August 31, 2007

Thoughts on being an asshole

"You're an asshole."

Like an old friend, there it is again. An old friend? No, that would imply some welcome, some celebration at the cessation of a too-long separation. I didn't miss being called an asshole for the period, the all-to-brief period since the last time. When was it, just three weeks ago? Different woman, different location, same tears, same circumstances. "I can't believe you're being such an asshole!" For a moment, the snarky detached part of me wonders however that could be true. Of course you can believe it; this is no more a surprise for you than it is for me. Am I the only one who's played this conversation out before? Isn't this how it always ends? When one person doesn't get what they want, isn't the other person an asshole? I'm not talking by definition, but rather in practice. Sure, in the best of all possible worlds, we all love one another and all that crap. But here. Now. In this lifetime. Does it ever go any other way?

Assholes are not born, they're made. You make them. With every uncommunicated need that I'm not fulfilling, with every unmet expectation you haven't made me aware of, with every grand fairy tale of how it will go this time which you've spun and I'm not privy to, each of these is a hammer-blow, chipping away at the better parts of a man, reducing him, rehsaping him into the asshole that's left over. I didn't pay attention to her the way she wanted me to, as much as she wanted me to.

She keeps telling me how I feel. I really don't feel any of that. I do feel maligned, misused, abused. I do feel like I'm the only one who realizes relationships neither start nor fail in a vaccuum - there's two of us in there, so you have something to do with it too, no? I do feel like you're being an unwinnable game, and yet you're mad at me for losing. I try and maintain my balance. It's not about being right or wrong, she's upset, just listen and let her talk. But it's not fair. Yes, I know, it's not meant to be fair. But what a nice change of pace that would be.

Once again I've disappointed a woman because she didn't get the relationship she wanted. I didn't either. I never do. I never do. I never do. Did someone promise you a relationship just the way you like it? Is it only women who get to have it their way? Or is it my own fault (of course it is) because I never hold them accountable for failing me the way I've failed them.

"You lost interest in me, it's obvious." There it is again. The immaculate relationship. The passive voice. I lost interest in her, clearly I've broken some deal we made. To do what? To never lose interest? Did you break your end of the deal when you told me how boring I was being (twice) last week? How about when you say hello by asking "why haven't you emailed me, you're ignoring me." Our past few interactions have been little more than accusations of how I've disappointed you, and yet somehow my interest in you has waned. It's a baffling mystery. Expectation kills desire. Not just for me, for everyone. Or is it just for me? Maybe it is, maybe that's the source of my mysterious yet apparently inexhaustible supply of assholeishness.

Stay connected... don't bail... Aww, fuck that. That's bullshit. She's calling me an asshole. Over and over. And she's crying. So she must be right. A crying woman trumps a disgruntled man every day. Is she upset I'm not more upset? Another example of how I'm not living up to her expectations.

I don't enjoy being an asshole. I'm sorry you're unhappy. It was and is my fervent wish that I give you joy and not pain. But I'm not at your beck and call. And I'm not a mind reader. And I've neither overtly nor implicityly promised or committed to anything in the two weeks we've been seeing each other, so I don't feel like your critique of my character is warranted. You're not entitled to the amount of me you seem to think you are entitled to. Frankly, you haven't yet earned it.

You won't get my attention by demanding it. If that makes me an asshole, ok. It's not the first time. This month. Ironically, it's not even the first time a woman named Becca has called me an asshole in the month of August, and what are the odds on that? This Becca in front of me has no idea that it was exactly 12 months ago that the other Becca was screaming through a slammed door, railing against nature, her misfortunes, and yours truly in the next room. As I realize I have the makings of an annual tradition, I nearly laugh out loud.

I so need to stop dating. Really. I clearly don't know what the hell I'm doing, practically every time I go near a woman they end up crying and calling me names. I'm like Lennie trying to pet the tender little mousie, and I keep thinking I'll solve the problem merely by finding a heartier mouse.

I know so many things that other people don't know, how is it I never learned how to do this better?


At 9:13 PM, Blogger ad7am said...

Wow. That sucks.

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Elise said...

{{{hugs}}} I don't kow Dan. Why does it always end in such a similar way for you? Are you picking simlar women? repeating familar patterns? Can you begin a relationship by explaining your expectations more clearly and asking that "she" do the same? would that help? I am sorry, but dont give up... You're too good a catch to remain uncaught... ;)

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Mari said...

I think Elise asked the right questions, Dan.

Do one of those "logical" things where you list the qualities that drew you to all these assorted women who conclude at some point you're an asshole.

What commonalities are there?

What attracts you to women who are unable to articulate their expectations but who nonetheless expect you to know them intuitively?

Or are they communicating them in a way that you are not receiving (a la you can't read that broadcast frequency)?

Then make a different list: what do you want in a woman to make a long-term relationship viable?

Compare 'em... where are the dissonances?

I also have to agree w/ Elise that you are too good a catch to remain uncaught!

You and Chris should have a long, long talk....

At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Christianna said...

Pay Attention to ME! How come when I demand it, I get it from you? Oh, right, I never demand it. And yet, there it is . . . ;-)

My theory is that you are too advanced in the relationship early on. And I don't mean advanced in the already saying I love you thing, I mean advanced in that you've figured out what it takes some couples years to get to when it comes to expectations and communication.

But the women you are dating now want to play it new and coy for longer, like they may have done in their 20's when it sort of worked and there was time to do that. Can't really blame them; that's what we're raised to do.

Even women who don't expect to be dependent on a man for attention, and don't even necessarily want it, for some reason really believe that's how it's supposed to start. You're supposed to woo, to chase, to be hurt when she doesn't pick up the phone if she sees it's you calling.

You phase it out too soon. And while it makes way, way more sense to do things your way, it probably feels artificial to the woman.

And since Cosmo and soap operas never told us what to do with a man who wants to skip the lame first year of being cutesy, the easy fall back is to cry and call the man an asshole.

Just another way popular culture ruins women. ;-)

I know it doesn't solve all that's wrong, but I love you lots.


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