Saturday, 8 January 2011

This Article is Doomed

“How many of you have ever started dating because you were too lazy to commit suicide?”
-Judy Tenuta, U.S. Comedienne

Apparently, I'm an arrogant, conceited jerk. Supposedly, nobody would ever want to take advice from me. I'm generally offensive to anyone who has a daughter or sister, or anyone who is one.

This is according to feedback that I received on an article I wrote about women and dating. I put this piece of writing on the review site (back when the site actually worked. Now it's fucked, and no-one knows why). Take a look.

The Ten Biggest Mistakes Girls Make When Dating

Contrary to popular belief, there are lots of good men out there. Granted, we males slip up from time to time and lose the girl. I myself had to read a lot of advice after repeatedly screwing up dates and finding myself at square one. Half the time I didn't even realise that my lack of assertion had ended the process, and that the excuses- "My ex got back in touch… I'm too busy with my kid… My phone's, erm, broke. The fact that I can talk to you on it is a miracle…" were just that. Excuses. I found a lot of advice that helped me to bypass those problems, but now I'm finding that it's not just me- or other men- facing a tough challenge. Now, I'm not a psychologist. I'm not even that experienced with women now, (cue the violins… no really) but I've been on enough dates to pinpoint ten classic dating errors that I'd rather not deal with again. And I'm sure, ladies, you'd rather not either.

No man wants to see you act all tough and resilient. That is our job. Act like a lady if you want a gentleman. And I'm sorry, but traditionally beer is a man's drink. A pretty girl with a pint of special brew is similar to a pair of elegant ladies' shoes after stepping in excrement. Just remember we've got to kiss that later. The beer-lips I mean. Not… well, you get it.

Similar to the above, only worse… Civilised society now doesn't really allow a man to crack the skull of a challenging aggressor in order to protect his spouse. But that doesn't mean we've palmed the job off to the women. Learn this, ladies: Lose your temper: lose the man. We don't want to see you go off at the hinges at someone (especially not for them spilling your pint while rocking out to "Soldier Boy"). Hide behind us (even if we are cowering behind the nearest doorman ourselves…)

When men do this it's a particular pet hate for women. It goes the other way too- a man either thinks you're sexy or he doesn't. So if he's agreed to a date, you've won half the battle. The things that impress women don't necessarily impress men. We're not too bothered by how much money you make (although if you've got your own place, there are benefits). A quick anecdote of your claim to fame is always entertaining for the first date. But after this- unless you genuinely are a hairdresser to the stars- please keep these tales to a minimum. They tell us little about the real "you", and make us feel like paupers.

This is different to flirting. Flirting is suggestive and leaves a lot to the imagination. But bending over on nightclub podium in a size 16 macro skirt or rolling around on a beer-drenched dance floor trying to be "X-Tina" will only give us the impression that you're a slag.

Another that men are frequently guilty of- the feeling that "Someone could have whoever they want. So why go for me?" American dating guru David DeAngelo coined the mantra "attraction is not a choice". Amen, David. Sometimes we can't explain why we like someone. It's just a feeling we get. By asking us what we see in you or why we asked you for your number, you're making us think- "Why? Am I out of your league? Should I look out for someone better?" Before you know it we won't be around, and you'll be single again. The man will be too, thinking: "Damn it. I should have stuck it out."

We all lead busy lives these days and mobiles have become an integral part of day-to-day tasks. Even men feel naked without them. If it goes off while you are on a date, answer it. Leaving it ringing will just distract us, and besides- what if it is something drastic? We don't want to be held responsible for a household tragedy if the plumber/ babysitter/ parent couldn't get through to you. However, if you do answer it, remember that we primitive men can only hold our chain of thought for a few minutes. So break a tradition and keep the phone call short. And while we're on the subject, why not stroke our egos by telling said caller that you have a handsome man to attend to and you've got to go? Details, you tell the caller, follow later.

Aww. There, there. We kind of like providing the shoulder to weep on- being the rock to cling to at times of distress... the protective, supportive type like men used to be in the olden days. But come on, woman. It's only a nail. There are plenty of places you can get it done. It's not even like you grew it yourself!

There are three major problems with this- two if we're not necessarily nice guys. One- we nice guys don't want to think of you on a life support machine through years of liver abuse. Honestly, sometimes we hate to see you do it to yourselves! Two- if you flirt with us, we assume you are only doing it because you are drunk. You'll find our number on your phone a few days later (if you managed to see the screen while you typed it in) but you'll have no idea who we are, and we'll realise that momentary lust only happened through blinding alcohol. Three- and here's what bothers us men the most- If we like you but you're wasted, we probably won't chat you up because we look like we are either taking the easy option- the drunk girl who doesn't realise she's being cracked on to- or we look like a date rapist coercing his latest victim. No man wants to give off that impression.

Contrary to popular belief, not every man wants sex the first night he meets a woman. Unless it's obviously going that quickly and you both feel like the bedroom is the next ideal date setting, slow… down. If you invite him back too soon he will probably appreciate the opportunity and think himself lucky. But if it was me, I'd be thinking- this was too easy. How many other guys has she gone through?

Last but by no means least, play it safe. No man wants to think that you've got something, but the sorry fact is that one in eight girls in Britain have a sexually transmitted infection, according to Britain's Health Protection Agency. This is the one part of sex where really- it's nothing personal.

There you go. Hate me enough now?

Suffice to say, I ended up not sending this to any magazines. There's a number of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that I sound like a total bastard. I don't sound like someone that women would come to for advice. Surprise surprise- I'm not.

The second reason this article does not work: I have written advice for women, but in the voice of a magazine for men. I was going for an Esquire feel to the article, even though the target audience was actually women. I perhaps should have tailored it to the likes of Cosmopolitan, Elle or Allure- the journalistic styles of which I know nothing about. Reviewers even said that Esquire was a bit upmarket for an article like this- it was really so dumbed down that it might scrape into the taste fields of FHM or Loaded.

There was something slightly more important than the fact that I'd mixed up my intended audience.

One female reviewer told me that she was disappointed in the article, as she didn't gain anything from reading it. She didn't know what kind of woman would make those mistakes. I replied, telling her, I know a few.

This was, like most of my work, written from an autobiographical perspective. All of the above mistakes are traits that I've been on the receiving end of while I've played the dating game. It's now been a couple of years since I wrote this article, and I was hoping that a bit of breathing time might help me to realise that I'd just been weirdly unfortunate- that the romantic horrors I'd endured were nothing more than a spell of bad luck. After all, the article theme isn't original. Google “mistakes women make when dating.” Giving someone the silent treatment, Trying to “coax” him into a relationship against his will, not putting the effort in yourself- the advice is all out there. My own additions- being a psycho, flaunting, acting like a butch man, etc- these aren't particularly helpful to most presentable women. It's only in my home town of Oldham that this shit goes down. It's only here that people have to deal with it. Prove me wrong. There may be other towns where these dating problems recur, but when I go to Manchester or Stalybridge- areas just outside of Oldham- I never see this kind of thing. Okay, in Manchester on occasion, women do drink too much- but I never see women drag each other across the dance floor by their hair out there, nor in Staly. Only in Oldham. I have yet to see a morbidly obese woman dirty dancing on a nightclub podium, outside of Oldham.

I didn't go out in Oldham until I was maybe 22- I'd been living in Manchester for a few years at university, and before that I wasn't even dating at all... Uni dates may have been dull, but at least the girls knew how to hold themselves. It wasn't until I hit the Oldham scene that these problems emerged- and re-emerged. Meeting girls was easy- meeting girls that weren't nihilistic, butch sociopaths was an altogether different struggle. That struggle continues. I still meet girls like this: I haven’t moved out of the town, and the town hasn't changed on this respect. But I have found a few decent local girls over the years. I don't want to discredit them. They were diamonds in the rough, and the above advice will probably be of no use to them. So I tip my metaphorical hat to those girls. I just hope they enjoy reading this, regardless.

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