I was at a party recently and happened to mention to the friend sitting next to me that more than five years after my last breakup I was ready to seek a relationship again. Someone nearby happened to hear my comment. What followed was a volley of negative verbal shots fired toward the male population by the women in the group, while most of their partners were present. I certainly was not prepared for that response…I felt like I had just entered a cave crawling with black widows. How must the guys have felt?
Things are admittedly different now than they were when I was seeking a partner in my twenties. First off, that was before Facebook, dating apps and way before the pandemic when people actually left their houses and met each other in person. So I recently asked a forty-something how he would define “dating”, and his swift response was, “It means you are having sex.” For the record, I’m seeking something a tad more meaningful than that. I have spent way too much time learning to love myself in order to have a healthy relationship, so I won’t settle for something that shallow. I believe in the fairy tale…connecting hearts not just parts, and that means finding someone who believes in that fairy tale too. I don’t need a man to make me happy; rather I’m seeking someone to share my happy with. I already buy myself flowers and know how to spoil myself, but someone who wants to join me on earth’s playground to take turns pushing on the swing and creating in the sandbox would be fun to spend time with.
Before the pandemic, I volunteered at a retirement home. I would spend afternoons reading to the residents, and prompting them to tell me stories about their lives. One day we found ourselves on the topic of how they met their spouses, many now deceased. With a faraway look and their eyes welling with joyful tears, they told heartwarming love stories that lingered long after the death of their partners. That’s what I am looking for. If that party outbreak is any indication, many relationships today (at least sustainable happy ones), are getting watered down and trickling out. It’s hard to find an outlet for partnering up these days that doesn’t take place via screen. People are afraid and mistrusting of germs, of criticism, of each other, of love. It’s brave for anyone to stick their necks out in a world like that. So here’s a plea for the male bashers. Please stop now. Your audible assaults are scaring potential prospects and making it difficult for those of us who desire someone special to laugh with, appreciate and cherish a simple conversation with at the kitchen table. Until then our extra dining chairs will remain empty.
Think about this. There’s a reason you fell in love with the guy you are bashing; a reason you CHOSE him. Before you open your mouth to berate him, remember that and find something, anything kind to say about him. Find better words to share with and about him in public to even out the playing field and make it safe for guys to feel as if they can come out and play without being shot at. Who knows, not only may that small step improve your relationship, it may also send some courage to those waiting in the trenches. Truce.