We listen to detailed play-by-plays of “he said, she said,” until we’re blue in the face and inevitably hate the men who singlehandedly cause our friend to cry in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
We say it out loud, we think it to ourselves and with several nudges from our female comrades who enlist us to fall in line with the man-hating revolution they’re hell-bent on plotting, we succumb to the belief that maybe, after all, nice guys no longer exist.
I perpetuated this mindset for the better part of 2014. After a string of amazing first dates turned stale, I held firm to the idea that all of the nice guys were either in a relationship, gay or extinct.
Never did I take a step back and consider, for a moment, that perhaps I was part of the problem. I’m not playing martyr and placing all of the blame in my lap because there were plenty of men who lived up to the assh*le standard that has become so commonplace. I’ve been stood up. I’ve been screwed over. I’ve had pretty lies whispered into my ear and empty promises made in the dark.
I’ve fallen for people who swore they would catch me, only to turn their backs as I fell. I’ve had friends give their hearts to men who tricked them into thinking they would keep them safe.
Yes, these men were dirtbags with whom I never hope to have future communication in any type of universe. But, if I think about the steps I took after I was subjected to these various dating crimes, I’m pained to admit that more often than not, I went about it all wrong.
For those of you who haven’t seen the memes and Instagram quotes, the term “insanity” is defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Looking back on it, “insane” is exactly how I would describe the way in which I was dating. I would meet a guy, watch the warning signs and red flags pop up, wave ignorantly as I passed them by and sit pretty until it all went to sh*t.
After a couple days, I would bounce back, meet another guy who displayed the same behaviors and watch the vicious cycle unravel once more.
I repeated the same patterns and expected the outcome to change. I sought the wrong men in all the wrong places and grew bitter when they didn’t transform into the men I envisioned them to be.
Nothing about this is logical, or fair, for that matter. Maybe it’s the fantasy all women have of meeting the notorious serial dater, the bad guy who’s really a good guy underneath or the rough-around-the-edges stranger with a misunderstood past.
In short, it’s the clichéd stereotype that doesn’t exist. When we encounter undateable men who make their intentions clear from the get-go, we have the power to turn around and walk away.
Not interested in a relationship? Stared at your t*ts for the first 15 minutes of conversation? Dropped not-so-subtle hints that he wanted to bang your hot coworker? He’s probably not Prince Charming.
But instead, we dismiss these signals. We invest our mind, body and soul to convince him that we’re the one he’s been waiting for all along, and when he still refuses to take it to the next level, we call him the crazy one.
We attempt to change him, train him and teach him to be the boyfriend we want, need and deserve. Somehow, we cling to the blind hope that this manipulative method will work, and all the while, the guy whose mind we’re trying so desperately to change couldn’t be less interested.
Rule of thumb: We should not date people we intend to change. Treating a man or a relationship like a project that needs mending sets you up for failure from the get-go. He never asked to be changed. He never asked to be molded into your perfect companion. He never gave you the impression this is what he wanted. Yet, you’re still shocked when it doesn’t work out in your favor.
Basic principle: You can’t turn someone into the person you want him or her to be and expect to be thanked for doing so.
I’m a firm believer that the vibes you put out into the universe come straight back to you. What you seek is what you’ll find, if you’re smart enough to look for it. While you’re busy wasting your time on the wrong men, you’re probably missing out on multiple opportunities to meet the right ones.
I’m talking about the men who buy you a drink, not in the hopes of getting into your pants, but because they’re genuinely interested in having a conversation and getting to know you. The men who take you to their favorite restaurants because they want to welcome you into their world.
The men who pause in the middle of Sunday night football just to tell you how pretty you look. The men who make you laugh to the point of an almost-six pack. The men who are turned on by the fact that you consistently disregard the salad section on the menu and go with a bacon cheeseburger instead. The men who leave the backdoor bullsh*t behind and say exactly what they feel.
The men who never make you question that you’re the only girl they want, the only one in their line of vision. These are the men you should be looking for.