Not All Girls Will Like You and That’s Okay
I had my first kiss in fourth grade. That week, rumors were circulating that the girls in our class had a meeting and decided each of them would kiss a boy on the schoolyard, with no warning beforehand. The boys in the class only knew basic math, but it was all we needed to figure out that because there were more girls than boys, a couple of us were going to be left out of the attack of our dreams.
When I was 17-years-old, I lost my virginity. According to this recent study by the Center for Disease Control, that is the average age for American men and women, but you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t late to the party. Prior to when it actually happened, if a baseball teammate of mine or one of the other boys I hung out with asked me how old I was when I lost my virginity, I would lie and say 14. When I was 14, I said 13.
Both my first kiss and losing my virginity happened years apart from each other, but I distinctly remember feeling the exact same way up until the moment they occurred. That week of my fourth grade year, I remember being worried I wouldn’t be one of the lucky ones to get a kiss. Before I lost my virginity to my high school sweetheart, I remember praying to God that I wouldn’t die a virgin. Considering I had no idea what either of these experiences actually felt like, on a physical level, I never understood why I wanted them to happen to me so badly.
It would be years before I realized what I was so anxious about: I wanted girls to like me.
I didn’t want a girl as just a friend. I didn’t want a girl to think I was funny or sweet. I didn’t even want a girl to tell me I was cute. For those words meant nothing unless they were sealed by a kiss or an invitation to sleep with her. These were the best indicators of approval from the opposite sex. Anything less than physical affection felt like a loss.
My parents did not bring me up to feel this way about myself. I could point the blame towards the guys I grew up with, but they too had the same insecurities as me, and I don’t know if they were teaching me anything so much as they were in the trenches with me. The brute masculinity of hip-hop music, which I grew up on, may have played a role, but pointing the blame squarely on a genre has never sat well with me. Sure, there was the time I loudly yelled the lyrics to Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” and rapped in a grocery store, “LOOKED AT THE LIGHTS OF THE GOOD YEAR BLIMP, AND IT SAID JOZEN’S A PIMP!” But I didn’t know what pimp meant, and considering the fact that I said this line right in front of my mother who subsequently slapped me into the following week, I knew better than to do it again. There were also books. I was a voracious reader at a very young age, reading Nathan McCall’s “Makes Me Wanna Holler” when it came out in 1994. My mother told me to read the book as a cautionary tale, but I discovered McCall grew up much like I was growing up, with women on his mind and an inordinate amount of pressure to be approved by them through sexual acts.
Years later, both in college and in the immediate years after graduating, I still had a tendency to value my own worth by how highly women valued me. It never clicked that by doing so, I was actually devaluing women. Such arrested development was made all the more worse by the sense of entitlement I acquired with my degree. I was a nice guy, but only to an extent. I would start with the nice guy act and then become a jerk once they became invested. This way, if a girl didn’t like me, I could say there was something wrong with her. As for the girls who did like me, they were so smart in my eyes, but their affection for me only lasted me a short time before I wanted more of it from other women. Because the only thing better than hearing a woman tell me I was the best was hearing another woman tell me I was the best.
This was my jig for years, getting women to recognize how great I was and using them to tell myself the same thing. I wanted to be the man, and I needed women to make me feel that way.
For the past two years, my job has been to set up single men and women on blind dates. When people ask me what I have learned from my job, I tell them about the guys I have met. Every now and then I’ll get a guy who is confident and brash, but most of the men I get, I can tell, they’re waiting for a woman to like them and appreciate them for who they actually are. Since I’m only a facilitator of an experience, and not a psychologist, I don’t tell them much, but I wish I could talk to most of these guys I meet.
They’re not sad. They don’t need to be consoled. But they are confused.
Men are odd creatures because we give women so much power over our confidence and our psyche. Yet we are the ones who resent them the most when they don’t buy into it, specifically in the way we want them to, with admiration and affection. We care so much about what women think, we even want the women we don’t desire to desire us. If it just so happens that the woman we want appreciates who we are, we want their cosign in the form of a kiss, preferably not on the cheek.
Rejection sucks, and the fact that it builds character doesn’t make any of us feel better about it, but men must know rejection is fundamental to maturity, which is fundamental to manhood. Even if you want to make the analogy that dating and meeting women is a fight you must win, you have to understand in any fight, the only thing more important than your own punch is your ability to take one. Toughness is not defined by how quickly you can knock someone out, it’s about how long you can stay standing after you get hit and too many men let a woman’s no be their downfall.
I wish men like Elliot Rodgers understood this. I don’t cry for him, and even though the end result of the murderous rampage he went on last Friday night resulted in his committing suicide, I still am bothered by his existence. That is why I’m not linking to anything I’ve read about him, so if you’ve reached this part of the post and you’re not familiar with the details of his story, Google on your own time because this post is not about him.
But after everything I read about him, and seeing what he wrote about women in the 141-page manifesto he left behind, I saw something familiar in his pathology. He was, without a doubt clinically sick, but he was also, like a lot of men, socially delusional.
Not all men are going to respond to rejection the way he did. I like to think we live in a world where most men would not. But I have met too many men like Elliot Rodger, men who place their entire self-worth on approval from the opposite sex. These men want to belittle women who don’t see them the way they see themselves, and what’s sad is the men don’t realize, their outwardly perceptions of the women who don’t want them are impaired by their inability to look inside themselves.
If there is one thing I want men to understand it’s this: There is nothing wrong with you if a woman doesn’t like you, and, there is nothing wrong with her. It’s not her job to make you feel like the man or a man and you don’t deserve to be any woman’s man if you have yet to become your own man.