Something Like Life
Business Mirror, Oct. 6, 2006
WOMEN sometimes obsess over men they like and feel attracted to. And often, a woman will come up with the silliest excuses why some man didn’t call her back for a second date, or why some guy continues to see her without attempting anything remotely encouraging, despite all her signals and invitations that she’s ready to move the relationship to the next level.
Take Precious. She says she’s pretty sure this guy she has been seeing off and on is attracted to her as well. They’ve slept together, literally. (Sorry, it was a downright uneventful GP-rated night.) The kind of sleepover you have with your friends. According to her, the guy has said that he doesn’t want to wreck the good friendship they have.
Apparently, he had just been through a very traumatic relationship with an old girlfriend (and I thought he was gay, to be honest) who Precious thinks he may still be pining for.
I told Precious it would help to sit the man down and ask him if the relationship, such as it is, would go anywhere. But, of course, she hesitates. She isn’t the type of woman to make the first move. But she likes him a lot and it makes me just feel sorry that she feels unhinged by the whole relationship. It’s neither here nor there. She wants more from it and yet the guy doesn’t want to push forward despite, according to Precious, the fact that they have a lot in common and they understand each other totally.
Star is almost in the same boat as Precious. She says she has gone out on dates with a certain guy, a colleague, but he is torpe. What a divine flashback to the ’70s! This old term torpe, of course, describes a man too shy or too intimidated to make the first move in bringing a relationship forward. Perhaps, I say, it is because the man still sees Star as his boss. As his editor, though they are the same age I believe, she taught him the rudiments of news reporting and he would tag along during coverages, trying to learn how she wrote really good stories. She is leaving soon for the US, and she says the guy is crushed.
I admit I have been guilty of making such excuses for the men we like keeping around as well. I remember this friend who I wanted desperately to be not just my friend, constantly seeing me and coming over to my apartment for dinner. We went out once with some of his friends (some of whom jokingly intimated that he was gay—who needs enemies when you have friends like that, huh?), and used to meet for lunch or merienda whenever he would be in town. But, really, I would make the excuse that he was just such a Momma’s boy and probably unwilling to severe the umbilical cord by actually having a real relationship with another woman. Our common friends were all for matching us together.
And then an episode on my favorite show Sex and the City, entitled “He’s Just Not Into You,” was aired a few years back, with Miranda describing a date and how it ended with a kiss outside her apartment. The guy didn’t make the move to invite himself. The guy said he had an early appointment the next day. Miranda’s friends, of course, accepted this as a reasonable excuse, except for Berger, Carrie’s boyfriend at the time, who uttered the immortal line: “He’s just not into you.”
That dose of reality, surprisingly, doesn’t get Miranda down who instead says, “It’s the most liberating thing I have ever heard. Think of all the time and therapy I could have saved over the last 20 years if I had known this.”
A book based on that episode was subsequently published, and dramatically changed women’s views about how men really behave when they’re dating. Coauthored by proclaimed metrosexual and former Sex and the City consultant Greg Berendht and show writer Liz Tuccillo, that simple line drove home the point that if a guy likes you, he’d call you, he’d do everything to get your attention, get into your bed, whatever. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t want you to be the mother of his babies. I haven’t read the book but have watched Greg’s various TV appearances on Oprah and all the late-night talk shows and comedy shows, and realized that hey! Why should I even waste time on this Momma’s Boy?
According to Greg, men are not complicated at all. If they want something, they’ll get it, no matter what it takes. And if he doesn’t feel a connection to the woman, then he won’t lift a finger to actually pursue the relationship. It’s as simple as that.
The thing is, we women spend so much time and energy dissecting what a man does and says, getting drunk and desperate as we go over every statement made, every word uttered, every action made on the date in search for clues as to where the night went wrong. Then we make up the excuses for him. Perhaps we do this also as a way to protect our fragile egos. After all, admitting that a guy doesn’t like you is tantamount to saying that there’s something wrong with you! And since we love our girlfriends, we indulge them and their excuses, agreeing with their assessment 100 percent why this guy or that man they like hasn’t called them back.
According to the book, which I scanned through on the Internet, here are the common excuses we make for the man who fails to make the connection with us:
He’s afraid to get hurt again.
Maybe he doesn’t want to ruin the friendship.
Maybe he’s intimidated by me.
He just got out of a relationship.
And while men can be direct about their feelings with other men, with women they’re just wusses who can’t tell a woman straight that “you are not the love of my life.” Or “You are not the woman I want to marry.” Instead, their actions speak louder than words. They do what they can’t say. Only sometimes, we tend to go blind when we’re interested in the guy, and can’t see or comprehend the message he is actually sending us.
So this time, instead of indulging Star, I told her to make the first move in the relationship. But if the guy doesn’t respond to her overtures, then either he’s gay or “he’s just not into you”—and she better move on to another guy.
As for me, my Momma’s Boy and I are still good friends. But I no longer obsess about him and am quite happy where our relationship is. (Even our common friends no longer create events just to pair us up.) There are no expectations that the friendship will lead to anywhere beyond the dining room or the sala. As long as he is around for me to run to whenever I have computer problems (it’s geeky, I know), then things are fine.
I’d rather obsess about Hugh Jackman.
(My column, Something Like Life, appears every Friday in the BusinessMirror.)