Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Single Women Make Men Suffer

Today, inspired by a recent discussion thread on female players at BlogCatalog as well as by the vehement responses to "How Single Men Make Women Settle," Singletude acknowledges that turnabout is fair play and takes the single ladies to task.

Admit it, girls, sometimes you have your own commitment issues, and by the time you're ready for Mr. Right, he may be so used to being everyone else's Mr. Wrong that he's afraid to take your heart in case you want it back. In their early and even mid-twenties, a lot of women identify more with the stars of Girls Gone Wild than with June Lockhart or Florence Henderson. They bounce from one boy toy to the next, drunkenly giggling Cyndi Lauper's mantra, "girls just wanna have fun." Marriage and children are the furthest thoughts from a single girl's mind, ranking slightly above the gynecologist but well below that promotion to management, a shabby chic loft of her own in Soho, and a closet full of Steve Madden shoes.

For years, many of these young women are content to date "good for now guys," confessing to their friends that they don't see themselves with Mr. Right Now in 10 years, but he's cute and nice and will do for the time being. Needless to say, Mr. Right Now continues giving his beloved earrings on her birthday, fillet mignon on Valentine's, and roses for no reason at all, never guessing that the guillotine is poised above his head. When it finally falls close enough to shave the hairs off his neck, he vows he'll beware of the next girl who offers him the double-edged sword of love.

Other women (or perhaps the same ones in different circumstances) have a fallback guy, that hapless single friend who gets to buy her drinks and movie tickets for the pleasure of listening to her bitch and moan about the last schmuck who dumped her. Every so often, after Fallback Guy has volunteered the use of his shoulder for a long evening's cry, he will hear that she wishes she could find a guy like him or that she never noticed how cute he is when he's frowning, and his heart will zigzag with the possibility that maybe, just maybe she's realizing what a good boyfriend he would be. But inevitably, she apologizes the next day for "being silly" and calls her ex to make amends.

By the time women reach their twenties or early thirties, it hits them that all the men are gun-shy, dreading the C-word as if it were Cancer, not Commitment. They go on Oprah and write to Dr. Phil and sit down with their therapists to ask why men are so immature, oblivious to the fact that many of these same men were ready and willing to embrace the wife and the house and the minivan years ago but were ruthlessly tossed aside so they wouldn't interfere with her barhopping or her second PhD.

Lest you misread it, this isn't a criticism of ambitious, career-driven women. Female professionals are an integral part of our workforce. They can and should pursue any career path they desire and be rewarded for their achievements accordingly. Neither is this a condemnation of male-female friendships. Plenty such friendships are happily platonic, and if they are not, no one, male or female, should be obligated to date someone just because he or she is a good friend. No, this is a censure of the female player.

Most of us are familiar with the male player. He’s that guy who uses girls for sex. There are, of course, females who use men for sex, but the female player is more likely to be the girl who uses guys for attention, affection, or admiration. Although her objective is different than that of her male counterpart, just like him, the female player wants what she wants without paying the price of commitment. So she lingers in a relationship with someone she doesn't love or makes empty promises to her best guy friend until she drains him of her quota of the three A's, then leaves him high and dry. Not all women are guilty of this kind of vampirism, but many have been players at least once or twice in their lives, and it only takes one deadly blow to permanently wound a victim's heart.

Ladies, you know if you're among the guilty. Please remember that it's not right to lead someone on or string him along so you can reap the benefits of love without giving it. If you don't want to settle down, fine. If you don't have feelings for a friend, that's okay, too. But don't pretend that you do, in word or in action. That's when the damage is done. In a culture that insists males keep a tight rein on their feelings, it can be easy for a woman to dismiss men as too emotionally stunted or shallow to care what she does when, in fact, men feel as deeply as women do but may have a harder time articulating it. Just as women are hurt and offended when used by men, they hurt and offend the men they use.

Bottom line: If you don't want to be used, don't be a user. Be honest and direct about how you feel and don't let your actions contradict your words. When you're young, the page you write in someone's romantic history may not seem important to you. But one day you may meet someone you'd give up your single life for, someone you truly love. Wouldn't it be wonderful if he could love you back with an undamaged heart?

If you're a woman, are you or have you ever been a player? If you're a man (or a woman who's had a female partner), have you ever been played by a woman? If you answered yes to either of these questions, what happened, and what did you learn from the experience? What do you think are the differences between male and female players? Do you think that single women make men suffer in the way this post suggests? If so, how do you think this impacts long-term commitments from men?

Fun Link of the Day


bobbyboy said...

"If you're a man (or a woman who's had a female partner), have you ever been played by a woman?"

You mean there are woman players??? ;)

I believe I have been manipulated by woman more so than played (Although they are probably the same thing?)

"If you answered yes to either of these questions, what happened, and what did you learn from the experience?"

I learned to be more cautious when entering a relationship because unfortunately, I am easily manipulated. When the tears start, I break. When the silent treatment occurs, I break, etc, etc...
Sad really, and it leads me to believe that somehow, somewhere out there, there are "Manipulated anonymous."

"What do you think are the differences between male and female players?"

Pretty much I agree with your analysis of the two. They both play to get what they want.

"Do you think that single women make men suffer in the way this post suggests?"


"If so, how do you think this impacts long-term commitments from men?"

Believe it or not, I still believe that no matter how many times a guy gets played, when he comes across a woman who wants to play him, he will become a violin. Not in every case, but in most.

Now, where's that "MA" meeting?

Wizardry said...

Yes indeed. It was after that fateful break up when I was strung along so simply because I could barley tell up from down, much less beneficial from detrimental. It’s exactly as bobbyboy said, you learn to be more cautious. We all come to find out that things actually aren’t that simple. It takes be back to the beginning of your post, talking about commitment. Now, I understand I’m asking for the impossible still being in high school, but I don’t want a temporary relationship. I know- not possible. We all graduate, we all leave. True, which means that I’ve just got a bit of waiting to do. Now, I’ll make something clear; when I say no temporary relationships, I mean love interests that I would want to last but inevitably can not, either because of graduation or the fickle fact that teenagers measure relationships in days and weeks instead of months and years.

Which brings me to an interesting and sudden idea while I was writing the last sentence. I don’t go about looking for a love interest in the normal sense of dating someone, but I do like finding someone to be with. Perhaps Singletude to do a piece on what hooking up means to singles? Is it good? Is it bad? Is it necessary (as Freud would say) when you don’t have a dating relationship to express those feelings? I’m just wondering what your take on it is, and I’ll just tell you now, being the youngest one here, so far as I can tell- the up and coming generation has no problem with it. It reminds me of a quote from a hilarious movie, Short Bus, “These kids are just like the 60’s- just less hope.”

Well then, I’ll be dropping by more often hopefully. I’ve had a horrendous amount of work for school between writing all these papers and preparing for the graduation test for juniors that we’ll have to take again next year as seniors? I mean really, who came up with that logic? But of all the standardized tests, by favorite is the “writing test,” which is an evaluation of writing skills. Now, I want to make this clear; I can do nothing other than write. But it’s graded on a scale of 150 (Lowest score) to 350 (Highest score). The thing I find funny about getting a perfect score on it, is how can anyone be a “perfect” writer? Turah Turah! 350 for you! What does that even really mean?

Alright, enough rambling. Ostera is next weekend!

s.t said...

i guess.... yes, it is very impt to be honest and direct if u aint looking ard for someone special and what you want is really just friendship. If the guy knowing of your intention and still stick ard hoping that when u are ready, he's e first in queue, den... let it be.
If on-lookers came upon u, screaming that your actions contradicts your words. U said u aint lookin for love, but u allow him to stick to u.. blah blah blah.... To me, it truly doesnt matter as long as deep dwn u noe tat u hav made it clear to him. It matters not what others see u, it matters only if ur conscience is clear.

Clever Elsie said...

Bobby: I believe I have been manipulated by woman more so than played (Although they are probably the same thing?)

I'm sorry you've had to deal with the frustration and heartache of emotional manipulation.:( Too many people take advantage of those with soft hearts. Women (and men) who play the emotional manipulation game do a disservice not only to their partners but to themselves since it ultimately ruins the relationship. In my post, I was referring more to women who lead on men they don't love than to women who employ false tactics to get their way with those they do, but they're similar phenomena. They both involve a form of deception and disregard for the man's feelings.

Victoria: I'd definitely like to do a piece on hooking up! I was actually mulling over an article on friends with benefits, which is a variation on the theme. But there's no reason I couldn't do one post on both or two posts on each. Thanks for the suggestion!

Ahh, the joys of standardized testing. How well I remember those days! And it seems that these rigidly unimaginative reinforcements of the status quo are only gaining in popularity as measures of intelligence and college preparation. Good luck, though! I'm confident that you'll achieve some chart-topping scores. :)

S.T.: I completely agree with you. I was referring to girls who aren't clear about where their affections lie, often intentionally. If a woman has told a guy straight out that she's not interested and continues to treat him as just a friend, then you're right that he has only himself to blame if he wastes his time on her.

I think the problem arises when a woman says she just wants to be friends but then flirts with the guy and keeps him guessing whether she's had a change of heart. This kind of behavior makes many men resentful, although sometimes it may be a case of "seeing what they want to see" rather than actual flirtation on the woman's part.

In any case, yes, all any woman (or man) can do is be honest. If you've done that, you can't hold yourself responsible for someone else's feelings.

Anonymous said...

It was nice to actually read something that clearly laid everything out.

"ruthlessly they wouldn't interfere with her barhopping or her second PhD" is the theme of my adult dating life. Many women say they don't have time to date but then they meet a great guy that is able to satisfy her physical and intellectual needs only to toss him aside a while later to get back with her primary boyfriend, her career/education/activities. This is great but people ought to be forthright with themselves and others. If you are about to devote all your free time to an activity, career, or education, don't keep someone "around" because of the remote possibility that you may acually have (not make) time for them. As you said, it makes many men extremely "gun-shy" or it can make good men throw away their well-intentioned dating philosophy (at least temporarily) with the belief that it will never lead to the relationship they are looking for.

Unfortunately, this is just how things are. A man will become so cautious and passive that the woman would have to almost demonstrate some type of emotional guarantee that she's serious about him. Or, he simply just wont care anymore and will treat/use women as sexual objects so that at the very least, the physical wants/needs are met. Either way if that woman with that rare combination of physical AND mental compatibility comes along that you just feel you HAVE to pursue, you are forced to revive (or reapply) your good can't help but try and potentially get burned all over goes on.

Nice blog.

Clever Elsie said...

CW: It's been awhile since you posted this comment, so I'm not sure if you'll read this, but I really appreciate your thoughtful contribution, and I hope everyone will take a few minutes to read it.

I'm so sorry to hear that you're one of those men who can relate to this post firsthand. :( You're absolutely right that women need to date more responsibly and not string men along when they're really still in love with an ex or have other priorities. I know there are lots out there who try to absolve themselves by pushing the philosophy that no one is responsible for anyone else's feelings, but I think that's nonsense. I strongly believe that we all have an obligation to honor our commitments, respect the feelings of those who've invested theirs in us, and and place their overall wellbeing ahead of our desires for momentary fun or convenience.

You're also right that the lure of that great love compels most of us to walk back into the fire again and again. But so many of us walk back in with scar tissue around our hearts, which makes it that much harder to open them to anyone else. I hope that all of us, no matter what our experiences in the past, will remember that every person we meet is someone new who deserves a fair chance and shouldn't be judged by what past partners have done, even as I hope we all can learn enough from those experiences to more quickly and accurately discern when someone is likely to be a user or a player.

I'm glad you liked the blog, and I hope you'll stop by again! :)

Chelsey King said...

It's true that nowadays finding prince charming type of a guy is so hard to find. I think there's no such thing as "gentleman" and "faithful" guys in the world. :)