A challenge that all single blokes face this year will be figuring the line between demonstrating interest and being a pest.

The great unknown pondered by sentient males will forever be finding the secret to women. It’s a fool’s errand, of course, because that is like asking how heavy is a particle of light, or why do fish have scales but not very short fur? The answer will always be “That’s a stupid question” or “What kind of dummy are you?”

Neither question nor answer is especially helpful.

The time-honored (if now somewhat disreputable) way we tested a lady’s interest was to make a move. We’d make some kind of physical contact, anything from a hand on the small of the back to an outright move toward a snog.

Interestingly, an Australian Prime Minister, Mr Keating, once spawned howls of outrage by placing his hand on the royal personage of HM Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia and some other places.

With lovely irony, in subsequent years Mr Keating came out as a queen himself.

At the other end of the action-man’s making-a-move spectrum is the stealing a smooch plan. In my long-ago youth, this was accepted as valid, if not validating. Memory highlights my many rejections and separates them from the numerically fewer successes, proof that failure hurts more than love heals.

The line separating wanted and unwanted advances has always existed, which is exactly as it should be. Although women might think that their green lights are easily seen, guys don’t see them as clearly as they would like meaning that persistence, daring, opportunism, confidence, playfulness, risk tolerance and resilience will win in the end.

Those qualities make for successful men and strong fathers. But that was then. For now we might be wise to work on green light interpretation.


Fitting the Curve

Likely as not it’s a natural tendency for both sexes, although because we are significantly different from each other, we go about it in different ways.

Males learn early on that some behaviours work in their favor when it comes to attracting females. Extroversion, willingness to accept risk and physical prowess are amongst the characteristics worth cultivating. Of course we’re mostly talking about early on in our adult lives, which means that we’re still teenagers and barely meeting the minimum grown-up requirements, but it continues in albeit muted form until we die.

We’re also talking extremely generally; exceptions are as thick as bamboo, but guys understand that even if you have hidden charms, the more obvious ones – such as those listed above – get you places quicker.

Which gets me to my point. Although we rarely see it this way, we modify and accentuate the stuff we think the other wants. So desperate are (in this case) guys to be attractive, they’ll go way beyond the boundaries of their character and values to be the person they believe will attract (insert female name here).

It’s a semi-conscious/instinctive project. I overheard Hortense mentioning to a friend that she liked guys who rode motorcycles, therefore I must get a motorcycle. Thoughtless and ultimately ridiculous (who knows whether it’s really what she thinks?) we are driven to do almost whatever it takes.

Such is the need to couple.

Mob Rule

Being a male does not mean I’m responsible for the past actions of my sex, nor the current actions of other blokes.

The notion of an individual representing the entire history of a group to which he or she belongs (by default) is the kind of conceit that’s widespread and not useful.

Here’s a way to look at this. If you’re a female with bad experiences of men in your past, that’s not a good thing. Your natural bias is to project such a history upon both all other men and your own future. That skew isn’t helpful to you, and it isn’t accurate.

The fact is that the actions of a small, finite number of men treating you poorly isn’t a male fail;  it’s a number of people who did so. Women can treat you in just as rotten a way, but it’s the nature of the interaction that’s different.

On other words, any female-to-male relationship is loaded, no matter its length or intensity. Because humans look for patterns, the reaction is: I’ve been wronged by four men, therefore all men are going to wrong me.

A more logical way to think is to look upon each interaction with a member of the opposite sex as a spin of the roulette wheel. There are certain parameters within which the game is played, but the outcome is independent of what went before.

Except that in life outside the casino, it’s not. Can you spot the flaw? In roulette, each spin has no link to any previous events. In relationships it’s the common denominator that will influence the outcome. What’s that thing that’s the same in all of your relationships?

She Gets Me

I want to be understood.

I want you to tune into my wavelength.

It would be great if you could see our universe through my eyes.

Ideally, you’d know what I’m thinking before I say it.

If you could do all those things, you’d get me.

Getting me is tough, isn’t it?

I don’t think getting me is tough, but you probably think the same way.

Getting people is tricky. Getting you is what it’s all about.

The Nothing Box

Occasionally – very occasionally – I see a glimmer of hope that we have a chance at understanding each other.

At work last week, a woman blurted out:

Oh, I understand; he’s in his nothing box.

I nearly cheered.

With one declaration, one woman proved to me that she understood that her husband (the man to whom she was referring) had his mind in neutral, effectively idling away doing not much of anything. That’s the nothing box. The nothing box is the place we go to when there’s nothing much grabbing our attention. When there’s nothing worth thinking about, we do nothing. Yes, ladies, men are really that simple.

The nothing box is invaluable because of the way we think about stuff. We need that time with our minds going nowhere because of the energy it takes when we are in gear. If we were to be in forward motion all the time, we’d burn out.

But that’s a topic for anther time. The key is that the lady understood that her man being in nothing box mode was no reflection on his relationship with her; it is simply the way he was built.

And that was, and should be, enough.