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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gluttons for punishment

I have an old friend, an old female friend, who over the years has been like a big sister to me, not taking anything away from my biological big sister, of course.

This friend is smart. She's got that book learnin'. But when it comes to men she's dumb as a rock.

And I don't get it. This isn't a new discussion. We've all had it before, possibly on this blog, definitely among friends and colleagues: seemingly smart person falls repeatedly for abusive, generally bad person, and refuses to change course.

Anyway, I got a call from her this morning about the latest guy. He's mean. He's condescending. He's inconsiderate, etc.

Here's the kicker - when she began dating this guy she did so only after brushing aside the advances of a guy who wasn't as cool as her eventual man. The other guy didn't drive the coolest car. His social and conversational skills were woeful. But he worked hard, earned well, had good sense, wasn't running from the law, didn't have a gaggle of babies running around out there, and just had a good heart. And I say social skills can be taught. Being nice, once you're past a certain age can't be taught. You either are or you aren't.

Her description of the other guy way back then? "He's just not my type!"

So the new guy isn't working out. He's good looking and has a nice car and dresses better than the other guy. But the new guy is a jerk. He doesn't have a pot to piss in and has no concept of responsibility.

Not her type? Guys do it too. We go for the one with super model looks, or even more baffling, no looks at all but super model 'tude. And we will hang onto her even after she sets our clothes on fire, kicks our dog, runs up our credit card bill, and cheats on us.

BTW, that last graph isn't personal experience. I've been lucky that way. I'm drawing on tales from buddies and scenes from bad dating movies. Still, I assume you get the picture.

I can't front. I told my friend this morning that she was dumb as hell. "You are dumb as hell." Those were my exact words. I had nothing wiser to offer. What was there to say? I've done it before. Dated someone, or bought something, or generally taken a course of action that I knew in advance would be bad for me. I did it anyway. I don't know why I did it then or a "few" other times over the years.

I certainly don't know why some people do it over and over again. After a while being punished bites, especially when you're the one punishing yourself...unless you're into that sort of thing. And if you are, I don't want to know about it.

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  • We humans are very complicated creatures. Who knows why the hell we do half the stuff we do. I guess we have a list of what we think our dream man (or woman) should be like. Usually that list contains some very superficial requirements like looks, money, social standing, etc. Once that stops working for us, we learn to cut that list down to just the bare essentials: good character, hard worker, loving, etc. Hopefully your friend will get to that point sooner rather than later.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 2:03 PM  

  • This is an evolutionary holdover. Women go for the obvious alpha male when they are ovulating and the one that looks like the best provider at other times. Until they can overcome the lower brained
    instincts they will keep making the same mistakes.

    Guys do the same with even features and big boobs. Supposedly these make the best offspring according to our deep seated instincts.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 2:12 PM  

  • Yeah, it's all about sex and we've all heard about the biological underpinnings in our brain AND

    you can no more tell a woman about a man as you can tell a man about a woman.

    The worst-looking chicks I've ever slept with (I mean, dated) have had the best 'tudes, as you say, for sure.

    By Blogger Matt, at 2:25 PM  

  • It seems odd that a woman her age (and I assume she's well into her thirties since you describe her as being older than you) would still be doing this.

    I admit dating my share of losers. So did my girlfriends. But eventually we all got tired of the drama and other crap that accompanies the bad boy loser type.

    I'm just wondering why your friend hasn't reached that point where she's "done".

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 3:34 PM  

  • Why do we continually fault the person who falls for someone less than worthy?

    Why don't we fault the other person. It seems to me that they have a bigger problem.

    By Blogger mist1, at 3:44 PM  

  • As a strong, independent woman, I find that I dated two types of guys:

    1. Absolute puppy dogs who would do ANYTHING I wanted, and hence, were extremely boring.

    2. Men who constantly wanted to dominate me, usually due to ego issues or deep insecurities.

    So, it was either puss or the jerk, and no one wants to sleep with a puss.

    Luckily, I found a guy who is man enough to be sexy, yet puss enough not to abuse me.

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 3:54 PM  

  • Hmmm, see. You guys have no answers either. It's baffling.

    Grizz, I think it's too late for her. She hasn't broken the pattern yet.

    Hammer, you're right. Guys are definitely guilty of a version of this too. It's been my unscientific experience that all my friends who comprised beautiful couples ended up having ugly babies. I swear! The best looking babies I've ever seen came from the loins of hideously ugly parents.

    Matt, I suspect that good 'tude came 'cause those women had to learn to make friends with their personalities and not because of their looks.

    Queen, maybe she's stuck in that rut 'cause it has grown familiar and therefore comfortable and she's afraid to "expirement" with a good guy.

    Mist1 that is a really good question. Why don't we fault the other person, the bad person more? We all have this manic self-deprecation that compels us to blame ourselves for bad relationships. I guess where we bear the blame is entering into the bad relationships in the first place. We should know better and steer clear.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 3:58 PM  

  • Tiggerlane, that's a good compromise. I've never been a bad boy type. On average, worst I've done is jaywalk, speed from time to time, and take a tape back to Blockbuster without rewinding it. Still, I've struggled with being the guy in the middle. Don't want to be a wuss. Fortunately don't think Mrs. B wants me to either. On the other hand, I don't want to be so manly that I morph into a jerk.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:00 PM  

  • Women, like men, sometimes are afraid of intimacy. So they pick men with whom they can't have a real relationship. It's just another way to avoid settling down because there's some immaturity about having a real relationship.

    By Blogger bc, at 5:16 PM  

  • Oh yeah - and maybe she doesn't want to have to teach a grown man social skills. Sure, this other guy doesn't have them, either, but she must be getting SOMETHING out of the relationship to stick around. It's weird - women aren't supposed to want to change a man, but are supposed to finish raising him when his mommy stopped? Hmm...

    By Blogger bc, at 5:18 PM  

  • Sorry for three in a row, but why is manliness always equated with being a jerk? Why isn't being a responsible, kind, strong, assertive person considered more manly?

    By Blogger bc, at 5:21 PM  

  • Did it ever seem that to try to sway such people can appear larger than any one person can handle? That's what interventions are for.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 5:55 PM  

  • It's all about control.

    "kicks our dog"

    That's where I draw the line. ;-)

    I'm trying to think of a response to this from Tiggerlane: "Luckily, I found a guy who is man enough to be sexy, yet puss enough not to abuse me."

    Since when did a guy who DOESN'T beat women become a "puss"?

    By Blogger Jay, at 6:47 PM  

  • James, I know a lot of women like this. Emotional maturity has nothing to do with book learning.

    If a woman is still attracting jerks, it's because she hasn't worked enough on herself. She's going to keep repeating the same thing until she learns the lesson. It comes from within and has nothing to do with the guys.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 7:08 PM  

  • Oh bc ... of course those things are associated with manliness! At least by those of us who appreciate such qualities in a man!

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 7:09 PM  

  • It is awkward watching people make the same mistake over and over again. Well, except for me...I'm a slow learner.

    By Blogger Michael C, at 8:57 PM  

  • Manola - believe me, that's what I call a man, too! I'm wondering if others do, though, and was trying to open it up for discussion. Oh, well.

    When this woman is ready for a steady relationship, she'll let the right guy in.

    By Blogger bc, at 9:43 PM  

  • BC, seems like an awfully tough way to avoid settling down. And I don't know. I think I'd rather teach a few social skills than remain with someone who made me feel bad about myself. As for the relationship between manly and jerk, I don't think most guys make that connection anymore. I think most of us, even if we don't always act like we get it, realize that manliness equals maturity, which equals (in part) knowing how to treat women.

    Sarc, if one person was too much for one person to handle how would we have relationships? Speaking of interventions though, I love that show on A&E. It sounds cruel, but I swear it's like watching a car first, and in the end seeing the wreck cleaned up and the victims carted off for treatment.

    Jay, your observation sort of answers BC's question about manliness being equated with being a jerk. It's lose lose for the calm guy. If a guy's good and nice and, God forbid, gentle, then he's either a wuss or not "strong" enough.

    MB, so maybe this woman doesn't like herself enough? Makes sense to me. If I hated myself I'd probably eat up verbal abuse. I know that kind of dude, who dates a woman who dogs him like he's a piece of dirt, and I swear he loves it.

    Michael C, we all get a few mulligans for slow learning. But sheesh. There's got to be a line, especially when we become "wise" enough to recognize we're not enjoying a relationship. If we're smart enough to see the problem, why aren't we smart enough to quit that person? Baffling.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:50 PM  

  • BC, I see your point in that people commonly seem to affiliate jerkiness with manliness. But there's a whole legion of dudes out there who don't fit that stereotype and they see themselves as manly. And those dudes are asking rhetorically "If I'm nice, good, etc., and I'm not manly then what the hell am I?"

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:51 PM  

  • Wow, can we start with something a little easier first? Say, what is the cure for the common cold? Cancer? World peace? AFter those warm ups then and only then MAY we possibly be ready to tackle big problems like this.


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 11:56 PM  

  • Some of us are really just pure and simple "gluttons for punishment" at times and where the opposite sex is concerned especially, many of us become "dumber than a box of rocks" too. Been there, done that, yes indeedy and until I finally decided that it wasn't really necessary for me to have a "significant other" (whether it be a legit relationship or one not quite kosher) and I finally decided to be content to be just with me, I was able to ignore, get away from the yucky other entanglements that tended to warp my life and pea brain. Took a whole lot of years of screwing up to realize that though.

    By Blogger Jeni, at 2:15 AM  

  • I think dating people who treat you poorly IS a difficult way to avoid intimacy. But I think it's pretty common - just as having ridiculously high standards is a way of avoiding it. It's about self-esteem - you tend to seek out what you think you deserve, right?

    I think men should just claim this better definition of "manly". I like it. Maybe men should just leave wussy women alone who have this silly idea of what being a man means...forget them. Just as women should leave jerky guys alone, men should leave jerky women alone.

    By Blogger bc, at 8:41 AM  

  • Women have all met their ideal man--it's just he didn't have enough glamour to satisfy their fetishes for a princess life. Unwittingly, all hetero (and quite a few homo) women fantasize about the happily ever after ending with Prince Charming. It has been the stuff of storybook lore and female indoctrination for millennia. Whenever they meet a man who doesn't immediately make them feel like they could be queen of some faraway realm, they reject him because they have a truly unrealistic view of human relationships. Their illusion is so strong that they use it to destroy good tangible relationships.

    Tiggerlane exemplified this thinking at its worst. Her man couldn't be a wuss who doted on her nor could he be a macho jerk who treated her like dirt. Here, her "illusion" that a man who dotes is a wuss helped her destroy any potential good relationships (Defined as any relationshiop where the people actually care for each other).

    I think this is really a problem with lack of self love and overpowering ego inhabiting the same space. Lack of self love makes you think that no one should love you and that the person who does love you is weak (because how could a good person love someone so loathesome as you?). Overpowing ego makes you believe that no one is worthy of you because you're so great (who does this jerk think he is--doesn't he realize how______ I am?)

    There is a place and origin for this kind of thinking--OPRAH WINFREY!!! So many women think she is great that they must live her life of unfulfilled joy and relentless pursuit of acceptance. Oprah has a billion dollars, but no family, no truly loving partner (not a male at least--won't work for you heteros), no children as a legacy. She is a failure as a human being (which, in its essence, is DNA molecules covered by flesh and skin that has been ordered to reproduce for success), yet so many young and old women think of her as great. Well, she will end up as a rich old spinster--the kind of old maid your mother warned you about. Many women will join her unless they prioritize.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 10:35 AM  

  • sigh

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 2:49 PM  

  • Many women associate the drama of abusive relationships with "love." If that excitement is lacking, they can't feel anything for a guy.

    Until their concept of love changes, as well as their self-image, they will continue to hook up with bad guys who are not worthy of them.

    Men take women at the value they place on themselves, which would explain the attraction for women who are not supermodel-looking but have the attitude. This is either generous or lazy of men, depending on how you look at it.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 3:20 PM  

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