2015 was supposed to be my reboot year.
I had it all planned in January: I was going to get my health together, finally get my drawn-out divorce finalized, and have a date for New Year’s Eve.
Well… at least my health has significantly improved.
As for the divorce, there was certainly some progress but obviously not enough. I’ve explained the situation in private to friends who have inquired but I’m not going to blast details all over this blog. Suffice to say I want my marriage legally dead, in the worst possible way, but the universe seems set on keeping me in this undateable separated state until I give up out of sheer exasperation.
Which I won’t. But that brings us to the last point.
I get that women are reluctant to go out with a guy who is merely separated, regardless of how long his estranged wife has been out of the picture. I get that even a first date can be an investment, and that most women really aren’t looking for a hookup. Trust me: Tinder just skews the data.
But New Year’s Eve looks like another bust for me. Another night drinking alone at home because the roads sure don’t need another driving drunk.
I floundered the whole year, careening from one romantic faux pas to another, until some recent feedback led me to understand where, how and why I’m truly failing:
I’m not the good citizen of the Internet that I thought I was.
Bear with me. I know you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about now. Ah, you may be thinking “Online dating. Simple, Randy: QUIT IT.”
Sentiment understood. But the dilemma goes beyond my struggles with Match and its lesser, crazier relatives.
Some of you may have read my “callout for bros” a while back, where I took misogynists to task. These guys piss me off. Not only are they wrong in their treatment of women, but their despicable actions bleed across the decent guys out there who mean well and even work, as I do, to change a really stupid status quo of hardcore patriarchy.
I came to naively think that going out of my way to not be one of those guys would be noticed, and appreciated. That I could easily convey and earn trust, and thus surprise the few single women in my life with well-intended gestures.
Two recent responses to such gestures show how easy it is for them to be misconstrued in today’s Creeper Climate. And yes, the Internet is a huge enabler. Ask any of the leading feminists battling incessant hordes of angry, scared, aggressive male trolls.
So it is that gestures in an older time that would be seen as movie-grade cute or romantic are now viewed with suspicion. “How does he know where I am? How does he know what I like?”
It’s unfortunate that us good guys are taking lumps due to the assholes. That the habit of paying attention to female needs and wants can turn around and bite us in the ass. It’s sad that we have to think and rethink before sending that surprise gift that says “I’m thinking of you”. Because for every guy thinking good, how many came before us thinking and doing evil? Forget how few their numbers are: just one resourceful misogynist has an incredible, scary reach now thanks to technological enablers (ironically, the same ones that make hyper-thoughtful gestures possible).
I won’t share details of my own disasters, because that would just compound the shitpile I’m already neck-deep in. I owe it to those I’ve scared or offended to dial back and keep everything confident by default. And that’s where we’re at now, men: needing to vet our gestures past those we trust to give us hard, honest feedback, as well as listen and shut up when the alarms go off.
The latter goes against my every instinct, and for a lot of guys in fact. We don’t like to let things fester. We’re better fixers than listeners, or so we convince ourselves. Plenty of time for listening after the problem is fixed, anyway, right guys?
If you eager dudes answered anything but “NO” then I’m blowing this.
Guys: women are scared. It’s not ours to question. It’s not ours to rationalize. But it IS ours to help solve.
Good guys want to do good. We want to show our appreciation to those female friends who supported our shattered hearts. We want to win over the heart of that one on the fence. We want to live in a world where the knights and assholes are distinctly identified so we can all relax and just freaking DATE.
But some bad came with the good. This isn’t about us anyway: it’s about fixing the world, not the incidents in it. So that women can feel safe. And like a lot of you, I’m currently clueless.
So let’s get a dialog going. Let’s hack at this.
I don’t want to live in a world where women are scared of men by default.