Why do men always seem to be breaking hearts - and are women's negative expectations to blame?
“Men aren’t a**holes. But men can be a**holes.” – Scott, 30, Healthcare Worker and WTF?! Interviewee
We Millennials are good at many things (modesty not being one of them, obviously). We’re especially good at, well, being good at things that other people assume we will be good at.
Let me say that in English: we Millennials are good at fulfilling others’ expectations of us.
It’s part of our whole overachiever vibe. We’re like one big generation of teacher’s pets. We love breaking rules, of course - but only after we’ve already proven that we can play by them and win. We prefer to be loved and appreciated before we strike out on our own.
It started out for most of us in childhood, when some random person would set forth an expectation of us - of what kind of person we were, or what we were good at. Our parents, who were convinced we were special but just weren’t sure how yet, would jump on that potential for talent and success and then encourage us to meet that expectation. Which we often did, and then some.
So a second grade teacher noticed that we could read faster than the rest of Reading Group 3, and suddenly we were being carted to the library every other day to make our way through all the Shakespeare for Kids and Boxcar Children and R.L Stine series (thus we became good readers, as expected). A CYO basketball coach mentioned that we had a nice free throw, and from then on, our summers were spent at sports camps (thus we became star athletes, as expected). Our mothers caught us humming along to the radio in the car, and next thing you know, we were enrolled in every music, theater and dance class in the county (thus we became talented performers, as expected).
Even as adults, we Millennials are good at fitting into boxes that others present to us. Thanks to the many varieties of activities, media and relationships that consume our lives and brains, we’ve become a versatile and well-rounded generation. We can talk sports with the Career Boosters in our gaggles, dance seductively with our Hot Sex Prospects, and compare favorite works of literature with our Boyfriend Prospects. We can fill lots of different roles and show many different sides of ourselves throughout our own personal journeys of self-discovery – all shifting in accordance with our surroundings and the immediate expectations that others happen to be holding of us at any given moment.
Which brings us to jerks.
When people are expecting good things of us – we’re smart! we’re ambitious! we’re individualistic! we’re fun! – our chameleon tendency seems to work for everyone involved. But what happens when we meet someone who is expecting the worst out of us? How do we react when someone is expecting us to suck?
Possibly, we turn into jerks. At least, it seems that many guys do.
The issue of guys acting like jerks has perplexed me to no end on the WTF?! tour – and it’s time to figure it out.
Why Would One Even Think That Guys Are Jerks?
“There's no sin in loving men. Only pain!” – Ally McBeal
Days come…nights go...seasons pass…and still the debate about Millennial men rages on.
Please let the record show - we like guys at WTF?! That’s why we encourage them to guest blog and comment and share their own confusing post-dating stories. That’s also why we let them hang out in our gaggles.
But, gosh. I’ve been interviewing women for my book lately, and some of the stories I hear about guys would make your skin crawl. Not even to mention the ridiculousness that the WTF?! girls seem to encounter on a daily basis.
Unbelievable blow-offs. Brazen cheating. Jail time. Ambivalence. Back-handed compliments. Stinging insults about a girl’s looks or weight or the sound of her laugh. Players who keep girls hanging by the slightest thread for years. Men who hit on other girls while their girlfriends are in the bathroom. Dudes who get caught in their girlfriend’s apartment…with a hooker. A guy who ran around a party screaming, “She’s the most amazing girl ever - but it would never work out between us, because I’m just undateable! I’m a terrible guy! There’s nothing I can do about it!” Of course, he followed up that outburst by trying to hook up with her.
Millennial women aren’t whiners. We don’t typically enjoy sitting around to complain and bash and cry over bad guys. We're romantic optimists. And, we have other stuff to do with our time. But positivity and empowerment aside, these stories can be enough to make you (and me and the girls who I interview) stop and think…wow. Guys are jerks, aren’t they?!
I mean, evidence is evidence, right?
The Walls Go Up…and the Expectations Go Down
“I'm not a lesbian. I hate men, but I'm not a lesbian.” - Elaine on Seinfeld
Modern women are smart. After a few tough lessons, many of us decide that we have to protect ourselves. We’re busy people, and we don’t have the time or energy to be confused and heartbroken at every turn.
So after hearing and experiencing all these horror stories, can you really blame women for beginning to expect bad behavior from guys?
Here’s a smattering of the negative expectations that women have mentioned to me over the course of these WTF?! interviews:
Guys cheat. (thanks, Steve Harvey!)
Guys are just trying to sleep with you.
Guys are always looking for someone younger or blonder or hotter.
Guys don’t listen to the things that women say.
Guys don’t want to be in monogamous and/or long-term relationships.
Guys are looking to sleep with as many girls as possible.
Guys don’t like strong, independent women.
Guys don’t think about their actions.
Guys will pursue you with the dogged determination and focus of a hunter with his prey – unless he’s just not that into you.
Guys don’t think twice about disappearing off the face of the planet when they’re bored of you.
Guys are terrified of marriage.
Guys will say whatever they need to get you into bed.
Guys are unable to commit.
In short…guys are jerks. And any girl who can find a guy who is not a jerk is just damn lucky. The rest of us should simply resign ourselves to taking guys with huge grains of salt. Even when a guy is being nice, we should get used to waiting for the other shoe to drop.
So is it true? Are guys awful? What do all these hurt feelings and bad experiences mean?
Complicated questions - which are affected in large part by the pernicious expectations that we women seem to be placing upon the guys who we're encountering.
Luckily, it is also my job to sit down and interview men. And with their help, I feel like I’m finally gaining some perspective on the jerk issue...
Check back in next week for the follow-up! Why We Should Have Faith In Millennial Men