Age old confusion over relationships

24 Dec

As usual with these types of entries, I should be asleep but I can’t stop pondering this. I know this might come across as kind of weird, but I honestly don’t care, I just want to know.

Something’s been puzzling me lately. I’ve never had a girl who was just head over heals for me. Maybe I have, perhaps some ex girlfriends of mine were at one point and I just have a pessimistic confirmation bias; I don’t know, but it just feels that way.

What brought this on? Well I just recently talked to one of my old friends and she mentioned all this stuff she did for her boyfriend. It ranged from little nice gestures to more adult themes, if you get my drift. She raves about him, but he doesn’t seem to do anything out of the ordinary. It’s not just her! I’ve talked to other friends of mine who love to talk about their boyfriends. They all seem very loyal and excited to be dating him, and it’s not the “new relationship high” because they’ve been dating for a while.

I don’t feel like I ever get that from women. Ok, that’s not fair. I can think of a few times when past girlfriends have gone out of their way to do something nice for me, but it seldom happened. From talking to my friends, it seems like they are often thinking of their boyfriends and nice things to do for them. I just don’t get it. What is it about their boyfriends that inspires so much love and loyalty?

In the past, I always strove to be the absolute best boyfriend possible. Just ask any of my exes. I would get them cards and flowers for no reason other than I cared, I would cook them dinner and breakfast in bed, would drive them anywhere they needed to go, take them out for ice cream, go out at 3am to the store and get soup if they were sick, I did it all. I was always thinking of little things to do for them, but I never felt it was fully reciprocated. Sure they’d tell me they loved me and every now and then they would get me a card or a piece of candy, but they never seemed as excited about being with me as my friends are about being with their boyfriends.

I realized later that perhaps I was setting way too high a standard, doing so much and asking for it back in equal measure; I was setting myself up for disappointment. I also realized that by doing stuff like this all the time, I was inflating it and thus devaluing the gestures.

Fear not, I’ve since grown out of this. It just really frustrates me because I often hear women say how much they wish their boyfriend would do stuff like this. Now I know it depends on the person, but if the ones I dated in the past said this, they were lying. They obviously didn’t want a guy to do all these things for them. Maybe they thought that was what they were supposed to want and so they said it. Perhaps in reality it was just annoying.

Another thing I have to consider: I’ve never dated a fully independent woman before. I think things would be a lot better if I did. Most of my past girlfriends were when we were both in high school. I was always the only one who could drive and had a car. I dated one girl for three years in college, but again, I was the one with the car. I was constantly taking care of her and driving her places. I’ve noticed that, in all of my past relationships, I’ve always been the one doing the leg work, going to the girl. Only twice in my entire life has a girl I’ve been dating driven across town, or further, to my house to see me. I saw the same pattern online as I aimlessly browsed through dating sites, looking at profiles and messaging people. Why am I always going after them? Why am I always initiating first contact, yet I never receive first contact messages myself? Why is it not the other way around? Those guys my friends are dating don’t seem to do anything, and yet the women go out of their way to be with them. Why can’t I inspire the same kind of loyalty and excitement?

This just really confuses me. I know this isn’t supposed to be something you ask out loud in public, that you’re just supposed to “know,” but I honestly don’t care. Perhaps that’s paradoxically attractive, whatever.

Perhaps things will be better when I finally date a woman who’s living on her own, earning her own money, and has a car. Perhaps then I’ll find somebody who’s willing to put an equal amount of time, energy, and money into being with me. I’m tired of always being the one doing the majority of the work to keep a relationship going.

22 Responses to “Age old confusion over relationships”

  1. greengeekgirl December 24, 2010 at 2:49 am #

    I’m sorry to hear that you are frustrated 😐 You certainly are not alone in your frustration; I’ve heard it before from guy friends. (All of them are friends I’ve thought are super cool, too :D)

    I don’t know you irl so I can’t say much about you personally, but I can make some general statements about relationships, I reckon, and maybe some more personal ones about my own past. One strong suggestion is to keep the faith and don’t “look” for it. I met my husband completely serendipitously; other people I’ve met on dating sites, they haven’t been good matches for me. I was never much on casual dating, myself, and I’ve only had three boyfriends in my life; ironically, two of them came after I met the man I’m now married to (which is a long story.. we broke up a few times when we were younger..). Even though I’ve dated other guys, I’ve only been relentlessly in love with one man in my whole life. So, if your past girlfriends weren’t all mooshy over you–it may just be that the chemistry wasn’t there ^_^ and not really a reflection on you, personally.

    Another thing to consider is that your girlfriends from when you are younger might have been more immature, and thus, more self-involved. Especially if you were more mature than many others your age, you may have had a rough time finding someone who matched you at the time.

    Maybe your girlfriends talked about you to their friends the way that your friends talk about their boyfriends to you, too… we rarely get all gushy at a boy while we’re in his presence, we usually save that for other people to suffer through.

    I guess my final thoughts–I can truly and honestly say that I married my best friend. (My “best friend” would probably disagree, but if I believed in soulmates, Mr Geek would be the one.) I met him through our mutual interest–in a book chatroom, circa 2002–and we knew from the beginning, but we spent a lot of time being friends before we committed to being exclusively romantic. I think that’s the best thing in a mate, and that’s when you’ll get someone who is as loving and giving as you are.

  2. greengeekgirl December 24, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Oh–when I said “best friend” I meant someone besides Mr Geek, my supposed BFF. lol

  3. Three Ninjas December 24, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    In the past two years I’ve come to realize that it’s probably pointless to put forth all this energy to try to please someone. People just don’t care. I’ve driven three hours across a snowy mountain range to bring soup to a sick friend only to get YELLED AT because she thought I was trying to get her to fall in love with me. This is an extreme event, but it’s not a one off.

    I’m basically in favor of not being a nice person anymore. I have better things to do.

    Sorry to be so cynical, but, well there it is. Anthony Bourdain and probably a lot of other people say that behind every cynic is a failed romantic.

    Yes there is.

  4. Empowering Roots December 24, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    I think its just not about the guys or the girls…It entirely depends on the person and what kind of a value system they have for their relationships! I have seen the same thing happening with some girls as well!!! When it comes to human behaviour it just cannot be generalised but your article definitely made a very interesting read!

  5. godlesspaladin December 24, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Hey, everybody, thanks for the comments so far. I was honestly expecting to get yelled at. (Well, not by you, but by other posters) I had the vibe that asking this question was breaking a strong and unspoken taboo. (Like it’s somehow evidence that you don’t understand relationships like you should, thus instantly flagging yourself as immature and undateable.)

    This might not be related, but I saw this and laughed:

    “What is the ‘male best friend’?”
    A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you’re a great guy, but I don’t like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we’re not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we’re going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn’t work out, we’ll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

  6. Three Ninjas December 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    The male best friend. So true.

  7. thesecretatheist December 25, 2010 at 3:28 am #

    I don’t have much to say about dating, since I haven’t really done that very much. But I would like to point out that not being the one to initiate contact on a dating site isn’t all it is cracked up to be all the time. I’ve been on a few, and for the most part never got any contact.

    One person I do remember (who contacted me first), she still messages me on Yahoo from time to time, is this crazy messed up chick who thinks she is married to an angel (among other things that she thinks) and that he is jealous of her relationships with other people. Her supposed relationship even caused her to leave DragonCon early a couple of years ago (what a waste of a ticket to DragonCon!) because of his jealousy.

    So being the one to be contacted isn’t always that great. 😀

    I’m inclined to feel somewhat like Jason about this. While I still try to be a nice person to most people, I don’t try to pursue a girl. I figure if it happens it happens, if not why worry about it? If I have to bend over backwards to win a girl is she really worth winning? If I have to contort myself somehow into being something that doesn’t come naturally in order for her to stay with me will I ever be happy with her?

    So I just coast along and don’t try. I’m pretty happy most of the time with it right now, too. Other times I get a bit depressed about being alone. But I figure if I was with someone I’d be pretty happy most of the time and get depressed about always having this person around all the time every day every night. 😀

  8. Three Ninjas December 25, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    Wait who is Jason??

    Something it’s taken me a long time to learn is that the grass will always be greener.

  9. thesecretatheist December 25, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    Haha, doh! sorry, Three Ninjas. He is a cool guy, I’ve known him for yars. You should check out his new song:

  10. thesecretatheist December 25, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    And that should be “years”.

  11. Three Ninjas December 25, 2010 at 4:09 am #

    Bahaha! Having more than one personality is so confusing! Thanks for the love though. Merry Christmas to meee 🙂

  12. thesecretatheist December 25, 2010 at 4:13 am #

    It wasn’t so much my secret identity that confused me, just I think of you as Jason and forget that not everyone knows you. Everyone should, though.

  13. Three Ninjas December 25, 2010 at 4:15 am #

    Oh no, I meant my multiple identities!

  14. godlesspaladin December 25, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    I think they have pills for that…

  15. greengeekgirl December 26, 2010 at 3:25 am #

    The “male best friend” is a tricky one. I definitely have had male friends that I would not have considered dating; great as buds but not the right romantic fit. (That’s the straight ones, mind you; obviously the gay best friends weren’t date-able for me 😉 ). I think it comes down to a question of mutual chemistry; if you’ve ended up strictly in the “friend zone,” it’s probably due to a lack of chemistry–although that chemistry can develop later from familiarity.

    I also think that being a “try-hard” when it comes to relationships is likely not a good idea. If you naturally want to do nice things for someone, that’s one thing; trying too hard can cause people to overlook a lack of things working out, though. While maintaining a relationship IS a lot of work, that kind of relationship can’t be forced at the same time.

    I think a lot of people have the same relationship difficulties and uncertainties. When you’re on the outside of one, for some it’s nearly impossible to understand how to get from outside to inside; it was so impossible for me that I avoided it altogether most of my life. With blogging, we’ve reached an age where we can discuss matters more frankly, and for that, I’m thankful ^_^

  16. godlesspaladin December 26, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    Good points. Yeah, I wasn’t a try-hard in the sense that I had to force it or were trying to patch over somethings, I just naturally liked doing all that stuff, which makes it harder to not do it since I don’t have to consciously think about it.

  17. teo December 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    I believe a part of the reason could be just simply relationships dynamics – if a girl gets a lot of sweet gestures from you, she’s less motivated to do something for you in order to keep your interest, since you’re showing it to her etc.

    I know that it would be really the best to do these thing just because you care, as you say you do, but I would say that most girls do it to keep you interested, to mellow you, to seduce you, to show you how lovable they are, how much better they are then all the other girls standing on your line etc. Sadly most of the time relationships are like the free market… I would agree with the geek girl – if the girl is really crazy about you, you shouldn’t face that problem…

    Happy Holydays and I hope you’ll find a girl, that’s really passionate about you soon 🙂

  18. godlesspaladin December 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    @teo Yeah, I’m afraid you’re right. If one person is doing all the work, their is less incentive for the other to contribute. 😦 Thanks for the well wishes! ^_^

  19. Greg Christopher December 27, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Helpful advice from the great movie, Tao of Steve

    “I’m going to tell you this one last time. You should tattoo it on your dick so you don’t forget. We pursue that which retreats from us.”

    “I don’t get the whole retreating thing.”

    “Chicks are like hunters. They want to bag a lion or a bear, something hard to catch. Along comes Dave, and you’re like this affectionate little puppy. You’re cute, but you’re way too easy to catch. That bores them. With chicks, boredom equals death. You can’t bore them.”

    “So now I’m boring.”

    “Dogs don’t chase a rock that’s just sitting on the ground. Maybe some dogs do. They like chasing rabbits that dart in and out of bushes.”

    “So now I’m supposed to be like a bunny?”

    “You’re supposed to be the thing that retreats.”

    Teo is right. Your problem is that you are doing too much. They feel like they are the prey, not the predator. You need to be the prey.

  20. Dan W December 28, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    I don’t have much experience with relationships. In fact I’ve only ever had one girlfriend, and that relationship ended over 3 and 1/2 years ago, when I graduated from high school. In that relationship it seemed to me that I was doing most of the work to keep the relationship going. I asked my ex-girlfriend out the first time and did things for her like you mentioned, Godless Paladin. It got tiresome, and I’d rather not be in that situation again. In the future, I hope to date a woman who would be willing to put more time, money, and effort into keeping a relationship going. I also wouldn’t mind if she were the one to initiate the relationship. There seems to be an expectation in society that the man should initiate the relationship. I’d like to see that done away with.

  21. tteamy December 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Its great you did all those things for girls, and I’m sure they really appreciated the effort. Given the situation, maybe the girl couldn’t do exactly the same for you. Like you said, you driving her around everywhere because she couldn’t drive. If the girl was able to drive, I’m sure she would do the same for you.

    When I’m around my friends I talk about the nice stuff the guy does for me, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t know about other girls, but for me its awkward to talk to the guy about it. I usually say thanks, and give him a hug. In my experience, the things I do usually go unappreciated, so I’ve learned to not do so much for the guy.

    Maybe you should see how the girl’s situation is before going out of your way to do so much for her. It will be less disappointment in the long run.

  22. Puddingpie January 27, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    I don’t know you IRL, but I’m going to bet that the girls you were dating were probably spectacularly immature. The high school social world is a cesspit from hell. For everyone. Dating isn’t exempt from that. If she’s into you, and she means the world to you, you’ll know. I think now that you’re independent and going for your dreams, and intentionally seeking out women who do the same, your dating life will be awesome.

    I think one of the appealing things about you is that you’re a smart, opinionated guy with an actual personality who is also a feminist. Please please please don’t turn into this guy:

    I would play game called, “What’s wrong with this picture?” but I don’t know where to begin.

    In all honesty I think the “Male best friend” thing should be taken out to the shed and shot. A lot of good men are genuinely in love with women who only see them as friends, but I’ve come to loathe how the phrase “I’m a nice guy” has been warped and perverted the same way as the term “Family Values” or “Mission Accomplished.” I like nice people. I like families. I like it when endeavors get finished. But “Nice Guys” and “Family Values” and “Mission Accomplished”? Oh no. Hell no.

    It’s not something I can well articulate, but everything that is frequently wrong with so-called “Nice Guys” is pretty much embodied on that web page. It detracts from men who are legitimately respectful to women.

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