You know that book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?
No, me neither.
Well, what I mean is that I’ve not read it, so I have no idea of its validity as an intelligent document on the fundamental differences between the genders. But what I do know is that the basic concept isn’t far wrong: when it comes to relationships, at least, men and women are playing by entirely different rules.
Take the situation with Uni Boy, for example. I struggle to understand the circular nature of our non-relationship: we get together and have a great time. Then, the minute we start getting comfortable, he decides we shouldn’t see each other anymore. We abstain. He gets in touch. We get together. And round we go again.
I mean, I’m not looking for Happy Ever After here. But I am looking for a bit of consistency.
I mentioned this to a girlfriend over coffee. She smiles at me coquettishly.
“Are you sure he’s not just afraid?”
Of what? Of me?
“No,” she says, smiling coyly. “Maybe he’s afraid of falling in love with you.”
To be honest, even to my ears this sounds a bit fanciful.
Whilst we ladies like to put a rosy tint on our dabbling with persons of the male persuasion, on the whole we know that their emotional processes can be almost brutally utilitarian. What’s more, we also know that it’s nothing personal: that’s just the way the way it is.
Of course there are notable exceptions, but as one of my male friends once said (and I hope he won’t mind me quoting him on it),
“The questions women ask of men are often highly complex but the answers are usually very simple: ‘No, he doesn’t want a relationship, he just wants to have no-strings sex with you’ would work in most cases.”
Hmmm. Almost scarily simple, no?
Ladies, you know all the times you have coffee with a girlfriend and debate the possible motives for the seemingly senseless actions of your latest squeeze? Try the ‘No, he doesn’t want a relationship, he just wants to have no-strings sex with you’ test.
If there’s even the slightest hint that it could apply to your situation, then it probably does: he’s not scared of falling in love; he’s not been hurt too many times before; he’s just on the prowl.
So while my girlfriend envisages some complex mélange of tortured emotion swirling in the heart and head of Uni Boy, I’m not particularly surprised when I meet up with a pragmatic male friend who echoes the more sober perception of my (un)romantic tanglings with Uni Boy…
“It’s simple: he’s using you for fun when it suits him.”
Or, in other words, no, he doesn’t want a relationship, he just wants to have no-strings sex with you.
I can almost hear the fat little cupid conjured by my friend’s imagination falling from his perch on a nearby cloud and crashing unceremoniously to the floor.
“Men like to hunt,” continues the pragmatic male friend. “We respect women by the amount of effort we have to put into the hunt. No effort; no respect.”
“Why don’t you make it harder for him? Turn the tap off for a bit?”
While I can’t argue with the veracity of his assessment, I can’t help but find it a bit disheartening.
Because if I enjoy hanging out with someone, I can’t help telling them; I’m not good at throwing up walls of faux-mystique and playing hard to get. It just makes me feel faintly ridiculous.
And besides, Uni Boy is never going to be the love of my life. I’m not trying to trick him into a relationship, I just enjoy his company and I want to have some fun. But I want it to be consistent fun, and I want it to be at least partly on my terms.
Still, seeing the situation from male and female perspectives has been decidedly educational. It’s reaffirmed my idea that men and women have almost no idea of what goes on in each other’s heads.
Which in itself makes me wonder: if and when you do meet a guy who wants a bit more than a no-strings fling … how on earth would you know?