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October 04, 2009

Should Women Withhold Sex?

Miss Attila thinks Stacy got a few things right and a few things wrong on the question of withholding sex to get a guy to commit. I think she's right. Though I realize Stacy is partly kidding here, this passage is a prime example of what I don't like about the way men view women:

...if it is a husband that a woman is seeking, rather than just another in an endless series of going-nowhere "relationships," her negotiating posture in the marriage market is greatly enhanced if she avoids giving up the nookie -- humping, screwing, fornicating, making the beast with two backs, call it what you will -- until she can entrap her prey and drag him to the altar.

... Making the decision to keep your britches on henceforth does not require you to make a moral judgment about your sexual past. Even if you spent your teenage years slutting around like Meghan McCain after four margaritas, this doesn't necessarily make you a bad person -- unless you start writing ill-informed RINO political commentary for Tina Brown's Daily Beast, in which case, you're a total whore with pustulent chancres.

If there's one thing that has continued to bother me over the years about our "Sex and Relationships" conversations, it is the depressingly cynical double standard so many men employ with regard to the women in their lives. It seems to go something like this:

Men are programmed by Mother Nature to sleep with any woman willing to spread her legs. Giving in to their instincts, however, does not make men total sluts or whores the way it would if we were discussing... oh gosh, I don't know: women who give in to their instincts.

On the contrary, promiscuous sex makes men studly and admirable. So much so, in fact, that men love to brag about their willingness to use and discard women. They flaunt their 'conquests' while reviling the women they are having sex with for being dumb enough to "give it up". Don't like it? Hey - get over it babe - men are "wired that way". And anyway, you asked for it. Don't expect so much from us and you won't be disappointed, dummy!

Without a doubt, Stacy has hit on a few great home truths here. But I also think he is - unsurprisingly perhaps, since he is a man - looking at things only from the male perspective. Since most heterosexual relationships involve both a man and a woman, he's missing about half of the picture.

Men prize sex - and sexual access to women - greatly. But sex has different consequences for men and women. One of the things few women understand is that - regardless of whether their behavior lives up to their ideals - most men take commitment VERY seriously. That's why so many men run from commitment; not because they don't understand it, but because they understand commitment and responsibility all too well. Before taking on a lifelong commitment, a man usually needs to be at a point in his life where this makes sense to him; where he is prepared to fulfill his responsibilities. Most men weigh marriage very carefully because when a man finally does settle down, he feels obligated. Many men will work themselves nearly to death to provide for their families. They take great pride in their role as providers and protectors. And precisely because most men DO recognize that they are morally on the hook to provide for their offspring (even if they fail to live up to this responsibility), men prize something else: exclusivity.

Men, simply put, want to be able to trust that a woman they have sex with has eyes only for him, even if he isn't willing to reciprocate by 'forsaking all others', as it were. He wants to know that she will grant her favors to him and him alone. Consequently if she is too quick to give in to his attempts to seduce her, he wonders whether she would give in just as easily to some other Lothario? Her value lessens in his eyes. Who wants to commit to a lifetime of supporting a woman who may be sleeping around behind your back - who may commit you to support children you didn't even have the pleasure of fathering?

I also think, and here I'm counting the seconds here until the Mother of All Oxymoronic Arguments rears its ugly head, that men get their feelings hurt just like women do. Not just their pride, but their feelings. I don't believe men who argue that men are wonderful and moral beings... and simultaneously cynical users only care about sex.

Men and women are very different. Women definitely go into relationship mode far earlier than men do. But sex makes both men and women emotionally vulnerable, albeit to different degrees. A man is never so malleable, loving or tender as he is in a good sexual relationship. I think this is part of where the ugly talk of sluts and whores comes from. I also think it's the reason for male complaints of manipulative female behavior: on some level, men recognize that sex has great power over them and some resent that. The fact is that for men, sex can create some pretty strong emotions. It can also engender a very primal (and not irrational) fear of betrayal.

I'm not going to get into a recitation of my premarital sexual history. That's really none of anyone's business. Anyone who has read VC for any time at all knows that I married young. But I also began dating very early, so even though I was taken off the market (so to speak) early, I had a good 6-7 years of dating experience under my belt before I walked down the aisle.

During my dating years I never "dated around". With the exception of half of 9th grade (what I used to laughingly call "the dry spell"), I was usually in a long standing committed relationship. Moreover, I never had any trouble "trapping" my boyfriends into a long term commitment. I didn't even try.

On the contrary: they were the ones doing the chasing, who literally insisted on the commitment.

I think there were several reasons my boyfriends were always willing to commit to me and it had nothing to do with using sex as a bargaining tool. Both through my own experience and through talking to endless female friends over the years, I've noticed a few patterns in women who are successful in getting what they want with men.

1. They are selective. If a woman is attracted by men who have no character, she is not going to end up in a good relationship. Physical attraction is important but a man's other qualities: the ability to delay immediate gratification, responsibility, integrity, intelligence, wit, and - surprise! - kindness and sensitivity are the mark of a good man.

I never trusted smooth talkers or men who flirted too much. A little flirting is all right, but if he comes on too strong his attraction to you is likely to be superficial.

2. They take things slowly, realizing that men and women have different relationship timetables. I think this is probably the biggest mistake women make with men.

There's a pattern that plays out in male-female relationships all the time. A guy notices a woman. He employs the full court press: frequent phone calls, flowers, romantic dates, anything to make himself stand out from the crowd. And the first few dates go well. She is comfortable with him. The relationship is easy and she's on cloud nine. He seems eager to see her again.

And it's here that women frequently screw up. She is thinking, "He's the one! It's love!"

And he's thinking, "Hey, this is kind of pleasant. I could see things continuing just like this..." Except they don't a lot of the time. As time goes on, two things happen:

1. Having won her acceptance, he stops trying quite so hard. The full court press becomes a half court press. He's still interested, but he's not standing on his head trying to win her anymore because he's no longer afraid of losing her.

2. Her behavior changes, too. In the back of her mind they're now in a relationship, and relationships come with expectations. For a woman, this happens far sooner than it does with a man. As I said earlier, I knew whether I was serious about a guy by the second date. Men, on the other hand, can take a whole year to get to the point where they begin to think of that little white picket fence.

BIG difference. I think that how the woman behaves at this point makes all the difference in the world in whether the man goes on to decide he wants a committed relationship. Because at this point, a lot of women go on to do something very dumb and it has nothing to do with sex.

Little by little, they begin to give up their independence. They stop going out with their girlfriends and start waiting by the phone for Mr. Right to call them. And if he doesn't call promptly, they resent having given up the usual fun activities they would have engaged in before he came along. They get irritated or emotional, and the weight of all that expectation and disappointment makes the guy feel trapped. Suddenly things aren't light and fun anymore. Instead of positive reinforcement, he encounters poorly hidden hurt and resentment. This is where I think Stacy got it right at the beginning of his post when he asked:

Question: Why do people treat you badly? Answer: Because you let them.

Bingo. When I was younger I used to say, "If you lie down and act like a doormat, don't be surprised if people wipe their feet all over you." And women do this all the time. We engage in placating behavior: "If I do X for him, he'll like me." This comes from a good place. We are hard wired by nature to care for small children; to be unselfish and giving and unguardedly affectionate. But the thing is, men aren't children.

The woman he was attracted to in the first place was fun and light hearted and above all, someone he couldn't take for granted. Here's another place where Stacy is partly right: if - this early in the relationship - you've already had sex with him, he will tend to take you for granted. Notice I said, "tend".

Women walk a very delicate tightrope here between being able to convince a man they will be true to him and being taken for granted. I don't think having sex with a guy will cause him to avoid commitments. I know far too many men who have married women they were already having sex with to believe that. Sex isn't the driver here - it's an important part of the package, but not the whole package.

I think what makes men willing to commit to a woman - regardless of whether they're having sex with her or not - is that they see her as someone who has her own interests and her own life and moreover, who will make his life better, more fun and more meaningful if he can convince her to commit to him. If she gives up her friends, her hobbies and outside interests and expects him to fulfill her every desire, he's going to see commitment as a prison rather than as something that will enrich his life. Sex complicates the equation because women bond earlier and being in a sexual relationship can cause women to cling too tightly or give in to a man's naturally dominating personality.

I think what most women don't realize is that while men need to be respected and admired, they don't really want you to give in to them totally. One thing we can never delegate in life is responsibility for our own happiness. Often, women in relationships do exactly this: everything starts to revolve around the man and that puts way too much pressure on a new relationship. Men don't react well to pressure and do many things themselves that aren't helpful.

But I reject the notion that women should use sex as a bargaining tool. What makes more sense to me is that neither men nor women should jump into sexual relationships unless they can handle the emotional fallout. If having sex with a man you care for causes you to lose control of your life or your emotions, you're treating sex too casually.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

UPDATE: Bride of Rove (OMG - love the name!) makes a great point here:

If you are a 31-yo woman recently dumped by a long time live in here’s some actual advice from a woman who has seen this many times. Don’t kill yourself look for that next guy. Take up water skiing or sky diving or archaeology or something – anything – you’ve been denying yourself because of that last asshole you were dating. If you are out doing things you love you will run into guys who love the things you are doing and if one happens to be ready for marriage? Well – there you are. It’s not you. Unless you are a skanky whiner bitch who is miserable for the sake of being miserable – it’s not you. It’s probably not even him. Move on. Let him go. Life is waiting for you – go live it.

I will never forget the first time the Spousal Unit and I had The Relationship Talk. We were only 18 and had been dating only a few months, but I think we both realized we had something both of us thought was special. The Talk took place on a lovely summer's day on the Golf Course at NOB, Norfolk. We sat under a tree and the soon to be love of my life stunned me senseless with the following:

"Yes, I feel the same way about you, but I have plans for the next 4 years. And after that I don't want to marry until my service commitment is over. So that will mean ... let's see... 4 more years. And I want to be able to give you a good home and medical insurance [Ed. note, I had asthma as a teen]. So... hmmm... 9 years."

I clearly recall being quite shocked that my undeniable physical and emotional charms were insufficient to blind my SO to mundane details like making sure we had enough to live on. I also clearly recall thinking, "Damn. I love this guy, but he's smoking crack if he thinks I'll wait 9 years until everything is 'just so'. That's nuts."

Inside, I was a whirl of emotions. I often find myself responding that way to him. What I said, was something like:

"Well, I understand your plans but I really can't see dating exclusively for 9 years without a clear commitment from you. Too much could happen in the mean time. I love you, but if that's the way you feel I am going to date other people. If it's meant to be, it will be but I'm not putting myself on the shelf for 9 years."

And I did. I went to school and dated other people. But I loved my future husband and never found anyone to rival him in my affections. This went on for another year and a half. I am often mystified by military wives who completely fall apart when their husbands deploy. It's not that I don't feel all the same feelings they do. I haven't slept well since my husband left and neither has he.

But we come into this life alone and we leave it alone. To me, a successful marriage is not so much a merging of two persons, but a partnership. As such, it requires two people who can be self sufficient. FWIW, we also discussed living together (it *was* the 70s folks). I never seriously considered that, though.

If I'd moved in with him, I would have expected a proposal and if he didn't propose, I would have resented that. Sometimes you need to know what you want from a relationship. If the other person isn't willing to give it to you, he's not right for you.

Posted by Cassandra at October 4, 2009 06:16 AM

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Comments

Thank you. Well said.

Posted by: Darius at October 4, 2009 10:49 AM

"Little by little, they begin to give up their independence. They stop going out with their girlfriends and start waiting by the phone for Mr. Right to call them. And if he doesn't call promptly, they resent having given up the usual fun activities they would have engaged in before he came along. They get irritated or emotional, and the weight of all that expectation and disappointment makes the guy feel trapped. Suddenly things aren't light and fun anymore. Instead of positive reinforcement, he encounters poorly hidden hurt and resentment."

Oh this point is HUGELY important once you are actually IN a solid relationship. I can't tell you how many friends I've had to drag back out into the world for their own marriage. One friend's husband liked to sleep in all day on Saturday. She was very outdoorsey and active. Once she had a baby it got harder and harder to go out with out him. One day we asked them both - for the hundredth time - to go out boating with us. We have a 36' Mainship which is perfect for toddlers and moms. He wouldn't go. Because he didn't want to get up early she was trapped. I finally convinced her to pack up the baby, leave him in bed and come out with us. He never thought in a million years she would, but she did. We had a great day out. When we got back he wasn't angry - he'd had a wake up call. His wife was an individual and she still had a life. The next time, he got his ass out of bed and came with us. They got back to doing things on the weekend. People become couples for beneficial reasons. A lot of women lose sight of themselves once they get married. It's stupid to "sacrifice" for a marriage which is usually justification for self subjugation. It's not the selfless wife that holds a relationship together, it's the wife who knows herself and respects the person she is that holds it together.

Posted by: BrideOfRove at October 4, 2009 10:59 AM

I have a really bad tendency to do that :p Our time together is at such a premium that we both tend to go places together or not at all.

I think you're right, though. Most guys don't resent it if you have your own life and your own friends. It just presents them with a tradeoff - if they want to spend time with you, they must compete with your other friends and other interests.

Men tend to accept tradeoffs - provided there's not too much drama or too many recriminations involved - with equanimity.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2009 11:40 AM

Always start with what's in common. I think this is perfectly true:

"Men, simply put, want to be able to trust that a woman they have sex with has eyes only for him, even if he isn't willing to reciprocate by 'forsaking all others', as it were. He wants to know that she will grant her favors to him and him alone. Consequently if she is too quick to give in to his attempts to seduce her, he wonders whether she would give in just as easily to some other Lothario? Her value lessens in his eyes. Who wants to commit to a lifetime of supporting a woman who may be sleeping around behind your back - who may commit you to support children you didn't even have the pleasure of fathering?"

And there's the origin of the double standard on sexual behavior that so irritates you here:

"If there's one thing that has continued to bother me over the years about our "Sex and Relationships" conversations, it is the depressingly cynical double standard so many men employ with regard to the women in their lives."

As you have suggested, there's good reason for the sexual double standard. Then why does it bother you so?

Posted by: Jeff at October 4, 2009 11:43 AM

Another interesting point: I think people underestimate the feedback loop. IOW, it's not usually that ONE person changed, but that couples respond dynamically to each others' behavior.

That response can be positive (as in your example) or negative (as when the wife gets hurt or angry and the husband withdraws or is stubbornly clueless). Removing the emotion from the conflict often helps to convert a negative situation into a positive one where both partners have the freedom to do what they want to.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2009 11:43 AM

No, I don't think there's ever a "good reason" for a man to brag about his own promiscuity but call women sluts and whores if they behave the same way.

Once you're married, that's a different deal. But if you're still single both parties can use birth control if they don't want a kid. And it's also never reasonable (in my book) for a man to expect fidelity from a woman with no reciprocity.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2009 11:46 AM

One more observation, Jeff.

Most of the time if a man and woman are sleeping together, she has ALREADY committed herself to exclusivity and expects the same of him. What I object to is that many men are perfectly willing to take advantage of this situation while having no intention of holding up their end of the 'bargain'.

And they know full well what the woman expects, even if they pretend they don't.

I understand a man wondering whether a woman who gives in to him is 'easy', but he is assuming she is on the same relationship timetable that he is. But women "decide" about a guy - and commit to the relationship - far earlier. So this is, more often than not, a false assumption.

Either way, both men and women need to be more honest about their expectations and the risks of having sex early in a relationship.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 4, 2009 11:51 AM

Sad to say, I've never been in a long-term committed relationship. I didn't date in high school (got asked to the Jr/Sr prom when I was a sophomore (wasn't really ready for a "real" relationship), and got asked to go steady my Sr year (while he was already a friend, I didn't want to see him, as I pining over someone else). It's not like I liked different guys during my JH/HS years, I was quiet and shy and never seemed to attract the attention of the boys. Once I got to college, things didn't change much. Still quiet and shy and not the party girl so many others were. Seems most all my friends had boyfriends during those college years (this is not to say they were all guys worth having, but it certainly sucked from my POV that I was pretty much the only one not being taken out on dates). I had friends that I'm pretty sure put out, but not all of them were like that. One friend would come home with lots of hickeys she had to hide before going to "the right" (according to her parents) church ) to the point of wearing turtlenecks in the summer heat because they were ear-to-ear. One of my college friends, however, found a good man, and they are still married and have a son.

Longest I ever dated someone was my last summer in Germany. Dated a GI. The "I'm not sleeping with you" thing came up after we saw a report on CNN about condoms or some such (kinda a "we won't be having sex, so we don't need condoms anyway" thing). I know he got crap from one of his buddies about not sleeping with me. After I came back to the States, I never heard from him again. Sleeping with him would have been a HUGE mistake. If sleeping with him would have made him keep in touch, it wasn't ME that would have been the thing that was important to him. However, I don't think if I'd had sex with him it would have made any difference as far as keeping in touch. Keep in mind, this was LONG before email and the internet - I don't even recall if AOL was around yet back then, but it was before seemingly everyone had a computer.

I know I've said it before. For me, if I were to have sex with someone, that would mean I expect "forever". I've not ever been in a situation where I thought "forever" was possible. Now, I'm pushing 40 and still single. I keep hearing there are good men out there, but I sure as hell haven't found one willing to take a chance on me. Makes me very frustrated, wondering if I'll ever find "Mr. Right", and I also have to come to terms with the fact I may never be able to have any children of my own. Guys don't have that whole "biological clock" thing to worry about. I ask myself if I might end up making a bad decision when it comes to having a man in my life because of that. Trying to find someone (and I am getting out of the house more than I have in recent years, besides just going to the ballpark/hanging with my sisters and their friends).

Sometimes, it sucks to be me. My 28-year-old sister is getting married in five weeks to a man (my age) who she started dating 5.5 years ago. My 24-year-old sister has been dating a guy about 8 years older than her for over a year now, and they'll be moving in together when her lease in up end of November. Not that I've asked, but I'm pretty sure both their relationships have included a sexual component for a while. Me? I've known since December than my sister was getting married, and I still wasn't able to meet someone and develop a relationship so I'd not have to go to my sister's wedding stag. You'd think nearly a year would have been enough time. Clearly not...

Anyhow, unless men are making assumption about me without even knowing me, I'm not even getting to a point of "to put out or not to put out" in a relationship. But, I've had people (and a doctor, even) seem dumbfounded to learn of my sexual history (or, more accurately, my lack thereof...). In wider society, if you are an adult and you haven't had sex with someone, seems people think there is something wrong with you. That attitude is sad, and doesn't say good things about our society.....

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2009 01:33 PM

Ok. Let me disabuse you of the notion that once you hit 40 it's over. Two friends of mine married for the first time (for either of them) in their late 40's. We never thought EITHER of them would marry and then one day everyone - all but me had attended the same college - was together for a weekend of scalloping in Homosassa and it hit me - this one friend was exactly like the other friends mom. I told him so. I just blurted it out. She was the perfect woman for him because she had all the great traits his mom has - the things he loves about his mom. He's no momma's boy, but ... they were meant for each other. They started dating and married the next summer and they are very happy. Both said they thought they'd never marry but there they are ... so DO not give up. Do not go into hiding. Don't allow yourself to get into a rut. Keep active, keep in touch with your friends, there really are a lot of great guys running around loose. ;-)

Of course cats a really cool, too.

Posted by: BrideOfRove at October 4, 2009 02:21 PM

When I first starting spending time with my ex-wife, she would do all the things I'm into. As time went by, she would beg off with the excuse that she was too tired from working all week to do anything on the weekends, but I could go ahead and do them. Eventually, she would resent me going off to do those things I had always done, and even began to insinuate that I was fooling around when I went away on weekends. (Of course I pointed out to her that that was a "two way street". I suspect it may have been guilt talking on her part, but that's a moot point at this juncture, although I know that I was innocent of infidelity) I didn't change, although she apparently expected me to do so. I think that is a big part of why some relationships fail; if you think you're going to change someone, prepare to be disappointed. They might even go along with your scheme, but they will resent it...and someday they might have enough, or just be miserable.

I've been spending time with the same woman for 3.5 years now. I made it clear from the beginning that (in the immortal words of Popeye) "I am what I am". If that works, great. If not, then don't expect me to change, because at my age I am who I'm going to remain. (And of course I realize that this is something that works both ways) So far, so good. We're not married, but have discussed it. I'm not averse to the idea, but in no rush either. I have no fear of commitment though, and will probably get married again one o' these years. I'm certainly in no hurry, though. Once bitten, twice shy? Heh. I am thrice divorced, so how shy should I be? No matter, if it's to be, it shall be.

That may have been my longest comment ever...

Posted by: camojack at October 4, 2009 02:51 PM

The Young Man does not want to obligate himself until he can provide. He dates, but only in groups and rarely with just him and the Young Lady. He told me that while dating was fun, it was also distracting and he preferred learning Life Skillz as opposed to 'Le Flirting.'

Same with the youngest CLU. At the age of eight, this child has a plan; he will go to college and design Legos.

Seriously, though, your post is excellent.

Posted by: Cricket at October 4, 2009 02:53 PM

The pushing 40 thing is more in regard to me being able to have children of my own. My youngest sister was born when my mom was 37. I'm 39 and have no prospect of finding someone, getting married and having children any time soon. It's different for men. So long as the plumbing still works, they can father children well into their senior years, so they don't have that "biological clock". As far as bearing children, I'm "past my prime", and that operating on the assumption I don't have other (unknown) issues in that regard.

I've not gone into hiding. I moved back to Texas coming on 5 years ago. Not long after, I went back to school and didn't put much effort into building a new network of friends locally because I didn't expect to still be in the same town post-graduation with my M.Ed. I earned my M.Ed. almost 3 years ago and have yet to land that first teaching job. Coming to terms with the difficultly of finding a teaching job (I don't speak Spanish, and I'm not Special Ed certified, and I'm not secondary Math/Science - I'm elementary education), I figured out I needed to stop waiting for that teaching job that might take me somewhere else and started actively looking for things to do (besides hang with my much younger sisters and their friends - while there are single men among those friends, only one I'd have considered dating, and he - obviously - wasn't interested (Ronnie is a nice looking, right-leaning guy my age and, damn, can he cook, he hunts and fishes - and owns guns - but I was the obese older sister who wasn't turning anyone's head). I am getting out more, and I've lost a lot of weight (officially, as of yesterday morning, 50.8 pounds), but I still haven't meet anyone who has indicated any interest (though I met someone a month ago, and unexpectedly saw again yesterday, who I'd be interested in, but I don't know if he's single or not, and I'm nervous about asking if he is through the mutual acquaintance). Still, even if he IS single, and if he IS interested, I'll still be going to my sister's wedding stag. I just thank God my best friend is able to come for the wedding so she can help keep me from getting into a funk at the reception. Watching my baby sister get married when I am as old as I am and still single is going to be hard.

Oh, and I've already got the pets. I've had as many as 2 dogs and 3 cats (and occasionally sheltered lost pets/strays), but I'm down to the 2 dogs and only 1 cat, and my dogs - that I've had since the day they were born - turned 13 last month.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2009 02:54 PM

Cassandra wrote, "No, I don't think there's ever a "good reason" for a man to brag about his own promiscuity but call women sluts and whores if they behave the same way."

I see that. It's right. But it's a slightly different point. The guy who knows his way around women, sexually I mean, is very attractive to women. By and large women don't seem to penalize his relationship chances. Men do penalize the relationship chances of slutty women. And this double standard is rational and right for the very reasons you've given.

There is a double standard. Men and women have very different vulnerabilities in a relationship, as you've pointed out.

"Most of the time if a man and woman are sleeping together, she has ALREADY committed herself to exclusivity and expects the same of him."

Anyone who has been to a modern university since the 1960s will probably dispute this. I'm sorry to say, I do too. It's just not true. Even if you only consider the paternity fraud rate or the rate of divorces initiated by women, you see that it can't be true.

"What I object to is that many men are perfectly willing to take advantage of this situation while having no intention of holding up their end of the 'bargain'."

I'm sure men lead women on for sex. It happens. But how can that happen in the first few dates or even the first few weeks? There is no reasonable expectation of a relationship, yet women hop in the sack right away. And they do it all the time, at all ages.

Men, properly evaluating these women by a double standard, conclude from the act of sex itself that these women are not relationship material. You've written about this, above. So, it's the woman who's broken the bargain. She has displayed a lack of sexual self-control. That permanently puts her in the slut category. She's good for sex but not for a relationship.

Men will evaluate women on other things, too. Is she a gold digger? Does she act like my competitor or a loyal supporter? Can she accept leadership? But you've written about some of this stuff, too.

Women will evaluate men on different things. Does he have emotional control? Will he protect me? (And in these wimpy times, CAN he protect me?) If we have children, can he support the family? And so forth.

There is a double standard on many things, including sexual behavior. It's rational.

Posted by: Jeff at October 4, 2009 03:44 PM

I have three friends who had babies after 40. They married "late". I can't believe I am going to baby showers for my friends at my age but there you have it. Honest-to-god I don't think I could do the 2 am feedings at this age but I've HAD the kids and they've literally sucked the life out of me ;-) so I am much older than my friends who are my age and just now starting families. Every life is different. That's what's so great about living in this day and age. Women have so many options now that we did not have when my mother was starting a family.

Posted by: BrideOfRove at October 4, 2009 05:06 PM

Jeff~

I'm willing to bet that most of the women who slept with a man early in their relationship do it because they think they have to, to keep him. I do make judgements about men and their promiscuity. I want a man who will be faithful to me, and if he's been whoring around, that would make me doubt his ability to be a "one woman man". Prior sexual relationships when they were long-term committed ones are one thing. Untold numbers of conquests that were just that - conquests - not so desirable in my book. It would make me think he'd have trouble keeping it in his pants... I don't think sexual promiscuity should be a mark of pride for anyone.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2009 05:17 PM

BoR~

I know I still might have a chance at getting pregnant after 40, but the risks are greatly increased, both for me and for the child. Yes, women over 40 can have healthy babies, but the risk of things like Downs Syndrome and other birth defects are greatly increased. And, that is ignoring any other problems that might exist. Since I've never tried to get pregnant before, I don't know - even under the ideal conditions of getting pregnant "in my prime" - what issues there may be with (1) getting pregnant and (2) staying pregnant to term. Given that I don't know what my odds are for those two things, and when it might be that I (1) meet and (2) marry "Mr. Right", I have to face the fact that it may never happen for me.

I'm not still single because I was too busy with those other "many options". I'm still single because, for whatever reason, I've not been able to attract a boyfriend all these years to even TRY to build a serious relationship. I'm not one of those women who has dated a endless string of men who just weren't willing to commit. I've done singles groups through church and I've signed up on more dating sites than I could name off the top of my head, and nothing has come of any of it. Makes a girl wonder what is wrong with her that she can't even manage to get a first date, nevermind an actual boyfriend...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2009 05:26 PM

I see something slightly different in the sexual dynamics of some women (my age, but also younger). Also, I think that women are our own worst problem in this whole situation, but I'll get to that later.

First, when I was teaching and now in the younger women I see working as we move around sex does not seem to have the same value that it did before I was growing up (many of my contemporaries also see sex as something less than an important decision). They do not consider it "slutting around", nor is it necessarily a thought to creating a relationship. Rather, in our new exhibitionist society, sex is seen as a way to get attention and to "prove" one's attractiveness.

The more men that "want" to have sex with a girl (I place that in quotes, because in the sexual situations they find themselves in it is more a momentary opportunity rather than something they have been lusting for over adolescent eons), the more attractive she MUST be, right? I mean, everyone keeps inviting her to all the good parties! She can always call some dude to hang out with her! And because she is not looking for a long term relationship (who wants to only be admired by one man?), she can often skip the pining process that so many of go through hoping that special guy will notice us.

He will. And since there's no pressure, the goal is often easy to achieve. And the girl can usually find some guy to make her feel attractive for the night. And since so many young women are doing it, there is no social stigma associated with it, either.

Anyway, that's not to say this is not without psychological consequences. I've seen them in friends. This is the sexual belief system the whole cougar movement grew out of.

Now, as to how I think this makes women our own worst enemies... Well, I think that it has conditioned a generation of men to think less of women. Women are for a moment of diversion rather than a lifetime of devotion. And who needs women long term, anyway? It's way more fun to have a bromance, hang out with the buddies (who all have the same interests and don't require as much emotional upkeep or monetary investment).

I also think that in our rush to enact the sexual revolution, we germinated the seeds to this problem because we ignored biological drives like the ones you mentioned, Cass. That's not to say that I was an angel myself, or to say anything about my own history, actually. But I don't think anyone (particularly the worried parents of teenage girls) can deny that we currently have real issues and that what we as a society have been doing for the last several years hasn't been working for their physical or psychological health.

Posted by: airforcewife at October 4, 2009 07:06 PM

In my humble opinion, the biggest difference between the sexes is that one has the capability of reading the minds of members of the opposite sex, and the other does not.

Posted by: RIslander at October 4, 2009 07:18 PM

awf~

I hope it might be an issue of where I look. Hoping if I can narrow things down to the proper demographic, I'll find someone who is much more likely to share my outlook on these sorts of things. But, I agree that the coarsening of society is a big factor. We are losing the (IMO) the very important function of shame. Things that should be viewed as shameful behavior that would prevent most people from engaging in it aren't looked at that way anymore. There is no longer the immediate negative consequence for sleeping around, regardless of whether or not you are a man or a woman. But, it seems that women suffer more of the negative consequence because of that double standard re: men vs. women and sexual promiscuity...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2009 07:40 PM

Well, people are expecting people to behave like animals, rutting whenever and wherever. Many, many people believe we are nothing more than animals. Many people are treating people like animals. Does it surprise you that lots of other people take them at their word?

Animals, for the most part, rut around because of survival of the fittest. A man ruts around because he cannot be sure of passing on his genes - hence, it's a numbers game. A woman is always sure whether a baby's hers or not. And despite all our technology, all our sophistication, all our science, somewhere we're still conditioned to believe that passing on our genes are important.

Posted by: Gregory at October 4, 2009 09:47 PM

But it's all about HOW we go about trying to pass on our genes. We are humans, not just animals. We are capable of critical thinking and reason. We should expect more of ourselves than just giving in to our baser instincts. I don't think that is too much to ask...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 4, 2009 10:07 PM

I agree.

Too bad so many others do not. Otherwise we won't have it as a major problem. Who gets custody 90% of the time in a divorce? The woman. Who initiates no-fault divorce most of the time? The woman. Who's forced to pay child support even after it's been proven the kid's not his? The man.

I don't believe that women should use sex of the lack of it as a weapon - but it is part of the whole 'till death do us part' package. No one should be separating it out from the rest.

Aside from the Christian peerspective, though, here's something to think about. What should a man get married for?

Companionship? He gets that from his beer buddies and WoW guilds.

Cleaning and cooking services? He gets that from either himself or a maid, should he be rich enough to afford it. Heck, you can even pay professional cleaners to come in once a month - most men aren't too particular anyhows.

Children? Well, you can adopt too. Or just donate your sperm to the lesbian couple down the road.

Sex? Well, no, you can pay for that or DIY or have one-night-stands.

Taxation benefits? I'm not convinced they're better than staying single.

At the end of the day, the way the Western world is structured, there's no compelling reason to get married. Marriages used to be tied up with property rights and inheritance issues and the whole shebang with relatives and whatnot.

Posted by: Gregory at October 5, 2009 01:52 AM

I don't think you can compare the companionship a man would find with a woman with the companionship he would find with his buddies. Call me old-fashioned, or a hopeless romantic, but I want a man to marry me because he wishes to spend the rest of his life with me, as I would want to spend the rest of my life with him. Instead of just giving up - as you would have men do by forsaking marriage, why don't we make an attempt to fix things?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 02:08 AM

Y'all didn't really think I could sit this one out, did you? This thread has expanded to include many excellent topics, but I will focus on Cass' original question -- should women withold sex.

Speaking only for myself, the moment a woman begins witholding sex from an EXISTING sexual relationship, that relationship is over. Period.

I don't have a problem with women making the moral choice to abstain from sex until mariage, or so forth, but this should be made clear early on. On the other hand, a woman who witholds sex from an existing sexual realtionship is usually doing so to manipulate her man or engage in some other relationship power struggle. I no longer have the time or patience to play manipulation games in relationships, and the witholding of sex or any other such passive/aggressive manifestations or behaviors is a klaxon alarm that the relationship is on an emergency dive course to the bottom of the ocean. Having suffered through increasing levels of misery and drama as the manipulation behaviors got ratcheted up to ever-crazier heights as the significant other or ex-wife could not bend me to her will, thereby ultimately killing the relationship anyway, I skip right to the end and just end it right then and there.

As you might have guessed, Cass, I can be a very stubborn man at times. This "Taurus" nature of mine gets even worse when I think someone is manipulating or trying to take advantage of me. The more they push, the more I dig in my heels. Women who like to manipulate people to get their way typically find me infuriating. I could care less what such drama queens think, which tends to infuriate them even more. Then the crazy train really gets rolling, so I have learned to bail before that happens.

I do have several very good female friends, that have become like sisters to me. One of them always says I am a pushover because she can always get me to come over and fix her car by cooking me a favorite meal. I don't think I am a pushover, but I do respond well to "honey" rather than "vinegar". In other words, an act of kindness or genuine request based out of need will nearly always get me to volunteer help. Those women who try to get what they want out of men by hitting them over the head with a sledgehammer, though, tend to find me as an immovable object.

Witholding sex from an existing sexual relationship has always struck me as the sledgehammer method -- or at least a more "vinegar" than "honey" approach.

If your man is any kind of man at all, this kind of a challenge to battle may provoke more of a reaction than you would desire or foresee.

Posted by: a former european at October 5, 2009 03:58 AM

In the main, I agree with you afe.

However, if I were married to a man who didn't treat me well (and I've had friends whose husbands were abusive verbally - constantly belittling and threatening them) I would not want to have sex with a man like that.

Stipulated: I don't think this is the type of example you were talking about, and further a woman who refused a man like that wouldn't be doing it to "get her way" but because abuse is not exactly a recommended foreplay technique :p

I have a hard time thinking that I'd even stay in the same house with a man like that. I wouldn't want my children hearing that kind of abuse because it teaches them it's OK. I'm thinking specifically of a neighbor I had when my kids were very small. Her husband used to tell her she was ugly, stupid and worthless and that if she ever left him, he'd kill her. He didn't hit her, but after that kind of constant ugliness, he didn't have to. This beautiful (really!) woman was so beaten down by his contempt that she thought she really *was* ugly and stupid and that she couldn't support her kids without him.

I know you would never behave that way, but I don't think such a woman would be wrong not to want to have sex with a man like that. It would feel like a violation.

But in the normal situation I tend to agree with you. I don't think sex should EVER be a bargaining chip. I just think it's also important to realize that if the relationship is in trouble, often BOTH men and women withdraw sexually, either from a fear of being rejected or just because if you feel alienated from someone, it tends to kill off desire.

I think that a great many men genuinely don't understand this about women. In order to feel genuine desire, most of us need to feel safe and loved. The idea of using sex as some kind of doggie treat to reward behavior a woman wants really offends me. But at the same time, if my husband and I have a fight I don't want to have sex with him until we've made up because to me, sex and love aren't separate things. I'm not sure men view the act the same way at all.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 07:05 AM

I don't think anyone (particularly the worried parents of teenage girls) can deny that we currently have real issues and that what we as a society have been doing for the last several years hasn't been working for their physical or psychological health.

As with afe's comment, I agree with much of what you've said, AFW. But I guess I have a few quibbles.

I have a real problem with the "blame women" or "blame men" crowds. People always want a simple answer, but human behavior isn't simple at all and one size fits all rules are often a poor fit when applied to individuals.

I don't think it makes sense to look at the way *some* women behave these days and conclude "women are at fault". I don't deny that promiscuity in women is harmful but that's not surprising given the underlying changes in our society. Neither men nor women are behaving in a way that's conducive to healthy relationships and we respond to each other's cues.

I don't view promiscuity in men as a desirable characteristic at all. In fact, I think it's a huge turnoff and I wouldn't date a guy who had been around too much.

I disagree with Jeff deeply on this subject: I never wanted guys like that. I view promiscuity (and bragging about it) as net negatives. A man who brags about that sort of thing is telling me I won't be able to trust him and that he has poor self control. In fact, I'd have to say that if I looked back on the guys I've been attracted to, none were prudes but the brain was definitely driving the bus (not the penis). If a man views women as conquests, I want NOTHING to do with him.

Jeff makes a lot of good points, but I disagree to some extent with this:

"Most of the time if a man and woman are sleeping together, she has ALREADY committed herself to exclusivity and expects the same of him." ...
Anyone who has been to a modern university since the 1960s will probably dispute this. I'm sorry to say, I do too. It's just not true. Even if you only consider the paternity fraud rate or the rate of divorces initiated by women, you see that it can't be true.

You can't look at divorces as evidence of what someone was thinking when they went INTO a relationship. It's interesting, looking at the reasons behind modern divorces.

Yes, 70% of divorces are initiated by women. But WHY do they leave? There are a lot of reasons, but one often overlooked by men is the prevalence of Internet porn:

At the 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two-thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases. "This is clearly related to the Internet," says Richard Barry, president of the association. "Pornography had an almost nonexistent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago."

Now part of this may be a 'chicken or the egg' thing: did the relationship founder first or did the porn cause the relationship to founder? But I have known more than one case where it was definitely the latter.

Years ago I had a work associate whose husband was literally addicted. She was not withholding sex. In fact, their sex life was about the only fairly healthy thing about their marriage. But he was also addicted to online porn and gambling and it was destroying their marriage. Over the course of 18 months I watched him progress from just being online to texting other women and paying for phone sex. He lied about his behavior all the time and lied about money spent on it (a lot, by the way).

I would consider such behavior a betrayal of my marriage vows. This woman truly loved her husband and she never denied him. They were having sex pretty much every night, so he can't say she "drove" him to it.

The truth is that he was cheating on her, plain and simple, and either lacked the capacity to control his behavior or refused to do so. There is nothing in the marriage vows about spending time online propositioning other women or spending hours and hours watching other nude women have sex with horses. And when requests like that start making their way into your own home, sorry but that's a non-starter. No woman should be forced to perform painful or degrading acts against her will.

Occasionally looking at something online? Probably hard for most guys to avoid these days - even the Fox News web site is beginning to look like The Sun's page 3. But this is something entirely different and though I don't believe in divorce except in the worst case, I wouldn't stay with a man who treated me like that either.

After many requests that he attend counseling (which he lied his way out of) she left him.

I don't blame her.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 07:33 AM

Oh... before I get jumped on, I'm not saying men are bad.

For every case where a man has been in the wrong, there are cases where the woman destroyed the marriage.

I was just using those cases to illustrate that both men and women are being negatively affected by the decline in societal standards and I don't think it's any *less* harmful when it's the man who does so than when it's a woman.

There's a lot to be said for having societal standards that are supportive of marriage and families. People always have the option of going against the tide if they want to but I'm not sure the answer is to abandon all standards.

When I was growing up, people broke rules all the time but in the main most folks understood WHY there were rules. I think that's what alarms me most about today's climate.

Everyone wants to break the rule AND escape the consequences. But the consequences are why the rules existed in the first place and I don't feel any obligation to make things better for someone who has deliberately chosen a course of action with predictable consequences.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 07:40 AM

Speaking only for myself, the moment a woman begins witholding sex from an EXISTING sexual relationship, that relationship is over. Period

My father died when I was younger, but in adult discussions with my mother I learned that as a Christian minister he believed that consistently withholding sex (by either partner) was as much a betrayal of the wedding vows as having an affair (there's nothing loving, honorable or cherishing about such behavior).

Coming from a denomination that was very anti-divorce, that was quite a liberal view. I think he was exactly right, though. It's certainly just a symptom of other problems (I think if there is an emotional reason for a partner to not want sex, they need to be honest about it and address it--I'm not saying you should have sex when the relationship is broken), but unless abuse/betrayal is already involved,there's no excuse to use sex as a weapon or a tool of manipulation. Such a betrayal!

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 10:01 AM

I wouldn't go so far as to say the relationship is OVER, period, but that's just me.

Men withhold affection/talking all the time, and that's something women need just as much as men need sex. Is a marriage automatically "OVER" when a man refuses to talk about problems in the relationship?

He may be justified (if she's badgering him and he's made reasonable and repeated attempts to talk things out). Or he may be using silence the way some women use sex - as punishment or a way of avoiding the downsides of a committed relationship. And a LOT of men do this.

I am not a big fan of ultimatums in marriage. In a long term relationship, there may be times when one partner or the other has a problem and doesn't behave ideally. These, to me, are challenges to be worked through - not reasons for ending the relationship despite that whole 'til death do us part thingy.

Men are very fond of talking about how women withhold sex. And that's a valid complaint in some cases.

But men are not at all willing to admit that they do the exact same thing when they give their wives the silent treatment, shut them out emotionally, or belittle their concerns. Marriage is a two way street. I don't think 'my way or the highway' has ever been much of a roadmap for a successful relationship :p

A lot of this is being mature enough to realize that your needs may differ from your partners. Only recognizing your needs as valid isn't helpful.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 10:19 AM

Cassandra, that was true wisdom.

You have that all-seeing eye, methinks.

Posted by: Chris Muir at October 5, 2009 10:27 AM

I think Chris just accused you of being Sauron there Cass.

:P

Posted by: MikeD at October 5, 2009 10:35 AM

Well, I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, Chris :p

Few things are better teachers than a good sized 2x4 upside the head!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 10:39 AM

I think Chris just accused you of being Sauron there Cass.

OK, that made me laugh out loud :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 10:40 AM

Actually, Cass, I think the way you put it is more in line with what I'm trying to say. On the one hand, I do blame certain women's behavior for ruining it for the rest of us (to an extent). Not blame to absolve the men of blame, but more in a downward spiral kind of way. You can always point to specific areas where the downward spiral could have been, or could be, stopped.

It's HARD to raise girls to be aware and respectful of their bodies and to operate within healthy psychological lines in regards to relationships now (it's hard to raise boys now as well, but that's a different issue and not what I'm addressing here). The deck is seriously stacked against parents, and I do believe that it is because what used to be outrageous behavior is now considered the norm. That's the problem with pushing the envelope - the next time you have to push it further. And further. ad infinitum.

For instance - we started homeschooling in earnest when we had a teacher in the East Bay threaten to call Social Services on us for various things, such as "denying our child food" (she kept "forgetting" her lunch and I refused to bring it to her after a few tries and ordered the cafeteria not to give her anything on credit with the understanding that she had a lesson to learn and would remember more easily if she was hungry). Another issue the teacher had- we weren't raising our 11 year old in "the real world" because "other kids her age were talking about boys and listening to things like Britney Spears" while our daughter was "left out" when they talked about those things.

Seriously? Yes. The teacher gave me a LONG lecture about it. So how are we, as parents of girls, supposed to teach them self respect when the place that they spend the majority of every day is teaching them the very opposite (in the name of teaching them self respect, no less). It's totally Orwellian double speak they have going on there.

So, I think what I'm trying to explain in a long and painful manner is not that I necessarily blame each individual woman who seriously damages her psychological make up and gives men the idea that sex is nothing to all women, but rather that I blame the culture that sprang up to allow this and the downward spiral it has induced. The female attitudes I talked about are merely an easily identifiable point on the spiral.

I certainly don't fall into the "things were always better in the past" mindset - but our culture seems to love to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Posted by: airforcewife at October 5, 2009 11:25 AM

I totally agree with that.

There is a downward spiral and people do expect women to exert more self control (partly b/c they're more biddable and partly b/c self control is perceived to be 'easier' for women).

I have seen several instances, though, recently of smart young women who didn't give in to their boyfriends. They got dumped for a girl who would.

What bothers me is that a girl with any sense will soon see that she can't compete with girls who will give men what they want. There are just too many of them.

Men use the same argument when saying that they have no incentive to marry or to behave like gentlemen. I recognize the issue, but disagree that this is the right answer for either men or women.

What's wrong, as you note, is the larger culture. And here I think we need to realize that WE are part of the problem. WE are telling our kids that these things are not only OK, but desirable behavior. When we refuse to set limits on OURSELVES, kids notice. They can tell the difference between "do as I say" and "do as I DO". Guess which one they pay more attention to?

I sympathize on the school issue. I shudder to think how I would deal with today's environment b/c I made many of the same decisions you have with my kids. It was hard for my boys at times b/c of the way they were raised but I think they didn't suffer too much.

They both easily found lovely and intelligent wives and are happily married, so it's possible even in today's world.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 11:34 AM

Men withhold affection/talking all the time, and that's something women need just as much as men need sex. Is a marriage automatically "OVER" when a man refuses to talk about problems in the relationship?

Yes and no.

I would say that it's the "Why?" of that situation and not the "What?" that is the indicator if the relationship is over.

If you are not doing something because the baby has been screaming all weekend, you've had a bad day at work, there's more out-go than in-come, you need 30 hour days to get everything done, or any of the millions of things that just get in the way that's one thing. $h1t happens and sometimes you just don't have the pshycological reserves to deal with your load, much less carry the other person's as well. That's the point of working in teams. In that case, no the relationship is not over, it's just time for the other spouse to pick up the load for a time**.

But when you are doing something as a tool of gaining compliance (or any other power struggle) that it becomes a problem. In that case, yes, the relationship is doomed. Teams don't work under power struggles (not for long anyway) they always break under the strain. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but break they will.

**The passage FBL's father alluded to is:

1 Corinthians 7:3-5: 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

If whatever it is that is causing your withdrawal (of sex, conversation, whatever) is still going on longer than "for a time", then it's time for you to pick your load back up and deal with it one way or another. Find a way to carry it, or find out what can be stored and picked back up later, or what can just be dropped completely and left behind so that you can reconnect with your spouse.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 11:40 AM

Yep.

Sometimes, though, couples get into stubborn contests: "I won't do X until she does Y."

And she's thinking, "I won't do Y until he does X."

That's what I meant a long time ago about marriage not being 50-50. You can't split things neatly down the middle - there will be times when you give 90% and your spouse gives 10. The mark of a healthy relationship (to me at least) is that over time, it evens out.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 11:49 AM

*standing and cheering AFW*

Unfortunately, that leaves "throwbacks" like me (who is of your generation and values/perspective, but unattached) totally confused. Because of this exact problem, I honestly don't understand what unmarried (dating) men want/expect these days (my married male friends talk about what matters to them and it makes sense to me, but single guys I know don't act as if they have the same ideas). Add in the way that media and such have warped all our views about beauty/sexiness and the importance thereof, and my head starts to hurt.

Seriously, I have given up on the idea of searching for a more-than-momentary mate. Instead, I'm focused inward and not even looking at someone with an evaluative eye. For me, male-female interaction today is like trying to build a successful business in some 3rd world country where I don't speak the language or understand the cultural mores. :P

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 11:50 AM

I honestly don't know what I would do if I were thrown back into the dating world again at my age.

I do know I wouldn't jump right into bed with a guy, even if I liked him. That wouldn't be because I wasn't tempted. It would be because I think it clouds your judgment and creates expectations on both sides.

Also I think I would expect more from a relationship, having had a happy marriage. That would be a high bar for any man to overcome. I don't expect perfection - if anything, marriage teaches patience and the ability to compromise. But I wouldn't be willing to accept a lot of behavior I see out there today from men.

I really think that unless you are just looking for a no-strings fling, having sex with people you don't know very well is kind of dumb. You don't know where they've been, you're risking disease or emotional complications I wouldn't be willing to take on.

I also doubt that many folks seriously think out what they are and are not willing to do in the dating arena AHEAD of time. And I wonder whether I'd have the wisdom and self-restraint to do that. I hope I would.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 12:01 PM

I agree completely with your comment above, Cassandra. I probably should've clarified that flings and such are not something I want to pursue (for many reasons). However, it's really hard for me to accept the idea that I'm headed for a sexless 40+ years. So, I was sidestepping that and trying to continue to live in denails. :P

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 12:12 PM

"Denails?" I have no idea how I typed THAT one! LOL

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 12:14 PM

Seriously, I have given up on the idea of searching for a more-than-momentary mate. Instead, I'm focused inward and not even looking at someone with an evaluative eye.

Now that I re-read that, I think it might be more accurate to say that I no longer expect to one day have a more-than-temporary mate. I've crossed it off the list. As a young woman--even if you're not actively looking or making it the focus on your life (unhealthy!)--you still think about romance and marriage in terms of "one day I will..." or "when I...." I no longer think that way. It's not on my radar anymore.

Men are great and I love interacting with them. However, I no longer expect to one day find an available one with whom I am compatible.

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 12:20 PM

I know how you feel, FbL. I'm not out trying to pick men up, either. But, I am trying to at least get out and about where there is the possibility of meeting someone. So far, no luck. One of the first things I do if I see someone I find attractive is try to see if he's got a ring on his left hand, but that's no guarantee. As I said above, I'm facing being in my sister's wedding and being the only adult family member in attendence who has never had a serious relationship (I don't count that GI I dated my last summer in Germany 19 years ago to have been a "serious" relationship, and that's the longest I ever dated anyone). I'm afraid I'm going to end up the spinster sister/aunt (I currently have a niece that belongs to my brother, but he's not married to the mother - they've just been living together for years). I foresee my baby sister being the next to get engaged/married, and here I am with no prospects.

There is someone I'd be interested in getting to know (and not my "fantasy date" of some hunky guy I know of but haven't ever met and likely never will), but I don't even know if he's available, and he doesn't live in the same town as me, so it's not like I bump into him all the time. I've only seen him twice, the first time a month ago and then unexpectedly on Saturday. Lord only knows when/if I'd see him again. Judging by the circumstance in which I met him/who he appears to associate with, he's worth consideration, but I'm not good with this sort of thing, as evidenced by my perpetual state of singleness. I'm not prepared to give up yet, but it sure as hell is frustrating.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 12:27 PM

As a young woman--even if you're not actively looking or making it the focus on your life (unhealthy!)--you still think about romance and marriage in terms of "one day I will..." or "when I...." I no longer think that way.

It's no longer "when", it's "if", and I know the odds are stacked against me.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 12:31 PM

Sometimes, though, couples get into stubborn contests: "I won't do X until she does Y."

And she's thinking, "I won't do Y until he does X."

I still hold that those views are some of the most invidious stands one can make in a relationship because it guarantees that you lose. That is why, on the sexless marriage post, I said that when confronted with a situation you don't like, it is incumbent on you to act first. Not because it's "your fault", but because the only one you can make do something is you. Now maybe it doesn't work, maybe you did the wrong Y, maybe "I won't do X until you do Y" is a lie and really means "I won't do X period and you can stuff it" and there really is nothing you can do. But like the lottery, you can't win by not playing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 12:34 PM

Agreed, Yu-Ain.

And I've practiced what I've preached over the years, hard as that has sometimes been. I think my spouse has, too. That's what makes the relationship work.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 12:36 PM

...hard as that has sometimes been.

You ain't kiddin'. Right now, I'm working through a list of the "load" because the LG has already nixed the idea of giving the attention hog that is a 6-month old mini-YAG a benedryl so that he'll take a frikkin' nap sometime.

Parenthood. It ain't for wimps.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 12:56 PM

LB, interesting point about when and if. Perhaps I'm a touch bitter, but I honestly have decided even "if" isn't on the screen. I'm tired of thinking about it, tired of being disappointed, tired of arguing with well-meaning friends who tell me "there's someone great for you out there." Yeah, whatever... It's not about whether or not they like me, anymore; I don't even meet ones in my age range that I think are worth investing in these days.

I don't say that with anger or bitterness though--it's a decision I made because it takes energy to live in that space of looking/hoping, energy I'd rather apply elsewhere. Energy that I frankly NEED to apply elsewhere to be who I want to be and deal with the various challenges we all face. So, I crossed it off the list. I accept that I'm an odd duck. So be it. Energy and enthusiasm go elsewhere. I'm tired of stupid men who don't see what's in front of them. Besides, as a far-to-candid 50-year-old married male friend said to me the other day: "The smart men will get their heads on straight and come looking for you when they're 45 or 50." That gives me 10 years to focus my attention elsewhere. :P

And LB, I did the younger-sister-marriage thing a few years ago. It sucks, but you get through it by reminding yourself over and over again that the day is about her, and that everything you do has to be about making it a better and happier day for her. Frankly, anyone else's problems/desires are irrelevant. To this day, she has no idea how I felt on her wedding day.

It's only one day (or maybe 48 hours), and there's very little that happens in such a setting that can't be endured for 48 hours. Hang in there, and lie through your teeth. ;) *hugs*

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 03:21 PM

I should've added above that the motivation for the wedding behavior/focus I described should be love. I love my sister, and there was no way I was going to darken her wedding day by giving her the slightest hint that her joy could possibly cause me pain. Love kept me focused on what really mattered. :)

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 03:24 PM

Oh, and enjoy showing off that new body in a sexy bridesmaid's dress!!!

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 03:26 PM

Believe me, I haven't breathed a word about how I feel to anyone in my family: not my mom, not either of my sisters. My sister are VERY close and do practically everything together. Mom (although I love her) would probably just say something like "pray about it", which isn't what I need to hear/be told. I just thank God that my best friend is able to come (originally, she wasn't going to be able to make it because of something with her job, but I guess that got changed). She'll be getting in in the wee hours of the night the day before the wedding, so she'll be able to help me get through the day before and day of, and then she's sticking around another couple of days before heading back to her husband and Arkansas.

I haven't been actively looking for someone, just trying to get myself out of the house, because I won't meet anyone at home. Debating with myself whether or not to make inquires about that guy, since the primary mutual acquaintance is a married man who I haven't had those sorts of conversations with. Could be awkward...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 03:34 PM

It's HARD to raise girls to be aware and respectful of their bodies and to operate within healthy psychological lines in regards to relationships now...

I think our entire society has gone Multiple Personality Disorder on us. (There's a male equivalent too, but since AFW used the female side I'll stick with that perspective) Girls who are modest and virgins are considered sexually repressed by a patriarchal society hell-bent on controlling their sexuality. "Girls should be free to explore their own sexuality", but should they actually do it, they're just sex objects who are being oppressed by male lust.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't all because the "grown-ups" can't make up their ever-flippin minds. Is it any wonder then why kids do what is (in the moment, at least) self-rewarding?

The daughter of an aquaintance of mine lost her virginity at 16. The reason? Was she "in love"? Did she feel pressured? Was she trying to keep him around? No, no, and no. She wasn't even dating the guy, it was just a male friend she had. Basically, she was bored, it was something to do, and she wanted to know what the hype was all about. What a crying shame.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 03:37 PM

I'm not where I ultimately want to be, but I won't be embarrassed by how I look in those pictures that will be around forever... Thanks for the encouragement, Fuzzy.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 03:38 PM

The daughter of an aquaintance of mine lost her virginity at 16. The reason? Was she "in love"? Did she feel pressured? Was she trying to keep him around? No, no, and no. She wasn't even dating the guy, it was just a male friend she had. Basically, she was bored, it was something to do, and she wanted to know what the hype was all about.

So.... would it be a 'crying shame' if we were talking about a boy? Somehow, I doubt it :p

*running away*

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 03:41 PM

Could be awkward...

But not as awkward as going the stalker route. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 03:42 PM

That's one way of looking at it...

I don't know a whole lot about him (I don't even know his last name), but judging by the company he keeps, he might be worth it, if he's actually available, but to find out if he is, I'd have to "expose" myself, something I'm not comfortable doing.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 03:53 PM

There is someone I'd be interested in getting to know (and not my "fantasy date" of some hunky guy I know of but haven't ever met and likely never will), but I don't even know if he's available, and he doesn't live in the same town as me, so it's not like I bump into him all the time. I've only seen him twice, the first time a month ago and then unexpectedly on Saturday. Lord only knows when/if I'd see him again. Judging by the circumstance in which I met him/who he appears to associate with, he's worth consideration, but I'm not good with this sort of thing, as evidenced by my perpetual state of singleness. I'm not prepared to give up yet, but it sure as hell is frustrating.

Why not just ask him? If he's taken, he'll tell you. If he doesn't have a ring on his finger, he's fair game. And anyway, it's only a date. It would be good practice, especially in not taking a 'no' too seriously.

Guys have to do this all the time. It's hard, but nothing ventured... :) You can do it!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 03:57 PM

Cass, I actually do see your point at that, and as a female myself the double standard drives me bonkers.

BUT

As someone who had a kid her senior year in high school myself, the honest truth is that a 16 year old boy isn't going to get pregnant. He might get someone else pregnant, but that's a vastly different thing.

I'm lucky to have the husband I do in the situation I was in. Many of my contemporaries who were in the same boat did not have a man with such a strong sense of responsibility.

The biological truth is that the girl has far more to lose in the virginity equation, and so to me it seems like more of a shame when sex enters the scene for her before it should or for such a reason.

I don't view a 16 year old guy as a "stud" for knocking boots before his time. However, it doesn't provoke such feelings of sadness, either. But that might be my own history at work there.

Posted by: airforcewife at October 5, 2009 04:00 PM

Given the laws afe is always citing, I'm not sure how it's any better for a boy though.

I have a friend whose little brother (he's only a few years younger than I am) fathered a kid in HS. The mother didn't get an abortion. He's been on the hook all his life for child support - he was paying child support in HS.

So I'm not sure I see the distinction. As the mother of two sons I make quite sure they understood they were legally and morally responsible for supporting any children they fathered. I wish more people would do that.

I also told them the girl would be even MORE responsible b/c she would almost certainly be tasked with primary child rearing responsibility. And I told them that a good man wouldn't place a young girl at risk even if she was too dumb to protect herself. Just as a good woman protects her partner if they're having sex outside of marriage.

The responsibility is MUTUAL and should be EQUAL even if the consequences aren't. As a mother of sons, I can't say how strongly I believe that.

Think how different the world would be if everyone took responsibility for their actions? Boys shouldn't be held to a lesser standard just because it's easy for them to walk away from doing the right thing.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 04:06 PM

So.... would it be a 'crying shame' if we were talking about a boy? Somehow, I doubt it :p

Well, from society's viewpoint, probably not. And mores the pity. But at least, as a society, we're consistent on it. I can deal with the rules being stacked against me (which isn't to say I'm happy about it) so long as I know what they are.

If you're consistent I can adjust and overcome.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 04:11 PM

Well, I think that's part of the problem.

We condone the same activity that causes pregnancies when a boy does it, but tut-tut when a girl does it. Seems like it would make more sense to realize it takes two to make an unwanted child and when the parties are young and inexperienced mistakes are more likely.

I won't hold my breath waiting on that one, however.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 04:15 PM

I don't disagree. I'm just saying that given the options of trying to overcome bad-and-consistent and bad-and-inconsistent (because I'm also not holding my breath on getting anything even closely resembling good-and-consistent), I know which is easier.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 04:22 PM

Seems like it would make more sense

Ahhh, there's your problem. You think society is capable of making sense, and I think it's long past time it was put in the looney bin and would it please put on the nice white jacket with long sleeves the nice young gentleman here is holding. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 04:28 PM

I think parents in general are really, really dumb if they buy into the double standard.

For one thing, any girl with half a brain (keep in mind that brains without experience is often a dangerous combo) is not going to buy the "hey, it's just jim dandy for your brother to sow his wild oats but don't you let me catch YOU doing that, little lady!" :)

The only argument that ever made a lick of sense to me when I was that age was the one posed by Isaac Asimov. He argued that birth control was "the woman's responsibility" because women suffer disproportionately from an unplanned pregnancy.

My husband's roomate at TBS had 4 kids by 4 different mothers. He was paying child support for precisely NONE of his offspring. I have seen far more fathers like that in my life than responsible ones like afe.

They do it because they're not ostracized nor really even reproached for acting that way. They just skate away. It's true that a woman can have an abortion, but at least she ALWAYS has to face some consequences of her actions even if they're not what we think they should be.

But the inescapable truth is that it takes two to cause this problem and society only really seems to try and stop one of them from doing so. Not only do we not hold boys responsible - we actually applaud them in many cases for acting irresponsibly.

I blame this on the parents. Like afw, I was pregnant when I married.

I made my husband ask me 3 times to be sure he wanted (as opposed to 'felt he had to') marry me. And I told him that he could see his child if he didn't marry me, but our relationship would not continue. Moreover, I never asked for a single dime of child support. I did not want me or my child to be dependent on his "generosity". That's an insecure proposition at the best of times. Best not to plan on it.

So he did not stand to lose anything personally or monetarily by not marrying me, except that I told him that if he chose not to marry me, I wasn't going to continue as his 'girlfriend', though I'd try to remain on cordial terms for the sake of our child.

He did the right thing and (I hope) also the thing he wanted to, though 'want' seems a strange word in that situation. I don't know. He tells me he has never regretted the decision. I'd like to believe that this is true in the main (disregarding moments when everyone contemplates the path not taken).

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 04:38 PM

I'd like to believe that this is true in the main (disregarding moments when everyone contemplates the path not taken).

Cass, I (as a rule) do not presume to say what someone else thinks or feels. However, I'll make an exception in this case. With both boys out of the house, married and such... I think it's safe to say, if he hasn't left you yet, he was pleased with the arrangement. That's just my read on the situation.

And I understand you second guessing that. My wife does this all the time. She's very worried that I will leave her or some-such due to her health problems and the strains they place on our relationship. I guess she doesn't really understand how MUCH I love her, nor the fact that I stood with her and made her a promise before God, our friends, and family to take her in sickness or in health. What kind of cad would I have to be to break that promise?

Posted by: MikeD at October 5, 2009 04:56 PM

See, the thing is, I can't just call him up or email and ask. I've no idea when I might "bump into" him again (though there is that possibility). I have no way of getting in touch with him without talking to someone else, first. So, it wouldn't just be between him and me.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 04:58 PM

You know, I don't know that I have ever worried much that he would leave me.

I can tell from his actions and the way he treats me that he loves me very much, as I love him. I have always worried, however, that he would have had a happier life if he hadn't had to take on so much responsibility so early in life. But we have to take life as it comes.

Insecurity is a big problem with women for good reason. We are surrounded by reminders that men are always looking - mostly coming from men :p I'm sure my spouse has done his share of looking, but he has always had the good grace never to let me see it.

I can't tell you how much more secure that makes me, or how much I appreciate his courtesy. We all have our private thoughts.

Anyway, I think your wife is very lucky, Mike.

Very likely what you're hearing from her is concern that you are sacrificing too much, or are staying with her from a sense of duty as well as affection. Being married to a good guy myself, I'll cop to having had those thoughts from time to time. They're not helpful and I try not to dwell on things I can't control :)

At the same time, they're not bad b/c they're a reminder of how lucky we are to have you big lunkheads. Things could always be so much worse.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 05:07 PM

But the inescapable truth is that it takes two to cause this problem and society only really seems to try and stop one of them from doing so. Not only do we not hold boys responsible - we actually applaud them in many cases for acting irresponsibly.

What part of this are we supposed to be disagreeing about?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 05:41 PM

I'm sorry, Yu-Ain :)

I wasn't disagreeing with you. Just venting. I'll shut up now.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 05:47 PM

So, it wouldn't just be between him and me.

What, you're afraid your friend will find out you're straight? :-)

I know, I know, I'm not helping. Courage is a lot harder to do than say. (BTW, the LG could tell you stories for hours and hours about me being an absolute coward about asking her out. So you are quite free to call me a hypocrit on this.)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 05:51 PM

Cass, that's OK. Venting is good for the soul. I was just afraid I wasn't explaining myself well. I'm just not used to someone vehemently agreeing with me. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 05:54 PM

I generally only share these kinds of things with my very close friends. If this discussion were in person and not on the internet, I'm not sure I could say the same things to y'all out loud... Even typing it out, this topic and my perspective on it, can bring me to tears. I've very sensitive about it...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 06:04 PM

I'm sorry, Miss Ladybug.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 06:13 PM

Trust me Ladybug, I understand. As I said, the LG could tell you stories. (I *could* tell you those stories, but I *won't*.)

But it turned out to be worth it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 06:18 PM

Fascinating conversation! Could almost make me change my mind about what I've written above... if not for the fact that every man commenting here is happy hitched (in either marriage or long-term relationship), or has sworn off marriage. :P

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 06:27 PM

There are demographic factors that make it harder for both men and women to find someone as time goes on and part of the population marries (thus taking them off the 'market'). But there are always singles around and odds are there are good men - they've commented here - looking for good women.

The thing is, wherever you are, I think that if you want something you need to go for it. I am proud of Miss Ladybug for getting in shape and losing weight. She's doing something about one thing that she can control.

I also think that as painful as it is, you may have to take chances if you want to find someone. Life is never risk free. I agree it's hard, and I agree it could be fairer.

But I also think of all the times in my life when I've taken a chance and been surprised when it succeeded. If I hadn't taken the risk, my life would have stayed the same. This blog is one of those chances - it has risks and benefits. Being as frank as I've been sometimes has been scary for me, but unless someone goes first, you don't get the kind of conversations we have had.

And I think they were worth having :) Chin up, ladies! There is a male version of you somewhere.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 06:42 PM

if not for the fact that every man commenting here is happy hitched (in either marriage or long-term relationship), or has sworn off marriage. :P

Keep in mind the chicken-egg problem. I can't speak for anyone else, but after 10 years of marriage and 4 before that, the LG has knocked off a lot of rough corners. I'm a lot better man because of her. You can't expect a man who has never been married to be quite as polished as a married one, nor a man who has been divorced not to have some scars in the finish. The trick is to notice when someone only needs the polishing (while keeping in mind that you can't polish a turd).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 5, 2009 06:55 PM

Jeff said something earlier that I want to address:

I'm sure men lead women on for sex. It happens. But how can that happen in the first few dates or even the first few weeks? There is no reasonable expectation of a relationship, yet women hop in the sack right away. And they do it all the time, at all ages.

There's no reasonable expectation of a commitment from the man's part? Certainly. But as I was trying to point out, that often isn't true from the woman's part. She may have already made up her mind because she's on a different time table.

I totally agree that it's not smart for women to assume men think the way they do. But by the same token, I don't understand why you fault women for assuming men think like they do but don't fault men for assuming women operate under the same set of assumptions men do. Why adopt the male set of expectations as the only arbiter of "reasonableness"? :p I'm not sure one year (the most often quoted interval of guys asked how long it takes them to think something is a relationship) is any more reasonable than a few weeks. Seems to me that if we agree men and women different, it isn't reasonable to assume the other party thinks like you no matter what.

Sometimes men and women meet and both are immediately bowled over and serious. I think it's safe to argue that not having sex right away would be wiser for both of them. But people do all the time and they end up happily married.

I think women err in being too optimistic about their chances, but I also think guys shouldn't assume that a woman who sleeps with him right away isn't "relationship" material. She might not have slept with someone else, and after all he's having sex right away. Women fear infidelity, so why isn't HE "not relationship material"? I don't think the double standard holds up well to careful inspection.

If she's viewed as untrustworthy for jumping right into bed, certainly the same argument could fairly be aimed at him?

Men, properly evaluating these women by a double standard, conclude from the act of sex itself that these women are not relationship material.

But I don't agree with this. I just pointed out that a rational person would be more suspicious that such a person would be capable of fidelity. As I pointed out, however, that argument cuts both ways - a guy who jumps right into bed with you isn't displaying self control either.

You've written about this, above. So, it's the woman who's broken the bargain. She has displayed a lack of sexual self-control.

Unlike the man who just hopped right into bed with her? :)

That permanently puts her in the slut category. She's good for sex but not for a relationship.

Wow. That's harsh. Do you accept that a woman can apply exactly the same standard to a man? I hope so, because if she gets involved with a man who displays no sexual self control, she's at increased risk of having her heart broken later on.

That's the point I was trying to make. I agree that either party has made themselves less attractive.

I just don't agree that this only applies to women.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 07:03 PM

I'm right there with you, Fuzzy. Here and on many of the milblogs I frequent, I see many good men, but they are, as Cass says, "off the market". That has always seemed to be the case... I just to joke that all the good ones were either taken or gay. It's not so funny anymore...

Oh, and I sent you an email.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 07:13 PM

Cass, I sure hope you're right.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 07:16 PM

"What, you're afraid your friend will find out you're straight? :-)"

YAG, I know you didn't really mean anything by this, but I have actually been asked if I was gay. The person who asked that was the friend of a coworker who held parties at his house. Whenever she saw me at these parties, I was either alone or had my best friend in tow. Yeah, it doesn't help matters when people wonder about which way you swing just because you haven't been seen out with someone of the opposite sex...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 07:24 PM

People can be bozos, Miss Ladybug.

I have wondered at times whether people would think I was writing about certain subjects b/c they pertain to my life.

In the end I decided that I can't control what others think - only my own thoughts. It's hard to do sometimes, though.

MLB, I suspect that married men are probably more willing to comment on these types of threads. Not sure about the rest of Milblogdom though!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 07:30 PM

But, if one person wondered that, how many others have over the years, as well? Not once have I brought a boyfriend to a family function - I haven't had one to bring. My GI boyfriend in Germany came over for dinner a few times, but that was just dinner and not something like a big holiday gather or other significant event (like my sister's wedding...).

I not just referring to seeing what men have to say about these topics. I'm just talking about what I perceive about their values/views on topics that are important to me. Grim, bthun, BillT, Blackfive, Greyhawk, Chuck Z, Toby Nunn, kbob, YAG, MikeD, CJ Grisham, Troy Steward. I'm know I'm leaving other good men out, but you can see what I mean.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 07:36 PM

Who cares what people who haven't taken the time to get to know you think, MLB?

If you're concerned about it, try to find men to go places with just as friends. That might be a good way to get to know someone better, and it might one day blossom into a relationship. It also takes the pressure off both of you.

Why not invite a guy - just as friends - to a movie or a baseball game or get tickets to some fun activity? You will get turned down some of the time, but if you can somehow manage to be persistent, you may also find your life is much richer.

I realize this takes courage but I think you have that courage. Give it a try! Honestly do you have anything to lose (so long as you control your expections?) One of them might even decide you're right for one of his friends that you've never met, and a guy is more likely to view a date as a good thing if his buddies are on board.

You just never know.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 07:42 PM

The thing is, I don't have much in the line of friends locally. That's one reason I decided to start going to the Legion Post, but I've not really made "let's hang out" friends there. When I moved back to Texas, I left all my friends behind, and until recently, my social life consisted of going places with my sisters, and sometimes their friends would be there. Anyhow, as far as having guy friends to go to a move or a ballgame (season's over, btw), ain't gonna be happening any time soon.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 07:56 PM

Miss Ladybug, I don't know what to say.

I've moved all my life - often once a year - since I was a small child. Every time I've moved I've lost every friend I had and had to start over.

I'm not going to say any more on this subject.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 08:00 PM

Keep in mind the chicken-egg problem. I can't speak for anyone else, but after 10 years of marriage and 4 before that, the LG has knocked off a lot of rough corners.

I'm sure you're exactly right in making the point about the good ones being taken. The funny thing is that throughout my entire dating life I've been told that a "good man" would recognize my value. They do. The married ones... :P

That's why I was deadly serious when I said what I did about crossing it off my list. I'm done. Not that I don't like men, not that I don't get the (repressed) urge to jump them from time to time, not that I don't delight in (platonic) time spent with a man, etc. But leaving that door open is incredibly painful and exhausting. Hope is always talked about as a positive thing, but it is positive only in that it sustains during difficult times. But it takes energy, and when hope is never realized, it takes ever greater amounts of energy to sustain. Dreaming takes the same kind of energy. Believing what is denied by every experience takes unreal amounts of energy.

So, I put it elsewhere. Like LB, I have slimmed down a bit, allbeit at a slower pace. But I'm not doing it with the least expectation that it will make someone interested in me. I'm doing what I want to feel better about myself because I'm the one to has to live with myself and inside my own head, and who cares what anybody thinks of it. I do not spend my time/energy hoping and dreaming about things I have zero control over. It is what it is, for so many reasons. The best I can do is be happy with me, and to hell with people who don't want to be on my team. I'm apparently missing something in my psyche/makeup that would make it all make sense. I'm tired of trying to decipher it all. I'm done trying to play the game. THe rest of you obviously understand something that is a mystery to me.

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 08:21 PM

I don't know that we understand anything, Fbl.

There is nothing "right" that we can say. If we say, "Why yes, it is hopeless and you should just lower your sights permanently", that doesn't seem very helpful.

If we say, "Don't give up hope" along with examples of other people who found someone late in life, we're not saying that we can guarantee you or MLB will, but it is evidence that there is always hope.

If hope isn't wanted, then I'm not sure what we're talking about anymore? It's a moot point.

I think we all get that this is painful and I don't think anyone wants to minimize your plight. But at the end of the day, there are only so many options: give up, keep trying, or talk about something else.

There isn't anything we can do to help and whatever we say seems to make things worse. Which leaves people who do care in the position of seeming indifferent or ignoring your comments, which we don't want to do.

I am not sure what the answer is, only that I obviously don't have it :p But then I'm not sure that I ever thought I did. I can only suggest whatever comes to mind - I can't decide whether it makes sense to you or MLB.

I have tried every single response that makes sense to me and every one has been rejected. That's why I'm not going to say anything more on the subject. Not because I don't care, but because it obviously isn't helping.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 08:45 PM

There isn't anything we can do to help and whatever we say seems to make things worse. Which leaves people who do care in the position of seeming indifferent or ignoring your comments, which we don't want to do.

In my case, you didn't make it worse. I apologize for not expressing myself clearly. I considered that maybe I shouldn't have posted that last one, but I hit Enter anyway.

Despite how it could be read, I wasn't looking for pity, answers or consolation. I'm genuinely not bitter or suicidial or anything else like that. Like I said, there's obviously something I don't understand despite my best efforts (some part of me that isn't quite right). I accept that, accept that there's only so much I can control, and try to build with what I've got.

I was merely expressing my confusion and how (as AFW mentioned) the world seems off-kilter when it comes to sexual/romantic interactions between men and women. It's so off-kilter in fact, that I no longer try to understand it. My complaints/whining was not looking for anyone to disagree or argue me out of it, merely talking about how this confusing world has affected me.

I have tried every single response that makes sense to me and every one has been rejected. That's why I'm not going to say anything more on the subject. Not because I don't care, but because it obviously isn't helping.

I'm sorry that I have caused you frustration. There isn't an answer--that was my point. I'm not looking for comfort or encouragement (which is why I paused to consider before posting, and obviously should've paused longer).

I can't speak for LB, but you've caused me no pain/anger today. I apologize for not recognizing that you were trying to offer solutions. I was trying to discuss the subject at hand, using my experiences as fodder for it, never expecting answers... because I most calmly and sincerely do not believe there are. I am at peace with it, even though it makes me sad. I was kidding when I called myself odd or other such things. I do not want pity or anything else. I'm sorry I didn't keep a closer guard on what I said. I was probably doing a brain dump that would've better been left in an unpublished Word document.

My sincerest apologies for dominating the discussion and 'causing anyone frustration or discontent. I don't know what got into me today on this; I've lately tried to avoid such discussions.

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 09:21 PM

Oops! Major typo above. 2nd to last paragarph towards the end should be "I WASN'T kidding when..."

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 09:22 PM

And in re-reading my comments I see that there was a lot of humor/lightness I intended that didn't come through. I tried to express it in the :P faces, but I obviously didn't do a good job. ;)

No worries, please. Really. As I said, I apologize for expressing myself so poorly. It was intended to be much more lighthearted than it came off as.

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 09:29 PM

Don't apologize, Fbl.

Comments are an imprecise medium at best. Without the facial expressions and vocal intonation intent is hard to read.

My comment wasn't meant as a rebuke :) Just an explanation. If I don't respond, I don't want you or MLB to feel ignored but I've kind of said everything I can think of to say - that's all.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 09:37 PM

You're very kind, Cassandara. :) *hug*

Posted by: FbL at October 5, 2009 09:42 PM

Nah. I just like to get things out in the open. Sometimes that's a good thing and probably a lot of times it's misguided.

I try to be be straightforward b/c that's how I want to be treated. Hopefully I don't end up being a jerk as well.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 09:47 PM

Hmm, reading these responses here (how do you people find the time to comment so prodigiously?) makes me think I've got more of a female thought process than I thought.

Now, yes, being your bog-standard guy, well, you know. But at the same time, I would never enter into a relationship on a trial basis. My principle is that if I'm interested in a girl, something at the back of my head always considers the possibility of marriage and spending the rest of my life with her. It's not necessarily at the forefront of my thoughts, no, but it is something I factor in.

As for me, I'll be in my 30s next year, still a virgin (and staying that way till I get married if I'm lucky), no serious girlfriends yet. Maybe a bit socially awkward, but hey, I have tried the dating thing once or twice. Never giving up hope - I've got a few good years left in me, after all.

Posted by: Gregory at October 5, 2009 09:52 PM

Well, I've been working since 4 am so I'm on the computer all the time anyway.

Not all guys will screw anything that walks, and not all women only like sex in the context of a relationship. I think there's a spectrum of preferences within the standard male/female stereotypes!

I've known very highly sexed men who wouldn't sleep with a woman outside of a relationship.

That's part of what irritates me about the "we're wired that way" mantra. Sure there are general tendencies men or women share, but I've never bought off on the "all men..." or "all women..." stereotypes.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 09:58 PM

Just so you know Ladies, you aren't the only ones out there who are confused or feel like you didn't get the instruction manual for interpersonal relationships. I am in my thirties and have been out of the dating pool for 10 years, (6 year relationship, 4 years single) and just recently returned to attempting to date. Apparently a few things have changed during my absence. For instance, who knew that not having sex for four years makes you "weird" to girls and the fact you don't sleep with a girl two weeks into knowing her gets you dumped.

Posted by: Jeremy at October 5, 2009 10:03 PM

Jeremy, any woman who would dump you for not jumping her 2 weeks into a relationship is not worth your time.

But then I think that about men, too. Someone with that little patience isn't relationship material.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 10:09 PM

Cass, I didn't mean to come off as rejecting your suggestion outright. I was just trying to point out that such a suggestion isn't able to be implemented at the moment. I've always been one to have a very few close friends. When I was in college, my friends were those I met in my dorm and through the student activities board I was active with. Post-college, I lived here in Austin and never really made "friends", as I spent so much of my not-at-work time with my family. I did on occasion do things with coworkers, but that was about it. Then, I moved to Arkansas. My best friend was living there, so I already knew someone. I would do things with her and her friends. But, as I mentioned earlier, I would socialize with co-workers, too. I also joined a singles group through church. The singles group would go hiking, camping, canoeing, get together for dinner and a movie. Then, I moved back to Texas. When I decided to go back to school, I assumed I would find a teaching job somewhere other than Austin, so while going to school, I didn't put much effort into building a social life. In the M.Ed. program, most of my classmates were older and had families, so while we might chat in class or during breaks, we weren't making plans to socialize outside of school. Post-graduation, I still anticipated moving to another town when I landed that first teaching job. However, after two school years of failing to get that job, I decided I couldn't keep the rest of my life on hold anymore. It was also during this time that I found blogs (yours among them). Because of the blogs, I began making internet acquaintances, and after the Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour, I actually met someone from the internet that lives in the area. It is through that new friend that I was connected to the person who invited me to start going to the Legion. More recently, I learned that Toby Nunn lived in the area, so I made a point to reach out to him. As you also know, I spend a lot of my time during the summers at the ballpark. One of my problems has been that I had to find things to do that didn't cost a lot of money. There are many things I'd like to do/get involved with that I just can't because I don't have the money (getting back to riding horses being one example). I shouldn't have gone to the Milblog Conference this past spring, but I'd already purchased my airline ticket when my hours got cut (dramatically) at the office job (sub jobs were hard to come by at the time), but I needed to make the trip for my own sanity... Anyway, Austin is a notoriously liberal town. I've used my internet life to try to connect to people who share more my interests. I've pestered Toby about helping with Soldiers' Angels things. When Mark Seavey emailed about needing volunteers for that thing at Dave & Buster's in San Antonio, I followed up with him and was able to help out. But, even though I am making progress, I still don't have a guy friend I could just call up and say "Hey, you wanna go [do whatever]?" I'm trying.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 10:54 PM

Well, I asked about the guy. Now, we'll see if I get an answer...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 5, 2009 11:38 PM

Good for you! :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 5, 2009 11:44 PM

I just like to get things out in the open. Sometimes that's a good thing and probably a lot of times it's misguided.

I try to be be straightforward b/c that's how I want to be treated. Hopefully I don't end up being a jerk as well.

As I've said before, we're very similar in some ways. That's usually how I operate. :) And yes, sometimes it can be misguided, but I still keep doing it. :P

Posted by: FbL at October 6, 2009 12:12 AM

I just wonder what kind of response I'll get. Like I said, my love life hasn't ever been a topic of discussion with this friend.

It's way past my bedtime, and I have to sub in the morning. G'nite, y'all.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 6, 2009 01:54 AM

Miss Ladybug, I agree with Cass. Although not a military brat or spouse forced to travel, my own unique circumstances coincide with hers. On average, I moved about every other year through high school -- once to an entirely new continent. In doing so, you lose every friend you had and start all over again, and again. Without putting myself out there to meet people, I would have led a dreadfully lonely life. Instead, I tend to make friends quick and am the jovial, outgoing fellow everyone knows and loves. Although not a terrible fan of his, Nietsche was correct that, as far as life goes, whatever does not kill you makes you stronger. Life should be embraced, and not feared.

As far as your original topic, Cass, I do agree with you. My point was assuming that all other things in a relationship were equal or at least non-problematic. Obviously, abuse or cheating by either spouse is a relationship-destroyer. I further agree that marriage or other serious relationship must be a 2-way street to be successful. That having been said, a woman's decision to withold sex attacks the intimacy which is a fundamental aspect of the relationship. This may lead to a slower relationship death than outright cheating, but the endpoint remains the same.

Posted by: a former european at October 6, 2009 03:44 AM

Oops, that should have been "every other year from about 2 through high school".

Posted by: a former european at October 6, 2009 03:47 AM

I am an Army Brat myself, afe, so I know all about leaving friends behind and having to start all over. Regardless, I am still a relatively shy person (though I am much less so now than I used to be). I think that's why I've always been one to have a very few but very close, friends, as opposed to those who tend to have a large number of friends, but none very close. I've known my best friend since high school. I'm how she ended up in Texas for college, she's why I ended up moving to Arkansas. I've not seen her since I moved to Texas nearly five years ago, but we are still very close. I might have already made more of an effort to build a new network of friends if I hadn't spent so much of my free time with family (primarily my sisters) and if I hadn't expected to be moving somewhere else in a relatively short period of time. When I realized that the relocation wasn't going to be materializing (we won't get into my "mistake" of going back to school to change careers, since I have failed to secure that "real" job in the new field which has put me in a very difficult position financially, having to live with mom & dad not my choice, but by necessity), I made the decision to try to make new friends, and I've been working on that. I do have friends here, but not ones I can just call up on short notice to go do something (my friends have busy schedules of their own, and I don't have a lot of money to go to movies or concerts or whatever). You may think I'm just making excuses, but I think they are legitimate concerns.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 6, 2009 07:57 AM

Whatever happens with the answer Ladybug, you've already had one success. You've overcome a fear, and that's a win in anyone's book.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 6, 2009 09:50 AM

I agree that either party has made themselves less attractive.

I agree that they ought to. But do they really?

I don't mean this in a "defending the double standard" kind of way, but in a "social norms don't spring forth fully formed from the head of Zeus" kind of way.

Women do tend to be attracted to power. There are studies where women were shown the exact same picture but the description of the man's job and income were different. Women tended to rate the same person as physically more attractive when told he had a high power and high income job than the low power and low income job.

Could it be that the guy's sexual conquests is interpreted as being powerful and thus attractive?

Again, not endorsing...

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 6, 2009 10:06 AM

YAG - just from my own observations, I think that often we want to have what other people want. And since power is at a premium...

I could be wrong. But it would explain Donald Trump and David Letterman (oh GAG! That picture ALONE will keep me on the straight and narrow through this deployment!).

Posted by: airforcewife at October 6, 2009 11:22 AM

Women do tend to be attracted to power. There are studies where women were shown the exact same picture but the description of the man's job and income were different. Women tended to rate the same person as physically more attractive when told he had a high power and high income job than the low power and low income job....Could it be that the guy's sexual conquests is interpreted as being powerful and thus attractive?

I think that makes sense.

Really it's no different from the way guys are always way more interested in a girl if it appears she has lots of suitors.

I always thought that I benefited enormously from being the "new girl". There wasn't all that much to choose from in most schools, so the "cool" guys went through the "cool" girls like a hot knife through butter.

When someone new moved in, I got the impression she didn't have to be Venus de Milo to have guys swarming all over her and the phenom sort of fed on itself :p

Girls always like guys with cool cars, too. Even I noticed that, though I can't say it made a difference in who I dated. But a guy with a really hot car "seemed" like he must have something ineffably cool about him, even if that wasn't apparent on the surface.

Power or status probably correlates on some level with security/being a good protector/provider, and there's a lot of evolutionary sense in going after a guy like that.

And in general, since beauty is a rough proxy for health, the girl all the guys are after must be a good baby maker! I just lucked out with the moving thing.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 6, 2009 11:39 AM

OK, so then (and remember please, I'm not endorsing) if sexual conquests by males are essentially rewarded by females as good mate potential as the power/status is a proxy for provisioning ability while sexual restraint is essentially reward by males as a good mate potential as the restraint/fidelity is a proxy for ensuring that his progeny are actually *his*: Could one be said to "properly apply this double standard" as both men and women seek to maximize their differing goals?

Like I said, don't shoot me. I'm not saying it's right. Just that this appears to be what *is*.

Personally, I think we've choosen poor proxies, but that's just me.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 6, 2009 12:45 PM

are essentially rewarded by females as good mate potential as the power/status is a proxy for provisioning ability while sexual restraint is essentially reward by males as a good mate potential as the restraint/fidelity is a proxy for ensuring that his progeny are actually *his*: Could one be said to "properly apply this double standard" as both men and women seek to maximize their differing goals?

I suppose it depends on what your goals are. As I've remarked several times, I never gave my husband's ability to be a provider any consideration. I gave his ability to be a caring husband and interesting person who could engage my mind HUGE consideration. I figured if the smarts and the integrity were there, we'd work the rest out. My husband wasn't the sleep around type. I had friends who were after him and he dated most of them. But he wasn't a 'male slut' :p I'd have heard about it from my friends.

That's why he stood out from the crowd - I believed he wasn't easily won and also that I could trust him.

I think there are physical/instinctual responses (women being attracted to bad boys) and intellectual/spiritual responses (women seeing past the veneer to differentiate a good man from a worthless one with a pretty exterior). A better woman isn't ruled by her hormones and instincts.

The reward is that she gets a better quality mate and is happy.

Women who never learn to distinguish may "reward" some guys (though I'd argue that being married to someone that superficial isn't all that great a deal, but I'm not a guy either. Maybe it doesnt matter to men so long as she's pretty?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 6, 2009 12:56 PM

As I've remarked several times, I never gave my husband's ability to be a provider any consideration. I gave his ability to be a caring husband and interesting person who could engage my mind HUGE consideration.

Yes, but *you* aren't normal. (Normal is stupid and broke. Why be normal?)

And what a person should do, and what the aggregate will do are not at all the same thing.

A child should know better than to jump off the roof for $10. That would be an improper decision. Period. End of statement.

But we both know that if you reward a behavior you get more of it. And so, when one kid makes that offer to all the other neighborhood kids you will naturally see an increase in roof jumping as they "properly" respond to incentives.

Now the behavior incented is dangerous and inevitibly leads to harm, but this is exactly what I meant by saying that, as a society, we have choosen the wrong proxies.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 6, 2009 01:40 PM

Women who never learn to distinguish may "reward" some guys (though I'd argue that being married to someone that superficial isn't all that great a deal, but I'm not a guy either. Maybe it doesnt matter to men so long as she's pretty?

I would argue that the type of man that she is rewarding isn't exactly "a better man" to start with and is likely to be as superficial as she is. In which case the rest of us are better off by their removing themselves from the dating pool.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 6, 2009 01:46 PM

:)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 6, 2009 01:47 PM

Like I said, don't shoot me.

As long as you're not within cookie-sheet range, relax.

Posted by: BillT at October 6, 2009 04:18 PM

Survey says: married... :-(

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 6, 2009 05:06 PM

You (a) disagree with me, and ergo (b) are completely wrong.

However, I don't take this personally. BTW, you're so cute when you're angry!

Posted by: Robert Stacy McCain at October 6, 2009 08:12 PM

Touche, big guy :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 6, 2009 09:22 PM

You (a) disagree with me, and ergo (b) are completely wrong.

Holy %$#@! Stacy McCain is a *woman*!

Posted by: BillT at October 7, 2009 01:48 AM

Sorry to hear it Ladybug.

But still, as I said, you overcame a fear. That's a win. Celebrate it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 7, 2009 03:35 PM

Well, the reply came with a

Sorry. :-(

So, maybe they'll keep this in the back of their mind and introduce me to someone?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 7, 2009 03:59 PM

Miss Ladybug,

I just landed here from a link (great blog, Cassandra!) but I read this discussion and just had to say WTG on making the call!
Being willing to swing the bat is how you'll get a hit.
Good luck to you.

Posted by: Emily at October 7, 2009 04:58 PM

Well, that's essentially what happened with my brother. The LG has introduced him to 7 or 8 girls over the years. Of course, he'll tell you that they almost all turned out to be batshit insane, but it looks like this last one is going to stick. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 7, 2009 05:09 PM

Well, it wasn't a call, it was an email... But, now I know not to think "what if" about this one particular guy anymore. I will admit that I was a little upset yesterday afternoon when I got that response, because right now, there's no one else to think "what if" about. Sure as hell not the "fantasy date" guy, because that's all that is: a fantasy (and no, he's not some Hollywood celebrity). No idea when I'll be out to "something new" with a chance to meet someone new, which is how I can get to feel so freaking frustrated...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 7, 2009 05:10 PM

One can only hope, YAG...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 7, 2009 05:11 PM

I don't know if it makes you feel any better, Miss Ladybug, but the grass is no greener on the other side of the gender fence.

I went on a recent date that was weird beyond belief. Met a likely gal at a professional organization we were both members of, and set up a light lunch date. Started off okay, but then became real uncomfortable real quick when I realized just how forward she intended to be. And GRABBY! I never thought I would understand what my female friends in high school talked about re some guys having "8 tentacles" for arms.

Now don't get me wrong, I am divorced and was no prude in my younger days. I chased lots of women in college, and was pretty good at catching them too. I learned my lesson the hard way that great looks aren't everything via my divorce, and I don't make the same mistakes I did chasing skirts 20+ years ago.

Even so, I hightailed it out of there as fast as I could. Now I'm getting the barrage of calls and e-mails for a second date. Being a successful professional seems to paint a huge target on my forehead for crazy women. The scary thing is, they all appear to be normal at first. My female friends have suggested I make potential dates run the gauntlet of being vetted by them first, but that seems even more strange. Sometimes I feel like I'm in an upside down Hollywood movie, but they say truth is often stranger than fiction.

Posted by: a former european at October 8, 2009 04:12 AM

I never thought I would understand what my female friends in high school talked about re some guys having "8 tentacles" for arms.

Heh :) Welcome to our world, afe you big chick magnet, you!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 8, 2009 08:08 AM

"Now I'm getting the barrage of calls and e-mails for a second date."
Reading that and having heard a few too many tales from the dark side of dating in the current climate, the antagonist in the movie Play Misty for Me came to mind.

Sheesh, it appears that dating is sufficiently hazardous such that dating violence has made its way into the criminal code.

As the old Sargent in some cop show from the past used to say, Be careful out there.

Posted by: bthun at October 8, 2009 08:36 AM

Afe's ginormous codpiece has claimed so many victyms...

Can you blame these poor women for being driven starkers? You men are such teases.

Billions of years of evolution have left women defenseless against such blatant come ons :p We're just responding as Mother Nature intended us to!

Posted by: We Can't Help It - We're Wired That Way at October 8, 2009 09:16 AM

You know, all this really does make the case for polygamy:

1) Only a few men are good husbands,

2) There are more women who want good husbands than men who make good husbands,

Therefore:

3) Good husbands should be able to claim more than one wife.

QED. (This is a brave offer for men to make, by the way: I knew a polygamist from Al Kut who told us he was thinking of asking for asylum, not from the Iraqi government, but from his two wives.)

Posted by: Grim at October 8, 2009 10:44 AM

Men....

They give and they give and they give :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 8, 2009 10:49 AM

Well, yes... at least, those men who fit in the "good husband" category. :)

Posted by: Grim at October 8, 2009 10:57 AM

You know, all this really does make the case for polygamy

Grim, I have long maintained that anyone foolish enough to want multiple spouses deserved what they got.

Posted by: MikeD at October 8, 2009 02:27 PM

"You know, all this really does make the case for polygamy

Grim, I have long maintained that anyone foolish enough to want multiple spouses deserved what they got.

Posted by: MikeD at October 8, 2009 02:27 PM

Gotta go with Mike on this one.

Posted by: bthun at October 8, 2009 03:23 PM

Not meaning to come off snippy or anything, but at least you HAVE dates.

I could have gotten pregnant, had a baby, raised the child through HS and sent the kid off the college in the time since my last date...

Kinda puts things in a different perspective when you look at it that way.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 8, 2009 06:07 PM

MikeD nailed it. The thought of MULTIPLE wives makes me run shrieking in terror! Up to four women each saying "how come we don't talk anymore" or "help me go shopping for potpourri", is a nightmare.

Cass, I am not blessed with movie star good looks, nor do I have the athletic physique I had in my 20s. So, unless beer guts have suddenly become the latest thing in sexy, I don't see why I should suddenly be considered a chick-magnet.

I am just a stable, level-headed guy with a good career, who is well-off financially, has a good sense of humor, and likes to treat women pretty well. I am not Antonio Banderas or Brad Pitt, by any means. Nonetheless, crazy women seek me out like guided missiles.

Is it because all the normal gals are already married? This is all very depressing. And no, Miss Ladybug, if the choice is between staying home or dating a crazy person, you are much better off staying home. I have picked up a few good books recently, and am hunkering down in Schloss AFE.

Posted by: a former european at October 8, 2009 06:46 PM

For nearly 20 years? I don't think so.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 8, 2009 07:25 PM

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