Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Not to Do: "The Talk"

When a guy’s behaving badly, it often feels like grand gestures are in order.

After one of our friends received two 3 a.m. texts this weekend (which she didn’t return), we had to restrain her from jumping on the Metro Sunday morning to go “yell at him and explain that I don’t play games.”

But threatening bodily injury isn’t necessarily going to scare him into inviting you to be in a relationship on Facebook.

So what can you do to encourage a guy to treat you the way you want to be treated?

The key is not to be too direct about it.

No one likes to feel that he’s being forced into doing something. The worst thing you can do is tell your guy that you need to “talk.”

In an ideal world, we’d all sit around and talk about our feelings and expectations and no one would ever get hurt.

But the real world, as we know, is far from ideal, a truth that was reaffirmed the other day when we overheard the following conversation in a coffee shop:

Bro 1: My girlfriend keeps bugging me to hang out with her.
Bro 2: Dude, that sucks.
Bro 1: She’s all, “We never hang out.”
Bro 2: Yeah.
Bro 1: But, it’s like, the more she tells me we have to hang out, the less I want to.

People don’t like being told what to do. That’s why teenagers break every rule their parents set and young adults spend a good deal of their 20s rebelling against everything their upbringing stood for (which explains why we studied economics for three years… oops).

So when you start telling a guy, “You have to introduce me as your girlfriend,” that proclamation becomes another chore that immediately seems as unappealing as spending a Friday night doing laundry.

If you call him out on doing something wrong, he’s going to get defensive. It’s human nature. When a friend calls you and asks you to explain why she hasn’t heard from you in two weeks, you’re immediately on the defense. The whole interaction is very uncomfortable, so you begin by listing excuses, and then you start wondering what right she has to attack you like this, and so maybe you lash out at her—but regardless, you don’t think, “Hm, that was a bitch move on my part—I’ll make sure I don’t do that again.”

When a guy does something wrong, the reason you want to confront him to make sure he doesn’t repeat it.

But confrontation isn’t going to get you what you want, and he’ll be more likely to get angry and start thinking you’re a crazy bitch.

Asking nicely can be tricky too—especially in the early stages of a relationship. If you’ve been casually hooking up with a guy for a few weeks and you tell him, “Look, I really like you, but I want you to start taking me out with your friends once a week,” he might do it. But chances are, he’ll be acting out of a sense of obligation.

There’s nothing sexy about an obligation. That’s why housemates always fight over who has to take out the trash.

And the mystery is gone. He knows he has to do X to get Y. Like we’ve said before, mystery can be a powerful force of attraction. People tune into CSI because it keeps them guessing until the end. If the CSI version of Las Vegas installed closed-circuit cameras in every hotel room, no one would watch the show. Instead of calling the crime lab, the detectives would head to a projection room. It might take them a few minutes to pull the tape, but, even on a lazy Friday afternoon, the case would be solved in ten uneventful minutes.

It’s the same way when it comes to sex. The less you know about someone, the sexier they seem. Have you ever been out with a guy who laid way too much on the table on a first date? You probably didn’t agree to a second date.

On the other hand, you know the cute guy in your office that you’ve only talked to a few times? You don’t know him at all, but you spend the 3 p.m. slump daydreaming about all the cool things he does on the weekends and how good he’d be in bed. But you’d rather go through a 6-month dry spell than hook up with your best guy friend who constantly talks to you about jerking off.

The more you get to know someone, the more you notice their flaws. But when there’s a lot that you don’t know about someone, you can imagine them as being a lot closer to perfect than any real person could ever be. These ideal mental images are a lot sexier than the real guy that you know, from experience, gets really bad gas after he eats ice-cream.

When you tell a guy exactly what you want, you also run the risk of exposing insecurities. If you have friends and a life, why do you need him to call you every day? The more you start demanding he do, the more needy and clingy you’re going to seem.

So, if you’re not going to confront him, what should you do to make sure he treats you right? We’ll talk about that next week.

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