The green-eyed monster
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.]