Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Dave: Women can be so tactless

I’d like to revisit the age-old classic theme of frienditis.

It seems an unfortunate yet simple state of affairs - and it’s easy to put it down to her plainly not fancying you. To her you lack that spark so often associated with the mystery of a stranger. Then inevitably she gets to know the stranger a little and forms a new friendship thus ready to cast her eye over to the next mystery man. Doesn’t that sound scarily reminiscent of the clichéd roving-eyed male – a brush we’ve been tarnished by ever so unfairly?

I was having a drink with a female friend of mine last night. This woman is magnificent. The aristocratic chime of her voice, her wonderfully positive outlook, her beautiful uplifting smile, and fuck me, what a figure. As per bloody usual, she reveals to me the string of disastrous dates she’d recently embarked upon.

The psychotically besotted guy who texts her eight times a day after one date. The charmless man utterly devoid of charisma and even the most basic conversational skills. The older man, possessive, money-oriented and extraordinarily boorish. The list went on like a particularly sexually-biased episode of Sex And The City (er, apparently). None of the potential suitors held a glimmer of sexual intrigue for her.

What struck me, having heard her distinct dismissal of any attraction be it in terms of physicality, sexuality or personality – two of them she admitted to not even liking, was when she confessed to have slept with all of them. Again, she recounted the disappointment of all the encounters (including an erectile disfunction scenario), as if it came as a shock.

Naturally, once the entertaining tales of failed dates had come to a close, the only thing I could focus on was the fact that people my striking companion neither fancied nor liked were getting to screw her.

And here was I. Chopped Liver. Forever fantasising about the curves of her body pressing tentatively against me. Here was I, offering an interested ear, making her laugh, sharing snippets of intimate information. Ultimately doomed to receive a ‘sweet’ kiss on the cheek at the evening’s end, and to go back to my bed to indulge in brutal self-abandon.

The question is do I mention my desires? Not necessarily in graphic detail. And risk receiving the response already clearly laid out on the table. Or may I be pleasantly surprised? Well, in my experience, any surprise is a rare bird in this all too often predictable world.


justrhysism said...

It is interesting that each time we arrive at the same situation we still question it and consider the risks - and despite knowing what the inevitable outcome is, we strive for that elusive pleasant surprise that we see in movies, because we as humans love to dream and the hope keeps us alive.

Most of us would confront the friend of which we desire more than we experience; be the man and lay it out on the table. However, something I thought of just now... a high-school approach? Talk to a friend of hers? Hey, after so many unsuccessful attempts at the same thing, maybe a new/old approach could be tested...

-- Rhys L, Aust

Jack said...

If it were me, I'd give her a stark and hopefully refreshing honesty. A woman that smart and perceptive understands, on some level, every bloke would love to see her naked.

It's ok to admit that. If she says or wears something that turns you on then go ahead and tell her. It definitely won't get you the girl but by doing this I learnt that it's ok to be a man and to have desires and to be honest to them rather than be the creepy sexually frustrated chump that gets off on listening to his friend's escapades.

I was honest, and I somehow dispelled this pedestal that I put my female friend on. Instead, I found a much stronger and more open friendship and I'm less afraid to let any girl know I'm interested. I still find her attractive, sure, but now this freeing honesty and mutual respect between us is worth far more than any old roll in the hay.

Anonymous said...

I've found that a lot of people assume the girl knows but chooses to dismiss the fact that a male friend might fancy her. Possibly they think she wouldn't want to risk the friendship which can be valued more than another bead on the necklace of failed encounters, however, ever thought she actually doesn't know or doesn't want to assume that having a penis means you must fancy her? Us girlies also dream of the friend who could be so much more and look at the fingers picking at the label on the beer bottle and wonder what they would feel like your skin... If you tell her in a throwaway "Well we're not all like that, but fancying you never got me anywhere..." kind of way she gets to a)laugh it off and it's business as usual, no harm done or b)explore your options! Either way you have expressed yourself and given her the option to be with a great guy.

Ok packing away the soap box lads!

Boy said...

I can't believe she slept with them all?! I clearly have been going on the wrong type of dates in my life!

I generally don't have the listed problem; I am the king of over active flirting. I'm a big flirt anyway, but if I really like someone, then I turn he dial up and make it quite obvious I like them (albeit not in a desperate fashion). It's simple to tell quite quickly if it's reciprocated of if you're fighting a loosing battle.

Bob said...

In my experience, it's better to be honest and speak up. Quite a few years ago now I had a similar friendship with someone I really wanted a lot lot more from, so I spoke up -and got (very nicely) told there was no way.

Pretty much altered the friendship overnight and eventually we drifted apart, but got to say, in the long run I think I was a lot better off. A lot happier knowing then always wondering what if, and happily moved on with my life.

Having said that though, I'm now finding myself thinking about perhaps wanting something more from another friend, and really not sure if I'd want to lose this friendship the same way.

Nottingham's 'Mr Sex' said...

It's easy, Dave. Your next move is to get a decent wig and an Italian accent, call yourself 'Rocco' or somesuch, subtly drop all the information you've already gleaned about her, and then, to quote the great Kel Knight, take her on the ROIDE of her LOIFE.

(keeping your hand on top of your head at all times to keep the wig on, obviously)

Lily Lane said...

1. Wise words indeed from Jack. I frequently wish more of my male friends (who I occasionally suspect want to shag me) would do exactly as you say. I really think you've hit the nail on the head for the best course of action, though something like this has to be done early on in proceedings. If you let your feelings run away with you and you think you're actually in love with your female friend then it's a whole other ballgame with no rules that I know of.

2. How the fuck do you know who Kel Knight is Mr Sex?? They can't seriously be showing Kath n Kim in the UK can they?! It's too Australian! Surely only people who've lived in Australia would get half the jokes? Maybe not but I really didn't think it would appeal to non-Aussies. Well well, the world never ceases to surpise, though I must say it's kind of a nice surprise to imagine my local shopping centre on your foreign TV.

Nottingham's 'Mr Sex' said...

Oh, we're totally down with K&K in the UK, Lily. Kel is the BOY. We can all learn from him and his ways with gourmet meat.

thene said...

In the name of research you should tell this girl you fancy the pants off her and then tell us what happens next. Go on. We'll be here when you get back.

Srsly: this is hazardous because many women really do like having the odd bloke here or there that they can use as a refuge, rather than having to use their social-sexiness skills around them. But if she's doing that against your will, fuck it. You could at least ask her about the seeming paradox - why does she sleep with men she hates being around when she seems to like being around you?

Now, get on with that research. *patpats*

Zuzanna said...

I don't know if it's worth risking your friendship. Because you will for sure if anything goes wrong. I had a similar situation once and there is no coming back to "just friends". And then it will hurt you even more: no sex and no friend either!

Devin said...

Tell her!!!! If she is the kind of person that you want in your life (be it as a friend or more) it wont make one damn bit of difference to your friendship.

I know from personal experience that I have VERY few male friends that I would not or have not shagged, given that the circumstances are right. And, I wish more of them would speak up if they want to.

Nik said...

you could tell her. you never know, she may be into you as well. but she sounds like she doesn't know what she wants yet. i can't help but think she already recognized the unsuitability of all these men before she slept with them. mixing sex with friendship can be hard sometimes, but if you think it's worth it, then go for it.

thene said...

[Just, for god's sake, don't be a Nice Guy. illustrated example here.]


If you want to understand why you got in this situation in the first place, it's because men classify women according to one scale (how shag-worthy they are), while women classify men according to two scales (how shag-worthy they are, and whether they make a good long-term protector/baby-rearer). All your efforts to be kind, friendly, and courteous move you up the second scale, but not the first. This doesn't mean she wants to make babies with you, she just wants you around to care for them (gross simplification of much evolutionary biology, but there you go!)

If you want to become a sexual partner, you need to jump from one scale to another. a) This is almost impossible b) the best way to do it is probably to start shagging someone else. It's called social proof. If other people appear to regard you as sexy, she will subconsciously start to "follow the herd". At the very least, you'll learn that there's plenty of other fish in the sea...

That still leaves you with the dilemma of risking the friendship... sorry, can't help there.

Dandelion said...

I am a female who's been in this similar situation, so I'd just like to add my theory about it from the girl's point of view.

With a man who is a non-sex friend, you can get things like mutual trust, companionship, fun, support and all the rest of it, and you know he's not just doing it to get you into bed, because he knows that's not on the table (fnar fnar).

Given all the techniques and manipulations, dishonesty, deceit and taking advantage that men do to get sex with you, you feel safe with a non-sex man, that you're actually engaging with someone genuine, not a cock-driven thing that's just pretending to like you/be your friend/love you forever until he can get his leg over.

Sooner or later, you decide to call their bluff. If a man claims to like me or want to be my friend, oh so innocently of course, then I'm happy to hold him to it. Which is a shame, because often, the relationship you have on this basis would make a fine basis for a romantic/sexual one. But of course, you don't want to go there, because you don't want to be disillusioned that the friendship was a sham on his part, that your only value to him was for fucking. Perhaps it is vanity on my part, but I'd really like to find a man that valued me, as a person, not as a pussy.

Am I making any sense whatsoever?


Dandelion,you are making sense. There's just one problem. By denying sex to the nice guys, you are punishing them for being nice. Therefore you're creating a situation which makes it necessary for men to be deceitful, dishonest, and manipulative in order to get laid. The bad boys get rewarded for being bad, because of women who don't expect that a man can value them as a brain _and_ a pussy. So, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Does what _I_ am saying make sense to you?

From your last paragraph, it looks like you don't believe men can value women for their brains _as_well_as_ their pussies. Believe me, we can. But your reluctance to risk your friendships is just hurting the very men you say you want.

In the 1990s we men were all told that we had to be sensitive-new-age-guys. But nobody told women that they had to reward the SNAGs for being sensitive and new-agey. It takes two to tango...

Dandelion said...

Hi Stripey, yes it makes some sense to me. But I think it's rather dubious if a woman not having sex with a man is viewed as a punishment. This is the whole problem, to my mind. Because as I see it, me not having sex with a man is simply my default position, and my right. Otherwise, on your view, I'd be obliged to "reward" every man who is not a total wanker, whether I fancied him or not, or else risk being held responsible for "making it necessary" for men to behave badly.

I do feel quite strongly that my body should not be co-opted into someone else's system of reward and punishment like that.
It's like saying the whole point of a woman, as far as a man is concerned, is sex. Pleasant as sex can be, I won't be co-opted into using it as a whole-sale system of manipulation. And I don't buy the notion that the only positive thing men want or get from women is sex.

From where I'm standing, men who lie and manipulate and coerce women into sex are wholly responsible for their own behaviour. Otherwise, that's like saying it's the shop-keeper's fault for "making it necessary" for people to steal from him. It seems as if, on some level, you're taking it as read that men have a right to sex, and if an honest method doesn't work, then obtaining it by deception or coercion is quite ok, and is the woman's own fault. It isn't. A shop-keeper is not a charity, and neither is a woman. It just doesn't work like that. Aside from which, sex is not a commodity, it's a mutual thing.

There really is a third way, which I would love it if we could get to, because then men and women would be getting a lot more and a lot better quality sex, IMHO. And relationships too.

I do believe men can value a woman as a human being, but to offer friendship when they actually want something more feels a teensy bit...wrong. Which is a turn-off for me. And which makes me have to hold them to their offer. I think some of the advice up there is really good.

I also don't buy the notion that not having sex with a man is hurting him. I think that's a rather dangerous belief to endorse.

Anyway, thanks for the fascinating discussion. Loads of food for thought. I think I'm going to have to do a post on this.

butterflywings said...

What dandelion said.
Most women do *not* like arrogant bad boys, and deceit and generally behaving like wankers is frustrating and a turn off.
"Nice" does not have to equal boring and spineless.
We don't want to be put on a pedestal out of "respect".
We just want to be treated as human beings!

Stripeypanther, you sound as if you are saying you should get sex for NOT behaving like a total wanker? Really? Like dandelion said, it is not your entitlement. Not getting sex is not a punishment.

Guys seeming to offer friendship and nothing more *is* confusing and a bit wrong, as dandelion said.
Friendship can develop into something more, which case it is mutual. If you're not getting that she likes you back, chances are she doesn't.
Generally women do like to be seen as a *person*. It can feel a bit like the man does not actually value the friendship in itself but as a means to get the woman into bed, which is crappy.
Not that that is the case every time, but sometimes.

Guys: if you like her, say so. It's honest, and most women can deal with honesty. Most of us in that situation would far rather you spoke up. We are capable of being kind about it. We are. If you really do value her friendship as well as wanting something more, the best chance of not losing it is to say something asap. Of course it can be hard to continue the friendship when one person really wants more, and may not work for that reason...but *no-one owns another person* - it's up to *that person* (the one who wants to be more than friends) to take responsibility for their feelings.

LOSE the "I liike you and I am NICE! Therefore you should like me back and sleep with me or it's not FAIR!" attitude. It sucks.

butterflywings said...

Oh and what thene said. (Love the article you linked to thene, worth a read even if it does sound a bit strong in tone).

Just to repeat, always, always just tell her and before it gets too far.

Without thinking you are entitled to anything.

Of course, as a friend asking her why she slept with those guys you think she did not fancy or like is fine (well, worded sensitively). She may have felt pressured into it by them.
Coming on the heels of the confession that you like her, it is so NOT fine and sounds like a Nice Guy. It sounds like "Whyyyy did you sleep with those bad men and not meeeee?!" So my advice is, ask that question *first*.

Dandelion said...

Yes. What if I rewarded a rapist, because he got sex from me? Am I responsible for encouraging men to use force by rewarding them for it? Or if I say no, am I making it necessary for men to use force?

What do you reckon, Stripey Tiger?

It might be an extreme example, but it's only a short step from if I rewarded a liar or coercer by being tricked into sex with him, isn't it?


Dandelion and Butterflywings, good responses, fascinating stuff, and intellectually stimulating.

I certainly wouldn't condone rape, or any coercive, non-consensual sex at all. There is a distinction between what we consciously decide, as moral beings, is right, and what our emotional urges drive us to do. I think we need to understand those urges, if we are to learn how to deal with them, so that we can ensure that it is our morality that wins out in the end.

Having said that, I think any "bad boy" who gets to sleep with a woman will, in some way, consider that to be a reward, and continue to act accordingly. If nice guys see that they aren't getting sex, while the bad boys are, it doesn't take a huge leap of the subconscious to associate niceness with rejection, and hence to think of this as a type of "punishment". That doesn't mean women should be obliged to sleep with guys who behave nicely, but it should help women to understand the reason nice guys so often feel depressed and helpless. My apologies for not stating this more clearly in my previous post.

But I do think there is some truth to the statement that women make it necessary for men to behave in a certain way. It's quite common in the animal kingdom for males to use some form of courtship ritual or physical display to impress females, and the female chooses which male to allow to mate with her. If females like big antlers, evolution leads males to develop big antlers. The women have the power, and with power comes responsibility.

Now, of course, we are humans, not peacocks or elk or tree frogs... we have an evolutionary inheritance which affects how we behave, but we also have big enough brains that we can decide what we _want_ to do. So the challenge is to find a way to create a system which is morally acceptable, while understanding that for biological reasons men will behave in the manner which makes women choose them. Which means women should choose the men who aren't coercive and deceitful, and reject the ones who are. Often, men perceive the exact opposite happening. Men and women have to share responsibility in this process. I don't think women should be coerced into sleeping with anyone they don't want to, but I also don't think women should be absolved of all responsibility. After all, what we're trying to achieve here should be mutually beneficial to men and women - like Dandelion said, there should be a third way.

Let me reiterate, just to be perfectly clear. There are two levels of argument here. The moral and the biological. Being a realist means understanding that the biological level exists and does affect how men and women behave. We have to deal with it. And at the biological level, many statements which we find morally unacceptable (such as "sex is a commodity") are true. That doesn't make them, or their logical consequences, desirable.

In response to the conundrum above, I reckon that on the biological level, yes refusing to have sex does make the use of force _necessary_ - but that doesn't make the use of force morally right. In an evolutionary sense rape can be a successful survival strategy, but so can infanticide, or genocide. That doesn't make such actions acceptable.

I think we all have the same sense of what's right and wrong here, and that includes no coercive sex, and basic gender equality - nobody being treated like a piece of meat, or a commodity, or anything like that. The juggling act is to find a way to achieve this given the underlying motivations bequeathed to us by several hundred million years of evolutionary history.

Okay, I'd love to say more, but I need to do the groceries. And I'll be offline for about five days. This is a good discussion. I look forward to picking it up again next week. Best to everyone.

Dandelion said...

Hi Stripey. I quite agree on the understanding urges thing. In fact, I love pretty much all you say up there.

The point I was trying to make was that your "men will behave in a way that makes women choose them", isn't quite a fair summation. It would be more accurate to say that "men will behave in a way that they think will get them sex". I say this because a "choice" that is based on the man's false pretences (or in an extreme case, violence) isn't really a choice at all.

The point has been made above that there is a difference between being nice and and being attractive. It is possible to be both though, and this is what the nice guys who aren't getting sex are failing to notice. They are not being "punished" for being nice, they're being "punished" for not being attractive to the woman in question. That's just tough, I'm afraid.

For me, being nice (or tricking me into thinking that they are) is a pre-requisite for sex, but on its own, it's not enough. I'm sorry, but it just isn't. Being attractive, on the other hand, well, that can tempt a woman, can't it, even if the guy is a wanker.

I think there's another way of looking at it you see: Men who are attractive and sexy can afford to behave badly and be wankers. Because they'll still be handsome, won't they? But they're being "rewarded" for their handsomeness, not for their wankerhood. They may shag a lot of women, but that's probably because most of them don't go back for more, and the women that do, do so because they're being manipulated royally. And I just can't get into blaming the woman for the man's dishonesty/exploitation. He's not being "rewarded", he's stealing sex.

And finally, I do just want to say that viewing a woman's choice to have sex as a "reward", even if you do correctly identify the dimension you are being rewarded for, kind of is a bit male-centric. Men are "allowed" to have sex for their own pleasure, right? Without being made responsible for the behaviour of the woman they are "rewarding", right? So why is it wrong for me to do that?

I just really think it works both ways, and I'm not saying that you don't, but I do think both genders need to be looking at things from both sides. What's sauce for the goose and all that.