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Less is More

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Mmm. Yesterday I said that the ladies should not respond to the gentlemen's comments until today. Girls! You really must learn the art of delay.

Many men need to learn the art of delay, too. For example, after taking a girl's phone number, it is better to wait two days before getting back to her. After receiving an gossipy feminine email that needs no immediate answer, it is better to wait one or two days to answer it. This creates suspense, and as much as we women hate that, it might also create an interest we would otherwise not feel. Sorry to betray womankind, but it is true.

Everyone has piled on poor Sensitive Woman for wanting her swing-dancing date to be glued to her side. I think we have it sorted out now that in swing-dancing--and perhaps other social-dancing-- circles, this is considered rude, gauche and barbaric behaviour. But I also want to point out that it is also very bad strategy to expect that a man be glued to your side for hours and hours on end.

Successful dating takes discipline and self-denial, two qualities, incidentally, that are essential for marriage. As the woman, you have to draw strict time and geographical limits around your date--or quasi-date--and stick to them. If the agreed upon first, second or third  date is 5:15 PM in a cafe, you must sigh at 6:14 PM, say you'd love to stay, but you absolutely must go because of [something-or-other]. You must not stay until you are famished, suggest dinner, and end the evening in a bar or in a romantic walk along the river. You must not do that. I don't care if you're a wild, free, spontaneous kind of a girl. Even if he does not know this until later, you'll bore him to death.

One of the more maddening things about young men is that there is no direct hotline between their thoughts and their feelings. They do not know that if they get everything they want all at once, they will inevitably get bored. If they push for dates to go on and on for hours, and the woman agrees, they eventually lose interest in the woman. If they pursue women for sex, when they get the sex, they eventually lose interest in the woman. They feel bored. And, being sons of Adam, they blame the woman. It's her fault for being boring, they think. But they are wrong. The fault lies in them getting everything they wanted all at once.

You must treat the attention-span of an attractive young man the way you treat delicious chocolates. You must enjoy a small piece of it with obvious enjoyment, and then go away. In a friendly conversation, you get perhaps fifteen minutes, if you're lucky, and when he turns to someone else to chat, you find someone else with whom to chat. At a dance, you accept his invitation to dance, and then when the dance is done you smile brilliantly, tell him what a wonderful dancer he is (if you haven't already), thank him and sit down.  On a coffee date, you get one hour of chatty bliss, and then you go home. On a first dinner date, you get perhaps two hours, and then you go home. You must be entirely gracious to him, and terribly strict with yourself.

The infamous The Rules says a woman must always end the date, and I concur. Saving a man from his unfortunate propensity to boredom is not manipulation but charity. Men do not want to be bored, and yet so often they get bored. They often feel that somehow women have something to do with this, but this is only because women have forgotten how prone men are to boredom.

As there is an awful lot more hanging-out these days then dating, you must be even more careful not to attach yourself to an attractive man's side like glue. At a group event, do not speak to him and only him. Do not make sure you always get the seat beside him--in fact, take the first seat anywhere yourself, and allow the chips to fall---i.e. the men to sit--where they may. Wait until you are addressed, and then pay strict attention to what is said, and then reply with intelligence. Do not attempt to be The Life of The Party. Naturally there will be some man around who wants to be The Life of the Party himself.  The time to be The Life of the Party is when you are out with the girls, which suddenly reminds me of the time I jumped up on my friend Lily's bed during a pyjama party and sang "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." I was 34 or so at the time, but I digress.

This will blow your mind, but even married women cannot stick to our own husbands' side like glue. Traditionally, we are not supposed to sit beside them at dinner parties after the first year of marriage. At parties we are expected either to stay in the kitchen with the women, if it's that kind of community, or to be delightfully charming to every other man around while our husbands enjoy prosing on about whatever horribly boring things husbands enjoy prosing on about, so that the charmed men think our husbands are awfully lucky in love and therefore to be respected. Or something.

Personally I am so fond of my husband that I followed him into the church choir stalls and stayed there for three years until the Master of the Men's Schola succeeded in booting me out. But I am also so fond of my husband that I accepted my booting with grace and also give him a lot of space to do the things he likes to do. And of course I tell him he is marvellous every day, not only because he is marvellous, but because it is essential to men's health to be told they are marvellous. Husbands are like basil plants--you must water them and give them a lot of sunshine.

Not surprisingly, married men on average live longer than single men. The male fear of marriage is just another example of how men do not actually know what is good for them, and how it is up to women to do the emotional-thinking for them without being too obvious about it.  In some ways, it's like playing Tetris. Really, I do love men, but they really aren't women, and when it comes to romance, you have to use your head.

Update: Thank you to E.B. and R.C. for their April donations.