Drilled Since Diapers

I recently read a blog post judging a dude’s dating choices. In it, the author, Charity, explains that this dude gave her female coworker a dozen red roses after a first date. He also offered to fly Coworker to Las Vegas later that same month. Charity opines that Dude’s “generosity” is a sure sign that he’s a straight-up player, which I concede is likely, but seeing the stream of comments that followed agreeing and calling for Coworker to dump him raised my hackles.

I don’t think Dude should be written off so fast. Coworker should be careful, absolutely, but Dude’s poor dating decisions may be the direct result of years of gender role tropes such as “Women want to be doted on” and “Women want to be provided for.” I think he should be given some slack.

source: www.etsy.com/listing/91052242/furniture-for-monster-high-dolls?ref=related-0
I couldn’t resist. (photo credit: monsternitezzzz on etsy.com)

Full disclosure: I’m as gay as a Monster High doll on a chaise lounge. Why do I feel qualified to weigh in on this issue? Not only am I an impartial observer, I also was raised, through no fault of my parents, to be a Real Man.

When I was little, I remember older relatives instructing me to eat my spinach so I could grow up big and strong. The implication being a woman wouldn’t want me otherwise. I remember TV programs showing me how proper men wooed prom dates with limos and crisp tuxedos. “Women want strength” and “Women want to be wooed” are two more common tropes, in my very unscientific opinion. Tropes like these are just as pervasive now and, Mila Kunis-Kutcher, are they getting specific. Magazine articles dictate what women expect on first dates. Commercials pinpoint the jewelry store from which women prefer their diamond rings. In other words, I, along with almost every other guy in America, have been drilled since diapers on society’s expectations of how to be The Man in a relationship.

photo credit: Jessica Thomas  http://fp1001photographyblogjessicathomas.blogspot.com/2010/11/power-of-colour.html
photo credit: Jessica Thomas (source: fp1001photographyblogjessicathomas.blogspot.com)

That said, maybe Dude is just sticking to misguided tropes because he’s confused by all of the instruction. Yes, he may have less than noble intentions, but I can also see how he might think roses are a good idea. He likes this woman. He wants to make an impression on her in order to stay at the top of her boyfriend contender list. It’s lazy, sure, but it’s the centuries-old answer men have been taught women desire.

What about the meaning of a dozen red roses, you ask? I think many young women would be surprised at how little some men pay attention to the arbitrary meanings of flower-gifting. (Read in: about as much attention as they give to the cleanliness of their bedsheets.) A man sending those roses after a first date either knows exactly what he’s saying or has absolutely no clue.

Dude’s choice to fly her to Vegas is harder to parse. It’s over-the-top, no doubt. But is it surprising he’d play the “I Can Take Care Of You” card so early in the relationship given that he knows he’s in a competition? I don’t think so.

These tropes, and the miscommunications surrounding them, are what make the two sides in the dating game so mutually exclusive. Again, I’m not saying Dude isn’t a player. I just take umbrage at his immediate dismissal by commenters. That is, unless I find out Dude didn’t open the car door for her, in which case she should totally dump his inconsiderate ass!

(source: my Facebook feed as I was editing this post)
(source: my Facebook feed as I was editing this post)

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I am a writer for an e-Learning course vendor near Chicago.

55 thoughts on “Drilled Since Diapers”

  1. I love your writing. This was insightful and funny. (BTW I would have no energy about the roses but the offer to fly to Las Vegas would have been somewhere between a yellow and red flag at least.)

    BTW…. how do you get text to wrap around pictures in Word Press. I want to do that but haven’t seen any way to do it.

    1. Thanks for the compliments, Karuna! After you place the picture in your post click on it. Two little boxes will come up in the upper left corner of the picture. click on the farthest left box (the other will delete it). Once you do that a new window will pop up. I think it will be clear what to do from there. Let me know if it isn’t.

  2. It is a bit sad when a guy can’t give a girl a vase of daisies without her having to call a meeting about it! I think her ego was working overtime in her assumptions. This is an interesting topic.

  3. I agree with you. I think people read too much into things. However, I would not go to Vegas with him until I knew him better. Rushing you is not a good sign in sales. lol, take care

  4. Woohooo! This is fantastic, Nate. Such a great read on gender expectations. And, Mila Kunis-Kutcher, so damn funny!

  5. Nate, over here in the UK, things are pretty much equal now and many of my straight girlfriends tell me they get embarrassed if the guy offers to pay for dinner on the first date, let alone bring a present along as well. As for my straight male friends, they say exactly the same thing, whereas my gay male friends think it’s cool to get a present on the first date.

    What I really like though, is that an old aunt of mine tells me how she and my uncle ‘courted’ and that in those days a guy had to ask the girl’s father for permission to take his daughter out first. How times have changed since then and I guess they will carry on doing so. Who knows, maybe in 50 years time ‘courting’ will be back and we will have gone full circle?

    Right, I’m off for a lay down on my chaise lounge now 😉

    1. Hahaha, Hugh! I’m thinking I’ll need to hit some garage sales this weekend to pick up a chaise myself! I miss the days of courting. It’s so genteel.

      1. Honestly, I really do have one Nate. I’ll have to send you a picture of it when I get back to the UK. You’ll be surprised at what sats on it when I am not there. I’m at the airport now, waiting for the flight back, so expect it over the next few days.

    1. Thanks, Carey, because that was my point. The social pressures on males aren’t talked about as much because they are so ingrained into our daily lives. Your piece was amazing, btw. I voted for it!

  6. Great post Nate.
    Several years ago, way before I met Mrs aBoyNamedSue, I dated a gal for about a month. I had hurt my leg and was at the doc which was very close to where she worked so I thought I would surprise her by bringing her a small bunch of white daisies in a small modest vase and see if she’d like to go to lunch.

    I honestly have no idea, to this day, how this was considered the wrong thing to do but the she called two days later saying “we needed to talk”, we met at a coffee shop and after 30 minutes of talking we were no longer dating.

    Weird huh.

    p.s. “I’m as gay as a Monster High doll on a chaise lounge.” is the most awesome description of being fabulously gay that I’ve ever heard. : )

    1. That tells me it wasn’t you, Sue. She had already made the decision to part ways. Thanks for the anecdote. Also, I am getting a kick out of that line because, if you knew me, you’d know I’m not flamboyant. I wish I were. I’m the guy at the party you have to lean in to so you can hear me.

  7. Oh, I dunno…they told me to eat my spinach for the same reasons and to eat my carrots because it would put hair on my chest. What do you ‘spose they were trying to tell me? 😉

  8. Dude could be the sweetest man on Earth, but maybe he has been exposed to expectations straight out of “The Bachelor” (which I watch) romance manual. maybe Dude has learned that roses and exciting travel are the ways to show sincere intent rather than ‘playerism’.
    You raise interesting questions in your essay.

      1. God no. It’s my guilty pleasure. I’m married. But poor Dude might be absorbing too much info from the ‘reality dating’ examples.

  9. When I started dating again after a 20 year marriage, the rules had all changed and so had I. I dated women in the 1980’s and then men in the 2000’s. But, chivalry is chivalry and I simply followed my instincts. Open doors, compliment the attire, return calls, six months later, I met Mr. Right who did the same things. Small actions say so much (But I wouldn’t mind a dozen roses every now and then…)

    1. It’s true, small actions speak volumes. I’m the same way. When my partner and I went to NYC, he had to warn me not to open doors for people because we would get separated and at the time I didn’t have a cell phone.

  10. I’m not gonna lie: I like getting flowers. But then again, I would buy my husband flowers, too, because I’m big on gifts, only he would chastise me for wasting money. Sigh. Marriage.

    1. A waste of money? As a son, grandson, great grandson and great great grandson of florists, I need to have a talk with this husband of yours! Thanks for your comment, Natalie.

  11. ok I totally lol’d here : “I’m as gay as a Monster High doll on a chaise lounge.” And the picture to follow! ha ha ha

    Also, my grandfather used to tell me to eat spinach because “it will put hair on my chest”. I have been afraid of spinach ever since.

    I really love the points you make here and sticking up for dude. And the last line really tied the room together!

  12. As always, well written Nate. I too read that post, and I must admit I sometimes find Cahrity very hard on the intentions, or what she infers are their intentions, of the men in her posts. However, this is her right, it’s her post and I don’t want to get into an argument, but sometimes I think we should just cut each other a bit of slack, a bit of wriggle room, try it an see, you’ll know soon enough if they are an idiot. Who knows, they might not be.!

    1. I agree, Claudette. As an introvert, I can tell you I am not at all good at dating. So, I always tried to give third and fourth chances to contenders on my boyfriend list, because I knew that First Date Me is a timid, serious version of myself and not what I’m like usually.

      1. Yes, not easy to know what to do/say sometimes, is it too little, too much, – why I don’t date! Well, that and the fact that I’m old and there are no available men where I live 🙂

  13. Really well observed and captured for our consumption! Funnily enough I am currently highly suspicious of a friend’s new love interest who seems to be really into big over the top full on “romantic” gestures only two weeks in. Maybe I have forgotten what it is like to be in the first days of lust or maybe I’m just jealous 😉 hopefully he’s a keeper!

  14. I think a first step is to admit that no matter how progressive we think we are – we’re still products of this society and carry a number of ‘old fashioned’ ideas with us. For example, I’m surprised when my straight female friends tell me that 4 out of 5 times their first dates do NOT pick up the bill. Old fashioned Sean thinks – ‘geesh – these young men don’t know how to be genteman in 2014’. But then progressive counters with ‘Well, isn’t that equality?’

    1. Dude! Yes! That’s exactly the kind of confusing messages Dudes have to navigate – do I pay for the bill and be chivalrous or do I split it to acknowledge she’s my equal?

  15. I enjoyed your full disclosure…your word choices and the image you chose to back it up….very funny. I also love that you are standing up for Dude. Dudes often get a bad wrap unnecessarily.

  16. What an interesting read, Nate. Thanks for giving your opinions on this. It is true that sometimes a person’s actions can be mis-read. Time will tell wether it’s real or not. And I agree- men should still open doors for women. Although I open doors for people, too! 😊

    1. Charity has already told me that Dude was playing, unfortunately. Still I don’t think guys should be discounted for one or two missteps. thanks for your support!

  17. The phrase “boyfriend contender list” made me laugh.

    We definitely have a long way to go with regard to debunking gender role stereotypes. They seem to be ingrained into the very air we breathe.

    1. I actually never thought about the implications of those b&w photos of kids doing precocious things until I started writing this entry. I appreciate your comments and movie suggestions,fgibg, thanks!

  18. great commentary! i am always confused at why people don’t just open their mouths and ask, “What are your intentions?” Communication is a lost art in this social media driven generation. very odd.

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