The Critical Difference Between 'Men' And 'Guys'

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group of guys at bar

New York Times'  Modern Love column — Forget the Men, Pick a Guy — explores a quandary many of us ladies face in the post-collegiate dating scene.

Do we date Door No. 1, the fun (if not entirely responsible) guy? Or Door No. 2, the settled, respectable (if not a bit boring) man

Exciting guy. Dull man. That is the question. Really? Is it that black and white? We don't think so, but writer Catherine Calbert certainly does and tells us within the first sentence which she prefers.

The critical difference between "men" and "guys"

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"I've never liked men. I like guys. Guys are often in between things like jobs and houses, which means they're more likely to stay up with you all night, drinking wine and playing gin rummy. They'll rub your belly. They'll lick chocolate off it. They'll like your cute little dog. A guy is never going to shoot Old Yeller in the woods."

Along with not being tied down by big boy jobs, Calbert goes on to say guys dress better than men ("Guys wear the kind of clothes they wore as boys even when their hair silvers: cool jeans and baseball jackets coupled with stupid T-shirts boasting faded logos from exotic locales.

Men like innocuous dress shirts or pastel polos with colors as nauseating as chewable Tums."). 

Guys are down for therapy, men not so much. Guys aren't afraid to "wallow in confusion" whereas men are decisive and emotionally closed, which she admits has its upsides.

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I want the E.M.T.s who show up when I've collapsed to be men, not guys. I don't want someone responsible for saving my life to be torn up about the death of his dog or how some chick hurt his feelings.

Calbert's father was a man, not a guy.

He would grumble home, bottled up with manly angst, and the family would scatter in his wake. If he were alive today, Calbert doesn't think he would approve of her "feminist, atheist, poet" lifestyle. In fact, many of the professors she works with at Rhode Island College are guys, not men.

She likes the "surprise and fire in their eyes" and their "eagerness and curiosity."

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While we'll meet Calbert halfway and certainly agree we like emotionally available men who are curious and sensitive, if we can't trust those types to (perhaps metaphorically) save our lives, why would we want to marry them?

Isn't there a hybrid who isn't "in between jobs and houses" but still wants to lick chocolate off our stomachs?

Couldn't he have the laser-eyed diligence of an E.M.T. but the freewheeling man-boy spontaneity to embark on a road trip and cry about his dead dog?

We'd like to think so, but perhaps we're just naive.

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Melissa Noble is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about love, relationships, and trending news stories.