The Trouble with Boys

The Trouble with Boys

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My sister asks me how I am. I tell her I’ve been unproductive, distracted, and irritable.


I've been in a place before where I really didn't care to be dating anyone at all, but when I'm in that place it's usually because my defenses have gone haywire and are slaughtering innocent passers-by. It's not a lot of fun, I gotta tell you. What I can't remember is whether it's more fun - or less not-fun - than what I'm feeling now.


I mean, he seemed like a nice guy.

He loves his mother.

He holds down a good job.

He said just enough of the right things that I believed him.

Clever boy.


So now I'm shuttling distractedly back and forth between feeling sorry for myself and feeling sorry for him - the first, because I've been here too goddamned many times already and why don't these boys ever hang around? and the second because, bless his little heart, he never even gave himself the chance to know just how wonderful I am. It's irritating.


What bothers me almost as much, though, are the friends who, when I'm cool with things and don't care whether I date anyone or not, warn me that I'll be alone forever if I don't let down my defenses and open up to the possibility of meeting Mister Wonderful, but when I'm all in a terrible state because the guy for whom I've finally let down my defenses seems to be dumping me, tell me I shouldn't care whether he wants to see me or not, because I'm allathat and a bag of chips anyway and I'll be fine on my own.


Seems like good advice: care enough but not too much, want to see him but not care whether he wants to see me, keep my defenses in check but up and running... but I have yet to figure out how to do all these things at once. And while I am fine on my own, I'd kinda like the opportunity to be fine with someone for a while.


I have a friend for whom this is not a problem. Her tactic, upon suspecting she's being ditched, which she would like me to emulate, is to put on her sassiest attitude and start dating someone else - preferably one of his friends.

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In order for me to do that, though, there has to be someone around I'm willing to date who'd also like to date me. If I had a stable of attractive, intelligent men waiting around for the chance to adore me, I'd probably feel the way she does. I don't. Just being wonderful me hasn't gotten me much but a lot of wonderful friends who, men and women alike, can't understand why I'm not seeing anyone.


The same friend also wishes, as do I, that I could just "go out" with the guys who do want to date me. Just "go out" and let them buy me dinner, ply me with wine and their attempts at witty conversation, string them along until someone I really want to go out with opens up his bright little eyes and realizes what a wonderous piece of womanhood is gazing sweetly into them. She wants me not to hope for more.


Doesn't seem unreasonable.


The problem with that strategy is that if I'm interested in seeing him at all, I'm interested in continuing to see him. And the minute I realize that this isn't someone I want to keep seeing, I want to stop seeing him right then. I don't enjoy stringing people along. I don't get any thrill at all out of seeing some guy swooning over me when I fail to swoon in return. It makes me hideously uncomfortable. And there just aren't that many men with the wit, the charm, the (apparent) honesty, the right pheremones, and an interest in going out with little me to make dating, for me, anything but the rare exception. So when I start dating someone I like, it's very damned difficult not to hope it lasts for a while.


It's also very damned difficult to know how to deal with people who assume my problem is low self-esteem. My self-esteem is just fine, thanks - I should know, I worked hard enough to get it that way. The fact is, the men who appreciate my wonderfulness don't want to date me, and the men who don't appreciate it also don't want to date me, at least not for long. How is this evidence of my self esteem, one way or another? I'm not turning down great guys just to go out with men who wouldn't know a fine woman if she gave him her resume; seemingly-great guys are ditching me to go out with manipulative, self-obssessed, spoiled creatures who treat them with just enough affection to keep them hanging around despite the high-heels grinding into their pitiful little hearts.


Okay, yeah, I've rushed into the arms of my fair share of shitheads, and maybe we all have self-esteem problems. Maybe even the creatures who collect men in butterfly jars and take them out for a quick ego-boost on a rainy day do it because they hate themselves. But that's not the point. The point is...


The point is, how could I have been so wrong, again? He wasn't anything like the last six guys I was wrong about. He was... well, he was nice.


And I can't reconcile the nice guy I was dating with the guy who screwed me over so capably. And I don't know how I'm to know whether the next nice guy I go out with isn't just also a clever nice-guy-impersonator, or how to tell whether to risk it.


Anyway, the most important question now is whether closure is best reached by a big bouquet of yellow carnations and a note that reads something like, "Congratulations - you've raised to two the number of men whose dicks I regret having touched," or by an easy-going campaign of casual friendliness aimed at the eventual acquisition of that scanner he promised to loan me.


Right now, I think a scanner will do me a hell of a lot more good than a date.
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