Unlike many bar stool warmers, even into a second drink or beyond, I don’t have a lot of brilliant advice. There is one love-related tidbit from my early 20s that still seems relevant.
Last week, speaking with a female neighbor outside, that arose again. She was lamenting that she couldn’t click long-term with a great guy. She just breached 40 and knows there are fewer gems free in the muck of the mine. She discussed a recent effort to connect to a match from e-Harmony, allegedly compatible interests, bright enough, and nice looking. She said she sent him off to think again with the candid appraisal that his ego and vanity were too well developed.
Hence that personal historical moment.
In my early 20s, I was a single Manhattanite working at a huge trade-magazine publisher across 42nd Street from the Daily News building. We were in what passed for bar and party central in NYC. After the married commuted largely by rail to NJ or CT, we were left to patrols of the heart.
For many of my co-workers, those patrols were frustrating and sad. They’d chat objects of desire up and still return home solo.
Quite a few guys asked me, usually one on one, what was up. They’d note that I always had several women I, as we of Southern backgrounds are wont to say, kept company with. The implication was that I wasn’t rich or 7 feet tall or any of those clichés of evening love. How was it that I connected and they didn’t, and moreover, how was it that I kept my women instead of having a one to three-night relationship?
That one was easy…at least for me. My flash was wisdom was simply that I listened to a woman.
Invariably the guy would interrupt to state strongly that he too listened to women and that couldn’t be it. Yet, I’d seen him in attempted action and knew he didn’t. As with my neighbor, women found that he talked about himself and heard only responses that related to himself talking about himself. There’s a huge difference between acknowledging affirmative conversational reactions and listening.
I could ask the guy what he knew about this woman or that. He might know where she went to college or high school, but little else. Pow! He hadn’t asked. He hadn’t left openings for her to swap revelations. He did not value what she had experienced, what she felt, what was important to her, what pleased her, what made her angry. He didn’t know squat about her.
I suppose if I had been savvy or driven by greed instead of the joy of earning a living writing and photographing, I would have started a matchmaking business. I knew something they didn’t.