Its Movember, My Type, Relationship Behaviour Patterns and Scrambled Egg in My Handbag

I.i. Its Movember and I’m loving it, which is surprising because I’ve always said I disliked facial hair.  Turns out I was wrong, I like it a lot. It looks ridiculous and faintly furtive – especially on very young men – which appeals to me strongly. Let’s not explore why, shall we?

I.ii. Which brings me to a related point: apparently, my ‘type’ surprises everybody. We were discussing what kind of men we find attractive, with much squealing hilarity, at brunch on Sunday – trying to guess each other’s type. Mostly, we were pretty accurate. But when I said I liked big blonde men with tattoos and little beards and dredlocks, there was shocked silence followed by complete incredulity. Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that the way I look is clearly not the female equivalent of that vibe, and I am therefore destined to be celibate for the rest of my unnatural life, since I won’t be attracting Dave Grohl any time soon (and yes, I know he’s not blonde – I make an exception for Mr Grohl). Poo.

I.iii. And this moves us on nicely to another related point, viz. that I wonder why we all repeatedly follow a pattern in our relationships – even though that pattern has spectacularly not worked in any previous cycle. For example, I have never dated/tampered with a big blonde man with tattoos or dredlocks… although I did once date a guy who grew a moustache and goatee for a couple of weeks in order to annoy his mother.

No, as I said, I don’t attract the men I’m attracted to, I only ever attract vanilla conservative types who are looking for someone they think is confident, sociable and strong to look after them. Initially they are delighted by my ‘creative unpredictability’ but soon become disappointed with my occasional ’emotional nonsense’ and downright affronted by my more frequent ‘general nonsense’, then they realise that what I’ve been saying all along – i.e. that I am a mess of a girl – is, in fact, perfectly true, at which point we both run for the hills in opposite directions. And since I have no sense of direction, I never find the hills and am later discovered near a body of water, wandering lost and disoriented and surviving on M&Ms, smiling at imaginary animals, strewing wild flowers and muttering quotes from Withnail & I.

I am the Groucho Marx of relationships; seemingly I wouldn’t want to be with anyone who will have me.

I.iv: I know, I know, this numbering system is becoming unwieldy. What possessed me to go with roman numerals I have no idea. Last one, I promise. Two people in the last week have described me as socially confident and ‘together’ which quite literally staggers me. I honestly have no idea what could possibly give that impression. I’m terrified by all sorts of things and avoid them cravenly; I dislike crowds of people and loud noises, especially when its dark, so I rarely go to pubs and clubs unless its for a friend’s birthday – where I spend the whole 2 hours that I force myself to stay either dancing with my eyes closed in a corner by myself or stuffing my face with cheese twisties so I don’t keep checking the time too blatantly. 

I used to work in fundraising, where I had to learn to pretend social ease with a certain amount of aplomb in order to perform my role. But as I’ve said before, it is not really ME.

Which again concerns me – if I’m giving such an erroneous impression of myself in a misguided (but apparently successful) attempt to fit in, perhaps it is no surprise that I’m attracting such wholly unsuitable mates.

3. This morning, as I rummaged in my handbag for my keys, I came across a small lump of scrambled egg. At least, I hope it is scrambled egg. Please do not suggest alternative possibilities…

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29 Responses to Its Movember, My Type, Relationship Behaviour Patterns and Scrambled Egg in My Handbag

  1. Hmmmm, hmmmm.

    I think I dated a woman who was truly my “type” once; it wasn’t a particularly good relationship. But I did sit down and try to figure out why that was my type, because it didn’t have much to do with chemistry; it was an archetype attraction, as most of those urges are … some of my strongest baseline chemical/pheromonal/sexual attractions have been to women who were the opposite of that type, so I wondered what that archetype was actually about. After a lot of pondering, I realized that I am attracted to women who give a visual impression of being intellectual/sensitive … so I tend to go for girls who look like they’ve suffered a bit, who seem a bit melancholy, who wear glasses, who dress a bit conservatively … that kind of thing.

    And upon further reflection, I realized that I have an incorrect assumption that a woman who is intellectual is likely to understand me better. This has been disproven on numerous occasions, so I don’t know why I still think that. But anyway, I made a list of the qualities that this archetypal attraction is actually pointing me toward: I would like to be with someone who is smart and kind, and who has suffered enough herself to be empathetic. Then I started to think about what verbal and behavioral cues I could start looking for that would reveal these tendencies.

    In other words, I’m trying to convert my visual archetype into an emotional archetype, so that it will actually be useful to me. All “types” are emotional in nature, though very few people ever actually figure this out in a way that allows them to stop falling in the same hole again and again.

    And here’s the thing … I have the same problem you do, with people mistaking my external presentation for my internal reality. Of course, in my cause, it’s a little more complex, but the principle still holds. And for that very reason, it is even more important that I hold out for a woman who is the emotional equivalent of my “type” — because that woman won’t turn around and run when I’m suddenly real, any more than I would do that to her.

    On a similar note, I’ve also tried to figure out how to give better “cues” as to who I actually am, such as admitting, fairly soon in the dating process, that sometimes I am very nervous or upset in groups of people. If the woman I’m with denies that this can possibly be true, or says something critical, then I know it’s never going to work, and I can cut my losses.

    I think the thing here is to listen very carefully to what someone says when you make a self-disclosure. If you say: “I’m a mess,” and your date says “No, you’re not” — get out, it’s hopeless. If he says “Tell me more about that,” there’s probably a reason to see how real he can be.

    Damn, this was a long comment … sorry!

  2. pandemonic says:

    The number system is different. But I think I could get used to it.

    BTW, I love it when you and David communicate. It’s almost like watching you date! 🙂

  3. truce says:

    Did anyone notice that there’s no #2?

    Entirely intentional, oh yes, I’m just testing to see if you’re paying attention. Its not just that I’m deeply hopeless with numbers, no, no, not at all. *ahem*

  4. truce says:

    David – that is an excellent point, and I adore long comments.

    Now that you’ve said that, I think maybe the reason for my ‘type’ is an assumption based on three things:

    a) that big men would be more likely to protect and look after me (because I am tall and reasonably fit, I don’t seem to provoke the same protective instincts in many men as smaller, petite, frail-looking women. Which is odd since, in my experience, its the petite ones who turn out to have a core of steel whereas I have a core of jelly) and

    b) that blonde men are less likely to have harsh stubble – I have extremely sensitive skin and

    c) that men with tattoos etc are more likely to be accepting of ‘otherness’ in me than the conservative English men I have so far dated, for whom I always felt the need to conform in order to fit their picture of what a woman should be.

    Of course, looked at objectively, none of those assumptions is necessarily correct.

    But my problem is not that I am attracted to those men only to find out that they are not what I was really looking for: its that I don’t attract those men and therefore never find out if they really are what they seem (i.e. strong, soft and accepting).

    At least I can – and have – stopped dating the conservative guys who are attracted to me. That has stopped the cycle, although hasn’t replaced it with anything other than an absence of sex and intimate companionship.

    Also, I am fascinated to hear your ‘type and I now wish I wore glasses 😉

  5. truce says:

    pandemonic – its probably better than watching us date, as there are far fewer awkward disappointments!

  6. truce says:

    As I re-read your comment, David, it strikes me as worthy of note that your strongest baseline chemical/pheromonal/sexual attractions have been for women other than your archetype of the smart/kind/empathetic woman you are actually seeking.

    That must be confusing and inconvenient, if not wholly frustrating.

    I admire your bravery in “admitting, fairly soon in the dating process, that sometimes I am very nervous or upset in groups of people” as a way of weeding out the dating/mating wheat from the chaff…

    …but I suspect that much of the reason I have tried so hard to avoid admitting any such thing is because I am pretty confident of the result… “Taxi!”

  7. azahar says:

    Dating. *shudder*

  8. Truce — Yes, it is confusing and inconvenient, but I also wasn’t entirely clear … I meant that my strongest sexual attractions have been toward women who didn’t necessarily fit my *visual* perception of that archetype. What I was trying to express, somewhat clumsily, is that at least in my case, it’s useless to go “looking” for an appropriate partner; I’d be better off “feeling” for her instead, because as with most people (and men in particular) my visual sense of what I want is largely delusional. There are plenty of world-weary, slightly shy-looking women who are idiots. 🙂

    As for admitting weakness up front — it saves a huge amount of time and disappointment. It’s better to lose him on the second date than to have him turn on you later after he sees the “real” you, and you’ve already made some emotional investment. The other thing about that? Men don’t necessarily respond strictly to signals of physical weakness/frailty from women. There are other ways to arouse a guy’s protective instinct, and being vulnerable in some non-physical way can be one of them.

    There’s always a good and a bad way to spin that kind of self-disclosure … usually for me it comes up when we start having the “what do you like to do in your spare time?” conversation. After saying what I do like to do (which is, in and of itself, challenging for me) I usually drop a little postscript about not enjoying large groups of people, or crowded/noisy locations. I don’t present this as a negative, but just as a fact. The reaction tells me a lot, though. If she says “Well, I love that!” then I know we’re not going to be compatible. If she asks why, I explain a little bit — not in depth, but a little — and I tell her that I’m sometimes willing to give things a shot, if my companion is OK with my possibly needing to leave early (and this is true; I am willing to try things if I’m with someone who is somewhat understanding).

    It’s not bravery; it’s pragmatism. If she’s going to have a problem with me, I want to know *now*. I don’t want to be with someone who’s going to have that kind of problem. It’s a total waste of my time. Similarly, I ask questions that will tell me whether I’m a total waste of *her* time … if she really wants a conventional relationship with marriage and kids, for example, I’m not the guy she should be dating, and I’m just as anxious not to waste her time as I am to avoid wasting my own time. I don’t feel that I’m making a negative self-disclosure and then being rejected because of it; I feel that I’m making an honest self-disclosure, and gauging whether *I* can deal with *her* reaction to it. I’m the one in control, if I choose my rate and level of self-disclosure … whereas I’m out of control if she finds out later, and reacts in a way that’s hurtful.

    So, you know. This is all about my being a control freak. But it’s also useful.

  9. truce says:

    Azahar – oh boy, yes.

    David – its okay, I did understand the point you were making about the need to ‘feel’ for a partner rather than ‘look’ for one. I guess the question I have yet to answer for myself is whether my visual perception of my archetype is equally misleading.

    “There are other ways to arouse a guy’s protective instinct, and being vulnerable in some non-physical way can be one of them.” Hmmmm, allowing one’s non-physical vulnerability to show is, of course, also the fastest way to get badly hurt. 😉

    So, what do you tell your dates you like to do in your spare time??

    I’m usually willing to give things a try, too. Although I now draw the line at hunting, fishing and shooting for ‘sport’, after being pressured into participating in them with an ex and at adrenalin sports such as sky-diving and bungee-jumping, since I intensely dislike adrenalin rushes. I have a funny heartbeat to begin with, so adrenalin is like throwing a can of petrol on a camp fire in the Aussie bush in the height of Summer. Less than ideal.

    Your pragmatic approach to the avoidance of time-wasting on both sides is laudable. But control is an illusion, surely?

  10. modestypress says:

    As I am quite mad, I have been trying to “fix up” David and Truce with each other. As I finally broke down and confessed, my wife and I met each other as a result of a prank call (made by my brother).

    The next step is that we talked on the phone for a while before we ever met in person.

    Calls from Sydney Australia to Portland, Oregon can’t cost that much. while flying to see each other is a bit spendy, and more than a bit premature, I suggest that one of you send the other your phone number and then talk to each other on the phone.

    For some reason I can’t remember, I once had to call someone in New Zealand for a work-related reason about 25 years ago. I found her accent almost incomprehensible. However, I presume that you have a British accent alightly “Australianized”; so probably it will be David’s Portland accent which will prove to be incomprehensible.

    Give it a try and then report back to the rest of us voyeurs.

  11. modestypress says:

    If you do talk to each other, I will explain the significance of the “Q” in my blog.

  12. I think control both is and isn’t an illusion. I do think we have some choice (or control) over the flow of information as we get to know people, initially.

    I tell my dates the truth, which is that in my spare time I read, I run a writers’ group, and I seek out live classical music/performance art stuff. I also tell them that having fun is a bizarre concept to me, and that I prefer to do something edifying or useful or intellectually engaging. 🙂

  13. truce says:

    Mr Random – I am deeply affronted at the assumption that my accent will have ‘Australianised’ in any way. And I am practically apoplectic at being compared to Kiwis. I’ll have you know I still speak like our dear Queen, may God bless her and all who sail in her.

    Oh, alright, I’m not affronted at all. 😉 But I doubt my accent would be incomprehensible to anyone who has understood the dialogue in the latest Bond film, put it that way. I’m a younger Judi Dench. With longer hair. And, you know, not as much talent as an actor. Oh, and slimmer, but other than that, identical.

    David – mmm, I just think that sometimes we give away more by trying to control such things than we conceal, does that make sense? Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.

    I would add to that list a preference for doing somethings which are physically active and outdoors, and then we’d be on the same wavelength.

    And I note that you have carefully avoided responding to Mr Random’s suggestion 😉 I am chicken-hearted, what’s your excuse?

  14. Ed says:

    there was a worrying phase in some of my girl friends’ lives when they seemed to attract totally useless drizzling gringing whining mummy’s boys who at first glance appeared to be hard toughnut motorbike riding hardos, or cool sophisticated literate doods… it was a mystery to me why my mates didn’t dump them the moment they realised what utter knobs these boys were, but … i dunno!

    like david said – honesty is important – but then i think that these useless nose dribbles didn’t know that what wastrel plankton they were, preferring their imaginary worlds and then casting themselves as victims and their new girlfriends as the problem, and by the time my friends had hitched up with them, the weird psycho-rot had set in, and they began to make excuses for their idiot boyfriends instead of slapping them as was obvisouly the best route forward for all.

    anyway. that sprung to mind. not strictly related. sorry. moving on.

    sometimes i wonder how much self-deprecation there is in your writing and how much it’s related to the old ‘wanting to please people’ behaviour mode.

    as said elsewhere it may be my obsession, but the whole ‘group’ thing is definitely in here somewhere, and acceptance, identity and inclusion. your mentions of groucho and the ghastliness of parties i think we all agree on. two things in relation to this:

    1. charlie brooker’s latest piece (and maybe my choice of silly language up this post):
    “Shaken, I turned to the Little Black Book section, which turned out to be an authoritative A-Z of overprivileged arseholes (most of them still in their early 20s), plus the occasional celeb, rated and compiled by the single biggest group of wankers in the universe. You’re supposed to want to sleep with these people, and the text attempts to explain why. It’s the ultimate in self-celebratory nothingness, 2,000 times worse than the worst ever article in Heat magazine.”
    http://tinyurl.com/6eoa8d

    2. my friend wendy’s latest post:

    “HIF: you are the only person I know who talks less than I do
    Wendy: is that good?
    HIF: yes (laughs)
    Wendy: (laughs)
    [silence]”
    http://wendyhome.com/2008/11/18/shared-silence/

  15. My excuse is that it’s not a good idea, for more reasons than I can shake a stick at, and I prefer to ignore such reckless mischievousness from our revered Mr. R.

  16. truce says:

    I concur. He’s a menace.

    For Mr Random’s benefit I will attempt to enumerate a few of these reasons:

    1. If we speak on the phone and we don’t like each other’s voices/personalities in ‘real time’ (rather than with the benefit of blogging editing time), we’ll have ruined and made awkward what is currently a very pleasant online correspondence.

    2. If we do like each other’s voices and personalities, we’re still several thousand miles away so there would be nothing we could do about it other than run up vast phone bills. Neither of us is in a financial position to do that, pledge drives notwithstanding.

    This makes me feel much more logically justified about being chicken-hearted.

  17. modestypress says:

    Sometimes, when I am teaching a class, I will ask a student a personal question. Not a personal question about their romantic life, but a personal question such as, “When you were a child in school, did you ever have a bad experience with a teacher?” The student will usually stare at me in some amazement at being asked such a personal question.

    I will then say, “This question is none of my business. It would be perfectly appropriate for you to say, ‘I am not going to answer this question because it is none of your business.’”

    However, usually the student then goes ahead and answers the question though I have given them permission not to.

    If they say, “I won’t answer this question,” I then reply, “Good, one benefit of this class is that you are learning to be more assertive by not letting me push you around.”

    However, usually the students answer these questions, though if they say, “I won’t answer this question,” I then reply, “Good, one thing you are learning in this class is to be more assertive.”

    When two people consider escalating a very casual and low-level relationship to a slightly higher level, they will consider various risks.

    For example, will the other person reject me?

    Will I reject the other person?

    Both are great risks.

    That’s at least two of the major risks involved in my reckless recommendation that David and Truce have an international phone conversation. As they are very intelligent and perceptive people, I am sure they have thought of many other great risks.

    As I am reckless and mischievous, I will continue with reckless and mischievous suggestions. If they reject my reckless and mischievous suggestions, I will say, “Good for you.” On the other hand, if they carry them out, perhaps we or they or all of us will be entertained.

    David should email Truce and ask her for her phone number and ask for to indicate a good time to call. (This will take some careful thought, as not only do they have to arrange this in terms of their work schedules, they also will have to take into account their differing time zones. I know nothing about daylight saving time in Australia. Do they even have such a concept in Australia? I have no idea.]

    Then Truce should send her phone number to David by email

    I suggest using email because Truce should probably not post her phone number publicly in her blog. Many people might be tempted to call her. I don’t know if the telephone system in Australia is equipped to handle that many phone calls from the United States. On the other hand, the United States telephone system may not be able to handle that many calls to Australia.

    David should then call Truce at the arranged time. He should say, “Hello this is David. Except my name is [———–]. (David’s real name is hard to say. There may be an aboriginal word for it that expresses it better than the way I wrote it. ) Then Truce should say in her impeccable Queen’s English (with no corruption by Anzac linguistic accentual or idiomatic mischief), “Hello, this is Truce.”

    They then should talk for no more than two minutes about what a nuisance, pest, annoyance, and pain in various unmentionable parts of the anatomy Mr. Random is. I suggest this topic as it will be a safe topic on which they both can be sure to agree, and I suggest no more than two minutes because I do not want to run up David’s phone bill on international prank calls.

    After carrying out that assignment, they should report back to the rest of us voyeurs.

  18. modestypress says:

    Speaking of transatlantic calls, one of these days I will interrupt my tale of Random Granddaughter’s existential crisis by telling a true story about one of my daughter’s pre-school teachers who had a romantic relationship (almost entirely by transatlantic telephone) with a member of the musical group The Moody Blues.

    It did not turn out well. This might bode ill for anyone who follows my advice. On the other hand, the relationship had nothing to do with any advice I gave, and I did not like that particular pre-school teacher very much. Furthermore, there are probably dozens of transatlantic phone relationships that go perfectly well, though I don’t know anything about them.

  19. Teuchter says:

    Cross continent communication doesn’t have to cost the earth if you sign up to skype.
    My daughter’s b/f is currently working in Portugal and she resides in Scotland. They have skype dinner dates every weekend. Sad – but kinda sweet.

    This business of always tending to go for a certain type … I always went for strong, silent types – until I realised they were men with nothing to say.

  20. David says:

    I am laughing aloud at Teuchter’s last sentence, and ignoring Mr. Random. Lalalalalalala.

  21. OmbudsBen says:

    Don’t worry about your accent, Trucie. Like a pronounced limp, English vioces rise and fall quite regularly, but you of olde Albion do soldier on so wonderfully, stiff upper lip and all, and are doubtless an inspiration for those down under.
    *giggles with glint in eye*

  22. OmbudsBen says:

    Regarding ‘types’, back when I was single, nice kind suburban Christian girls seemed to like me, whilst as a liberal I went more for other leftists. I even joined liberal groups hoping to meet someone, but so many of those women dated men who weren’t of northern European extraction.

    (One group was working on building relations with Cuba. *All* the women were political and white and *all* their boyfriends were Latin and apolitical.) (The creator does delight in the cosmic joke, no?)

    You’ll be fine, Truce. It took a while for Mrs. Ombud and I to find each other, but it was worth the wait. And we’re both Dame Judi Dench fans — despite the accent. *wink*

  23. modestypress says:

    OK, I have been getting out of hand, so I am backing off. I do have some good advice, though. Check my blog, this morning.

  24. modestypress says:

    David, you can stop lalalaling now. I am behaving myself.

  25. truce says:

    Okay, this may turn out to be a bad idea but how about this: I’ll email my skype to Mr Random – as a completely non-neutral third party – and if/when David feels like a chat/rant about being bullied into calling hopelessly unsuitable women on the other side of the globe, he can contact Mr Random via the UN and arrange for the transfer of said skype details, in a public place, in unmarked bills… Then we can indulge in 2 minutes of awkward silence while we both think “God, his/her accent is WEIRD”.

    as for Daylight Saving Time – Ha! We laugh in the face of Daylight Saving Time. We have so much daylight, we’re giving it away down here.

    Teuchter – “I always went for strong, silent types – until I realised they were men with nothing to say.” *chortle*

    Ombudsben – Oh, I’m not worried about my accent, believe me… Except when I’m in a pub in Australia ordering shandy and getting snide looks for being a ‘Pom’ 😉

    Also, it has always fascinated me why white, middle class women feel the need to be seen to date ‘politically’ – almost as an apology for being white and middle class. I apologise regularly, for all sorts of things, but I’m not going to apologise for something I had no control over, such as the family into which I was born.

    Mr Random – David can’t hear you, he has a cat in each ear and he is lalalaing for all he’s worth.

  26. piereth says:

    God, this is better than Les Liasons Dangereuses. I want the next installment NOW!!!

    🙂

  27. People don’t seem to notice that I’m secretly a big ball of angst-ridden introversion, though I really don’t know how that is.

    “for girls who look like they’ve suffered a bit, who seem a bit melancholy, who wear glasses, who dress a bit conservatively” Wow. I can’t there’s a market, no matter how narrow, for “world-weary, slightly shy-looking women.” That does give me hope. Though evidently the shy, world-weariness isn’t evident. I think anyone who was looking for it, would recognize in me, though. Maybe.

  28. Teresa says:

    This could be him, looking for you. He’s also ridiculously young. Maybe what you need is a temp, a boy toy to shake you out of your habits. ??

  29. truce says:

    Piereth – NOTHING is better than Les Liaisons Dangereuses. “Success! Success!” *running up the stairs* 😉

    waxingstrange – sounds to me as though you are, in fact, David’s ideal match rather than me. Mr Random, are you paying attention?! Possibly your shyness and world-weariness aren’t immediately obvious because you do a good job of sticking a smile on so as not to depress others? That seems to be the key with most of us.

    Teresa – hmmm, several people have recommended this. Which is odd because I have never been remotely attracted to younger men and I think treating anyone like a toy would make me feel worse rather than better 😉 But thanks, hon, I must pop over and catch up with your writing today.

    Ed – your comment finally made it out of the spam queue, sorry about that. “sometimes i wonder how much self-deprecation there is in your writing and how much it’s related to the old ‘wanting to please people’ behaviour mode.” Good question. I don’t know. Whichever, I need to change it.

    Wendy sounds lovely. I had my hair cut on Saturday and at the end Madge, who cuts it, said “You know, you’re my quietest client. Its nice.” I was really happy about that.

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