Men Are People Too

Perhaps this isn’t breaking news to the rest of the world, but yesterday, I had an ephinany that caught me off guard (in a good way): Men are people too. Not just meant to be boyfriends, lovers, husbands, dads, businessmen, bosses, uncles, or other male-oriented titles – but just people. Like you and like me.

I promise I’m not crazy (well, at least not yet), but I’ve always viewed men as my counterpart, as these illusional characters that weave in my life, capture my heart, and ultimately leave or have the ability to crush my spirits. They are these creatures who I fall in love with, can’t stand, or believe could turn into my Prince Charming. They’ve been useful for buying dinners, teaching me how to kiss, and entertaining me with their “maleness” – but unlike the gals who are “one of the guys” – I’ve been the lady who can never seem to have a male friend.

Probably because I can’t seem to treat a man as casually as I treat a woman – and possibly, because I integrate them verbally and internally.

Much like when conducting an interview, when I meet a new male prospect, I usually determine if I’m interested or not within the first five minutes. If I’m honest – I’m actually very businesslike when I’m intrigued by a man and I’ve developed quite a habit of screening someone before I even really know more than his name and a few basic facts.

Usually, as I’m half-way listening, partly observing, and conniving just a tad – I go through a series of questions in my head: “Alright, so if I wore my super, super tall high heels, would he still be taller than me?” “Can I get close enough to see if he smells bad?” “Is he speaking intelligently? Is he holding a conversation?” “Am I really already bored?” “Is he making crude, inappropriate jokes that are racist or sexist?”  “Does he have long fingernails? Ew, gross.” “Is he interested in me or just focusing on himself?” “Is he shy? I totally can’t stand timidness in a man.” “Does he always tilt his head to the side like that when he thinks he’s being funny?” “Is he actually funny or is he trying entirely too hard?” “Am I coming across that way to him? How does he view me, anyways?”

…and the rambling thoughts goes on and on.

I don’t know if I can blame my career or my Virgo birthday as the source of this analytical approach, but I’ve done it from the time I started dating. While it may not be the best way to go about getting to know someone, I’ve been pretty good at trusting my gut – and if right from the bat, I don’t see a spark of fascination, I’ve thought it best to not waste my (or their) time. At this point, I really don’t need (or want) to lower my standards for another Mr. Temporary, Mr. Rebound, or Mr. Smother just for the mere fact I’d like someone to go on fancy dates with. Truth be told, finding a date is never really a difficult task. It’s actually being attracted enough to agree to a second take that’s an obstacle because often times, I’m fully-in or totally-out before the appetizer even arrives.

As I continue on this journey, I’m seeing myself develop more and more confidence. While I have my off days (or weekends) -overall, I’ve not only admitted those parts of my personality and mindset that are negative and change them, but also realize what it is that I want out of a relationship…and what I don’t. More so, I’ve learned to stop taking what people say to heart and to decide for myself what I think and how I view my own interactions. I mean, after being told you’re too picky, not picky enough; that you’re too old to meet a “sweetheart” and too young to get married; that you’re far too independent for your own good, and then too dependent on the likes of a man – at some point, you just gotta start tuning out the outside voices and listen to your gut.

And while I’d say my instincts more often than not steer me in the right direction, in my overly premature and dissecting way of deciding my opinion of a man, I could have missed out on some could-be loves. But maybe more importantly, I could have walked right past some dudes who would make wonderful friends, because instead of viewing them as humans, as potential platonic companions, I was only interested in what they could offer me romantically. And if I didn’t like what they brought to the table, I wrote them off and quickly moved onto the next eligible candidate.

But if I take off my emotional hat and put on my realistic one- when it comes to finding someone who I want to spend the rest of my life with – or maybe just a few dates – don’t I want to be with a dude who I view as a friend? Sure, passion and mystery and intrigue and all of those butterfly-inducing qualities are high in importance for me – but at the core of my desires, and when I picture my future, don’t I want someone who I can just talk to? Who will get me? Who I feel comfortable enough to be myself around?

Someone who makes mistakes, who may not say the right thing at the right time but is his own person, someone who may not be the next Dane Cook, but is charming, someone who challenges me, but isn’t impossible – someone who, like me, isn’t perfect – but human?

Love addict tendencies, like romanticizing every single man who walks past me on the street or who I’m introduced to by mutual friends, may be enjoyable in the moment (fun to pretend at times, right?) – but aren’t suitable for long term anything. Where it be friendship or relationships. I may size up my prey and determine if they’re worthy of the fight, but does that mean second impressions can never change my mind?

If I stopped treating men for just what I think they can give me: love, sex, reaching the top shelf, opening tight jars, and checking off a box on my life’s to-do list, and instead took every casual encounter at a bar, on the morning commute, or at the deli around the block at face value – maybe I’d be able to take some pressure off.

And perhaps if I took a step back and instead of wondering what it’s like to be his lover, I’ll imagine what it’s like to just be his friend.

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