The Nondating Life

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The green-eyed monster

NOTE: I wrote this one MONTHS ago and hit draft rather than post. Maybe my better half trying to protect me from myself. So, here it is with minor tweaks.

A friend of mine is detailing a bit of a foul-up she had with her long-distance lover. After a stressful day at work, she'd gone out with a friend to wash the day away with some tequila. During the course of drinking, she and loverboy exchanged texts and the implication was that she'd call him when she returned home. However, upon returning home, the young lass succumbed to the tequila and passed out. Upon waking, she found a series of text messages on her phone, starting at worried and escalating to first insecurity then anger. Among the messages, "Are you with a boy?" and "What the hell?!"

My friend, in telling me this, was worried that she'd fucked up big time. She felt she was in the wrong and had apologized but felt that this could hang over their relationship for a bit longer than a day.

My reaction? Shock. Shock on any number of levels. Of course, I'm perfectly used to young ladies making asses of themselves in these situations, of always counting on an apology, a sexy little pout and some puppy-dog eyes to get themselves out of trouble, over and over and over again.

No, what shocked me was the guy texting these things.

I swear, my very first thought upon hearing this story was, "What the hell was he thinking? He can't say those things!"

I didn't think this because I thought he was wrong to say it. His thought process was a perfectly natural, in my opinion. No, I thought he was nuts. Why? Bascially because I, like plenty of other guys brought up in the 80s, have been neutered, were stricken at the formative age of our lives by a lethal combination of sentimental movies, television and music that convinced us that being sensitive was the smart way to go. (Nevermind that experience proves otherwise. Sensitivity buys you an express ticket to the Friend Zone.)

Why the anecdote above struck such a chord with me was because the guy in question violated one of the sensitive guy's biggest commandments. "Never let them see you jealous."

It was fine for him to get worried. Fine for him to get a little pissed off for her not calling. But that "Are you with another boy?" line. Well, that's just not done.

"Oh, I'm not the jealous type," is practically a mantra among certain types of men. And by mantra, of course, I mean lie. Ladies, it's the biggest fucking lie out there. Hell, I'm here to tell you men that, too. Straight or gay, all men are "the jealous type"; some just hide it better than others.

We're territorial by nature and competitive to boot. Women know this. Women use this. Women, in fact, have been known to purposely tug on that envy bone just to see if a guy is still paying sufficient enough attention. (And it's not nearly as much fun as when they tug on that other ... oh, nevermind.)

And while I'd never suggest to anyone, guy or girl, to give voice to every whim of envy that moves through your system, I will say that it's time to put a foot down, to kick through this particular double standard.

Double standard, you say? Damn right, I say. Because in the course of the conversation with my young friend, I found myself venting the sort of stuff I rarely say. Things like, "Well, good for him for actually saying what was on his mind, for having a pair of balls. It's hard enough being long distance, but to be long distance, knowing that your fine-ass girlfriend could be out with a guy because it just so happens that half her friends are guys?"

Then a question occurred to me, and I knew the answer ever before I asked. "Does he have a lot of girl friends?"

No. Of course he didn't. Exception that I may be, guys don't need or want a lot of girl friends. Too much drama. Too much hassle. And that only doubles if he has a girlfriend. Hell, the only reason I have so many girl friends is because I've slept with them, am sleeping with them or hope to sleep with them soon! (I kid, I kid. Mostly.)

I asked my young friend how she would feel if loverboy was out after work with a bunch of chicks, getting sauced and suddenly stopped answering his phone.

In a fit of honesty, she said that it would piss her off and that she's glad he doesn't have any girlfriends. One of the reasons I love this girl to death is because she is honest about things like this and never starts futzing up her answers with what SHOULD be said.

Because what should be said is "Well, I trust my boyfriend enough, yaddayaddayadda." But my young padawan learner, in another bit of brilliance, said, "It's not about trusting him. I just know what other girls are up to."

WHICH IS THE EXACT SAME THING THAT GOES THROUGH A GUY'S MIND. But can we say things like that? Oh no. Guys these days are supposed to accept that their girls will have guy friends. And we're not supposed to show an ounce of jealousy. (Actually, we're supposed to be mind readers and show just the right amount of jealousy at the appropriate times). And we're supposed to sit there quietly and nod as you, ladies, say extremely stupid things like "It's not like that at all." Or, "He's just a friend." Or, "He's not interested in me like that." Oh, and the best one: "Well, most of the time, we talk about you anyway." Exactly. You talk about us because the guy is trying to get in your pants, trying to plant seeds of doubt. If you printed out a transcript of your conversation with your supposedly supportive guy friends, we could easily point out to you the exact passages where he is inserting jabs, insinuating doubts--and half the time, it'll be when he's pretending to be MOST supportive.

Ladies, if he has a penis and he's straight and he's ever said you were physically attractive... nevermind, sometimes, I swear, it's like talking to a wall.

I know some of you are getting your knickers all in a twist right now. "Well, I never." Or, "It's all about trust." And, well, I don't really care what else. Look into your hearts and think about whether or not you'd appreciate your fine-ass boyfriend going out with single ladies on a frequent basis and getting hammered.

Sure, you want to trust him. But if you see him as a studmuffin, you're pretty sure those other girls do too, right? And they owe YOU nothing. And you know how some guys get when they get a little too drunk and someone's just flattering them or possibly just accidentally falling into his lap or touching him on the thigh. Well, it makes you just want to cut a bitch, don't it?

Hell, I've always told my girl friends (not that they needed telling) that the minute I get myself a REAL girlfriend, they should all expect the dynamics of our relationship to change. Some of you who've been with me long enough may have noticed a distinct drop in comment flirting while I was involved with M. And now my real friends, who I used to go out with on a semi-regular basis give me crapola because I DO have a girlfriend and I spend most of my time with her.

Is this a case of selling out or being neutered? I don't think so. I'm a firm believer that your significant other should be, well, significant. He or she should be, if not your best friend in general, you best friend in that gender.

If you have a best friend of the opposite gender who happens to be straight and who you spend countless hours with talking and bonding, you both need to examine your damn relationship--especially if you spend more time with that person than you do with your so-called significant other. It's a matter of being honest with yourselves. It's a matter of respect for the feelings of your significant other.

When in doubt, flip the situation in your own mind and ask yourself how you'd feel if your S.O. was off galavanting half the day with a member of the opposite sex. Guys reading this, honest guys, are already saying, "Oh no she isn't." While most women are likely thinking, "Well, I'm an adult about the situation" or some other silliness.

Most guys don't have a circle of single girl friends that they hang out with. And even when they do, once a girlfriend comes onto the scene, a committed guy will throw his girl friends overboard about seven times faster than he will his guy friends. Why? Partly because one girlfriend is enough drama for one guy. And partly out of respect for his girlfriend. Because guys KNOW from jealousy. Guys know the green rage that, seasoned with a little booze, drives you to punching your knuckles bloody on unwitting doors and walls.

And because, typically, a girlfriend won't have any qualms about making her displeasure known about all the other trollopes in his life. "I don't see why you still have to hang out with her." Or, "God, she's always flirting with you. It's disgusting." And a girl definitely won't think twice about asking you where you've been, who you've been with.

You know it, girls. You've said it. Oddly, though, GF doesn't do this at all. Maybe I should be worried.

And guys? You're afraid to ever say such a thing, aren't you? You figure that if you make one little comment about Friendy McFriend or ask "Where have you been" with just the wrong inflection, suddenly you'll be cast as a knuckle-dragging, Camaro-driving, Republican.

But you know what, fellas? This is 2005 and we will not stand for double standards. If she can be jealous, you can, too. If she can have some eternally single, attractive guy hanging on her every word, you can do the same with a girl. Difficult? Not really. You know damn well how the ladies just come crawling out of the woodwork once you have a girlfriend.

So stand up for your right to be jealous. Besides, a little testosterone gets the ladies all hot and bothered. And feel free to tell her what Friendy McFriend really is... a walking penis just hoping he'll get his chance one day. And if she doesn't like it? Well, she can make a choice. She can have Mr. Sensitive Sissypants or she can have you Mr. 100% USDA Beef.


[Follow-up note: The couple mentioned at the beginning is still together. Hell, they're living together these days. Happy times.]



  • Ahh, Mr. Wheaton, and you are usually so adept at channeling your clear eyed yet extreme cynicism into productive suggestions. Not so here. There are some things, that as you described in one of your previous posts "are just not fucking manly." And while jealously has caused many a man to load and discharge a shotgun, whining and moaning every time your lady has a drunken night with members of the opposite sex is really not at all manly. Besides, if she were with a boy, she'd lie to him and if I'm to make as broad a statement as yours concerning the jealousy rating of most men, women lie a lot better than we do. Which means, he'd have whined, she have lied and he'd have ended feeling bad about not trusting. The only reason she hesistated in her response was because she was actually innocent.

    Here's my suggestion for the jealous man. Deal! The straight male best friend she has is definitely a walking penis. I wouldn't trust him either. Slip a dagger in his belly in the back of some dark bar. Or if that's too extreme, have a clear conversation with the lady letting her know you disapprove and your opinion of the competition and then let her deal with it as she sees fit. You'll be able to adequately gauge her level of respect for you and the relationship by her response. Whatever you do, do not become the sort of obssesive, whining pansy whose girl can't have a drink without him having a blue fit. And if there is no specific 'other' man in her life, please have some self respect and step away from the text message.

    That was long. I'm not really campaigning for a guest writer position or anything Ken.

    By Blogger Flint, at 8:49 PM  

  • I think of it this way:

    If it's not about trust, then you should be worried about her safety.

    If you aren't worried about her safety, it's more like you think there is a glimmer of a chance that she'll be consensually stupid.

    By Blogger Siryn, at 11:53 PM  

  • I don't think Ken is wrong here, at all. I think all guys are jealous, whether they admit it or not, the only exception being a woman they don't really want. If it is a woman they want, they are always, without question, jealous, and I see nothing wrong in admitting it.

    Here is my thought. I am a woman working in a predominantly male field. Many of my close friends are male, by virtue of being thrown together at work, traveling for work together, etc. It's one thing to have *a* drink with the guys of an evening, or go out to lunch or meet a friend for dinner. It's another thing, entirely, for a woman to be absent for hours at a time after having gone out to drink with the guys or one particular guy. Most women I know are only about 3 drinks away from losing all impulse control. It sounds bad to misjudge my sex in that way, but there it is.

    For the record, when my boyfriend and I started dating, we were both dating other people, and weren't serious with each other. Finally, after about a month or so, he turned to me one day and said, "I don't want to share you. I'm horribly jealous every time I think about you being in the company of another guy." Now, bear in mind, I wasn't doing anything but going to dinner or a movie once in a while (my ethics are such that I'd only consider sex within the boundaries of an exclusive relationship with one person). But he wanted me enough to want to have me to himself. Any woman knows that's the biggest sign of all that a guy is falling for you, and frankly, I don't want someone I have to share either.

    If they're not jealous, that's a problem.

    That doesn't mean he should be jealous of any social interaction I have with any guy, but in the context described by Ken, I see nothing wrong with the guy's response, in fact I find it more manly than all this "sensitive guy" posturing which is decidedly metrosexual in nature.

    Almost all women, if they are honest, want a guy who would be bothered by the scenario as described. If he isn't, he doesn't want us very badly. Or he's seriously got a string of girls on the leash to release his anxieties with...neither is an attractive alternative.

    By Blogger Spill The Beans, at 12:17 PM  

  • i totally agree with what you've said... especially bout how your significant other should be significant and should at least be your best friend in that gender. i don't think i'm the really jealous kind... but i appreciate it if the guy didn't really give me anything to even be possibly jealous bout... and likewise i'd do the same...

    By Blogger jo c, at 8:41 PM  

  • I don't have a lot of time to respond, but Flint I have to say ... I kinda like the way you think.

    By Blogger Ken Wheaton, at 10:12 PM  

  • If you have a best friend of the opposite gender who happens to be straight and who you spend countless hours with talking and bonding, you both need to examine your damn relationship--especially if you spend more time with that person than you do with your so-called significant other.

    I hang out with two guys more than I hang out with anyone else. I think it's more than normal to have friends of the opposite gender, it's necessary to be a well-rounded person.

    I also behave the same, in general, when I'm with someone or when I'm not. The episode of Seinfeld where George talks about there being a relationship George and an independent George really spoke to me and I decided then and there to be just as I am in relationships or out. If you get to be the independent, real you in the relationship, it will be healthier for it.

    By Anonymous Karol, at 5:44 AM  

  • Ah, one of those entries i read several times before responding to... As usual, I'm pretty much in total agreement with you Ken. There are a few things I have questions about but for the most part...

    As a girl whose best friends are a guy and a girl (though the guy's been pissing me off lately), I am really grateful that my boyfriend either hides it well or trusts me completely. Early in our relationship he asked me about my best guy friend and if anything ever happened, blah, blah, and if either one of us wanted to... and I gave him an honest answer - I have never been nor will I ever develop any romantic feelings for my friend because he's like my brother. We bicker like siblings and half the time I want to kill him anyway. He believed me and has been really cool about it. My best friend and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner last night -- my boyfriend was on the couch most of the day watching tv and drinking beer. It was great. I am sure that he might have some feelings of jealousy. And were the situations reversed, I think I would also get a little jealous (or a lot).. But he handled it with such gusto. The other thing is this, and I think this is what is missing in your piece.. But you're a guy and it's up to a girl to fill in this stuff :) It's not so much that we, the ladies, know what other ladies are up to. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it's not. Most of the times, the ladies' jealousy comes from the simple fact that we are insecure about other women, women of platonic relations nature to our man, having an emotional bond with our guy. A deeper understanding. A non-sexual intimacy if you will. Something that connects the two of them on a deeper level. A level that you, perhaps, might never reach. For women, it's so disproportionately about an emotional connection that this would be the first thing to bring on a bout of jealosy. Not the fear that something of a sexual nature might occur. Women are sure as hell as possessive as men are, but just on a different plane.

    By Blogger writersbloc gal, at 8:44 AM  

  • Jay-Z: Males shouldn't be jealous that's a female trait.

    By Anonymous Karol, at 8:21 PM  

  • Phew! what a post! Thanks for your blunt HONESTY. I agree on being sensitive to the other persons feelings - significant other and friend. Sometimes we just dont notice these things.

    By Blogger ~Moi~, at 10:51 PM  

  • Ladder Theory. Women generally hate it. But applied over large sample sizes, although age might be a factor, it's a pretty good description of a lot of male-female activity.

    By Blogger hiwwid, at 4:49 AM  

  • If he wants to get a drink with your girl, I agree with Flint, suck it up. Impulse control will reward itself in the end. If he wants to photograph your girl, and is fond of nudes, then bust out the daggers.

    The best way to deal with your ladie's walking penises is to meet them. Even if its not sincere, puff up your chest, shake his hands firmly, and stare into his eyes with the type of bravado that will cripple the toughest of the toughest.

    I know from experience that the more you whine to your women, the more appealing those walking penises become. However, puff up your chest, and the deal is yours.

    And ps - every female friend I have that rates better than a 5, I would probably sleep with. This is why I have very little female friends at this stage. Most guys feel this way. Its our knowledge of ourselves that forces us to not trust the other men.

    By Anonymous delbrians, at 9:45 AM  

  • text message fights should be outlawed.

    By Anonymous candy girl, at 8:38 PM  

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