in a previous, well-traveled post). Wow! Nothing says love like “if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go,” because all successful marriages start with a white flag! I’d really hate to be that shallow woman’s husband. I’d rather be single. Forever.


May I be so bold as to ask what happened to compatibility? And I don’t mean just the kind where the parts match up. Am I just a naive boy going around and around in a teacup at Disneyland, or am I making sense?


So finally (and thank you for being patient), the question: do you think there’s a tipping point? And by that, I don’t is there a point in the dating life cycle of a woman where they ignore the bad boy and go with the safe bet. What I mean, is there a point when a woman looks at compatibility as preferable to other characteristics? Is that really a compromise, or is it that interests shift with life experiences?

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Kind of.


When you are young, you go for the "bad boy". You go for him because you are attracted to him. What about his attracts you? The whimsical irresponsibility. It makes you feel free! Like the world is your oyster! Like the "shakles" of society don't matter! Who needs education?? Who needs a 'traditional' job?? Rebelliousness is fun! Yay! Burn those bras!


So you date those guys. The 'fun' guys. And you have fun! But as time passes you realize... wait a second... those 'rebellious' guys? They go to jail. Those ones that shun school? They end up in dead-end minimum wage jobs. IF they can hold onto a job. Because they have a problem with authority. Then you see your friends. The "suckers" who settled. And they have a house. And a car. And the freedom and money to take off for the weekend to the cottage. And they can go on vacations. And where are you? Stuck. Living paycheque to paycheque. Life isn't "fun" anymore. You are in a prison cell.


Suddenly, the "fun" guys don't seem so "fun" anymore. The guys who used to offer "freedom" now offer nothing. They can't do the things you want. They can't help you get where you want in life (family, kids, house, car, etc.). Who offers the "freedom"? The guys you used to see as the "dull" guys. The ones who went to school. The ones who are responsible. The ones who conform to society. Suddenly, they are really, really hot - and you see the "fun" guys for what they are... not hot at all.


Suddenly you realize that society's "rules" are there for a reason. They are a guideline to a happy life. And you know what? Walking around without a bra on isn't very comfortable...


I don't think it's a compromise. It's changing definitions of "freedom". Maturity is what makes you see that. Some women see it right away. Others have to travel that path to realize it.


I most definitely travelled that path. Got the burnt bras to prove it. LOL!

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Suddenly, the "fun" guys don't seem so "fun" anymore. The guys who used to offer "freedom" now offer nothing. They can't do the things you want. They can't help you get where you want in life (family, kids, house, car, etc.). Who offers the "freedom"? The guys you used to see as the "dull" guys. The ones who went to school. The ones who are responsible. The ones who conform to society. Suddenly, they are really, really hot - and you see the "fun" guys for what they are... not hot at all.


Thanks - that's exactly the kind of response I was hoping for.


The previous scenarios I've read about all seem to indicate the woman, whilst half-committed to her "dull" groom, would have a sweet spot for the "fun" guy. Therefore, the husband would have to suffer knowing he couldn't ever really have her love. But it seems clear, at least from your position, that your view of the latter guy gets soured completely, given enough experience. So it would seem the attraction to the former is genuine.


I don't think it's a compromise. It's changing definitions of "freedom". Maturity is what makes you see that. Some women see it right away. Others have to travel that path to realize it.


Your words provide hope for the male who's concerned that eventually the dating pool will be occupied by women who only desire a male for A. Child B. Sugar Daddy C. Both, as opposed to a relationship founded on compatibility. Nothin' says lovin' like a woman grabbing you by the testicles and saying "What's your count? You'll do."


I know that's a ways off for me, but my past two relationships siphoned the trust from my emotional gas tank (nary mind my checkbook), and I'm afraid of hitching a ride with just anyone.

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I'd rather opt for simplicity: not everybody is supposed to fall in love with everybody else. Otherwise, what would make love rare, and then what would make it special?


Odds are against finding your best match right off the bat, and we're all guilty of trying to cram the wrong match into the right fantasy. Whether you're a man or a woman, it's a huge probability that you're going to find yourself loving someone who doesn't love you back. You can roll with that until you find your match, or you can torture yourself with rationalizations and generalizations in fight against moving forward.

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That's one of the problems with being more mature for your age than what you really are; you're a step ahead of your class, ahead of your peers and you have to give them time to catch up. I've gone through the exact same thing, because I've always favored compatibility over everything else; that's what matters the most.


So here I was at 19 and 20 years old looking for the wifey type; compatibility, someone to spend the rest of my life with, fall in love and by now be married or at least engaged. I played by all the rules. I was the nice, conservative, warm & easy-going gentleman that I was raised to be. So I didn't get a lot of the girls back then, like we just discussed, at 19 and 20 95% of young adults aren't looking for anything serious. So I was a stand-out. I couldn't figure out what I was doing that was so wrong Because I thought I was doing everything right. That's when I found out, what's really right can be wrong and what's wrong can really be right. That was all BS back then, I didn't know what I was doing. I had approached each situation the exact same. To be honest, if I knew then what I know now, I would have definitely got laid a lot more and didn't preserve myself as much as I did. I thought something good would come from it, unfortunately it did not, sadly. Because I got to sit on the sideline and watch everybody else have fun meeting and dating all these different women while I sat on the sideline, shy and hoping to pull just that "one".


I've got older over the last few years. I'm not as shy or as stubborn and stuck in my ways as I was at 19 and 20. I was mature, but naive to believe that I was going to find what I was looking for that young. Not to say that it couldn't have happen, but it's not everyday that it does. The reality is that you're going to go through a lot of bad apples before you find that one. There is no magic trick to it. You might even find yourself in a marriage before you realize that it was no good from the jump as hindsight sometimes plays its part.


As I slowly but surely close the book onto my twenties, approaching 27 this December, I've learned a few things that I think are really helpful to share.

1) Some people just don't get what they want. It doesn't matter how much of a nice guy you are, how intelligent you are or how much you play by the rules. Life's hardship is not discriminatory; we all face the challenge. 2) Even though at times I wish I would've had a lot more fun, the reality is that I can't. I can't because I find myself stuck in the values that I was taught and the lessons that came from them. So I'm naturally conditioned to not be a jerk and don't know any other way treat woman but with respect and expect the same in return. I don't have that care-free spiritless attitude required to be a male * * * * . 3) Some find it when they're young or when they're old, but as long as they find it. That is, whatever it is you're looking for it. Just as long as you find it.

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