ESSAY #1 - Why Paris?

What are woman looking for in a man? Why do girls like some boys and not others? Why did you like me... and then why did you stop? (Seriously though what the hell?) This is a deep and mysterious question and the short answer is: I have no idea.

...But I'm not really one for short and simple...

This is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. I assume most single women would like to find a significant other at some point in their lives. Right? So for all the girls sitting across from me on the train, or smoking their cigarettes by themselves outside a café, or putting away men's shoes five minutes before closing time at the H&M on Rue de Rivoli, what is the mysterious something that makes them cross me off of their lists before I even open my mouth? I think for most women, trying to explain what they are looking for in a mate is probably analogous to me trying to explain why I love French. Partly it's just who they are, and partly...

It starts when they're young. Maybe planted in their young minds by the media, more likely burned into their psyche by their relationship with their father, but somewhere, somehow they start to get the idea... The idea of their future mate. Sometimes the idea is built unconsciously through hours of Disney channel and magazine covers and late night talks at teenage slumber parties. Other times the girls build it consciously, encouraged by their elders who for some reason think it is wise to ask the girls to write out long lists of attributes that their future spouse is going to have. And soon the girls start to see the image of some blue-eyed, blond headed, cool-guy-surfur with a great smile; or some dark and mysterious rock star who writes deep and brooding poetry about his love for you; or some smart, hardworking, responsibly clean-cut provider; or some wealthy, super classy, european-type that oozes culture and refinement. Excuse me, what I meant to say was culture, refinement, and bull-shit. In rare cases (usually reserved for the overweight, ugly, or otherwise desperate) some just dream of a man who earns enough to comfortably support the family and treats you like you know you deserve. Anyway, regardless of what they are and how they get there, every girl has them. Expectations. And the thing about expectations is that most of the time they are unrealistic.

Now I believe most grown women eventually let go of their dreams of finding prince charming and becoming a princess. But even women who aren't looking for the one are usually looking for someone (congratulations girls on having the maturity to realize that there are multiple "perfect guy"s out there). And once they find someone then there's something about a wedding and an elegant dress and fireworks and after that's over you have to rush to the hotel before midnight and quickly consummate the marriage before the wedding limo turns back into a pumpkin so that everyone can live happily ever after... I may be confusing that with something else, I'm not exactly an expert on female folk lore.

It's only fair to admit that men have expectations as well. Though men's expectations tend to focus on something a bit different. Men's expectations come from disproportionately drawn comic book characters, bulimic runway models, and fake breasted porn stars, and they are equally as unrealistic. Now the major problem with expectations is that people try to fill them. And because our expectations of each other are unrealistic, we fulfill them by deceiving one another. As a woman I am sure you are well aware of the little deceptions you use. There's the leg shaving and face painting and bra padding and the acting helpless. And while it might be less visible, men are also making significant efforts to fulfill women's expectations...

Me, for example, I want to impress you. I think it's in my genes, buried deeply somewhere in there with man's other fighting/hunting/mating instincts. But regardless of why, the fact is that I, like most men, do things to impress women. And this brings us to the question at hand... Why Paris? From my earliest memory I have loved France and French. You would never guess it by listening to me speak the language but I actually began studying French during my first years of middle school(thanks a lot America, for your monumental scholastic standards), but my love for French started well before then. I don't know if it came from television or a book or a movie but somewhere in those formative childhood years I picked up the idea that girls like French. And more importantly that girls would like me if I spoke French. It's not true. I know now that while French might make you more interesting at the first impression, girls are far more concerned with whether or not you speak their language (making French useless for all but the French). So I picked up French in middle school as a way to impress women, and while I let go of that idea a long time ago, I held on to the French. It's a part of me now

The same thing happened with dancing. I love dancing. One reason I love dancing is probably because I am a good dancer. I am a good dancer because I practiced... a lot. All through my high school years I did hip hop and break dancing. Why? I was convinced that girls like boys who know how to dance... All these things that started as a way to make myself more impressive, over time became who I am. And it's not the kind of thing that I eventually grew out of either... Remember your ex-boyfriend? The one you were never really quite over? Remember how well traveled he was? Well, the first thing I did after you dumped me is move to another country... I'm not saying that's the same thing exactly but you have to admit it's an interesting coincidence. That is what I do after all, I try to be what I think you will like. (I think women do this too... imagine what would you look like if there were no boys to impress... Would you recognize yourself?)

Knowing you, at this point you would probably say something like "Just be yourself."

But I've been building myself in the image of what I think women want for so long that I have to wonder whether "myself" is just a long list of expectations that I am trying to fulfill. Of course knowing me, I would probably just nod and say "If you want me to just be myself, well then that's what I'll do."

But what if none of that works? If after all of my french speaking and great dancing and being myself, if you're still not impressed (which is usually the case), then what?

Then I will just lie to you.

Contrary to popular belief, men are not pigs. They are liars. But this is only because, in general, women enjoy being lied to (but ironically only when they believe it's the truth). They love to hear things like: "We were meant to be together" (not true), "You are the most beautiful girl in the world" (how could this be possible), or "You are everything to me" (...if this was true how does it not sound pathetic and bit creepy?) But the lying extends past the romantic one liners, it's perhaps the simplest way in which men seek to fulfill women's expectations. You expect us to care about things like wedding photos, so we pretend we do. You expect us to be available 24 hours a day for any reason, so we tell you we didn't hear our phone ring. You expect us to think you are beautiful even when you look like shit, so we tell you that you look beautiful, even if you look like shit. You expect a "good relationship" to include baffling things like a general agreement on decor, so we say that we like whatever color you pick for the walls even when you change your mind... again. "The other twelve were pretty good," we tell you, "but this one... this is the one."

In the end no one can be deceived forever, and unrealistic expectations become unfulfilled expectations. But all the deception is not really my main concern. I have another problem with this whole situation. My problem is with the expectations themselves. There is no love in expectations. Granted, the whole reason I am still in this city is because I don't understand what love is. But I don't think it's in expectations. It just doesn't feel right to me. When we expect something it seems to be all about us, about what we want, about what we need from a person.  Shouldn't love be more about... I don't know, supporting someone as they search for what they need from themselves?  ...Maybe I'm being idealistic.

Look, I don't expect women... or men... to ever let go of these expectations. Unfortunately, all the pop songs and romance novels, and cookie cutter romantic comedies will ensure that women continue setting unrealistic expectations for their future spouses, marriages, and families. And the men of the world will continue trying to make the women believe that they fit those expectations, they will keep lying and pretending and trying to impress. They will become whatever the woman needs... until she agrees to sleep with him. And women will keep realizing eventually, after they have been married five years and have two kids, that their husbands aren't exactly who they thought they were. And for the men, all of the advertising and pornography and sexsexsex of our society will ensure that they continue to be aroused by naturally unattainable female forms. And the women of the world will continue trying to fill men's expectations, they'll keep tanning and dieting and augmenting various body parts with various silicone/saline/collagen compounds. They will keep doing things they aren't fully comfortable with, hoping that soon the men will realize that they are in love. And men will keep realizing 10 years and three kids later that their wives actually age and their shapes change. And then once their wives no longer fit their expectations they will keep finding younger models with firmer breasts and tighter... pants. And society will continue to redefine love in a way that allows them to believe their own expectations are attainable, in a way that allows the sad sad dance to continue...

But you and I... Well, maybe we can be different. Maybe we can become aware of what we are expecting from those we love, and learn to expect a little less from them. Then maybe we can spend a little less energy trying to meet other's expectations, and a little more trying to meet our own expectations for ourselves. And me... maybe I can start seeing value in the parts of women that can't be seen. Maybe I can stop making my love conditional on physical appearance (This is going to be more difficult than it sounds. Damn it, why do we have to be so visually stimulated!). And you... maybe you can realize that there are no prince charmings, that there are no ones out there waiting for you... just no ones. No ones like myself. The most you should hope for is someone you work well with, because if "happily ever after"s exist they are going to take a hell of a lot of maintenance.

More importantly, maybe we can do away with the whole checklist of requirements that need to be met before we are willing to love somebody.

But until then, I'll still be here in Paris, learning french, becoming well traveled, and trying to figure all this out... for those girls who expect men to know how to love.



Currently listening:

It's Hard To Find A Friend
Pedro The Lion - When They Really Get To Know You They Will Run


  1. Really a great post!!! Recently I was much thinking about this issue with expectations since I am a almost divorced single...In past I never thought about what the guys are searching in a woman...But now since I am getting some expectations in men I am looking for I am starting to figure out what these guys are expecting from a woman. And I have to say that there are also cultural and religious aspects which have to be considered. And it is of course the time we are living in which is so over-speed and everything is so quickly replaceable...
    But I think the main thing is actually to be who you are and not to try to be what is expected because it doesn't work in the long run and it is not a base for a relationship.
    It is about to find your soulmate! I know that sounds very cliche but it is all about to be happy with someone...
    I am so fascinated of some really old couples which already live since 40 or more years together and when you ask them how this works they tell you that they would choose the same partner again today!

  2. May sound a tad bit cheesy, but the more you look the less you find. Its only if you stop looking and just enjoy life that you will be found. It is much better to just let life take you instead of consciously looking out for the right person or persons. I think that a lot of times, people are looking for someone who ticks the boxes and in the meantime they are blinded to all the other possibilities which could have led them somewhere else, perhaps somewhere more exciting!