Type Casting: A Male’s Perspective

A Reader Submission

There is such a thing as just fun and games and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; however, it’s key to remember that these usually tend to be shorter term relationships and not permanent ones. There are a lot of problems with Mr. Physically Perfect and you did rightly mention some of these issues, but I would like to take the time to explain a few more from a guy’s point of view.

It’s not uncommon for us to be more lenient with someone who we find very attractive. It’s often because we value the physical more so than any other aspect of the person and this phase can only last so long. It happens to the best of us and this does not mean that we are shallow people, but we need to take into account that we are visual creatures so what we find to be visually appealing does matter a lot.

It’s completely fine to be completely subdued by someone and to be unable to look away while in the relationship, but that excuse can only apply to a brand new relationship where lust and physical attraction are the focal points. In the beginning of a relationship, we tend not to see the flaws in our partner, for better or for worse because lust is fueling idealizations and projections that make us see what we hope someone will be or what we need them to be, rather than seeing them for whom they are.

Many people don’t take the time to understand and identify what is most important to them, whether it’s because they think that they are entitled to have everything or they just don’t know any better. Knowing what is important to you takes time, it necessitates many experiences; both good and bad, and the right attitude to realize that you are constantly learning and improving yourself. So the question becomes: what’s important to you and how is that going to factor in the long run? If you don’t want to think about the future, then whether or not that person has a brain will not matter as long as the sex is great right?

It all depends on what you want in a partner at the moment. If you’re looking for Mr. Physically Perfect who also has a brain, then you are going to be looking for a very, very long time. “But why?” you may ask. It’s because you’ve just eliminated 90% of the male population. Again, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have standards, we all should, but the problem is that you need to be realistic. How do we determine what’s realistic or not? A good starting point is asking yourself what are the odds of finding someone like that. If what you’re looking for excludes most men, then those standards are unrealistic. For example, as a heterosexual man, hypothetically my type could be a very smart woman who is petite but very fit, with bigger than average breasts and who loves sport. This person probably exists, but what are the odds that I will find someone like that?

Some people make it a habit to only go after people who are seen as very attractive according society’s norm of attractiveness. I call it the trophy-girlfriend syndrome; when guys go into a relationship with the sole purpose of having an attractive woman by their side. Anthropologically speaking, this is how alpha males showed off their status symbol to their male counterparts (friends, family, and coworkers); they would aim to get with the most beautiful women. I’m sure you’ve realized how misogynistic this is and this makes me feel sorry for the women who date, knowingly or not, guys like that.

There are a few reasons why focusing mostly on someone’s good looks is problematic; there is the simple fact that there will always be someone who is more attractive according to societal norms. Have you noticed that many of the people that pop culture lauds as the sexiest on earth are repeatedly cheated on? The Jennifer Anistons, the Carmen Electras or the Halle Berrys of the world, to only name a few. If beauty was the only deciding factor regarding whether or not to remain in a relationship, those people named would have never been cheated on.

Some people, when “shopping” around for a partner only look at the physical characteristics and don’t question anything else; their personality, their hobbies, their passions, and their relationship ethics when it comes to family, friends and lover, etc. But those people are short-sighted because it becomes self-evident as time goes by that in any relationship there needs to be a lot more than just a physical attraction, although this is very important. It’s a fact that a lot of people fail to realize. A simple way to figure this out is to take into account how you spend time with your partner besides sleeping and sexual relations. Couples spend quite some time simply interacting with each other, unless you’re a new couple in which case most of your time together consists of having marathon sessions of sex. Aaahh the memories…

I, myself, try not to have a shopping list when looking for a partner. In no way does this mean that I don’t need to be attracted to the person in the first place, but I don’t have a physical type where I require that the person be either short or tall, have a round figure or be athletic, or whatever else could be included in a menu of physical specifications.

Being in a serious relationship is not about being with the most attractive person on earth, whatever that even means, it’s about the connection (love and not lust) between the two of you. And, often it doesn’t even start from a physical attraction, but simply from spending time together, be it with a co-worker or a friend, the list goes on.
*** P.S. I love hearing from my readers so do not be shy to e-mail me your opinions about a blog that I’ve posted. This is an interactive forum (a no-judgment zone) where we can share our stories, ideas and thoughts. If you wish to send me a story so that I may provide my insight, e-mail me at: elleglamd@gmail.com

Sound off below!

Type Casting

I definitely have a type, I can describe my ideal lover to a tee: he would have large shoulders that would prevent him from being able to comfortably walk through a doorway, arms big enough to serve as a winter coat if needed, legs three times the size of my body and not a single particle of hair on his head. That’s it! Although it’s not an absolute list, I’d be lying if I said that these characteristics did not slightly influence my decision to, well, keep someone around longer than necessary.

While watching a movie recently, I was struck by the resemblance between an actor and an ex of mine. My ex was drop dead gorgeous and practically Mr. Physically Perfect. While we were together, I noticed that I treated him with much more leniency compared to those who came before him. His desirability factor pushed me to forgo all mental facilities and attribute logic to the hell I allowed myself to endure. I thought he was my “soul mate” solely based on the fact that I had already envisioned that he would look that way. My ability to look past the horror was a form of coping mechanism as I waited for our love to flourish. The application of “love is blind” was in full effect as I persevered. As you can see, I had lost my common sense and dignity was no longer a word I could comprehend.

Was this a “me” phenomenon or were these beautiful creatures spreading worldwide terror? But then I wondered, are we more forgiving to individuals who fit within the parameters of Mr. Perfect but not necessarily Mr. Right? Beyond the physical, had I been honest with myself, I would have readily admitted that he was far from my type. I like the cultured individuals; the ones who are the brightest kids in the class. They can usually teach me a thing or two and they easily pleasure me with some well-needed mental stimulation. With that being said, when a man of a particular physique walks into the room as much as I may enjoy mental foreplay, it’s hard to resist those chiseled arms. Okay so they may look good, but how they had passed the funnel test is beyond me. The lack of selective skills used when choosing these “physically perfect” men leaves me with a lackluster pool of potential mates. I’ve noticed that the ones who do make the cut, you know the Idris Elba look-a-likes, seem to have greater difficulty expressing themselves when compared to the rest of the general population.

Back to that beautifully sculpted boyfriend of mine, it became apparent that he was a very quiet individual. I mean this guy basically mimed his way through life, and yet, there I was thoroughly drawn to his “mystique”. Rather than labelling him as utterly uninteresting, he was “intriguing”. The fact that we barely conversed should have made it blaringly obvious that there was no hope for our budding relationship. Case in point:

I had told him that I had read an article about First Nations cultures and how I was unaware that the name of the sports team he played for had First Nations’ roots. He proceeded with the following response:

“So?”

Let’s try this again.

“Well, uhm, I found this interesting because I had no idea the number of team names that have First Nations origin.”
“How is this important?”
“I’m sorry?!”
“You always bring up these random facts, I don’t know why.”

It’s called a CON-VER-SA-TION!

You know when you have the urge to smack someone, but you know that (A) you don’t have the physical strength to cause any sort of permanent damage. And (B) orange has never been your colour and it was not written in the multitude of horoscopes you read that day that jail time was in the near future.

It doesn’t seem like much, but this was ALL THE TIME; even basic exchanges like how are you were exercises of repeat after me. So, our relationship revolved around staring contests while I kept myself pleasantly entertained by conversing with the nearest wall. It was only a matter of time before my happily ever after came crumbling down.

When I think back to that situation, I recall the numerous conversations I’ve had with my girlfriends during which I “happen” to be on the social media profile of a love interest and within minutes, they all have an opinion about his appearance. Funny how a conversation will soon ensue where they retract all of their comments and add “I mean, if you like him then looks shouldn’t matter.” Riiiiiight! That statement necessitates a raised eyebrow.

We’re all aware of the adage that we should not judge a book by its cover, which is quite true, but I do believe that attraction is essential. Attraction does not always comprise appearance; therefore, hoping that a fruitless relationship will suddenly become a Disney spun fairy tale on the basis of looks only was beyond ridiculous on my part. My soul mate may very well not look like anyone I’ve ever imagined in my head. It’s the unexpected that I hope for now, the man who seems to appear out of nowhere that I may never had paid any attention to but still manages to sweep me off my feet. We do ourselves a disservice when we limit ourselves to our top ten lists, but I will say this: if you run into me and I happen to be in the arms of a football player type, just remember, there is such a thing as just fun and games.

A Response to: “Because I Need the Help”

Hi Elle,

I just wanted to send you a quick response regarding your last blog post “Because I Need the Help”. First, self-help books can be of great help but the problem that I find (because I have read a fair share myself) is that much of the advice being given should be taken with a grain of salt. Some books do offer great life advice through the experience or expertise of the author, but at times, there’s a lot of generalisation. I’ve often noticed that these books only help to perpetuate the stereotypes between men and women when it comes to relationships.

As if that weren’t bad enough, they aid in continuing to propagate notions of gender roles which further entrench the bigger issue of gender specification. In fact, within our society, specific gender roles are becoming less defined and the traditional views do not necessarily match our lived identities.

You also have to remember that a lot of the people writing those books are not necessarily “professionals” in the relationship field. This certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t have valuable advice to give you; it’s just to say that this is one person’s experience, which is a single perspective among many and, therefore, is subjective. The difference with an individual considered a “professional” is that they “usually” look at the problems from different angles because relationship issues are often multidimensional and there may be more to the surface than what is seen.

So, this is all to say that there shouldn’t be any shame in looking for help and self-help books can be a great option. I would just warn anyone who may only be reading self-help books for advice, not to take everything at face value for the reasons I’ve mentioned above. If you want to get some insights about relationships without having to attend psychotherapy sessions, the best thing would be to talk to as many of your male and female friends, as to get as many different perspectives as you can.

-RJ

Because I Need the Help

I’ve never been one to deny that I need tremendous help in the relationship department. Could we not have simply been born experts in the field of relationships or at least have been created with a “relationship expertise” gene that could have been switched on in case of malfunction? This could have assisted in eradicating the love diseases that plague so many of us. As this is not the case, I’ve often found myself flipping through books in the self-help section of my local bookstores. I would of course always dress for the occasion wearing full black attire, my New York Yankees cap and dark sunglasses. The attire would at times include gloves as not to leave behind any sort of physical evidence that I had sifted through the books in that section (thank you NCIS).

Do you notice that there are never more than two people browsing the shelves at one time? It’s as if there is some inherent code that must be followed once you’ve stepped within the borders of the self-help territory. This code serves to respect the need for a certain level of privacy that individuals skimming through these types of books may require. I am often curious to know which books people have picked up from the shelves and what relationship issues they may be dealing with. There’s a hint of voyeurism at play since each book title gives us a glimpse into the private life of our fellow self-help devotee. Once the book has been purchased (I will never divulge how many I have bought) usually an all-nighter follows where I take the time to analyze and cram all of this essential information. Why the rush you ask? If I were to meet my first husband let’s say tomorrow, should I not be prepared?

Some time ago, I was prepping for Mr. Right while still dating in the process and I was getting ready to meet a new guy later that day. I had a gym bag with me because I had stayed at a friend’s house the night before which was filled with an unnecessary amount of clothes and beauty products. As I was fishing for my wallet, a book I was reading fell out. He reached over to pick it up and I could have died on the spot when he read the title out loud: “The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller.” “This looks like an interesting book” he said. “Yeah it’s for research,” I muttered. For research?! Riiiight. Like anyone would buy that. Thankfully, he didn’t probe any further. I was beyond mortified. I’m usually good with these things; you know, hiding the evidence that I may be in serious need of a psychotherapy session.

I recounted the horror to a friend and we began to discuss the hilarity of it all. In a society where we consume self-help books at the same rate that we breathe in air, why are we so embarrassed to share with others that we’ve read the latest version of “He’s Just Not That Into You”? These books are being purchased, there’s no denying that, so why are we made to feel that we are less than for choosing to get assistance in this department? Relationships are so entrenched in our daily lives that it should be of no surprise that this is an area in which we may need the most help. Even relationship experts are not immune to relationship failures, the ladies of the show Miss Advised anyone? I stand by every single decision I’ve made to purchase my relationship books; there is absolutely no shame in my game.

I may not openly flaunt my collection, but I will be the first to quote what I have learned, share the title of the books and go as far as lending them to you. I’m not perfect – none of us are. The next time you happen to stumble upon someone clearly hypnotized by the self-help book they’re reading (you know the kin: chewing their hair, hyperventilating while continuously repeating “tomorrow will be a better day”) go ahead and giggle, but just remember that they are trying. They know they need help, they want things to change and for things to make sense. They’ve let go of their pride, walked into that aisle like the bad ass person that they are and now they are attempting to truly make themselves believe that tomorrow will be a better day.

I Love You, I Love You Not

I’ve been on an NCIS binge as of late, I think I’ve watched all episodes from the 11 seasons in a two-week period. Please, don’t state the obvious, I know I need a life. Believe it or not, I have learned some important life lessons from watching the show as well as had the opportunity to analyze the dynamics of the relationships between the characters. There are three scenes that stood out the most to me which all involved the complexity that plagues saying “I love you”.

Scene 1

In the first scene, DiNozzo’s girlfriend had already made her feelings very clear; she had told him she loved him on several occasions, but he had yet to utter those three magical words. She got fed up waiting, but then he finally reciprocated. He was in love, but had been unable to be open with her.

Scene 2

Gibbs, a three-time divorcé, was confronted by one of his ex-wives who had come to understand that she had been the only person in love during their marriage. Rather than refuting this statement, he simply told her that he had “really, really liked her.” My heart just about tore out of my chest when I heard those words – I felt for her (and yes, I am very well aware that this is not real life, but honestly after my binge, I seriously felt as though I was a part of the cast. Note to self: this is sad, get a life!)

Scene 3

Ziva and DiNozzo had an undeniable attraction to one another and it had been an underlying theme that affected their relationship throughout each season. It was clear that Ziva loved DiNozzo and she longed to be with him. During an elevator scene she momentarily believed that he was finally ready to reveal his feelings, not only to her, but to their co-workers as well (the boss has a no dating rule within his team). As she began to say yes to the proposal, he walked out of the elevator leaving her there to realize that not only had she misunderstood the situation, but that it was very likely that he had no idea how she felt about him and that he may not feel the same for her.

Have you ever been in love? When you’re in love you want to shout it from the rooftops and you want the entire world to know how you feel about this special person. Feeling like you’re unable to do so or that you must hold back for self-preservation sake (aka refraining from setting into motion the mental breakdown that may ensue if they happen not to say it back), is crushing to the spirit.

The words “I love you” serve to reinforce the standing of one’s relationship whether that means that it leads to its demise or to long-lasting love. Some follow a rule before allowing themselves to tell someone they love them. I have girlfriends who don’t dare say “I love you” lest they hear it first, while others will gladly say it first hoping that it will be reciprocated. But if the person you are dating professes their love to you and all you can earnestly say at that moment is “Oh that’s nice!” is it cause for concern? Can you comfortably continue to pursue this relationship and pray that it will continue to be a “no-awkwardness” zone? Personally, I don’t believe so. I think after that point, the relationship is kind of tainted.

I attempted to say “I love you” once and I mean I really, really loved this guy, but he knew what was about to happen and he stopped me: “I know what you’re about to say, but please don’t say it.” He explained that he cared for me, but that he had not reached the point where he could tell me that he loved me. Then, he went on to explain that he had dated a girl who would constantly tell him that she loved him and his best response was to smile. Smile?! He might just as easily have pet her head and said “That’s my girl!” He never did come around to saying “I love you” but just like Gibbs, he “really, really liked me.” I did respect him for not saying it if he did not feel it because some do blurt it out just to keep the peace.

Would I be the first to say “I love you” again? Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve mustered up enough courage to put myself in that sort of situation again. I do; however, wear my heart on my sleeve and there is never any guess work involved as to how I feel about my partner. For some, those words are the beginning of the end while for others, it’s the start of new beginnings.

 

Are you willing to say “I love you” first? If he/she does not respond would it be reason enough to end the relationship? How long are you willing to wait in limbo hoping to hear them say “I love you” before calling it quits?

Sound off below!