Seriously, you are in for a treat. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’ve been having an ongoing dialogue with a guy friend of mine about the important stuff in life – dating, relationships, marriage, and happiness. He has such a great outlook/vision that I just have to share. I sent him several questions about courting, relationships, and marriage, and the following are his eloquent and refreshingly honest answers. (In fact, there was so much good stuff I am going to make this a two-post deal – part 2 will be posted tomorrow). Let me tell you, he came up with some absolute gold, so read up and learn (or be reminded of) some shit.
P.S. Although this is a discussion about heterosexual dating, there is much that could apply to same sex dating as well (you know I always try to at least recognize all types of relationships!):
Julius T. Leisure:
I love being married. I’ve been married for 14 years and I’ve known my wife for 19. I’ve been in relationships for 29 years; since I was 18. I’m terrible single. As an artist, being single takes me to deep and crazy places. I’ve always needed yin to balance my yang. And hopefully my wife will always find me to be useful and fulfilling. I need to be able to live in a reality for a portion of each day. My wife is normal. She’s brilliant, she’s smart, and she calls bullshit on me. Yin and yang.
I’m no relationship expert. I just know what I’ve experienced and what I’ve observed. So, there you have it.
On Dating (A.K.A.: Advice for the single ladies):
O4Her: When looking for a life mate, what attributes should a woman look for in a man?
JTL: Looking back, my advice for single people looking for a life-mate is don’t even begin looking for a damned life-mate until you feel you have a certain amount of your own shit together. Seriously, I think one of the biggest mistakes young people make is attempting serious relationships or marriage before they are in a place conducive to the work it takes to be successfully married. Part of your pre-mating responsibility is being, to some degree, in a place of stability: Emotional, financial, sexual. Having some sense who you are and having some life experience is amazingly important for coupling. Use your youth to shed your baggage, not drag them along into a relationship.
Love is great. Don’t get me wrong nothing beats love or being in love (mercy!), but if you can’t be a good partner or if you’re marrying a project, you’re dooming any sort of stability, happiness, or longevity. Love alone cannot predict success.
We all have internal checklists of what we like and what we need. We may not even be able to articulate what these items are but when enough boxes are checked, we know, right? There are things that attract us to other people: physical attributes, personality attributes, etc. For some people, webbed toes, as an example, can be a complete and total deal breaker. For others, kindness trumps even the most toad-like physical attributes.
Advice: Look at yourself first; have an understanding of what you like about yourself then have a openness to what a potential partner can–physically, socially, emotionally–bring to a dyad. I’m not saying you should be rigid, but have a clue about yourself. And remember, birds of a feather attract (“flock together”), but having some non-overlapping attributes may build a stronger couple.
Women have always been attracted to my humor, I’ve noticed. So I use that. I’ve always been shy, so I’ve honed management skills. I also understand I have a “weird charisma” and irreverence that attracts as well. People say I’m confident, but I just play that part well. Some women have said I’m attractive, but I’ve never believed that. I’m just genetically fortunate.
My wife says she definitely noticed what I looked like (enough to pay attention) but that what mattered most was my rabid intelligence and “drive for fairness and justice in all situations.” I checked her boxes and she checked mine. As corny as this may sound, the moment I first met my wife, I knew…something.
O4H: What attributes should make her run for the hills?
JTL: Married! Married men love flirting with single women. It’s a test. It’s a challenge. It affirms masculinity and relevance. All young, single women are beautiful to married men and as the biologically hard-wired animals we are, young, single women attract. Lots of married men do not have regular sex or haven’t had sex with a different partner for years. So, yeah, young single women are amazing! “I would love nothing more than having sex with all of them” is what my alpha-male brain says.
But no matter how much he promises to leave his wife and settle down with you, the probability of it happening approaches zero. If a single woman is interested in a married man in a romantic fashion, my advice (contrary to my biological hard-wiring that says she should pursue me) is for her to not even let it get started. Flirting is fine, but so are limits and boundaries. Until he is legally eligible (divorced, not separated), leave it be. It’s only messy, and it only wastes your time. Do not hook up with married dudes.
The “bad boy” thing is hot too, but sometimes that is brand management, and sometimes that is damage. Run from damage.
O4H: How can a woman tell if a man is interested in her for more than just sex? What if that’s all SHE wants?
JTL: More than just sex… Let me go here first: like the Kinsey Scale, sexual attraction is not binary, it’s a matter of degree. There is rarely, if ever, a situation where sexual interest is not processed. The major exception may be vast differences in age.
I’ve run the what-if possibility with every female boss, colleague, actor, friend, and subordinate. With each new encounter, we men automatically run the what-if-we-hooked-up scenario. It’s natural and it’s normal. Whether we find attraction or not, it’s processed.
So given that, whether you are dating and having sex or working in close office proximity, know that men most likely want to, at the least, see a boob. Generally sex is on the mind. I wanted to note this up front. Because only then can we discuss “more than just sex.”
If you’re in a newish relationship, how do you know if it’s more than sex? What do you do when you’re not having sex? Are you friends? Do you share friends? If there’s more than just planning for more sex or sex-potentiating situations, then there’s more. Talk about it! Ask if this is just about sex. And thus, a theme…
What if that’s all SHE wants? God bless her! Bring trophies! Give her my number. Pay her. Oh, wait… Never mind. Just talk about stuff.
O4H: If a woman sleeps with a man on the first date, does that really mean he will not be serious with her?
JTL: Depends on the context. Like how long they’ve known each other or how they know each other.
I remember I dated a woman where we could have, should have had very hot sex on the first date. We both acknowledged it–in words. It was meant to be. But, she insisted that we couldn’t. Not until two more dates. I argued that that was antiquated and ridiculous. It was a good-girl thing.
I would not have weighed whether to get serious with her or not if we had sex on the first date. Maybe that’s me.
Or maybe that social construct is deeper than I’ve given serious thought. I’ve suggested, on first dates, that we fuck each other FIRST then we can relax and have fun. That’s never worked, but women found that funny and it clearly articulated my intent. I’ve actually passed on first date sex (for reasons that only seem crazy now), but it happened.
It really depends on the context. But, it could, certainly, mean he will not be serious with you. Sure, there are bros like that. Maybe I’m like that. I’d play it safe, as a woman, and never bed down on the first date. Make out a bunch, but establish a position that is safely projecting strength, limits, and boundary.
O4H: What are the top reasons men break up with women?
JTL: I believe the top reason young men break up with a woman is because they believe they could do better. It’s animal behavior and we are animals. Young dudes are basically a penis with a life-supporting system attached. And by “do better” I mean have more sex with more women.
There are many reasons men break up with women. Sometimes men (or women) discover they’re in a mistake of a relationship and need out. Good for them. That happens. But I’m sticking with guys believe they can do better (meaning, get more pussy).
Guys will break up with a woman over ridiculous things. Sporting team affiliation. Bro time conflicts. Mostly the conflict over being with other men.
Guys are pretty dumb. But it’s primal, animalistic, reflective.
O4H: I’ve heard that sometimes when a man doesn’t want to be with a woman any more he just becomes an asshole so she’ll break up with him. Is this true?
JTL: This is definitely true. Probably more than “sometimes.” I’ve done it. Men, being sensitive beings, are too chickenshit to hurt feelings through initiating the break-up. But, I suppose this works the other way around too, right?
Often he has pals who help articulate the how-tos.
O4H: What typical “chick” things do women do that men wish they didn’t?
JTL:I don’t know what a typical “chick” thing is, actually. I’ve really only known pretty smart, strong, independent women who eschew chickery.
From my experience, pretending to be unintelligent is something some women do; playing dumb, situationally. Self-limiting is a turn off. Not all women do this, of course, but it happens.
I know some men can’t handle the “emotions” thing some women are purported to do; the crying, snapping, and general moodiness that is a normal part of some women’s regular menstruation cycles. It is a real thing for some women and couples. I’m certain some men wish that roller coaster was closed.
I would guess men are more and more pushing away from stereotypical “role” behaviors.
O4H: What’s the best way to get a man’s attention?
JTL: Talk to him. All the staring-across-the-room scenarios are neat but, walking up and saying, “Hi” is amazing!
But…pursuit is amazing too. Hinting, dressing in certain ways, bumping into each other scenarios are hot. But, some guys (me) are both dim in the hints department (I’m notorious blind to flirting) or are contextually cautious. I’ve have students, colleagues, bosses flirt with me. I’ve have a student SHOW ME HER NIPPLE PIERCINGS IN MY OFFICE. There are situations that are inappropriate to accepting flirty attention (or giving it – sheesh, dudes can be quite stalky).
So, yeah, talking works. Introduce yourself, that’s it.
O4H: How do I know he’s “the one”?
JTL: You’ll know. Do you miss him? Do you have something you want to tell him? Do you miss his smell? His voice? Does he have a bank account? Clean credit? College degree? Has he worked out his emotional issues? Does he feel like a partner or a dependent? Does he feel like friend or your boss? You’ll know.
The artist known as Julius T. Leisure is a Californian who has lived in Maryland for the past 20 years. He has studied art and psychology. After successfully faking his way into the highest levels of corporate success JTL has settled into a comfortable studio where he makes stuff to see and hear at middlespace, and in assorted galleries where he, invariably, forgets to promote his own shows and misses his own opening reception.