The Choice: How Long Do You Give the Guy a Chance?

If pressed, I would say there are two questions that my single girlfriends and I most frequently pose. One: why am I still single? And two: should I keep going out with this guy even though I’m not that into him?

That the answer to the second question often winds up being no, you might suggest, may not be insubstantial in providing some answer to the first.

Probably you would suggest this, at least, if you were my happily married brother Robbie, who declared to me over the phone last weekend that he can summarize my blog in one (compound) sentence–this sentence being “I am very particular about who I date, and I don’t understand why no one wants to date me.”

Demoralizing as it is to have one’s work reduced to a single sentence, even a compound one, his pronouncement made me a tad defensive. Also because it is hard for the phrase “no one wants to date me,” even when rendered as the absurd and blatently ironic clause in said sentence, not to trigger immediate insecurity in someone who is already insecure.

“It’s not that no one wants to date me!” I immediately assured him.

He said, “I know.”

“It’s just that I don’t want to date the people who do!”

He said, “I know.”

I took his point.

But, assuming for a moment that my predicament is not of the Groucho Marxist I-don’t-want-to-belong-to-anything-that-would-have-me genre, which I understand is no small assumption, let’s consider the complexity of that second question: that when-do-you-know-it’s-not-right question.

Because at this point I, and I think it’s far to say most of my single girlfriends, have figured out that our prince charming is not going to come along without a few charming, or not-so-charming, imperfections. By this point, most days we’re hoping he comes along without a history of alcoholism, heroin use or herpes.

Most days we’re just hoping he–and by he I mean someone whose companionship we can not only tolerate but might actually desire–comes along at all.

Well, let’s amend that: most days we’re hoping he comes along at all, and that we have any fucking clue when he does.

Or: most days we’re hoping for someone to come along who may or may not be him, but at least who may be worth our time for now, and that we have any fucking clue whether he does.

It isn’t easy.

What if you’re initially attracted, physically, but then certain gestures, certain bad jokes, certain laugh patterns or facial tics, turn you off?

What if you aren’t initially attracted, physically, but certain conversations, certain idiosyncracies, certain good jokes, turn you on?

What if he sounds perfect on paper and seems perfect in real life for a couple of months, when suddenly his neurotic tendencies emerge and start to freak you out?

How much of a chance do you give someone?

Personally, I always struggle to answer this question. Cause I know lots of happily coupled people, happily attracted to their long-term partners, who–for whatever reason–were not initially. You want to be patient, to be open, to allow for the possibility that such things can develop and grow. You know, like the really minimally needy houseplants that I chronically forget to water and inevitably kill.

But you also don’t want to be the jerk that leads someone on when you know they’re into it and you’re not sure how much you are.

You don’t want to be the girl for whom nobody is good enough. But you also don’t want to be the girl who dates someone you’re not that into.

And you wonder when it won’t feel like a choice between the two.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Choice: How Long Do You Give the Guy a Chance?

  1. Susie II

    Once as I was getting to know the guy in the adjoining office thinking he’d be good dating material, he reared back in his desk chair with his arms behind his head. I got the weirdest feeling about his elbows! Probably it was something he was SAYING as I noticed his elbows and I thought, I really shouldn’t take this further. But I did…he was a terrific person and we dated for quite a while but I never got into him the way he was into me. It hurt to end it but it taught me to listen to that inner voice no matter how weird it seems.

  2. What you say is so true. But I truly believe, after studying gender behavior for a lot of years, that it boils down to what your brother said.

    Except let me decode the man-speak into woman talk. Men basically just want to be able to provide and be the knight in shining armor. And they really want to be that for more than one woman at a time (they won’t say this, of course).

    So when we get into analyzing why we are not dating, good enough, etc. etc, it really has nothing to do with anything. Men need to be needed–to provide–and if we already have all of our provisions (and their elbows turn us off) then we will just be dateless because we don’t need them for anything. Dave Berry has a hilarious chapter on this in his newest book…and he says that men are just simple creatures. But look at how women’s brains work….always the complaint any guy in my life has had–that I think too much. (Because I can figure out when he is cheating maybe?)

    Now, one thing that works with guys is if you NEED a baby. They are pretty eager to help out with that. But women these days aren’t so much into babies either….And we all have a driver’s license and a job and know how to work a computer and and and.

    So I really don’t need a guy for anything and sure enough no guys are asking me out.

  3. Pingback: Everybody Gets Rejected. Right? « Dating in the Odyssey Years

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