EVA ruminates on dating in the 21st century: Repeat mistakes

Men want to feel they’ve won a prize, something that’s been saved specifically for them.

Drawing  by Pepe Fainberg (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Drawing by Pepe Fainberg
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Bonjour! I dedicated my last two columns to my burgeoning relationship, and I know you’re at the edge of your seat regarding whether we’re still a thing, so I’ll end the suspense: We are.
My dude and I have passed the three-month mark, when you emerge from the honeymoon period – with its visions of puppies and rainbows – to reality, discovering each other’s quirks (i.e., less-than-enjoyable habits). We’ve had a few arguments and started to identify long-term issues.
And although beginnings are exciting, I’m really glad to be bypassing some of the fluff in favor of the more stable “meat” of our connection.
Time will tell how it shapes up, but for now I’ve calmed my fears of getting hurt, knowing I won’t fall to pieces if it doesn’t work out. Either way, I’ve learned so much that taking the risk was worth it, and I’m getting better at enjoying the ride.
That being said, I’d like to focus on something else this go-around – specifically, something I repeatedly see tripping up gals in their pursuit of love. It’s an issue that I have some experience with, and finally managed to make peace with.
What is this mysterious nugget? Why, it’s getting physically involved with a fella too soon.
IN THIS AGE of modern womanhood, it’s fairly unfashionable to acknowledge the differences between the sexes. However, reality being what it is – with men hailing from Mars and women from Venus – these differences are undeniable.
While there are exceptions to the rule (we’ve all heard about that couple who got married after a one-night stand), based on what I’ve seen and read, it must be acknowledged that while many men can have a sexual liaison and emerge emotionally unscathed, many women develop feelings for the man once they engage in tomfoolery.
This may even apply to the most liberated woman on Earth, who has steeled herself to navigate today’s disposable, instant gratification-oriented social media culture. If you’re looking for a full-fledged relationship hopefully culminating in holy matrimony, it’s still going to hurt when the guy you allowed to get verryyyy close to you doesn’t get in touch – the next day, when you’re dying for a sign of life via text, WhatsApp or, shock upon shock, phone call; and for some days after, when the little wound still smarts.
Even if what you set out wanting was a casual encounter, you might still be a bit bewildered that the guy who was just so into you and dying for you to make time in your schedule now appears that he couldn't care less. You thought there were real sparks – what happened? I posit that when you rely solely on sparks and get too close too soon, even the most promising affair will fizzle out. I’m so “old-fashioned” (quote marks to say I don’t think it’s old-fashioned at all but astute) that I think it’s best not to kiss at all on the first few dates.
And bypassing any religious considerations (since once you hit a certain age, this becomes a reality even for the modern-Orthodox), it’s best to withhold sex for that much longer – even for months.
From research conducted during my many years of dating, reading self-help books and talking to members of the opposite sex from all walks of life, I’ve learned that choosing a woman to marry is a decision most men take incredibly seriously. Men want to feel they’ve won a prize, something that’s been saved specifically for them. It all stems from their need to be recognized for their unique strengths, from the greatness that is them.
Accordingly, a woman who doesn’t get physical right away clearly values herself and is assessing whether this new man is worthy of her affections.
If she finally decides to be with him in that way, by his reasoning it is because this male specimen has, at long last, won her over – because she recognized his glorious personality and courting displays (are we sounding like the Discovery Channel yet?).
By the same token, our male thinks, if she’s willing to “get down on the first night” (thanks to departed singer Aaliyah for that lyric) or the following few nights, she’s probably gotten down with lots of other dudes too – since, he infers, she’s desperately looking for someone to fill the boyfriend/future husband slot.
Few things are more attractive to a man than a woman who values herself. And few are less attractive than a woman who appears willing to give herself over to any male in the vicinity.
How a man sees you is in your hands.
I’M SORRY. I know it’s not enjoyable to hear this, and maybe you find it offensive, but I don’t think our generation is doing itself any favors by ignoring this.
It’s only because I’ve been there and know the pain of getting physical with someone because we were in the moment, and things had been going so well and seemed to be building toward something permanent.
And suddenly, there was radio silence from the guy who had been texting me morning, noon and night.
And I’ve heard this painful story from many friends, from the most religiously observant to the most modern.
Do this enough times and you develop a well of pain that no matter how deeply buried, takes away emotional energy and makes you more cynical and less emotionally available for something real.
Living in New York City, which in many ways is similar to Tel Aviv – that modern metropolis where it’s often hard to find the meaningful relationship in a haystack – I made this mistake over and over. Time and again, I’d meet a promising guy. We’d go out once or twice, we’d make out (whether due to the moonlight or some pressure he was applying), and even if he’d get in touch after, his interest would have waned.
It’s only thanks to my plain-speaking mother that I finally saw the light. Lamenting once again about some jerk who took me out to lavish dinners, then vamoosed after “a movie at his place” and heavy smooching (yes, I share a lot with my dear mom), she made a few sympathetic sounds, then burst out, “It’s always the same story with you – don’t get physical with them so soon!” “It’s a lousy game sometimes, but you have to play it.”
She then outlined the reasoning I’ve detailed above.
Taken aback, and feeling like crap, I insisted she was wrong and that the dude was an unfeeling Neanderthal who didn’t respect women. But upon reflection, her words resonated. Was it all in my hands? I decided to do an experiment, holding back with the next guy I went out with. The first few times he dropped me off at home, I graciously thanked him for a great night, not even giving him a hug. The third time, I gave him a little kiss on the cheek. The fourth time, I allowed a quick smooch. And so on, in small gradations.
The formula seemed to work. There was time for real feelings to develop, and I felt infinitely more secure in knowing that if the guy hadn’t gotten in touch, it was because we weren’t compatible.
I wasn’t dying for him to call just to confirm he still considered me a worthy prospect; if I thought about him, it was because I genuinely enjoyed our evenings.
And there was great security in that.