There is a frequent occurrence at my home that involves my three youngest daughters, Mary (21), Christine (19), and Teresa (17). They regularly engage in long discussions about the boys they come into contact with. Of course, the first piece of information they always share with each other is whether a new guy is “gorge,” which is short for “gorgeous.”
When I was growing up in a family of 17 children (9 boys and 8 girls), I rarely heard my sisters talk about boys the way my daughters talk about them. They developed the habit of never mentioning whom they liked or what guys they thought were attractive because they knew my brothers and I would criticize and harass them about their poor judgment.
There are times I wish God would have blessed Georgette and me with more boys (we only had one) so they could give me some help in picking apart the guys my daughters are interested in. I could also use some help protecting my daughters from all the “gorge” boys that they’re interested in.
One evening during my senior year in high school I brought up a topic at the supper table that was relevant to the way girls make decisions concerning which boys to date. Earlier that day after my last class, while I was walking to my school locker, two students — a boy and a girl — were walking about 15 feet in front of me. I was familiar with both of them. They had their arms around each other’s waists, and while they were walking they alternated between staring into each other’s eyes and kissing.
The girl had everything going for her. In addition to having a great personality, she possessed all the traits of a Miss America contestant. She was energetic, smart, talented, and beautiful. The boy had nothing going for him. He possessed all the traits of a criminal. He was shady, reckless, manipulative, and out of control.
As I followed them down the hallway, all I could think was, That should be me walking with that girl. Why do all the beautiful girls fall for such worthless deadbeats? Are they so blind they can’t see that the guys they’re with are losers?
Later that evening when I sat down to eat supper with my family, I was still irritated by what I had witnessed. I became animated and told everyone around the table about what I had observed. Then I asked the same questions I had asked myself earlier in the day: Why do all the beautiful girls fall for such worthless deadbeats? Are they so blind they can’t see that the guys they’re with are losers?
Before anyone else could respond to my questions, my dad put down his fork, looked at me, and said, “They’re with those guys because they feel a need to mother them. They think they’re going to be able to change them. Unfortunately, by the time they realize that there’s nothing they can do to change them, they’ve hurt themselves and their reputations.” I immediately expressed disbelief at my dad’s statement. What he said didn’t make any sense to my 17-year-old brain.
My dad actually knew a lot more about dating and relationships than I gave him credit for. When he was in his early 20s, he had tended bar at the Western Tap, a tavern that was located at the corner of Main and Western in Peoria. The Western Tap was what would be considered a sports bar today and was within walking distance of Bradley University. It was always packed with students from the university.
In addition to learning from his own life experiences, my dad learned a lot about the behavior of young men and women by observing what went on every night in the tavern. I think it was that experience that influenced him to later develop the three primary rules that his children were required to follow when it came to dating: (1) no dating until the second semester of junior year in high school, (2) no going steady while in high school, and (3) no dating anyone who is no longer in high school (applied to high school dropouts, graduates, and college students).
I think my dad was more concerned about his daughters than his sons when he established his rules for dating. He believed that going steady was too much of a commitment for his high school daughters, because it set up expectations that could lead to inappropriate behavior. He also believed that boys who were in college were too experienced at getting what they wanted from girls, and he didn’t want them getting involved with his daughters while they were still in high school.
A few years ago, I read about a young man who had built a $20 million-a-year business offering courses and coaching to young men teaching them how to meet and date more women. His courses are widely available on the Internet and can be downloaded for immediate use. Since he started his business, there have been other men who have started competing businesses. One of his students developed a business that teaches and coaches men on how to use the art of “speed seduction” on women. For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to refer to the men who have built these companies as “dating experts.”
One of the things the dating experts teach is that, as a general rule, women are attracted to men who are confident, bold, fun, and edgy. They actually teach the men how to be more confident, bold, edgy, and, if necessary, outrageous when they approach a woman for the first time. They also teach that a man needs to give a woman the impression that he’s willing to walk away from her and not be bothered by the fact that they didn’t strike up a relationship. In other words, he can’t be overanxious in his pursuit of the woman.
Back to the couple I was following in the hallway in high school. Even though the guy was a deadbeat and had no legitimate reason to be confident in himself, when it came to girls, he was exactly what the dating experts say is attractive to a woman — confident, bold, fun, and edgy. And he didn’t seem to care what girls thought of him, because he was willing to walk away from a conversation without taking the next step toward establishing a relationship.
So based on what the dating experts say, it makes sense that a girl who seems to have everything going for her might be attracted to a deadbeat. If she develops feelings for the deadbeat, my dad’s theory kicks in and she may very well believe that she can change him into the type of man she thinks he should be.
Before you conclude that what I’m saying here is too far-fetched, think about it for a few days and reflect back on some of the relationships that your friends and family members have been involved in over the years.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m paranoid that one of my daughters is going to fall in love with some “gorge” deadbeat who happens to be confident, bold, fun, and edgy, but who has no other traits that would make him a good husband, provider, and father.
Next week I’m going to talk about some of the new rules for dating, necessitated by the hyper-connected online world that we now live in.