h2>Dating : The Man Blog: Part I
This is part one of a three-part series where I interviewed men to really try and understand the inner-workings of their minds in regards to dating, devotion, and dick pics.
I never intended to write about dating. I started blogging because I wanted to have concrete documentation that I did, in fact, live for an undefined amount of time in an Airstream. Not for anyone else’s approval. Just as a simple reminder to myself that, even on my hardest days — especially on my hardest days — that this choice had purpose. That I was growing.
When I made the decision to embark into the unknown in a 23’ trailer, I had been single for over a year. This status was preceded by a two-year toxic marriage and a one-year stint with a high school sweetheart that ended up being anything but sweet (hello, restraining order).
If you’ve been following me for a bit, you know that I just celebrated my first anniversary as a full-time Airstreamer. And in the process of wandering down both of these roads — the literal Interstate system and the metaphorical madness that is trying to find a mate — I learned that the journeys were not so different from one another.
Lots of routes to choose from. Campgrounds to investigate. Cities to explore. And, of course, the constant lingering fear of running out of fuel.
Tell me you can’t relate as a single person. I’ll wait.
I laughed alongside most of my friends as we deemed my adventures “Bumbling Across America” and we crossed our fingers that Breckenridge would be better than Denver would be better than Boise would be better than Houston would be better than Newport Beach (and the list goes on).
Hot tip. It didn’t get better. It doesn’t get better.
The more places I traveled and the more people I talked to and the more experiences I had in this seemingly doomed world that we just happen to still call dating — which I really think is dead — the more I realized that no person or place or personality has it better than anyone or any place else.
When finally confronted by this epiphany, I felt compelled to flesh out my experiences via my keyboard. And what started as something for me to feel sane turned into — I think — a space for all of us to feel a little bit less alone.
Oh. My. Gawd. He had sex with you and then told you he “wasn’t ready for a title” only to post his relationship status on Facebook (with another girl) three weeks later, too?!
Same, girl, same.
But as I pinned my words to the Internet, I was awakened to the revolutionary idea that maybe this metaphorical dating journey wasn’t reserved for only females. Maybe, just maybe, I was (or am) existing inside a human experience that is blind to gender.
And at this point in the story, I must applaud all of the men who have slid (and continue to slide) into my DMs, not to solicit sex, but rather to resonate with — what I have learned — is actually a very non-biased pathway to finding partnership.
Are some looking for sex? Only sex? Sure. And by “some,” I do mean both men and women. But I’ve compiled enough anecdotal evidence to argue that there are a lot of us who are searching for something of real substance. Sex with a best friend.
And I don’t mean that ignorant “let’s be friends” line we often use because we’re scared to tell someone we’re not romantically interested in said significant other. I mean being head over heels physically infatuated with the same person with whom you want to cook homemade pizzas together on a Friday night while getting buzzed off a cheap bottle of wine and talking about the possibility of aliens living on other planets. I mean feeling surrounded by safety in this person’s presence. I mean the partner who could effortlessly go grocery shopping for you. The person you’d trust with the password to your locked iPhone screen. I mean morning sex on Sundays followed by cartoons and scrambled eggs before you haphazardly make your way to the chairlift line or trailhead or gym.
I mean intimacy in its most raw form.
We’re here for it. So many of us are here for it. And, yet, I find myself perplexed by our inability to foster romantic relationships that would organically allow for such a connection to come to fruition.
Ashamedly, I wanted to blame men for the downfall of dating. Because, as a woman, blaming men is easy.
It took a certain level of self-awareness to conceptualize that a lot of men were probably, in turn, placing all the blame on women, and it took even more introspection to come to terms with the fact that blaming wasn’t helping anybody. In fact, the blame was (and is) pushing us even deeper into our own paralysis, which I analyzed as a precursor to this blog here.
So, my solution was to explore the other side. To cross the imaginary road. To ask men the questions that seem to be plaguing so many women’s minds.
Are men honest in the beginning? Ever? What does it mean when he says, “I’m not ready?” Why dick pics? What are some specific male pet peeves? Do men still have hope for finding a significant other? Do they even want one?
I made a point to cover all ages from 24 to 37 and everything in between. In case you’re wondering, age meant nothing in my analysis. Younger men are equally as exasperated as their older counterparts. And as a woman who has dated every benchmark in this age bracket, I’m here to tell you that a man’s birthday means nothing when it comes to maturity.
I reached out to mostly single men — some newly single, others who had been single for quite some time, some divorced, and others who had been single for a large portion of their lives but now existed inside of monogamous relationships.
My favorite response: “I’m single and ready to eat Pringles.”
Same, boy, same.
I spanned different races across all different kinds of geographies. Kentucky. Texas. Colorado. California. And after a few weeks of consistent pestering, I finished with eleven pages of notes (Helvetica font, size 12, single-spaced).
If I’m being honest, I was completely overwhelmed by their transparency. I actually had a few guys ask me to remain anonymous in their responses, which (1) forced me to really consider the current state of societal affairs as it relates to men feeling respected or safe for speaking their truths and (2) encouraged me to reevaluate my initial strategy and humbly challenged me to decide to not attach any specific identities to these answers (as you can imagine, many of them shared similar sentiments anyway).
I was also completely overwhelmed by just the sheer volume of content in my inbox. Their thoughtfulness was nothing short of inspiring. And I spent nearly a week pondering how I would logically organize their answers (stay in school, kids).
I ultimately decided to structure it by topic, meandering through the various stages of dating and highlighting my favorite quotes in the process. About three-quarters of the way through some of my most challenging writing to date — and I have two master’s degrees, people — I realized that the depth of what I end up discussing is quite aggressive for a single sitting. So, thanks to the help of my editor (played by one of my best friends) and my squad (via the Instagram airwaves), I decided to break — what would have been a rather heavy blog — into three decently sized doses.
Without further ado, I present to you part one of the male mind (as perceived by my feminine brain). Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
On what they want from a partner
It’s not a thin waistline, ladies. Not even close. Is physical attraction important? Of course. But these men are far more interested in our intellect.
Disclaimer. I did have a guy ask me once if I’d consider a boob job in “our” future, in which I — without hesitation — responded no. Needless to say, that was the beginning of the end of our budding relationship.
These men, the ones I interviewed — and maybe I only got responses from the good ones — failed to comment on a single physical feature. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all in agreement here that an initial level of attraction is necessary to pique interest, but when it comes down to the qualities that men are looking for in an exclusive sidekick, double D’s didn’t top the list. Either did fake bee sting lips.
What do they want? A partner with whom to share similar passions, but enough differences that will allow for both them and their partners to grow. The men who were deeply ingrained in fitness and health made a point to mention that they needed a partner who could and would share a similar lifestyle. But the same held true for artists or outdoorsmen. It was very important that the descriptive nominative they used to define themselves was reciprocated by a romantic counterpart.
Most of them mentioned wanting a woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Open-mindedness. A witty sense of humor. Self-awareness. The understanding that a perfect relationship does not exist. Someone who has the capacity to carry a conversation. And someone who is kind.
At the top of the list was confidence. A woman who believes in herself and has goals to achieve:
“I’m looking for a passion and a drive in my significant other that matches mine. I get up at the literal crack of dawn to chase after my dreams. My significant other has to have that same kind of desire. I’m not asking her to get up at 4:00am with me, but she has to be willing to do what it takes to meet her goals and make her dreams a reality.”
Yeah, don’t worry, just over here wondering why I’m still single.
HELLO. AM I NOT FUNNY AND DRIVEN?!
I’m not screaming. You’re screaming. Because, of course, it takes more than a series of checkmarks to find love. And if I can shed some light on what men want and where women feel apathetic to those wants, it is that we (as in women) hear a lot of men say they want a confident partner, but we also see a lot of men abort romance because they are intimidated by females who make more money, females who have bigger job titles, females who have stronger voices.
Disclaimer two. I’m allowed to say all these things because I’ve definitely been dumped for having my shit more together — his words, not mine.
Personal note. I don’t have my shit together. No one has his or her shit together. It’s my belief that we choose partners to help us wade through the lifetime of shit. To place stipulations on finding a person for the sake of readiness — there will be more from the males on this topic in part two — is simply unrealistic.
Also, men, your ego cares way more about your status than most women ever will. And I did say most women. I know that the term “gold digger” is a very real thing. I’m not naïve to my own sex. And, yeah, ladies aren’t out there looking to raise a man-child who is chronically unemployed. But these are outliers, people. They are not norms (no matter what your past experiences are currently telling you).
In all sincerity, I would much rather meet a man whose dreams are still just beyond the edge of his fingertips. The hunger still sitting on the tip of his tongue. So that he really knows. That I’m not interested in the year his car was built or the tags on the inside of his clothes. Ten times out of ten I’m choosing to conquer the world together than to build an empire alone.
Guys, any girl that cares more about the brand of shoes on your feet than the mountains you’ve climbed, any girl who fails to choose you because of your perceived status, she is not the one.
And gals, any guy that picks your boob size over your brains, any guy who runs from your work ethic, he is not the one.
For more on men’s pet peeves, honesty, and dick pics, stay tuned for part two.