Tuesday, 5 February 2008

'Mr Sex': It's So Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore

So, I’m standing outside a pub in the summer, chuffing fags and getting satisfyingly mashed with two of my best female friends. And there’s a lot to talk about. Both of them have just split up with blokes, one of whom is a good mate of mine. The other is someone I got to know quite well while he was going out with my mate, but I had him pegged as a window-licking twat right from the off - but the point is, I know them both quite well.

And we start to play a game that I’ve just made up on the spot. I ask them questions about their just-finished relationships, and whoever gives the worst answer gets a point. I call it Whose Ex Was A Bigger Bell-End? I’ll need to work on that title before I pitch it to Channel Five, but for now, it’ll do.

After the tentative introductory questions, I decide to go for broke and see how much I can get out of them. What’s the shittiest present he ever bought you? What are the mankiest pants he owns? What does his come face look like? Not only do they answer all my questions, they suggest new ones. Before too long, I learn the following;

  • One of them had the charming Saturday morning habit of eating three bacon and egg sandwiches in bed, before attempting to frig his girlfriend off
  • One of them would routinely look at himself in the mirror whilst receiving a blow job and pout at himself
  • One of them had an oral sex technique comparable to ‘a bulldog with Bell’s Palsy
  • One of them regularly sent phone images to his paramour of his erection and bumhole
  • One of them regularly pleaded with his girlfriend to set up a threesome with her work colleague (who she hated
  • One of them would keep a piss-bucket at the side of the bed, because he couldn’t be bothered to use the toilet downstairs.

It was when one of my lady-friends said, matter-of-factly, “Actually, I feel sorry for him, because his inability to get a proper erection means he’ll probably have a heart attack in his late 30s”, when I thought; hang on a minute. I know these women. They’re not mad, or hysterical, or malicious people. They’re just normal. Like every other woman I know. Including all of my exes. So what the fuck would they be saying about me?

Suffice to say, that first experience of women talking about what they got up to with men was an eye, skull and even chest-opener. I've never heard a man break down a sexual relationship in such detail before, and haven't since.

Now, I try to keep away from the ‘women do this, while men do that’ school of thought as much as possible. But if there’s one instance – the instance – where you can say without doubt that the two genders differ, it’s when we talk about sex and relationships with each other. The good news is that most right-thinking men don’t discuss sex like the cast of On The Buses anymore. The bad news is that we pretty much don’t talk about it at all. Here are a few examples…

After a one-night stand

Chap: Met this girl the other night.
Bloke: Leg-over?
Chap: (raises eyebrow)
Bloke: Nice one. Aren’t Liverpool shit at the moment?
Chap: Yeah. (half-hour conversation about Rafa Benitez)

At the start of a relationship

Chap: You know that girl I met the other night?
Bloke: Yeah.
Chap: I saw her again last night. And I’m seeing her again on Friday.
Bloke: (after at least ten minutes of thinking “Well, that’s him pissing off for six months, then”) Burnout Paradise looks mint, doesn’t it?

At the height of the relationship

Chap: She’s lovely, Bloke. She’s really lovely. You know what I mean? She’s one of those girls who you see, and you think “Aw, you’re really lovely” and then you get to know them and then you think “You know what? You’re really, really lovely”. She’s just…lovely.
Bloke: Yeah.
Chap: Lovely.
Bloke: I’m going to ring for a taxi, now.

When the relationship starts to go wrong

Chap: Blah blah blah…football…work…computers…how many nipples a giraffe has…anything but relationship…

When the relationship is over

Chap: (Pause. For three months. Before it all rushes out, usually in a pub car park, in a torrent of tears and snot)

Personally, I’m no different. I’ll talk about sex and relationships on here until the cows come home, but in public to my mates? I’ll just squeeze everything into a suppressed ball of angst and resentment, thanks. It was an entire month before I told any of my mates about the first serious relationship I ever had, and it wasn’t until six months after I got cheated on before I could even begin to tell them about that. And that kind of behaviour is not uncommon amongst my male friends at all. We’ve been conditioned to keep our cards close to our chest, deal with relationships on our own, and not bore our mates with it. I’ve even been to some of mate’s weddings, seen them up there brushing a tear away, and I’m thinking; “Shitting hell fire…he actually really loves her”

So when Sam talks about this sinister cabal of womanhood, he’s basically pointing out that the difference between female and male relationship interaction and discussion is currently not dissimilar to comparing the Internet with a frayed bit of string attached to a tin can. A lot of men don't seem to talk about new relationships (for fear of jinxing them), we don't talk about relationships we're in (for fear of being boring, or having the piss ripped out of us), and we don't talk about relationships that are dying on their arse or already dead (for fear of admitting that somehow we fucked up).

I'm not advocating that we all sit around banging drums and crying with our shirts off, but surely there's a better way to go about things. And, while I totally agree with a lot of comments on the forums that all the bullshitty barriers between women and men need to be broken down as soon as possible for the benefit of all, there needs to be some serious demolition work on the barriers that men have put up between themselves.


Angela-la-la said...

surely there's a better way to go about things.

*loud, appreciative applause*

Come on, blokes. If you're with it enough to apply moisturiser that calms shaving rash, you can talk to a good mate about things that affect you so much more than your team's place in the league.

If it helps, I absolutely promise that your balls won't fall off in the process.

Lily Lane said...

I wonder whether perhaps all us women who read this blog should keep quiet, or find somewhere else to comment on it. Are we scaring off all the men?
After reading this post I expected a loud, many-comment chorus of blokes going "yeah, I don't tell my mates shit, don't really know why".
The impression given to me (by my paranoid mother) while growing up was that men pretty much only think about sex, so I have been very disappointed to discover in recent years that they barely ever talk about it. It's easily my favourite topic with my girlfriends.
I have shagged a few men though who aren't shy about talking about sex (at least with me - not sure about with their mates), and they all stood out from the others as being the best lays I've had.

Swineshead said...

I find it bizarre that you were getting secrets about one of your mates from his ex... seems a little sinister to me.

For a start, I wouldn't really want to know about the size of a pal's bell end. But the key thing is, I would respect his privacy. I hope it gets back to him that you were having intimate conversations regarding his winky and sexual performance, and I hope he gives you what for.

thegirl said...

"...there needs to be some serious demolition work on the barriers that men have put up between themselves."

Agreed. And given the way men suppress their emotions and find such difficulty expressing their feelings (due mostly, I am sure, to societal conditioning), is it any surprise that suicide is the second most common way for a man between the ages of 15 and 34 to die? There must be some correlation, surely. Very tragic all round: things need to change for the better for men very soon.

Anna said...

Strangely, men seem to have no problems talking to women about relationships. I know this because they come on MSN and talk to me about her.

I understand why men don't like being emotionally vulnerable with each other... at least I think I do... but once they have, it generates a bond stronger than any female friendship I've ever had, and I envy that.

Tony Play said...

I am not sure I agree with this at all. My friends and I find no trouble whatsoever talking to each other about our sex lives/relationships. I am sorry but none of the conversations listed have ever occured between my friends and I. I'll admit that I know guys like that but I hate the myth that ALL guys are like that. I have a big group of both female and male friends and I hold the same conversations with both about my relationships. I think the less peoiple focus on the female/male differences maybe the better we would all get along.

beachgirl said...

Great post.
I think I understand now where Sam was coming from, although I still think it was poorly phrased.
Agree with thegirl: men are socialised not to show emotion, and this repression does directly lead to mental health problems, and even suicide.
So start talking, guys!
tonyplay: "I think the less peoiple focus on the female/male differences maybe the better we would all get along." Right. I think that is what alienated a lot of people about the "sinister cabal" post, that it was very "men do this and women do that".
I entirely agree that we should not make unhelpful generalisations.

Tony Play said...

I guess I just get bored of the old cliches that men can emote, are scared to commit etc etc. Its as bad as saying women dont like sex, or love pink, and there main focus is getting wed and having babies. Its just not true. i think that we have progressed a lot over recent times and the classic macho stereotype is becoming less prevailant. Admittedly there are still guys out there like that, but I think maybe some people are to commited to keep the stereotypes alive even if evidence in front of them proves the contrary

thegirl said...

Tony play, I agree with what you are saying and accept that I was reinforcing a stereotype.

If I may, I'd like to rephrase my earlier comment to incorporate the fact that while not all men have difficulty expressing their feelings, it is, for the most part, not considered acceptable (here in the UK: I am not generalising about anywhere else) for men to show their emotions openly, and certainly not with other men. What they do in private, or with women, may not fit with this accepted stereotype, but to deny that this stereotype exists, is to deny, for the large part, many men's experience - sadly.

This Girl said...

Ok, so i sit and stress, thinking about whether my current man is elsewhere stressing to his friends about our situation, hoping that they will make him see sense (as my friends do) and telling him to give our relationship a chance and stop fucking me around. And now you tell me that men dont have the support that women do?AT ALL?

i knew it was different for blokes, that you wouldnt sit around chatting about deeper relationship issues but i honestly didnt think it was a complete wall of silence.Maybe this is why things are so conflicting in my current relationship?He doesnt tell me in person what he actually wants and i dont say anything because i think he'll think im just being a nag and fuck me off for good!So nothing gets said until were both at home on MSN and it arises that we both actually want to be at the same computer together,but no one said it.

Ironically, is it the internet and the ease of other communication (texts, blogs, facebook, myspace , fax ,email etc ),anything other than actually talking face to face, killing our relationships?

That said dont stop this blog, i do love it , men being so honest.

Tony Play said...

I know I am vering slightly of the topic, but I beleive that we are so often forced media representations of humanity that sometimes we forget to look ourselves. Often the media will "scandalise" sex, and drugs through celebrities, often shocked at there outrageous behaviour when you know for damn sure the reporters themselves are doing it themselves. It seems that we have to be shocked at activities that we know are common place, or have to enforce certain stereotypes
that the media has held but are not now true.
The Girl: following your blog and also the way you were outed is a classic example of this, you were outed as a unique sexual female deviant, whereas to me you are just like most sexually empowered women that I know who enjoy sex and dont make excuses.
As I said before, I still think the stereotypes exist, but I think other attitudes are starting to prevail and should be acknowledged

TheRose said...

Hmm. On a post about men not communicating, currently we have 6 women posting, one man, and one probably-man (sorry, Swineshead. I think you're a man, but no 100% certainty.) Either case proven, or Todger Talk's audience is skewed.

(FWIW, I'm a mostly-straight guy, with an odd nickname.)

I was about to say "hey, I talk about relationships!" when I realised that yes, I do. With my *female* friends (and one male friend). With the rest of my male friends, not so much. And aside from the fact that I know any talk of emotions or relationships makes a couple of them leaving-the-pub-uncomfortable, I'm not sure why.

Still, you have missed out the important "men talking to women about relationships" element. It may be less that we don't talk, and more that we don't talk to other men.

May Contain Notts said...

It has to be said, swineshead, that I'd fallen out with said mate at the time of the conversation, so I was a bit more lax in my mate-defending than I should have been.

(and you should have heard what they said about you. I was appalled)

Anonymous said...

So, you were talking to a couple of women, laughing about what a crap shag your mate is? Yeh, that's brilliant - definitely something to aspire to. If only us men could be more like women, eh?

Trixie Firecracker said...

A strange thing I've noticed is that men will talk about their relationships with platonic female friends...I wonder why.

Innocent Loverboy said...

Are you sure, Trixie?

I've always noticed the reverse; more specifically, girls will talk to boys (who fancy them, but who they consider a platonic friend) about their relationships.

These boys then go home and cry.

Clair said...

Well, that goes to show that both men and women will talk to someone safe and platonic about their love lives. And yes, it is bloody hard if you want to turn around and say 'But I could do it SO much better', but that's life, innit? And girls go home and cry sometimes, too.

Swineshead said...

May Contain Notts - it doesn't matter what they said about me... as therose points out, nobody is certain of my gender as I am a castrated ex-eunuch hermaphrodite with seven love-holes.

Lily Lane said...

I have conversations about relationships with my male friends, but only if I initiate that conversation.