The Kind Of Guy (Or Girl) You Shouldn't Date

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

It’s been hard, figuring out what movies I’ll like, now that Roger Ebert is dead. It’s not that Roger Ebert was the best critic ever; it was that I’d read him for years, and I knew what he liked, and could compensate for that.
Roger had a hard-on for slow foreign films, and really didn’t know much about good science fiction. (Aliens gets two stars, but Escape From LA gets three and a half? Oh, Roger.) So when I went to read a Roger Ebert review, I could go, “He’s turned off by excessive gore,” and could use his biases to triangulate my preferences.
Likewise, if you’re silly enough to take relationship advice from me, I figure you gotta compensate a little. I’ve got my own biases, and God forbid you swallow my thoughts wholesale. You gotta integrate ’em.
And here’s a bias I think you should be really clear on:
I don’t think someone who sees the opposite sex as a foreign entity is worth dating.
This came up when some women responded to my essay, “When Should I Have Sex With Him?,” saying that if you wanted a long-term relationship, then my advice of “Just having sex when you felt like it” was too simple. (Which, of course, it is.) They said that some guys assume that women who have sex on the first date don’t want a serious relationship, and as such sometimes you have to hold off a few dates just to give them the right impression.
But here’s my take: a guy who just assumes that your first-date sexings mean you’re not serious, and then walks away, falls into one of two categories:
1) He wasn’t actually that interested.
2) He was that interested, but is so certain that “women” act that way that he won’t even bother to ask you what you think.
And guy #2 is the guy, to my lights, who you want to stay away from at all times. Because he’s already shown you that he’s willing to prioritize his impressions ofyour entire sex over you, and chances are should you break past this and rope him in, well, he’s going to do it again. You aren’t a person: you’re a woman, and clearly all of this 50% of the population act in lockstep so consistently that he doesn’t even need to check for variance.
That’s gonna bite you in the ass in all sorts of ways. You’re not just going to break the ice once and then he’ll see you as a unique individual from now on; no, chances are pretty good he’ll assume you do whatever his preconception of “women” does and make some pretty disastrous assumptions based on that.
So if that guy walks away after sex? Good riddance. I don’t think it would have worked out well, because right off the bat he’s shown he doesn’t see you as a Person first – he sees you as a Woman.
And you see (lowercase-w) women doing that, too, assuming that “guys do this” and “guys do that” and never asking the guy what the hell it is he wants because hell, who understands men? They’re looking at men as some sort of herd animal, as though a penis means they all do X and want Y.
And that’s not to say that a lot of guys don’t act in similar ways. Demographically speaking, football appeals more to men, clothes shopping appeals more to women. But there are exceptions to every rule – and if someone’s dating you and looking to the rule first and then you, just going “HEY ALL YOU CHICKS LOVE SHOPPING” and sending you to the mall, that hardly ever works out well when applied to the ten thousand different things a lover needs in a relationship.
Hey. Some couples get along well in their separate worlds – I find it to be almost barbarically old-style, that 1940s sitcom attitude of “men live in this world, women live in this one, and neither really understand the other” – but they don’t seem like happy relationships to me, but rather a set of armed camps who’ve negotiated an acceptable truce.
No. My bias is this: you want a partner who doesn’t ever go, “Women! Am I right?” And you want a partner who doesn’t ever go, “Who understands men?” You want a partner who understands that men and women both operate from a set of mostly-rational priorities, and who sees the differences between you not as a result of them being a certain gender, but as a result of differing experiences and priorities.
More importantly: You want to be that kind of partner who doesn’t short-hand differences by shoeboxing them into a gender. You want to treat every person you’re with as someone to be checked in with frequently, so you can determine what they actually like.
You want someone who sees women as a bunch of differing people, and is not going to make dumb-ass assumptions based on Women that he acts on.
That’s controversial, I’m sure. But that’s my Ebert Bias. You may disagree. If you do, I heartily encourage you to apply that filter to all my future writings. Thank you.

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