Girlfriends, and their men, are a constant source of inspiration, debate, speculation and, probably, too much time spent, on our part, figuring out what’s up. We started at around 13 and haven’t stopped since.
My first disclaimer is that I love men. The older I get, the less I look at them as polar opposites and the more I appreciate the difficulties of navigating life as a male. (and sometimes I wish they reciprocated). But they can still baffle me as when I was 13 and had a crush on the tallest, lankiest kid in the class, the one who was my friend but never kissed me. His loss.
Recently, I have been following the (mis)adventures of a newly divorced girlfriend, with whom I entertain a lively e-mail correspondence as we don’t live close. I have vicariously lived the thrill of her dates, none of them sourced on-line (who knew? it’s still possible to meet men the old-fashioned way). I know better than to dispense advice as my personal belief is that “woman in love (or lust), advice does not follow” but what I love about our written exchanges is ourability of presenting facts in a light we wouldn’t have cast on our own.
My friend’s latest flame has joined a list of other males I heard about in the near past, those whose break up line is “ I don’t want to hurt you”. Rather than a substitute for the “it’s not you, it’s me”, the notorious line that hides a plethora of perceived defects on your part they are not willing to share, this new spin-off belies genuine caring.
Maybe these men are the sons of early feminists who successfully inculcated deep respect for the other sex, maybe they are survivors of failed marriages that ran their course or maybe they are just decent human beings, but, as the case may be, they are not willing to risk a woman’s emotional involvement if they don’t feel they can get involved on the same level. They bear no resemblance to the proverbial “bastards” we all encountered at one time or another, those who stuck around while the fun lasted and then concocted a disappearing act.
Very noble. But. What has changed in the interim is women’s willingness to put themselves out there with no strings attached. We have given ourselves permission to have a little fun, or to start something with no particular agenda in mind. Believe it or not, some women our age are not looking to marry or re-marry, to share bank accounts, to go on vacation once a year with children or relatives in tow. Some of us are happy to just see where it goes, if anywhere, and enjoy the process. One thing I have learnt is that disasters of the heart are much easier to overcome later in life, especially if they are short-lived. If nothing else, at a certain point, you learn a healthy perspective.
Now that large families living together have gone the way of the dodo, women might be looking for some companionship and, yes, sex – without storybook romance attached.
My girlfriend remarked that, now that she had learnt to let go and shed expectations, she had bumped in that rare male species looking for love until death do us part. It might not be an endangered species after all!