Charles DeVeaux

Social Theorist | Cultural Creative

Writing, producing, and facilitating at the convergence of love, modernity, and humanism.

Why is it so hard connecting with men in 2015?

A lovely woman in a Facebook conversation asked me about friendzones and why it's so hard to connect with men in 2015.  I'm thinking, "... because it's still 2014."  :-)

Okay, enough about being in the moment, let's get a jump on the New Year.  Here are some answers to the questions from that FB convo.

Everyone has challenges

Men are being forced to change everything we thought we knew as men, thanks in part to the wonderful changes of powerful women, genders, pluralistic ideas, globalism, and all things dynamic happening in the world.  Oh, plus, for some, their last partner broke their heart, and uh, video games and porn are overstimulating us while simultaneously causing us to emotionally withdraw.  Not to mention, we're as unsure as anyone else these days about the value of relationships.  But, hey, it's not a lost cause.  It's good!  Men have to adapt too!  Women can't be the only ones having to change.  Respectfully, though, as with all life's challenges, when talking about connecting, we begin an outward conversation from our center.

Talk about pet peeves

From what I have observed, women and men, of all types, want their future partner to be a complete person already.  No one wants to have to go through growing pains with someone.  Shit, we don’t want to go through it ourselves!  So why tolerate someone else?!  It’s inconvenient.  Fit the perfect picture of my love, for crying out loud.  Additionally, folks got pet peeves they are talking about way before dating.  No judgement, just perspective.  I've got pet peeves too.  In fact, I've got a wife of 20 years who I didn't know until too late, had mastered a couple of my pet peeves.  Go fig.  Do I wish I had known upfront?  Nope!  Get this, because it's her doing them, they are no longer my pet peeves!  How the hell did that happen?!  Rigidity is not our friend, good people.

I'm not saying we let go of our standards, but we gotta loosen up.  I once had a woman lick my face while making out on our first date.  (Some of you got stuck on "lick my face."  Others are stuck on "making out on our first date."  Let that be your gauge.)  Yes, licked, like Scooby-Doo, licked my face.  Not for me.  For her!  She liked the feeling of stubble on her tongue, but obviously liked me enough to share that.  Now, that's agentic!  And weird.  But after all was said and done, I don't remember complaining.  No, she did not become my wife.  I'm just saying don't knock it 'til you try it.  And as far as "complete people" go, neither my wife nor I are there yet.  Well, I'm definitely not.  I didn't foresee this state of "incompletion."  I thought we'd be there by now, wherever that is.  But I kind of like that there is something new and undiscovered to contend with each day.  It let's us know how well we handle change.

The Truths

The truth is women and men, particularly heterosexual women and men, whether we like it or not, hold each other to traditional social expectations.   Don't use cute emoticons, boys, it's unmanly!  I agree, if someone likes you they should be calling to TALK to you.  In fact, they should be in a hurry to meet up with you again (in a calm, cool way of course).  Call me crazy.  Unless you are skyping to a loved one cross country or overseas, digital time is playtime.  I don't think that's a traditional thing, I think it's a human thing.  Speaking of digital, while I wasn't necessarily a fan of the digital interface, I have been witnessing some good things with online dating.  After all, it's just further exposure to an available network, with a precision tool.  Truth is nothing changes, you still have to negotiate your needs and your relations.

The third truth, here, is that women, men, and all genders are socializing, and being socialized, somewhat differently than they were 50 years ago.  That statement alone says so much.  The combo of old and new makes things tricky.  We are acting in new ways, but in our minds, collectively, we are expecting/desiring some of those old traditional notions.  Especially heterosexual women and men.  Again, I say rigidity is not our friend.

What to do?

Be autonomous.  This works for anybody.  To get out of the friendzone life that I had unnintentionally mastered so many years ago, I had "to learn" to be a "bad boy."  Why? Because no heterosexual woman I was trying to talk to responded to Mr. Sensitive Nice Guy.  I didn't have to stay a "bad boy" as much fun as that was, I just had to learn a new mode of interaction.  I know many guys still stuck in that badboy place because someone hurt their feelings.  True story.  But that's not being autonomous.   Being the bad boy or the "bad bitch" (I hate that term) are the same.  Entice and withdraw.   It's like trying to catch a wild animal.  When you imagine how any date night plays out, it should be something like this,

We had fun, I like you, I want you, but I don’t need you. I got another date. Talk to you later?

Wha??  Sorry.  I just turned myself on.  Can you imagine the desire that kind of interaction creates?  Imagine being able to deliver that kind of an experience to the person you just dated.  How does someone not get drawn in on that??  And by the way, you can still be autonomous and considerate.  Don't weaponize this tactic.

Mystery and Playfulness

Agentic.  That's my new favorite word.  It seems modern women especially are about being more agentic.  I agree with it.  Flirtier, sexier, more fun, and less forced expectation.  In my experience, fun, free-hearted people get called back, even if just to hang out or to be matched up with a friend.  Get a couple of your friends, go out and do that.  Act like you want to make 100 friends instead of finding "The One."  Most likely, you'll get both.  100 friends.  50.  Shoot, 15!  That's about rapport, openness, and trust.  If you can do that over the next couple months, you'll be amazed at the changes that will occur.

But... You'd Better

You had better know the 3 non-negotiable things you are looking for in your partner.  Qualities, not possessions. For example "Person has to be resourceful," rather than "Person has to be rich."  Don't include the obvious.  If you are a comedienne and know it only makes sense you'll have a partner with a good sense of humor, then don't include it.  Think of another quality.  If you don't know the important qualities you value, you will never even notice them when that person goes right past you.  Even if you get your hands on them.  Also, please don't let your 3 things sound like every other person's 3 things.  They should be based on your particular experience.  You want to know yourself better?  Me-di-tate.  And that's no platitude; take it to heart.

Make room for more.