“Ugh, he is so dense! Why don’t guys ever get it? How could he be so oblivious?”
Yep, those were the words that came out of my mouth just the other day, when discussing boy problems with a good friend. She had made what seemed like such an obvious move only to have the guy completely miss her intentions. It sparked that age-old frustration for men+women interactions… sometimes we just don’t seem to see eye to eye.
Guys get a bad rap for being oblivious in many ways. They are the blunt throw-you-over-their-shoulder caveman type afterall. If they are mad at a friend, they will yell, fight it out and be over it. As summed up nicely in the Mel Brook’s classic:
“We’re men, we’re men in tights. We roam around the forest looking for fights.”
See, simple creatures, no matter their garb. Just roaming the wilderness and punching each other, guys are supposedly the blunt, hold-no-punches gender.
DENSE AS THE FOG IN LONDON
As women, we are told to be more blunt and more obvious than we think we need to be, because guys just don’t get subtle hints. It’s our job to self-interpret into their language because men are simple creatures who need to have things clearly and concisely laid out before them. Right?
This is never more noticeable than when it comes to dating. After all, it is ladies who are prancing around our intentions, masking them with subtle but meaningful glances and word choices. “How could he miss the fact that I glanced at him twice while he wasn’t looking? Ugh, he is so dense!” Ladies can be stealthy ninjas with our flirtations.
I can’t think of any relationship advice column that hasn’t crooned about women needing to better express ourselves and really break it down for our men. If he doesn’t understand, it may be that our clear cut explanation is not as clear as we may think. Me; Woman, You; Not Take Out Trash… Me Mad.
But you know what? Women don’t always catch hints either. Your obvious move is not always obvious to us.
WAIT… HE WAS HITTING ON ME??
Case in point: A recent phone conversation between a professional contact and myself. We had been having some slightly flirty interactions over a couple weeks and in the midst of discussing a project, he throws me a random curve ball.
Out of the blue, “Hey, are you going to the so-and-so concert tonight?”
I am confused and say “Uh, not that I know of. Are you?”
He replies “Not sure yet… haven’t found someone to go with.”
“Oh, okay, well have fun!” is my confused response.
When I later relay this tale to a coworker she shakes her head and calls me hopeless. According to her, he was hitting on me. While I still am not completely convinced that he was asking me out, a male coworker agreed with her assessment. Once again, my ridiculous obliviousness helped me accidentally shoot someone down.
KILLING ‘EM WITH CLUELESSNESS
I am certainly not claiming that I am plagued by random men asking me out non-stop. I actually am pretty sure that I NEVER get hit on. Once again, well meaning friends have alerted me to my oblivion and straight-up told me that I am wrong. They have in fact witnessed me getting approached. I just don’t recognize it until after the fact, when it is pointed out to me.
So I may get hit on from time to time, but since I have ABSOLUTELY no awareness of it, does it even count?
As someone who considers herself fairly well-rounded, intelligent, with good instincts, etc, this lack of awareness bothers me. It’s not as if I walk around in a haze of cluelessness in all aspects of my life. I am just missing an internal sensor when being hit on. Maybe they will start selling alarms at Target, or teaching adult continuing-ed classes at my local community college.
I can’t be the only one going through life lacking a flirting-detector, right?
A QUICK SIDE TRIP INTO INSECURITY
At what point is my piteous cry of “no one hits on me” a willful decision to overlook unwanted advances? When does it become a self-imposed handicap, keeping my heart under wraps? Do I choose to be unaware of someone’s pick up line because there is a safety in loneliness and I am afraid to take a chance on love?
No, I don’t think it is that. I do worry about a time, here as I near 30, that obliviousness will no longer be adorable and will start to seem willful ignorance. Trust me, its not.
There is another factor. There is that murky grey area between truth and conceit that I fear. After all, if I think he was hitting on me, and he WASN’T, aren’t I just awfully full of myself? I would rather err on the side of missing hints than becoming self-important. Barney Stinson makes a good TV caricature, but I sure don’t want to emulate him in real life.
HELP ME, HELP (TO UNDERSTAND) YOU
Look I understand that it takes a ton of guts to approach a girl. It has been explained to me by my guy friends that this is even more difficult if she is attractive, seemingly confident and with friends. I get that walking up to a perfect stranger, and putting yourself on the line, is terrifying. I am just trying to tell you to go for it with a simple and clear delivery.
Now, I am not encouraging men to be inappropriate or lewd, but just be absolutely straight forward. Would you like to get a drink or coffee sometime is much more effective than talking vaguely about a cool new restaurant and how much you have been wanting to try it. May I have your number? also works much better than We should hang out sometime.
Or even better, just ask “Can I take you on a date?” That way there is NO confusion about friend-zone vs romantic intentions vs hookup. Won’t we both be happier knowing we are on the same page? And whether I say yes or no, at least there is clarity.
I really would appreciate not having a chance to misunderstand your intentions or overlook your advances. If I think you are a nice, interesting and visually-not-repulsive person I would genuinely like to give you a shot. Most single girls would.
I AM OBLIVIOUS, NOT STUPID
Unless it’s near closing time and SUDDENLY you decide to ask me to dance, of course. If you make your first move on a girl anytime after midnight she’s probably going to assume that you are just scrambling for that night’s one-night stand. I am guessing it wasn’t my sparkling charm and wit that brought you over. And it’s not gonna happen, buddy.
So this is all I am saying to the guys out there… some girls missed whatever day it was in Junior High that taught us how to read your minds and meanings like a book. Some of us really truly believe you want to talk about what a nice dress I am wearing without any underlying intentions. Maybe he is just into fashion trends?
It goes both ways and sometimes our genders simply mis-communicate. It’s that traveler’s frustration that some foreigners think if they speak slowly and/or loudly enough then they will be understood. Doesn’t matter the speed or volume… if I don’t speak your language then I have no idea what you are trying to say.
I probably have no idea if you are hitting on me. And for that I am sorry. But some of us women are just as completely oblivious to signals as you are. So please, for the sake of the potential us that could be, just toughen up for a minute, be painfully clear and give me a chance to say yes.
Either that or tell me where to sign up for “Recognizing Flirting When It Happens to You”.