HOW-2 Meet Women



Chapter 12

Traps and Pitfalls

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!"
Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass

Meeting and dating women may be hazardous to your health, and in particular, your emotional well-being. Risks include making a fool of yourself, subjecting yourself to humiliation and ridicule, being exploited, and, of course, heartbreak. Worse yet, you may be done in by your very success and end up in a bad relationship. As a shy man, you are especially vulnerable, due both to your very lack of experience in the dating arena and your romantic nature. Proceed with caution.

"Here there be tygers."

Predators stalk the shadows. Here lurk "users" and "players", schemers who would take advantage of you, who would betray your trust, who would profit from your painful loneliness and desperate need for affection, who would turn your deepest longings against you, who would manipulate you for their own purposes. Women, even sweet gentle women, alas, bear within them the same sickness, the same depths of rage, the same capacity for corruption and depravity... as you and I.

Character flaws in a woman:
  • Cruelty, viciousness, as expressed in mockery, putdowns.
  • Immaturity, as expressed in "games playing", blame laying, whining.
  • Superficiality, as expressed in vanity, flightiness, pettiness.
  • Lacking in intelligence.
  • Lacking in wisdom and common sense.
  • Lacking in integrity and basic honesty.
  • Lacking in compassion and generosity.
  • Lacking in inner strength (courage).
A woman displaying one or more of these traits has a flawed personality, and may be considered undesirable as a partner.

Becoming involved with the wrong person is a certain prescription for unhappiness. The adage that "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" is scant comfort to the man courting a woman who does not return his affections. This is the dreaded "one-way love" scenario*. Nearly as nerve wracking to deal with is the woman who is not quite sure that she loves you, who plays up to you when you start to distance yourself, yet pulls away when you want closeness. Every variety of games playing, every deviation from honesty and integrity undermines a relationship at its very foundations and diminishes the people involved.

* In the mirror-image situation, should you not wish to pursue a relationship with a woman who is attracted to you, be kind to her. Show her compassion, remembering all the times you were in her place. By all means, be honest about your intentions, but respect her feelings, and let her down easy. While you do not owe her your company, at least treat her with respect.

When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving oneself, and one always ends by deceiving others.
That is what the world calls a romance.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Avoid entanglements with married women, for very commonsense reasons. Not only might you be poisoning a family relationship, perhaps hurting children in the process, but you run the risk of encountering an angry, and possibly armed husband. While adultery is no longer a punishable offense in most jurisdictions, it remains immoral, unethical, and certainly dangerous conduct.

A woman on the rebound from a failed relationship presents a ticklish problem. True enough, she is needy of affection, of healing, and will be grateful for your presence, your solace. Still, her feelings for you will be flickering and tenuous, her moods changeable, her attachment to you shaky. She will alternately cling and push you away. She will sweeten your existence... and bring you misery. You will constantly ask yourself whether it is worth it.

If you are over age 18, stay away from young girls.
It is a crime for an adult male to consort with an underage girl, as well it should be.

In all your loneliness, take care in awarding your affections. You will find your partner and mate, your intended... in time, and likely after weathering disappointments and collecting a few bruises. Beware of imposters.

The things ye do, by two and two
You must pay for, one by one.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

All the passions make us commit faults;
love makes us commit the most ridiculous ones.

La Rochefoucauld

Social pressure can deny you the choice of a mate. They say she's too young, too old, too poor, too rich, or otherwise "wrong for you". Don't let the people around you drag you down and hold you back from a relationship (as in the movie, Marty). Strangely enough, in the company of women, friends provide emotional support and sensible advice (usually), while among men, the opposite seems to hold true. Your friends may not want you to have a girlfriend, for reasons of envy or simple fear that you may leave them behind. You may have to choose between your friends... and your happiness.

Blind dates must surely be the greatest boon to humankind since the invention of the guillotine. A friend or family member thinks they are giving you a break by "setting you up" with a woman just right for you. Of course, you and your date have absolutely nothing in common, and it inevitably turns out to be a waste of an evening and $30 or so, at best. At worst, it will be a total catastrophe, and the friendly "matchmaker" might just be having a good laugh at your expense.

A singles bar can be a chamber of horrors for shy persons. Such locales have long since been the domain of aggressive males, the predatory "jock" crowd, the cowboy wannabes, who quickly show their resentment of "nerds" intruding on their hunting grounds. The women there, jaded pseudosophisticates, case-hardened veterans of the fast living booze-and-cocaine set, and other such pitiful creatures, are hardly what you are looking for, in any case.

The on-line "singles bars", the chat rooms and the unmoderated newsgroups in the hierarchy likewise present a desolate landscape. Male predators abound here, too, sometimes even masquerading as women. Cynicism is the rule. Shyness and sensitivity are unwelcome, newcomers and outsiders are the butt of ridicule, and sneering criticism is accepted practice.

"At the narrow pass, there is no brother, no friend."
Arab proverb

Loving Too Much

"Affection is a coal that must be cool'd;
Else, suffer'd, it will set the heart on fire..."
Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

Love, the heady wine of true love, puts a bounce in your step, bloom in your cheeks, sparkle in your eyes. It makes the blood smoke through your veins, turbocharges your spirits, and ignites your enthusiasm for living. For all that, love is quicksand. It is shark-infested waters. It is an avalanche, a riptide, a firestorm. The deeper the passion, the greater the capacity for hurt. Burning passion blinds the senses, particularly common sense. Lover's passion is a mania, a deadly form of temporary insanity, a virulent disease, a treacherous pit, the hangman's trapdoor.

"Love is like the measles; we all have to go through it."
Jerome K. Jerome

A mature relationship is not so much about jumping into bed and making passionate love, as it is about companionship. It is about being there when your mate needs you, about giving comfort when she hurts, about caring for her... and being cared for. It is about working side by side and solving problems together. It is about the commonplace. It is about figuring out how to pay the mortgage when money is tight. It is about washing the dishes and changing soiled diapers. It is about taking out the trash on a bitter cold evening. It is about kissing her even when she has been getting on your nerves all day. It is about making up after fights. It is about caring even when you are angry at her. It is respect and affection and comfort and security, and even a bit of passion when the time and place are right. It is about getting accustomed to each other to the point that you fit together like a hand in an old, familiar glove. It is about being together.

" don't spend a marriage sleeping with a person but waking with her."
Herman Wouk, "Marjorie Morningstar"

Loving Too Soon

"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"
The Shirelles, ca. 1960

Becoming physically intimate too soon can be fatal to a relationship. It can shatter the slowly developing friendship and trust between the two of you. It magnifies and distorts feelings, clouds judgment, and superimposes cruel reality on hopes and dreams ("Is that all there is?"). It narrows options and introduces tensions and pressures into what was a joyous and carefree acquaintanceship. It damns you for lack of respect for the woman, and for lack of discipline on your part. It is begging for trouble.

Getting to know a woman, touching her is critically important in a relationship. Physical contact at the wrong time can intrude, hinder real understanding, block communication. You learn more about each other by joining your voices in song, by becoming one in music and lyrics and poetry, than by sleeping together. You get a deeper sense of communion by sharing a meal than by sharing a bed. Just holding hands or a gentle kiss can be more explosively effective in linking the two of you than "going all the way".

Physical intimacy implies commitment, responsibility, a sense of permanence. It is a promise, a contract. The two of you should be fully committed to each other before you seal the bond with lovemaking. Sex should never be undertaken lightly, without a full understanding of its implications... and consequences.

Wrong Time, Wrong Place

A man and a women exchange glances, perhaps smile at each other shyly. He would like to talk with her. Unfortunately, they are seated in a New York subway car, and strangers just don't approach one another in that setting. An opportunity irrevocably lost.*

You get along extraordinarily well with a woman. You can talk with her, laugh with her, and she confides in you. When you touch, accidentally, a spark jumps from her hand to yours. Unfortunately, she is already involved with someone. If only you had met a couple of years back...

There is a woman you absolutely worship. She shines with an unearthly light from within. You hang on her every word. You look up to her. She owns your heart and your soul. She is the only one in the world who understands you, sympathizes with you, loves you. Unfortunately, you are still in the fourth grade, and she is your teacher...

The circumstances for meeting are not quite right. You are not yet ready for her. She is not yet ready for you. Bad timing. You are waiting for her, but she is not there. She is waiting for you, but you are not there. Missed connections. She is flirting with you, but you are unsure if she is serious. Misunderstandings. Different maturity levels. Age difference. Wrong phase of the moon. The sun got in your eyes. Bad luck.

* Lost, but perhaps not irretrievably. If you just happened to be wearing a T-shirt with your e-mail address colorfully emblazoned on it, you might find an interesting message from her waiting on your computer. A pullover or even a dress shirt with the e-mail address tastefully embroidered over the breast pocket works, too, though it would not be as easily visible. This is an example of how even a seemingly hopeless situation can sometimes by salvaged by ingenuity and foresight.

Frauds and Distractions

"Ninety percent of anything is crap"
Sturgeon's Law

The success of commercial dating services demonstrates that truly "there's a sucker born every minute", as that great sage Phineas Taylor Barnum once noted. Dating services are, by most accounts, both very expensive and surprisingly ineffective at matching up lonely people, in part due to the imbalance of men to women who sign up. Moreover, consider how undignified, even humiliating it is, needing to pay a third party for the privilege of getting dates. Save your money. Save your self-respect. Avoid these outfits.

Nightclubs, dance studios, and popular "hangouts" have become a mainstay of the entertainment industry. These are frequented by a young, affluent, and socially active crowd. Shy people generally feel out of place and uncomfortable, even unwanted at these locales. With a bit of imagination, you can find better places to entertain your date, and if you lack a date, you can think of more productive uses for your time.

Singles weekends, Club Zed, and Caribbean "love boat" cruises may be grand fun for the socially endowed, but for the shy man searching for companionship they are an expensive waste of time. If you are absolutely dead set on going on a cruise, become a tennis pro or renowned musician and get hired as staff.

Pheromones are subtle scents emitted by animals in mating season. Capitalizing on this, cosmetic manufacturers have begun marketing expensive colognes and preparations containing these exotic derivatives, and touting them as the secret to attracting the opposite sex. Here is a perfect example of techno-scam, of huckstering dubious "science" to the gullible and desperate. As anyone experienced in such matters knows, physical attraction takes place more in the mind than in the glands. Save your money.

Dirty Little Secrets

"Women trade sex for love, men trade love for sex."
Old saying, often found scrawled on lavatory walls

Some self-styled "playboys", the modern day successors to libertines and rakes, boast that "coming on" to every woman they meet yields them a fair number of seductions, just by the "law of averages". If but one in a hundred women submits to their blandishments and crude enticements, then they should do rather well in the long run. This flawed logic fails because these amateur lotharios rapidly manage to make themselves quite unpopular. They broadcast their unsolicited and usually unwelcome message to every woman within listening distance (this is somewhat analogous to "spamming" on the Internet, and even more annoying). They acquire a reputation as seducers and sleazeballs, and find themselves shunned by decent people.

The more subtle practitioners of the seduction art, the "smooth operators", more skilled at stealth and less obviously aggressive, often manage to make quite a nuisance of themselves before being neutralized. Frauds, swindlers, counterfeiters of affection, heartless, spineless, irresponsible and cruel, they victimize the women they use and subsequently abandon. These men style themselves lovers, but beneath the masque is emptiness.

Then there are the men who use fear as a tool to control the women in their lives. The threat of violence, and yes, the allure of it, plays on the helplessness and vulnerability of all too many women, generally with tragic consequences.

"My way or the highway." The lore of violence and abuse has been handed down from generation to generation, from father to son, from brother to brother, from friend to friend, in locker rooms, in trash literature, in the mass media. The popular culture has traditionally accepted, even glorified predatory methods for acquiring and holding on to women. Quite recently, in a somewhat belated fit of enlightenment, society has come to consider this pattern of behavior pathological, and it is punishable by law, as well it should be.

"All larger organisms, including ourselves, are living testimonies to the fact that destructive practices do not work in the long run. In the end, the aggressors always destroy themselves, making way for others who know how to cooperate and get along. Life is much less a competitive struggle for survival than a triumph of cooperation and creativity."

Fritjof Capra, "The Web Of Life"

Sign images are from the Manual of Traffic Signs, by Richard C. Moeur.
Used with permission (and with thanks).