Why You’re Ruining Your Own Dating Life Without Even Knowing It
Brianna peered around discouragingly as we waited shoulder to shoulder on the beer pong line. She sighed.
“Fuckboys everywhere,” she said. “Like in ‘The Lion King.’ Everywhere the light touches.”
“What percentage of the general population do you assume are fuckboys?” I asked.
She scanned the bar one more time. It was a Sunday afternoon. Holiday weekend. Lots of lunacy happening around us.
“Probably about 95 percent,” she said. “I think that seems pretty realistic.”
“With that logic,” I said, “you’re likely one, too.”
“Shut up,” she said. “I just want to find a guy who wants to get to know me. And I’m not going to find him here.”
She slumped her shoulders and collapsed into her phone, as if things were infinitely more interesting in there.
“How do you know, for certain, that nobody in this entire bar would want to get to know you?”
She looked up begrudgingly.
“See that old man in the sweater?” she said after a pause. “With the mustache? He probably has a wife and kids. He’s not a fuckboy, but he could be my father. And… this guy, here, with the vest. He looks too sad to be a fuckboy. And that guy. He’s so into the basketball game, he hasn’t even looked at a girl. Girls have been coming up to his friends and he’s too into the game to even say hello. Plus, he looks like John Belushi in that stupid sweater.”
“But everyone else?”
“Everyone else is most likely a fuckboy,” she said. “Including you.”
She wasn’t wrong, but I’m no benchmark. I’m an anomaly. I have weird hair and don’t work for a living. I also prefer Bukowski to basketball and despise Drake. I’m nothing like these other guys in my personality, interests or beliefs — I’m much stranger.
Still, that won’t stop a certain conservative faction of the female population from lumping together every guy who’s ever had a one-night stand, or who speaks frivolously about sex, or who tends to jump from short-term relationship to short-term relationship instead of from long-term to long-term.
Just because these women are right about me doesn’t mean they’re right about every male flanked around me. Women think we’re the ones with narrow perceptions of them, but it’s they who have narrow perceptions of us.
If we’re out at a bar like this, if we’re looking over at you and smiling, to girls, we’re fuckboys. All we want is sex.
“Don’t you think that’s just a little pessimistic?” I asked. “Not to mention factually impossible, completely subjective, inherently self-defeating and more than a little sexist?”
“I don’t care,” she said. “Fuckboys are everywhere the light touches.”
She said it defiantly, like a war chant.
“Except for those three guys?”
“Yeah,” she said. “But they’re ugly.”
We were a little group: myself, Brianna, her cousin Miranda and their friend Sam. We’d all known each other since childhood.
They’re some of my only female friends, and we don’t see each other often. But it’s nice to fly occasionally with a flock of hens. I like the perspective they provide and the way it breaks me out, for a minute, of my usual bubble, which could be described generously as an echo chamber of corrosively masculine bullshit.
You spend enough time hanging out with single guys and everything gets glossed in this sort of “us vs. them” grime. Dating. Work. Everything.
After a while, you’re convincing yourself to go toe-to-toe with your landlord, with strangers, with everyone. It all gets exhausting.
You figure a group of women, all single and educated and lovely and friendly, might see things from a bit a softer of an angle.
At least, I thought.
“I just don’t want to meet my husband in a place like this,” Sam said.
“Are there any guys at work?” I asked.
“No,” they all said.
“Are you on any dating apps?”
“Oh my God, no!”
“What kind of guys are you looking for?”
“Ones who don’t want to just have sex.”
“And all any of these guys would want from us,” Brianna said, “is to have sex. That’s it.”
“What about you?” I asked Miranda. “What percentage of the guys in this place do you think are fuckboys?”
“Look,” she said, ignoring me, her pensive stare lingering into the distance.
She pointed toward a guy joking with his friends down the bar. It was a guy we grew up with. A real neighborhood guy. His dad owned a fleet of ice cream trucks.
“We dated for a few weeks sophomore year,” she said.
He did not look very good. Meanwhile, Miranda was so beautiful, she made you think just looking at her could cure cancer.
“Do you know what he said to me after my Sweet 16? He started cursing me out. He said, ‘If you were lying dead in the street, I would shit on your corpse.’ Happy birthday to me.”
We watched in silence as the guy, arms spread and feet still, tried to balance a half-full pitcher of Coors Light on his head. He looked like an African river queen, if there were ever one more entitled and deserving of getting torn to pieces by a hippo.
His friends cackled when the pitcher wobbled and the beer spilled all down his neck and onto the floor. Then they were kicked out.
He kind of undermined my entire point.
The girls all raised their eyebrows and glared at me, as if to say, “See what we mean.”
But it was like they were denouncing global warming because it happened to be unseasonably cold one day. One inaccurate news story didn’t make all the news fake. Everyone can’t be a fuckboy.
Will some guys be dicks? Yeah. But you can’t be closed off to everybody because you’ve been hurt by others in the past. If you don’t trust anyone and never give anyone a chance, you’re almost taking that fact out on yourself.
At the end of the day, you’re the one restricting yourself.
“He’s not everybody,” I said. “We’re not all like him.”
“Not all,” Miranda said. “Maybe 90 percent.”
“You really think Mr. Pitcher Head is the norm?” I asked. Usually I was the pessimist.
“We just know,” Brianna said.
“If you’re going to automatically assume every stranger who comes up to you is full of malicious intent, then you’re never going to find what you want,” I said. “If that’s your outlook, why even go out? Why are you here?”
We are all the same age, from the same place, of the same nationality, education and sexual orientation. We cared about each other. But I didn’t know how to help them. The disconnect between genders was too wide, and while the gap felt like anything but a fresh fission, it certainly seemed like it was widening.
All we could agree on was that it was time for beer pong.
Brianna and Sam lost in overtime. Then the whole group left with frowns on their faces, stuck in their ways, thinking of Disney movies, without having spoken to a single dude the whole time but me.
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