I'm on to you...

I observed an interaction as a young girl that informed at an early age what I believe about men and how they operate...

My dad was sweeping our kitchen. Badly. He was dusting crumbs to and fro, and basically making a bigger mess than we started with. So Mom grabbed the broom and shooed him right out of his chore. He shrugged his shoulders, said, "I tried," and plopped down in front of the TV to watch the hockey game.

Fast forward to the very next day.

Dad, broom in hand, is sweeping the sidewalk outside of our business. (Yes, we sweep sidewalks. Publicly shared concrete. We like it tidy, folks.) His technique? Perfect. Never once having to backtrack, no wayward scraps, solid coverage, etc.

What I learned from Dear ol' Dad? If you don't want to do something, pretend you don't know how.

My brother was also a big fan of this technique and used it on more than one occasion growing up (apple, tree). He would do friggin' donuts with the vacuum so he wouldn't be responsible for this duty again, seeing as how we Cottrells are not fans of jacked up carpet patterns. (If you don't understand where my OCD comes from by now, you probably never will.) But after living with him in college, I learned that he is diligent about making sure all the carpet fibers are laying the same direction once he's vacuumed a room. Interesting his sudden skill, no?

The point: most men (see how I avoided the absolute there...even though it felt correct) apply this same strategy to dating/relationships. If you don't want to do something, pretend you don't know how. Don't want to commit? Come up with a myriad of excuses for why you're not ready (as a man) to put a ring on it. Not sure if you're really interested in someone? Cough up a laundry list of "issues" that render you ill equipped to get involved at the moment.

And ladies, for sobbing out loud, this is not a cry for help to which only you can respond by ushering them through this difficult time. THEY'RE FULL OF IT*. If you aren't there to hold their hands, guess what? They'll survive. Even if you are there to hold their hands, they will likely maintain the same stance they told you from the get-go (some call them "red flags," I call them "turn ons"), and remind you of said issues when they break your heart and go marry a twenty-two year old fresh out of college. (Nothing cures a crisis of manhood like a recently sprung co-ed. Bottle it up.)

So what are we NOT twenty-two-year old co-eds to do? Dunno. But I will say that we should at least acknowledge what is likely going on and stop being so willing to accept the crap that is spoonfed to us by these very tasty losers. If you want something, ask for it. If your dude can't deliver and it's something you truly deem important (like, say, monogamy), it may be time to start looking for a guy who can. (Now, after a dozen or so attempts, it may be wise to re-evaluate what you're asking for. Like, a proposal within six months of dating? Maybe not.) But if every time you explain to your friends/family/therapist why you're unhappy with someone, you fall back into a script of excuses, maybe you take a look at all the stuff you are juggling to take care of this basketcase and realize that life (for the most part) should be enhanced by your relationships. Not drained by them.

In short: give 'em the damn broom and make them do it right. Or no dessert.

(You know..."dessert." You probably got that. Just checking.)

*To be fair, it is possible that guys have real, legitimate issues when you come into their lives. For the most part I am saying that guys make up a lot of crap to justify not having to do anything, but they're not always deceptive. Nevertheless, my point stands. Justifiable issue or not, you can't take responsibility for or owndership of an issue that isn't yours. How you respond to what those hurdles mean you are likely going to get out of this guy? That's on you.


  1. Well, damn. But you mean I can't fix him? NO!

  2. My ex absolutely did this. He got so good at it that he would shoot me a little "I'm such a cutiepie dumbass, please help me and melt over my dimples while you do all the work". It took me too long to realize I was enabling his behavior and furious over his behavior at the same time.
    I started to see *horror* my mother in my interactions with him (a little co-dependent pie anyone? ). Thank God I realized the unhealthy pattern of that relationship, but I still have issues with my red flags=turn-ons meter.

  3. ohwowowow. I could not agree with this post more. really. I couldn't. it's spot effing on. And a theology to which I hold very tightly. I look for this mess. If I ask for something that is important to me and there is a boat load of excuses or heavy sighs, or "i guess'" - i don't talk to him again. and i'm not kidding. I don't ask a lot. I am not hi-maintenance, I'm very laid back - so if i request something of the guy it's because it's legit.

  4. "ready... to put a ring on it" - Ugh. That's not going to become a pop culture reference, is it? :P

    While I completely accept that this is the case a lot of the time, I feel honour-bound to stick up for my gender. This stuff totally goes both ways. For every momma's boy stuck in that phase of metaphorically crossing his arms and pouting, there's a little princess who creates drama until she gets things her way. But thankfully, I think these social phenomenons are being blasted wide open by blunt honesty to the point where being so immature is being less acceptable.

    Great post as usual! Love the use of hyperbole :)

  5. Ha! You are so wonderful, it's just hard to put into words. This made me just giggle! I just wish that more people would own their issues and be honest. Why bait girls saying you want to commit if you don't? I know plenty of girls who are fine with that!

    Asking people in your life to step up and rise to the occasion will only mean you separate the good ones from the ones who can't be here for you.

  6. Stephen, I TOTALLY agree. I actually stick up for guys (or at least play Devil's advocate) on a regular basis when talking to my girlfriends. I know that girls can be crazy. A whole different kind of crazy, but crazy and deceptive nonetheless. But I think guys do just as much disservice to the "good ones" as we (ladies) do by dating losers because we are not willing to start over when the bad ones (the majority, sadly) start pulling this crap. Great point, sir.

  7. Great post!!! Totally agree!!
    But yeah... girls aren't THAT innocent. =)

  8. Ohhh snap! I have met so many guys that play the "poor me" card. All they want is for you to nuzzle them between your boobs and stroke their heads (the one above the neck) just like there mommy's did. So many guys play into the fact that as women we want to nurture and take care of people. Sadly there are guys that play mind games causing us to lose our focus. All of our attention is put into "fixing" them that we neglect those who really need it. Ladies if you need a "project" volunteer at the animal shelter, at least those dogs aren't using you for treats you're not willing to give up.
    Ouch I think I hurt myself getting on my soapbox!

  9. I know I am late to the party, but I LOVE this. AND, I have about 5 people I sincerely wish I could send it to immediately.

  10. wow....seems to be a lot of angry ladies out there....well....here is some advice for the ladies that might clarify. Women have all the power in a relationship....they can get men to do anything they want if they are smart enough to do it...you see...men want to be heroes to their ladies...if a man seems appreciated enough they will carve caves out of mountains and slay the strongest of dragons for their ladies. Think about it...I once dated a woman that would just rave over the smallest thing and I found myself looking for things to do for her...whatever it was. Men want to please their ladies...maybe if some women were more discerning in their choice of men....such as waiting to share their bodies until a man earns it and not use it as a trap to ensnare a man. A great book on this is Dr. Laura's Proper Care and Feeding of a Husband."

    Now I feel I must share with you some observations of an older (not old) man..and I do mean man not boy.

    The way men are is all women's fault....now before I start getting ripped apart by all the naysayers out there let me explain. When I was in HS we were all clean cut, American Males with respect and manners. My sophomore year two guys showed up in leather jackets, cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves...long slick backed hair...punks! Guess what....all the girls wanted to date them...so next year there were 8....next year 20....confess all girls want to date the bad boys. Now all ladies complain they cannot find a good guy to date...Power ladies...do you see it....you can shape us how you want us. Nowadays women are wanting to feminize men to the point where manhood is all but disappearing. Men I hold you guilty also...stand up and be men...and that includes finding some of these fine women, love and protect them, resist letting the world make you into Metrosexuals and be men. Achieve and do well for your women and maybe...just maybe...they will start appreciating us more...and women...start raving about your man being a hero and quit giving away your secret presents so easily...men will respect it more...OK...let it rip naysayers and I will take it like a man.


  11. Bob, I absolutely love this perspective and would have to agree with you on many points! Women have done a lot of this to themselves, for sure. I think what I'm hoping for is a collective stepping up, both men and women learning how to behave and getting the best from each other because of it.

  12. Oh my goodness Dad (Bob). I have so much to say to this I don't know where to start.

    First, we are not angry because we observe what continues to happen. I'm personally not choosing to date jerks, but the "nice guys" have flat out gone stage 5 clinger. I could give you 5 examples off the top of my head without batting an eyelash. The "jerks" are independent and stand on their own, and while I know everyone needs a little attention and ego stroke from time to time, they do not require a woman to validate their worth. Independent confidence is JUST as appealing to us as it is to you. Where does the woman's ego stroke come in for your argument? I've heard this argument from you a million times. I know that boasting about what men do is wonderful. I do this truthfully when I am with someone because I sincerely appreciate the small things. BUT, by your standards no one has to take responsibility for their own actions anymore. Women are crazy because men are jerks, but guys are jerks because women made them that way? Tangled web.

    How about we all start taking responsibility for our own actions? Women, stop nagging and appreciate the small things that men (and everyone else) do for you. Men, stop looking for your elementary school ego stroke from women. EVERYONE start respecting one another, being honest even when it's hard, and we'll all enjoy dating, friendship, and love a hell of a lot more.

    Crap. Like father like daughter. I'll hush now.

  13. Bob hit the nail on the head here.