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Women and Men, Day 59

April 9, 2010

Today’s challenge: to stop doing, or in this case thinking something that makes me uncomfortable.  The unhealthy thoughts began when looking over a colleagues shoulder during rehearsal to see him reading an eye-opening article in Esquire called “Why Men Cheat.”  If you decide to read it online or in print, understand it contains some profanity and a potentially unsettling perspective from one man who sees cheating as a sort of necessary art for himself.

Before assuming the worst that I have begun another post-breakup blog post, consider how regularly we encounter the results of someone’s ponderings about why men do this or why women think that or how to act or what to say in order to gain or keep someone of the opposite (or same) sex.  Sex and the City, He’s Just Not That into You, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus – bah humbug!   As much as I appreciate the author of He’s Just Not That into You for reminding his audience that too many excuses for disinterested behavior waste everyone’s time, we spend too much energy stereotyping men and women as if we might have better success in love if we could just understand “you people.”  When exactly did we decide that this particular brand of sexism was not only acceptable but both valuable and marketable?

Over happy hour discussing my own recent thoughts with a friend and then again online with another who sought my advice about dating (yes, I found that comically ironic at first), I essentially spent the entire day speculating about the interests and behavior of men.  Both of my friends and I have more assertive and open qualities, so I personally wondered whether that openness helps or hinders a relationship.  Do men want more mystery, someone they can perpetually chase?  That strategy seems to work for some women I know, unless they’re the women in relationships with men like Mr. Esquire Article.

Does all of this sound like healthy thinking to you?  Officially, I no longer think so.  Objectively speaking, I believe a person’s upbringing, values, and individual personality affect his behavior and desire to connect or commit far more than his equipment.  Certainly hormones play their part, but men and women all have different balances of testosterone from person to person and sometimes from day to day.  Even okcupid with their impressive  system of matching based on questions and mathematical algorithms in the worst scenarios set me up on a mix of some really terrible dates and, in the best, on a couple of unsustainable relationships with otherwise great guys.

Every time we open our doors and/or our hearts to another person, we take a risk.  I have decided to minimize mine in the future with a few important changes in terms of understanding myself and my needs and behaving accordingly.  Not to give my readers the wrong impression, I have no interest in rushing into dating too seriously for a while, but I need to refocus my thoughts nonetheless.  When a friend comes to me for advice, I will listen and help where I can, but tonight I have thrown the switch on the wrecking ball headed towards preconceived notions about men and women.  Doubtless my speculations will die a slow death, but I want them out of my life and intend to begin now.  Hopefully my dreams will cooperate.

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