Desperate Guy recently wrote about the conflicting advice he gets from readers. Last night, we were talking about it and he said the difference between him and me is that I tend to pay more attention to the advice I get (though not necessarily follow it, mind you).
Some of the observations have been pretty spot on: I should take more time for myself, I should take a much slower pace when it comes to dating, and I should be more expressive about who I am and what I want with someone I am going out with. While some of these points may not have been brought on in the most tactful way, I recognize their validity.
I have to say, I have gotten some advice I don't agree with lately. Manipulating a guy I am dating into falling in love with me? I don't think so. Taking a random nice guy I just met and developing a relationship with him? It doesn't work that way; it takes two people and a natural emotional and physical progression of sorts. Using sneaky tactics to compete with another woman for the attentions of a man? No fucking way.
The thing is, I am no stranger to this type of competition. In college one of my best friends (let's call her Clarissa) and I became interested in the same guy, Broody Artist. He was a good friend and ex-boyfriend of a mutual friend, Stripper Sally. Broody Artist told Stripper Sally he was interested in both of us. Clarissa and I would then get into passive-aggressive arguments about who liked him more. Even years later, she emphasized how she really liked him. Well, so did I, but somehow I think she wanted to believe her feelings were stronger.
At one point, I told Clarissa, "All's fair in love and war." Cheesy line as it is, at the time, I believed it. I was 19 and hardly an expert on dating and relationships (to say nothing of friendships).
There was a holiday break and Clarissa and I went home. Stripper Sally was having a party that weekend, which Broody Artist would be attending. Knowing that Clarissa would be out of town, I made an effort to return a couple of days early to go to the party. Broody Artist and I ended up making out in the kitchen for ages. I was thrilled.
I told Clarissa about it when she returned and her feelings were hurt. Broody Artist and I only dated for a couple of weeks, which ended miserably. Clarissa ended up dating him after me, for several months, which also ended miserably. In the meantime, she said that incident made her trust me less.
I don't regret taking a more aggressive stance and dating Broody Artist. Regardless of Clarissa's claims of how much she liked him, I liked him a lot, too, and I know she would have done the same thing if she had been at Stripper Sally's party that night. What I do feel remorse for is that this guy, who wasn't even worth it, put a dent in our friendship.
This is what made me realize how stupid it is to compete for a guy. Which isn't to say I sit in the corner and don't make myself known to him at all. No way, I present my best, brightest, most flirtatious self. I just let him make the final choice.
Taking the high road instead of playing catty has worked for me almost every time. For example, once I met a hot architect in a bar (our eyes actually met across the room and we smiled; it was so sweet) and spent ages flirting with him. One of my "friend's" came over to say good night, but instead spent a good ten or fifteen minutes trying to flirt with him. I was tempted to give her a surreptitious what-the-hell-are-you-doing kick or nudge, but I held back. I decided that this was a grown man who could make up his own mind and if he decided he liked my friend more, so be it. Finally, she ran out of things to flirt about and went home. I ended up bar hopping with the guy and we made out in a phone booth until the wee hours. In the meantime, my friend revealed an unpleasant side of herself and (for many reasons) I am actually no longer friends with her.
I have gotten criticism that I should have stayed on with Coldplay Guy (and by the way, I refuse to give guys numbers and call them HG's or HS's or anything like that) and Drunk Latina. That I should have blown her out by whatever tactics were necessary to lower her social value. You know what? Any guy who would want a woman who would scheme and use underhanded tactics to get his attention is not a man I'd want to be with. I show my interest and make whatever connection I can make, but I am not going to be sneaky or overtly flirtatious or plot tactical maneuvers as if I'm fighting a war. Dating might be considered a war or some kind of game, but love isn't. Playing dirty is not my style and if I miss out on a man or two by taking the high road, I am quite sure those men aren't worth it. As it is, I've done pretty well for myself.
When I was a little girl, I used to read Archie comics. I was baffled by the love triangle between Archie and Veronica, the rich, conniving bitch, and Betty, the wholesome, loyal sweetheart. Deep down, I understood why Archie would be drawn to Veronica: she was sexier, more exciting. With time, I realized that he could never have anything long-lasting or meaningful with Veronica, because she was too selfish and mean-spirited. Sooner or later, he'd see the value in Betty and realize she was the girl to build a future with. Veronica was the girl you fucked, but Betty was the girl you married.
These days, I'm trying to be less Veronica, more Betty.