Last week I managed to actually get a seat on an overcrowded commuter train departing from Victoria station; anyone who has ever had to commute on public transport (during rush hour!) in a large city knows that discovering an empty seat is as rare as Justin Bieber not featured on a blazing summer pop track, however I was lucky enough to find this rare commodity and thought I might has well attempt to utilise it.
The only catch to my discovery was the socially awkward availability, in other words, if I was going to occupy the seat I would be placing myself among a group of cosmopolitan twenty-somethings and would therefore voluntarily place myself in the crossfire of their shared conversation. This particular group of perfect strangers consisted of an eclectic mix of four women and as I courageously sat down to take my seat I overheard…
Female Friend A: “He didn’t come shopping with me, and I didn’t even get a present.”
Female Friend B: “Honestly babes, are they all total @$$holes!?”
Female Friend C: “Exactly, Sean hasn’t called me back or replied to my texts, since Thursday night!“
Female Friend A: “What? F*%king joke! He’s probably with someone else! There are no f*%king good men anywhere!”
Even though I belonged to the gender that was clearly under attack, this cosmopolitan collective continued to trade stories of how the stock market of eligible bachelors had crashed beyond the point of no return and there was no recovery in sight!
“Is it really that bad?” I quietly pondered to myself. Is the experience of dating a few men (even terrible ones) a fair representation of an entire gender? Is the mission to find a good man impossible?
Unfortunately, I’m unable to assign Ethan Hunt the task of finding out if this is true. As I’m no Robert Langdon, I won’t be able to crack the code within the parameters of this post, however I do have a personal theory I would like to present to the court of public perception, in defence of my gender.
Most men can breathe a deep sigh of relief, as the accusation is nothing new, these claims have been levelled at men since the dawn of early relationships, in fact John Gray caught on to this idea waaaay back in 1992 when he wrote the bestselling book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. An apt title suggesting that due to inherent behavioural traits men and woman should be thought of as separate alien species.
During my twenties the media recklessly coined the term “90’s guy” and to qualify for this term, you had to be more attuned with, sympathetic, sensitive sensibilities. I would have been an eligible candidate, but I don’t think I could have met an idealistic standard wilfully inflicted on men by the media of the time. So fast forward to the present digitalised world, compressed within an ever-growing consumer based commercial society, the expectations placed upon men have exploded into the stratosphere!
Want a man with abs that look as if Michelangelo himself sculpted them? Then you have to accept the gym may be his temple. Want a man with a seven-figure salary? Then you have to understand he will be spending more time at work then at home. Want a man with a great sense of style? Then know that he may spend more time in retail outlets then you do. Want a man who isn’t afraid to be emotionally vulnerable? Then you better be ready to hold him in your arms the next you watch Titanic.
If you are going to generalise a whole gender based on the experience of a few…why bother? This post is in no way an attempt to justify poor treatment of a significant other by any man, but the truth is, substandard experiences within any relationship are not exclusive to one gender. While I see no problem with anyone who is looking to attain a certain quality of man, you can’t enter a relationship as if it was your local Burger King joint and expect to “have it your way” all the time. Men are not products that come fresh out of a box, neither can they be upgraded or have their features improved with a software update over a wifi connection.
Emotionally investing within a relationship is doomed from the start, if based on an excessive, standardised media formula you might find in one of those “10 signs you have met the one” articles. Maybe keep realistic expectations based on actual real-life interactions and not a poor caricature drawn by our fast paced, poor serving mass media.
The road to becoming good man takes a while, in most cases to get there requires that men must fall, in some cases pretty hard, and figure out a way to get back up. The truth is not every man will make it, but that doesn’t mean there is no hope because despite the title of the Rob Reiner directed 1992 classic, there are more than just “a few good men” who are doing their very best to meet the rising tide of demands, but we are only human.
Until next time.